Star Trek Ensigns etc.

alexandra.bolintineanu at alexandra.bolintineanu at
Wed Dec 22 14:37:29 EST 1999

Spoilers for Hexwood, Freedom and Necessity, Fire and Hemlock,
and Lord of the Rings.

Also, oh what a ramble.  Oh well.

To all you lovely people who mentioned and recommended "Freedom and
Necessity" and "Sorcery and Cecelia", my heartiest thanks!  I've just
emerged from a Polly-like bout of reading, and oh! what lovely books those
are!  Though F&N is much the bitterer, darker of the two.  A splendid feat
of brinkmanship (brinkpersonship?), too.  I've seldom seen a protagonist
so splendidly and perilously balanced between being flawed but good
and being just too nasty to sympathize with as James Cobham.  What I also
found really nifty was the way all the characters seemed fragile--I was
not sure that they'd all make it through the book, and I desperately
wanted them to.  

And here I must pick up on something I think Elise mentioned--the
proverbial Star Trek ensign's uniform (what an excellent way of putting
it, btw!).  I find I always grow very fond of doomed-seeming characters,
and I thoroughly second the opinion that I'd like to read a book where a 
doomed-seeming character lives happily ever after.  (In fact, I'd like
to write one, but that's another matter entirely.)  

The other side of that coin I think is that it must be very difficult
for a writer not just to make the doomed characters not seem too obviously
doomed, but also to make the non-doomed characters seem fragile enough
for suspense.  (I wonder how that works, precisely.  What are the elements 
of a Convincingly Doomed Character?  Can one even pin them down?)
I thought F&N was splendid that way, and DWJ also does this particularly
well.  Reading Hexwood, I trembled for Mordion.  I had a very nasty
feeling that he wouldn't make it to the end of the book. Ditto Hern
of Spellcoats, and quite a number of people in The Homeward Bounders.
I had the same sinking feeling about Aragorn, actually--not until well 
into the third book could I escape the thought that he'd meet some noble
death. I don't object to noble ends in principle--I rather like non-modern
tragedy--but I do like to see my favourite characters survive, if it's 


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