Joan Aiken, vague spoiler for Midwinter Nightingales (and real spoiler for series)

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Tue Jan 13 09:12:24 EST 2004


Jackie:

>  > >There is a small mistake in the story.  Midwinter Nightingales is
>already out.  I have a copy and have read it, and actually found it
>pretty disturbing.  In the later books, it seems, Aiken just starts...
>
>>  >small, rather vague spoiler coming up...
>>  >
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>killing people off without compunction.  No major characters, but several
>minor characters that I'd come to like.  Same thing in Dido and Pa and in
>Is Underground.
>
>Hallie: > Do you really think it's without compunction?  I found _Is_
>very sad, and disturbing even, but can't honestly think that it would
>have felt 'righter' (for whatever values of 'right'!) if the characters
>hadn't  been killed off, though it would certainly have been more upbeat.
>  I'm not sure who you mean in_Dido and Pa_ , though I guess it's
>*possible* to feel liking for one character who bought it. (Keeping it to
>vague.)
>>
>
>Jackie:  Well, perhaps not without compunction, you're right.  And Dido
>certainly feels terrible about the people who die in Midwinter.  But I
>don't see that there was a point to their deaths.  I can see your point
>that in Is Underground, the people who die do so in an important
>self-sacrifice, that's true.  So it is upsetting, but understandable.
>But I can't see that there was a point to the deaths in Midwinter.

I haven't read Midwinter yet, and will quite likely be in complete 
agreement with you about it when I have.  (FWIW, I thought the last 
sentence of _The Teeth of the Gale_ was totally pointless!)

>  I
>also think that this is something that escalates as you read through the
>series.  The earlier (in terms of publishing dates) books don't have
>this, so I suppose that I was not expecting it in the later books.  In
>Dido and Pa, in addition to the awful people dying, there's also someone
>who helps them who dies--again, kind of pointlessly.  It's a lot like
>life in that Dido agonizes over the choice that she made without
>realizing it, and wishing that she had just done something a bit
>different... but it's a book.  Aiken had the choice:  Dido COULD easily
>have done something differently, and to me, it didn't seem to be
>important to the book that this character died.

Ok, now I get which character.  I'm not so sure that I agree 
entirely, either about this particular death, or the series as a 
whole though.  Of course Aiken could have made it happen differently, 
but she's also made it a world in which the awful people are awful 
precisely because they don't care at all about 'minor characters' 
dying, and I think I'd rather that on the whole.  Much as I'd rather 
they all lived happily ever after.

I thought there was a very similar death in _Stolen Lake_, but can't 
find our copy just ATM.  But that book is so full of horror anyway 
IMO, that I can't think of the series progressing towards darkness 
regardless or whether there is or isn't the death!

And then there is the article I read in Locus, iirc, in which JA said 
she'd planned to leave Dido dead after Black Hearts, but was 
convinced to change her mind by a young fan.  Which was shot down as 
not credible on the list when I mentioned it then, so I bring it up 
now very much in the FWIW department. :)

>  > Spoiler for series overall:
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>Hallie:  > What I have against the series (in the mildest sort of way) is
>that  poor Simon has to become king and is left all alone and then JA
>stopped adding Dido books at the end of the story!  MW is slotted in
>  the middle of the story somewhere, like Dangerous Games/Limbo Lodge,
>right?  For all people have said against the Mitt-story ending (I'm not
>in the speaking-against camp, FWIW), it's at least got hope,  contrasted
>with the place Simon was left.

>Jackie:  Well, I suppose that I can see Dido's point that she would be
>very out of place as queen...

Oh, I don't know!  JA's made such a splendidly un-stuffy monarchy 
already that I think Dido would fit right in - and do them all good. 
:)

	Oh how I'd like to be queen, Pa,
	Watching my troops at review,
	With slippers of crimson shagreen, Pa,
	And all of my underclose new!

We even wrote it on the wall in our bathroom!

>but I think that there is more hope offered
>in Midwinter Nightingale than was left at the end of Dido and Pa.  And I
>believe that it is set later--after she returns from the visit to
>Nantucket that she is on during the Is books.

Great!  Really looking forward to reading it.

Hallie.
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