_The Thief_, with spoilers galore--extra long for your enjoyment

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Sat Mar 9 17:26:58 EST 2002

>I'm not sure about why you weren't taken in--because I read Dorothy Dunnett
>too and can't recall ever being fooled by her.  I think she telegraphs
>almost everything very well, without making it feel like "boy, I can see
>what's coming, why are these characters so stupid?"

I guess I am thinking with her about how she uses historical bits and 
twists them into the story - I generally find the main plots fairly see 
through, but it is the little details about the trading in the Niccolo 
books where there is a good deal of cheating that goes on unless you make 
the connections she is not telling outright.

>So what I'm wondering
>is, are there any books that *do* surprise you?

Do you mean plot-wise? Not recently. But I don't rate surprising plot all 
that highly, and I don't tend to read crime or mystery fiction much. I 
found Lois McMaster Bujold pleasantly tricky when I first read her, but now 
I kind of know how she tends to telegraph her plots, so they don't shock 
me, although I appreciate them.

>I do think the reader's meant to be taken in, but that's based on asking
>people "did you figure out what the truth was before you got to the end?"
>because so far, you're the only one, and I don't think it's that obscure.

Okay, fair enough. I bow to the majority, and I am certainly not going to 
start arguing about authorial intention. (This is because I don't believe 
in prioritising it, not because I don't want to argue.)

>  But I would like to know what books you think
>fit into this kind of cheating.  Maybe I'm just not thinking about the right

Well, the classic (and one which incidentally I think MWT is kind of 
gesturing towards, deliberately or not) is that Agatha Christie book 
narrated by the murderer. I know, I said I don't read mysteries, but I used 
to as a teenager, and I remember the cheating moment in that one quite 
vividly. And it is quite similar, the narrator says at the time, something 
like "I did what needed to be done", and for some reason, that little 
obvious phrase that Gen uses about bumping into the Magus' shoulder, really 
reminded me of that moment.

>I wish I had this sort of affinity with a landscape that she does--it sure
>seems like Greece had a huge impact on her.  (She used your daughter's name?
>Very cool.  Much nicer than having all your literary namesakes be brittle,
>ditzy, or mean.  :)

Well, Xanthe's name has a great pedigree for intertextuality. I got it from 
a Marina Warner book, and I happened to mention this to someone who knows 
her, and apparently she was quite chuffed. The Xanthe in Q of A doesn't 
really have a personality, but still...


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