sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
sophia_sol ([personal profile] sophia_sol) wrote2017-05-12 06:40 pm

Midnight Riot, aka Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch

So one of the reccing communities I follow recently had two novel-length fics recced for the Rivers of London fandom and they looked kind of interesting so I gave one a try and loved it, read the other and loved it too, and proceeded to spend the next week or so reading nothing but Rivers of London fanfic. And eventually I was like....okay so maybe I should actually read the actual books these are based on, I've heard good things about those.

So I am! This is the first one in the series, and is known as Rivers of London in most of the world and Midnight Riot in North America because apparently we can't handle books with titles that indicate the book is foreign.

I was a little nervous going in that maybe I wouldn't like the books because fandom....does not always do a good job of representing what a canon is actually about or actually like. And I mean it's not quite what I expected, but still good. More focus on cases and less on people, but also much more of a sense of humour than I was expecting! I was 100% charmed by just a few pages into the book. And then I accidentally stayed up past my bedtime to finish the book. So, you know: I liked it.

For those who are unfamiliar, the basic premise is: policemen in London who do magic and deal with magic-related crimes. The main character, Peter, discovers the existence of magic early in the book and ends up apprenticed to Nightingale, more or less the last practitioner of Newtonian magic in Britain.

Some miscellaneous thoughts:

- At one point in the book Peter's narration says that Nightingale doesn't let anyone else drive the Jag. Not very many pages later, Nightingale's letting Peter drive the Jag, with zero discussion of this fact. A little while later, Peter's taking the Jag on excursions that Nightingale isn't even joining him on. OKAY THEN. Either Peter is wrong about how proprietary Nightingale feels about the Jag, or Nightingale Really Likes Peter.

- Possibly this changes over the course of the series, but Nightingale is a lot more distant, and a much more minor character, than I was expecting based on fandom.

- Molly is a lot more...actively potentially dangerous than I expected her to be. Fanfic makes her come off as creepy but harmless, but she's definitely not harmless. (Though apparently I was just reading the wrong fic because as of finalizing this review I have definitely read about Molly's more dangerous aspects in a fic.) Also is it just me or was this book giving indications towards Molly/Nightingale? I was not expecting that either!

- So for how much of this book was the Lesley we saw actually Henry Pyke pretending to be Lesley? Did we ever actually see much of the real Lesley? I'm sad because I enjoyed the friendship between Lesley and Peter, and turns out it was mostly just an asshole ghost! (Also I know what's going to happen in Lesley's future, thank you fanfiction, and I'm sad about that too.)

- The entire internet seems to spell Lesley's name as Lesley, but my copy of the book spelled it "Leslie". I'm pretty sure this is because I have the American edition. Do the American publishers somehow think that on top of the book title being too foreign, the name Lesley is too foreign too, or something? If they made these two changes, were there other non-cosmetic changes they made to the text? And why would they have bothered changing these names when everything about the content of the book is so thoroughly rooted in its foreign location, and content is a lot more actually relevant?

- This book has two sort of arms to its plot: one is the politics with the rivers of London, between Mama Thames and Father Thames's crews, and the other is the murder mystery. I was way more interested in the supernatural politicking than in the action plot. AS IS TO BE EXPECTED from me. But they also kind of felt like they belonged to two different books, and it felt weird for the ending note to be about the rivers plotline, since all the way through that one seemed to be the one with the lower stakes. I know it was serious too, but throughout it came across as so much more chill than the action plot, and so much less likely for things to go terribly wrong.
skygiants: the aunts from Pushing Daisies reading and sipping wine on a couch (wine and books)

[personal profile] skygiants 2017-05-13 01:43 pm (UTC)(link)
I really enjoyed these books but one of the things I enjoyed most was specifically what they did with Lesley/ie in the next two or three, and then I found out about [future spoiler] and I was like "I DON'T WANT TO COME BACK UNTIL THEY FIX IT >:("
bluemeridian: Chloe from Smallville, with coffee and a sideways look. (Default)

[personal profile] bluemeridian 2017-05-14 12:36 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I haven't been able to face the Lesley thing so I'm not caught up. :(

It's been a while - and there's always the chance I'm conflating canon and fic! - but I'm inclined to say Nightingale draws more into focus.

I don't think I'd considered the question of how long "Lesley" was actually Henry Pyke. I think at the time I assumed it was fairly short and Peter and Lesley's friendship was quite genuine, for what it's worth. Although that might be an influence of the second and third books - I'm not sure if they referenced particular events that confirmed a concrete timeline or just established the friendship as genuine and I assumed the remainder.

eta: And now I see you're further ahead anyway, so I look forward to your much fresher impressions!
Edited 2017-05-14 00:37 (UTC)