Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mah Jong For Your Lives

Jane Lindskold writes stories about intellectual people with interesting lives. The books feel very authentic despite the fantasy elements, although the tone can be dry and there is often a lot of talking. She has written a series of books about wolves, an outstanding book about kaleidoscopes, and her current work follows the descendants of refugees from another dimension who can do magic with mah john tiles. Nine Gates is the second book in the Breaking the Wall series.

Lindskold's imagination is powerful enough to hold me to the story -- I really believe in the events and the character's response to them. I liked the twists the plot takes -- there are attacks from opposing forces, but that may only be a signal of a deeper problem. Foes become allies when faced with dangers affecting them both. People behave in an adult manner; even the girl spinning herself in a noose of jealousy eventually comes to her senses. The ensemble cast is a bit distancing; we spend time in the viewpoints of many different characters, and worry about the motives and desires of even more. The prose is more functional than lyric, so the main draw is the story itself. The strong feminism also pleases me; there's no ideology, but many of the characters are powerful women. I'm enjoying that, so I'll keep turning up for more of these books. B

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