Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: The Great Succession Crisis, by Laurel A. Rockefeller

I've been doing some book reviews lately, mainly for the Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia, and Romance Writers and Reviewers group on Goodreads, and decided to start posting them here too, to spread the word about some interesting new authors I'm finding.

**Please note, this is NOT a book review blog! Don't start sending me messages asking me to review books. I review books strictly on my own whim and discretion, mainly for my Goodreads group but also of other books that catch my fancy. Once I get caught up with my backlog of reviews, they'll only appear once or maybe twice a week.

So, here's my review of The Great Succession Crisis, by Laurel A. Rockefeller.

*** (3 stars)

(I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of giving an honest review.)

The Great Succession Crisis is a science fiction/science fantasy dealing with the question of female inheritance of the throne on the planet Beinan. The most notable thing about the novel is the extensive, deeply-layered, detailed worldbuilding. The author has put a great amount of thought and work into developing Beinan: physics, history, politics, social mores, technology, food, religion, weaponry, fashion, down to measurements of time and distance.

For my own personal preferences, I would have liked to get to know the characters on a more personal level before diving into the history and politics. But once the basic situation was set up (the daughter of a female ruler cannot inherit, and Queen Isabelle's only son is unwilling to take the throne, leaving Princess Anlei the only - illegal - heir) and the story-telling turned to the characters, I found myself engaged by the romance between Caronn and Anlei and the threats to their happiness and their world's well-being.

Some stylistic quirks in the writing kept me from being able to fully immerse myself in the story. The author uses a lot of different words in place of "said" in dialogue attribution. I found this distracting, especially when the word being used is not a functional synonym for "said." The novel is also dialogue-heavy, and both dialogue and narrative contained more detail than I was able to absorb.

There's an interesting framing device, setting the story as "data transmission files" sent by someone from Beinan who crash-landed on a planet referred to as D425E25 Tertius. I'm curious to know more about this storyline.

The author classifies The Great Succession Crisis as science fiction, but me being a fantasy nut, I consider it science fantasy because of some quasi-magical foretelling and empathic abilities that some of the characters display.

The extended edition comes with numerous appendices laying out Ms. Rockefeller's truly breathtaking worldbuilding, along with a couple of related short stories, some of her non-fiction essays, and a recipe for Beinan-style fruit pastries.

Overall, The Great Succession Crisis is an interesting story with characters I came to care about in a richy-developed world. Rated a solid 3 stars, meaning I liked it.

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