Sunday, 10 May 2015

Any Other Name & All Is Fair - Emma Newman

This is a two for the price of one review of books two and three in the Split Worlds series. I have one main thing to say and that is, I am so freaking excited to see where this series is going to go next!

First off, Emma Newman has built such an interesting world in this series and I've been really loving exploring it. From a world building point of view this series is just excellent. The way that the society in this series is structured is so interesting, as is seeing all of the different spheres that orbit each other start to come together and interact more. There is a great mix of traditional presentation of fae and original and interesting ideas. I love fairy stories and books that focus on fairies and I have read quite a few, so I love all of the extra ideas that make it seem fresh and original again. 

Secondly, I love that Newman isn't pulling any punches. The world presented is very complex already but the main characters are wreaking havoc on it, and I LOVE THAT SO MUCH. Cathy doesn't just critique and rail against the unfair and antiquated patriarchal society of the fae, she is actively working to combat and deconstruct it in order to build a fairer society for the future. There is still a lot to learn about the Elemental Court and the role they have in the world but Sam is challenging the structure of that as well. I won't go into the situation with the arbiter's and sorcerer's too much for fear of giving away spoilers, but suffice to say shit is going down. Drastic, change-the-way-society-works-forever kind of shit. And it is so very exciting! I have no idea where this series is going to end up but I am so looking forward to finding out. 

Cathy is still my favourite (and gradually working her way towards being one of my fav literary heroines in general) but I like the way that her flaws are explored. Across these two books she has been forced to realise that she is not the only person who hates the way that society functions and who wants it to change. This realisation was important and has been very interesting for the development of the story as she starts to work towards changing the system rather than just running away from it. She continues to swear like a trooper but is also finding her strength and realising how well she is able to manipulate the system to her advantage as well. I've enjoyed seeing her character grow and develop and am looking forward to seeing how she continues to do so in future books. That being said, I am also hella concerned for her safety and if anything happens to her I will be most upset.

I have very mixed feelings about Will. In the first book I felt he had a lot of potential to be a good man but as the second book went on I really started to question this as he became more controlling and seemingly happy to go to any means necessary to achieve his aims. By the end of book three I definitely like where he is at more than I did previously, but I'm not sure I can say that I like him. That being said, I find his character very interesting. In a way, he shows the way that the current fae society damages people. He started off as a man with a lot of potential to be good and kind and just. As the series has gone on he has had to compromise himself in order to appease his patroon and, especially in the first half of the third book, has become increasingly cold and controlling. Whereas Lord Poppy is capricious and flighty, Lord Iris is cold, calculating and dangerous, and in serving him Will has started to embody these properties more. I am hoping that as the society is challenged and changes are made he will be able to remember the good side of him and connect to it again. Also, a lot of my initial dislike of Will came from the whole love potion plot that happened because I feel incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of those. I'm hoping that this is something that will be addressed a little more than it has been so far.

I am still loving the idea of the Arbiters and love every interaction that Max and the gargoyle have together. I think this is one of Newman's most genius ideas and I really enjoy the way they interact. I'm very intrigued to see what is going to happen with Sam as I have no idea where that plot is going! There are so many threads in this series and I am thoroughly enjoying seeing how they come together.

If you enjoy fantasy novels then I very much recommend this series. Honestly, it's a fantasy series set around Bath and London that is full of fairies and feminism and fantastic ideas so please someone read this and then talk to me about how wonderful it is!

(P.S. I am writing about these books like there's going to be more in the series. Can anyone confirm or deny whether this is the case? I really hope it is but I'm aware I might have the wrong end of the stick!)

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