Monday, January 25, 2010

Ill Met in the Arena by Dave Duncan

Apparently Dave Duncan is quite the fantasy author. He has written a ton of books, and received quite a lot of acclaim. So how is it that I never heard of this fellow until I picked up Ill Met in the Arena, his fortieth book? And I thought I knew my way around the SF/F section… Anyways, This is a bit of an anti-review.

Ill Met in the Arena follows an aged arena competitor who has a secret past. He battles and bests a noble and this brings him to the attention of a lot of people. In a world where women rule and everyone has some sort of psychic ability, this tale of political intrigue and action weaves in one nameless man’s tale that is at the root of the society.

I didn’t finish Ill Met in the Arena. That said, it isn’t even remotely the novel’s fault. The new semester is just starting up, I moved back in after being gone for a few weeks on vacation, and just to top it all off, I got bit by a dog. Life came hard and fast for a bit, and kept me away from the book too long. With classes about to begin, and new books on the horizon, I didn’t want to have to restart everything, so I’m setting the book aside for a little bit. I will be back, and will tell you all about the experience. For now, Ill Met in the Arena will receive no numerical rating.

That said, from the first half of the book (which I did finish), this is one very much worth picking up. It is brilliantly written, with an intriguing society (even if, in its attempt to reverse gender role stereotypes, it manages to reinforce them in other cases) and characters that are beyond humanlike. The depth of characterization is truly masterful. This is a book I highly recommend based on what I have read, and I will certainly be keeping an eye out for Dave Duncan in the future.

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