Review: A Star Shall Fall, Marie Brennan

I could swear I wrote this review already. I wonder if I dreamed it. I frequently have vivid, detailed dreams where I do things that need to get done, which I think is my subconscious’s way of trying to keep me asleep. One day last month I dreamed I checked my email and we had a snow day and I could sleep in (but we didn’t really) (fortunately, I didn’t fall for this). Today when I woke up all sickly and went back to sleep feeling like I was going to die, I dreamed that I had texted and facebook-messaged the people I was supposed to have brunch with, to tell them I wasn’t going to be able to make it. In my dream I felt so crappy and nauseated I kept making typos when I was writing the messages.

A Star Shall Fall will probably contain some spoilers for Midnight Never Come. Also presumably for the second book, In Ashes Lie, but I don’t know because I haven’t read it. Darn library.

So after I read and enjoyed Midnight Never Come, I went to the library and signally failed to find In Ashes Lie, the second book in the series. On the other hand, I don’t care at all about the seventeenth century, so I didn’t mind so much skipping on to A Star Shall Fall. Set in the world of Midnight Never Come, A Star Shall Fall focuses on the mid-1700s Prince of the Stone, Michael Deven, who is trying (along with the rest of the Onyx Court) to find out a way of destroying the scary-scary dragon that is coming back to kill everyone.

The Good Stuff

Irrith, the country fairy who comes to court to help sort out the dragon problem, is an excellent character. I liked her because she kept bucking my expectations of what fairy characters are like. She isn’t a good liar, she isn’t icy elegance all the time, she didn’t like court politics, and she didn’t (here’s a spoiler) fall wildly in love with the human character just because they spent a lot of time together. When (a really huge spoiler right here) (why don’t we just assume this whole review is spoilers? I can’t talk about what I liked without spoilers) Michael Deven sacrifices himself for the fairy court at the end, Irrith is sad but not in a, like, time for fairy suicide way. She was close with him, she was sorry she didn’t love him enough to save him, and that was that. I liked it.

Marie Brennan incorporated the 1752 calendar change into her plot! A plot point hinged on the changing of the calendar. Marie Brennan, you are my hero.

The Royal Society of London features in the book. Granted, they do not do much with the fairies, but it was nice to see them doing their royal society thing. I should read that Bill Bryson book. I love the notion of a bunch of smart dudes getting together to talk about Knowledge.

Michael Deven’s search for a wife. As the oldest son in a well-born but impoverished family, Michael has to marry rich in order to provide for his three younger sisters. He doesn’t want to do this, naturally enough, as he is in love with the fairy queen, Lune, and he hates the idea of lying to his wife. It would have been easy for him to reconcile himself to his conscience and marry some nothing character, but instead he marries a cool, clever woman and tells her everything. Yay for honesty! Delphia was an excellent character and I’d have liked to see more of her. I hope the next Onyx Court book at least talks about her Legacy.

Bad Stuff

I hated, hated, hated that Michael Deven was in love with the fairy queen. Really, Michael Deven? You’re in love with the achingly beautiful, radiantly good moon Queen? HOW ORIGINAL. I couldn’t become interested in him as a character because I wanted to smack him and make him fall in love with his interesting, intelligent wife.

Although some of the ideas the fairies came up with for defeating the dragon were clever, some of them didn’t make any sense. I don’t mind an author inventing her own rules for her own magic world, but it frustrated me that a character would stop dead and have a stroke of intuition, and it didn’t make any sense to me. On the other hand, this could just be me being dumb.

Wow, I had a lot of thoughts. This just goes to show that I was in the mood for books in a series, where you have more than one book to think over. A sign that I should reread Harry Potter again.

  • I know noting about this series, but I can totally relate to that dreaming thing. I used to dream that I was getting up, taking a shower, getting dressed…then I’d wake up and realize I still had to get up, take a shower, get dressed… that was a total drag.

    • Oh, I’ve done that. I also do the thing where I wake up, and I know I need to get up to do something important, but I’m not fully awake, and my brain starts thinking that I can only do the important thing by staying very still and shutting my eyes. My subconscious is very persuasive that way. :p

  • Very glad to hear that the fairies in this book were not so annoying as in the other one. You will become an expert on fairies quite soon, I feel. And I like the way that your dreams get stuff done for you – nice unconscious, well done.

    • Not nice unconscious well done! Very trying unconscious trying to pretend things have happened that haven’t happened and then I don’t do them because I feel sure they’re already done!

      Ahem.

  • I had not heard of Seeing Further! That sounds all sorts of awesome. Anyway, this is a sidenote, and what I REALLY meant to say is that both you and Memory have made these books sound awesome. Hooray for historical grounding indeed!

    • Doesn’t it? I saw it at the library today but I was getting so many other books that I have to read really quickly because they’re on hold by other patrons.

  • I like the sound of these books, though I don’t know if I would be able to find copies anywhere near me. I also have a lot dreaming weirdness. Sometimes I dream that I am sleeping and that I can’t wake up, and that means that I have to physically fight to get myself out of the dream and into the really world. I also have dreams where I am doing something that I need to do in real life, and then I wake up not knowing what the heck is going on!

    • Oh, wow, that sounds really scary! The not being able to wake up thing, not the dreaming of doing something you need to do in real life. I watched a movie one time where the guy in the film couldn’t wake up (Waking Life), and it wasn’t meant to be scary but it scared the crap out of me.

  • Amy

    I’ve not heard of this series but I may have to search it out. I’m not a big fan of fairies but I might be able to look past that.

    I reread Harry Potter last year and loved it all over again.:-)

    • I’ve reread Harry Potter twice this year. I’m not ashamed. :p

  • trapunto

    Just thinking that too about Harry Potter. Yesterday I saw the film of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One in a theater packed with bored, scared, whining, chattering, complaining, and crying toddlers. I haven’t read the last three books at all because I (used to) like seeing the movies first; but I am wondering if the books might give me a clue as to why multiple parents thought a 2.5 hour movie with the words “deathly hallows” in the title would be appropriate for the under-four crowd. Plus, I was a little confused on some plot points, what with the earplugs in my ears.

    Misguided love is very frustrating in books when it isn’t ever made right!

    • I laughed out loud about the earplugs. Movie theaters are ridiculously too loud! Honestly, the books are vastly too long to be turned into movies, so even if you’d had the use of your full hearing, I doubt the plot would have made sense.

      Also, you should read the last three books. They are wonderful.

  • She

    I couldn’t read a lot of the review because I was afraid of the spoilers, but I am intrigued!

    • They are good! Worth reading!

  • I really must try and read one of her books. I own one, but I think I accidentally have book 2. Will have to dig out the book and see what one it actually is!

    • I really don’t think it matters which book you read first, except that I guess Book 2 sort of tells you the end of Book 1. But they appear to work very well as standalones.

  • I have crazy dreams. I would love to tell you to interpret them but… oh nevermind.
    🙂

    • I actually love interpreting dreams. It makes me feel smart. :p

  • I figure he was in love with the Queen because he was just a kid and hadn’t really grown up yet, and he would’ve fallen in love with his awesome wife eventually if he’d had the chance, since their relationship was based on affection and mutual respect and was actually going somewhere. But maybe it’s condescending of me to say he was just a kid, since I felt things pretty intensely when I was his age, and I don’t think all of them were just me being stupid and young. Hmm.

    (Um, late reply. Sorry. I’m still catching up on my Google Reader, which I barely even touched while my #yayvisitors were here).