Saturday, July 31, 2010

BOOKS: The Fade by Chris Wooding

I regularly read several book review sites and catch a few more with some review magazines. As I encounter a positive review that highlights story material I think I will like, I add it to my Birthday and Christmas Wishbooks that I give out to my extended family twice a year. It's really just a glorified book list ... and a contract with them that I won't buy any of the books on the lists in the two months they get the list before having to use it. It works out quite well.

With one, small, occasionally irritating problem. Sometimes, the books go on the list and sit there a while until a paperback edition comes out (I prefer paperbacks due to cost, space-savings and weight ... I hate hefting some of these monstrous hardcover editions). Soooo, I forget WHY the book got on the list. Such a case last Christmas was The Fade by Chris Wooding, an author I was totally unfamiliar with.

NOTE: See how I managed to start and end the preceding paragraph with a preposition. Mr. Goddard and the rest of the English staff at Bramalea Secondary School are scowling where ever they are.

At any rate, I was further confused by a book that started on chapter 30 and proceeded to chapters 29, 31, 28, 27 and 32. The narrative was a little jumbled up, but nothing like the receding (snaking?) chapter numbers. But along about chapter 32, you know, the one before chapter 26, things started making sense. And by the time I got to chapter 0 (which came three chapters after chapter 40), I had enjoyed myself immensely.

Betcha you're wondering what the heck the book is all about, other than trying to confuse the Master of the Castle of Confusion. Think "Land of the Giants," the sixties TV show with little, little people making do in a world much bigger themselves. Now, take the little people and make them so small, mushrooms pass for giant trees. Next, make sunlight deadly to all 'life' in Wooding's world. Spores, crystals and sentient life amongst the roots abounds.

Now imagine the battle for survival between different sets of sentient beings. Orna is part of a raid on a position held by the enemy Gurta. In the battle, Orna's husband Riss is killed and she is captured, despite being one of her side's leading fighters, a lithe assassin-trained member of the Cadre. The rest of the book is her getting out of the inescapable prison she's thrown into, journeying with nomads and eventually ending up back home. All in attempt to find her boy Jai.

Throw in lots of back-stabbing with the powerbase of her race and you have a superb combination of fantasy, military SF, political intrigue and world-building. A hearty recommendation.

Just don't look at the chapter numbers.

No comments: