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) wrote2017-05-24 07:04 pm

Rivers of London #3-6

WELL I am now finished the Rivers of London series so I suppose I will post about the last four books all at once here since it feels weird to keep posting one at a time as if I'm not already done. Here we go!

Whispers Under Ground, by Ben Aaronovitch

Third in the Rivers of London series. Best book yet in the series! I was super into it.

I loved that this book involved being introduced to more of the magical community, both in London and around the world, and now I want MORE of this. I'm so happy about the existence of the goblin market and how that implies the existence of a broad community of magical folk in the city beyond the Newtonian practitioners of magic. And of course the existence of the Quiet People is great too. And between them and the bits about the way magic is done in the rest of the world, it's so nice to see that posh British Newtonian magic is distinctly a minor tradition. I want to learn lots more about international magic!

I also really enjoyed all the characters and the various character interactions in this book, so much great stuff there. The underground exploration with Kumar and Peter and Reynolds was particularly amazing. And I especially liked Kumar a lot.

And I also continue to be impressed with these books' sense of place. They are very thoroughly situated in London in a way that permeates everything about them, and I love it.

The spelling of Lesley's name got fixed for this book! Huzzah, I no longer have to do weird translations from one spelling to another between the fandom and the books. (This is still an American edition though. Why did the American publisher change their mind on this partway through the series??)

Also: in the last book the overarching series antagonist was referred to as the Faceless One and in this book he's the Faceless Man instead. At first I wondered if this was another weird book edition thing like Lesley vs Leslie, but I have since managed to get my hands on a copy of a british edition of Moon Over Soho (thanks, fortuitous thriftstore find!) and the british edition properly has Lesley as instead of Leslie, but still has the Faceless One like the american edition, so I guess the author just changed his mind as to how to refer to this character between books. Weird.

At any rate: LESLEY. I've been trying all along to not get too attached to her because of her sudden but inevitable betrayal coming at some point in the future but it's been FAILING. I love her friendship with Peter. And I've been enjoying her storyline so much too, with her having to deal with her face looking grotesque after her face fell off at the end of the first book, and that although a series of surgeries are making it more functional its appearance is still something that everyone finds deeply uncomfortable-yet-fascinating to look at. That would be a really difficult thing to have to deal with. But she's handling it with remarkable aplomb, though it's also clear that she has strong negative feelings about the whole situation. LESLEY :(((((

Broken Homes, by Ben Aaronovitch

Fourth in Rivers of London series. It took me a while to read this book because I knew a thing would happen in it that I didn't want to happen and if I didn't read the book then MAYBE IT WOULDN'T HAPPEN.

(It happened.)

Lesley betrayed Peter and joined the Faceless Man, aughhhgh :(((( LESLEY NO.

Because this happens in the last few pages of the book, we don't get to find out much of anything about Lesley's thought process in this whole thing. How long has she been considering/planning this betrayal? Is Peter right in his analysis as to why? Will she regret her choice? How does someone like Lesley come to be okay with joining forces with an amoral murderer like the Faceless Man?

Also: although this betrayal works from a narrative standpoint, it also...kinda falls into the unfortunate trope of disfigurement being associated with evil characters. And it feels even worse that apparently it is specifically Lesley's disfigurement that inspires her to join the dark side. SIGH.

At any rate I did overall thoroughly enjoy the book. I loved all the focus on architecture in this one! Industrial magic! Terribly-designed apartments by a famous architect! Garden balconies! Peter being a nerd! So great.

Speaking of garden balconies I think the enthusiastically politically active Skygarden resident who painstakingly re-formed his balcony to be gardenable and sings the Internationale is my favourite background character in this book. (I forget his name or I would have just named him instead of describing him....)

I also found Varvara very interesting, though she's less background so Internationale Man can retain his title of favourite. I love how ruthlessly pragmatic Varvara is.

And I have to mention that the whole scene near the end where Peter finds the bomb and everything that follows is really effectively written with lots of narrative tension.

In other thoughts, at one point in this book Peter as narrator says "it had been an article of faith among the post-war survivors of British wizardry that the magic was going out of the world." I've been wondering about this for a while, but the phrasing of this statement really made start thinking: BUT WHY did they all believe this? Was there evidence that this was happening, or were they just traumatized by the war and wanting it to be true? And if there was evidence, why was the magic leaving, and why did it then start coming back? I'm really curious as to what was actually going on with all this.

Foxglove Summer, by Ben Aaronovitch

Fifth in Rivers of London series. This book was weirdly one of the least stressful in the series so far? Idek!

I mean yes this book was about something terrible (kidnapping of kids) but tbh that's lower stakes than all the, like, murder and stuff that's been going on in past books, especially since it was fairies, not humans, that did the kidnapping. (Not that fairies aren't dangerous, just that their motives are probably not going to be the same as the motives of the kind of human who kidnaps preteen girls.) So it was mostly just a bunch of pleasantly watching Peter be competent and so forth, for me.

But it was weird that we never actually really found out about what the fairies' motivations were for doing the kidnapping. Yes, the revelation about Nicole and her half-sister explained at the very least why they were interested in Nicole, but why did they want to do a switch-back with the changeling, and why did they want to take Nicole's friend as well? And what actually happened to the girls during their time in fairyland?

And I was disappointed at how little time in the narrative was spent with our viewpoint character in fairyland. It felt very abrupt. If you're gonna do fairyland then DO FAIRYLAND. Though it's hard to argue with the image of Beverley rescuing Peter from fairyland with a massive steam train, aww yeah. GO BEVERLEY GO.

Also: we got to find out what kind of being Molly is! And now even more than before I really want Molly backstory, Molly pov, just generally more about Molly. How did she end up working for the Folly, and why does she never ever want to leave the Folly? Does she actually enjoy her position there? What are her feelings on the subject of the Folly's magic practitioners, both Peter and Nightingale and also all the now-gone old guard? AND SO FORTH.

But now I also want to find out what is up with Mellissa and her bees, among other things. Just so many things to be curious about in this world!

The Hanging Tree, by Ben Aaronovitch

Sixth in the Rivers of London series, and the last one so far. But it is clear the series is continuing and I WANT MORE, aaaahhhh, and now I have to wait.

At any rate! This was a great book! So many great characters and worldbuilding things!

For starters: Caroline and Helena and a tradition of women's magic, but especially CAROLINE oh dang I hope she has a recurring role in the series going forward instead of being a one-off character, she is GREAT. Also I love that the book doesn't make a big deal of her being trans.

And I really appreciate the larger and larger role Guleed is taking in the series - she seemed like a one-off character when introduced but by this book she's the police officer with the third most experience in magic after Nightingale and Peter! I don't know if I hope she becomes an apprentice too or chooses to not take that path, but either way yay Guleed!

And there were great Nightingale bits in this book, and Peter is a delight as always, and it was neat to see Tyburn being capable of being not totally antagonistic to Peter (I enjoyed all of Tyburn and Peter's interactions in this book!) and and and and basically just all of the characters, I love them all so much.

Also in this book: We find out the identity of the Faceless Man! Martin Chorley! Arrogant powerful rich white man with all of the worst that can go along with those identities: yep, works for me as series villain. Also it was nice in this book to see him as more human and petty and fallible - much easier to hate him properly than when he was a mysterious faceless superhuman-seeming practitioner.

I'm still sad about Lesley, of course, and she appears again in this book seeming pretty committed to being on the side of Obviously Awful Chorley, so like, there's that.

But everything else was great.