The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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books: vision in silver by anne bishop (book three of the others)
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
My review of Written in Red, which was the first book of the series. The second, Murder of Crows, I read last year but I don't think ever reviewed. Mostly to this day--and especially after Vision in Silver, I'm ambivalent, though not Mercedes Lackey hostile.

The review of Written in Red had a short character and country directory if you need a refresher.

This may not be organized well, but I have feelings.



Vision in Silver is the third book in the Others series, and I ran into a problem with book two that carried into book three: I don't like the Others. Like, at all.

A lot of my liking for the first book was the fabulous worldbuilding and possibilities. Book two and three had lots of worldbuilding, too, and slowly but surely I went from interested and sympathetic to the Others to kind of sympathizing with the Humans First movement. This is where Anne Bishop failed and didn't have to; she wanted to make the Others super-magical and super-awesome and super-better than humans and the true and fair rulers of the world but also super-oppressed by the mean humans. That they also eat.

Just note: you cannot rule the world, have all the power, all the advantages, magic, make humans pay for water, have rationing on food, and eat humans for dinner and with a straight face claim humans shouldn't be hostile and shocked--SHOCKED I SAY--that they kind of want to wipe your asses off the face of the earth. And then decide humans should be extinct. Because environmentalism and infanticide and they won't deliver pizza to you.

(They won't delivery pizza to you--or want to make deliveries to you--because you threaten to eat them and say casually there's no guarantee they'll survive the delivery. This isn't prejudice; this is not wanting to fucking die, what's wrong with you?)

All the major oceans have an elemental who can drown everyone in the world literally as do the Great Lakes, just throwing that out here on how the others really fucking control everything but like, one area of the world where humans rule (small area) and they can kill all of them easily.

I'm more annoyed than anything, since Bishop tells a good story and I'm invested in the point of view characters, but Bishop has this huge disconnect on how much humans don't want to be eaten and not starve to death, much less have relatively nice lives and that those things aren't wrong or entitled. She keeps losing me when not being eaten, not starving to death, and (horror) want a standard of living above subsistence is seen to be like, a luxury and a vague textual disapproval of humans wanting those things because they should be totally okay with being food, starving, or not having homes.

I'm trying to think of more to say, but I'm just super-annoyed because the concept is cool and the world she's building is breathtaking and there's so much food for thought on how this came about. Book Two ended with a whole bunch of cassandra sangue being freed from all the facilities holding them captive and taken to locations unknown by the Others (who are totally offended anyone would think they'd kill those girls or eat them because children which is a lot like someone super-offended when they're thought to eat veal despite the fact they are at that moment chowing down on a hamburger. Sorry, so you'll wait a few years for it to get to hamburger age, my mistake).

Book Three, on the other hand, was more Other-human bonding, which was nice--like I said, her pov characters I like and found mixed-species family works for me-but then we got to something that vaguely bothered me in Book One and Bishop sort of almsot fixed it but kind of late.

Book one, it was very obvious that not only do the Others oppress the fuck out of humans, they don't even do the minimum playing favorites with humans who are nice to them ("I may not eat you right now": no that's not an inducement, sunshine). Monty saved an Other Wolfgard child from rape and murder by a pedophile and got asskicked by humans to the boondocks and lost his girlfriend and custody of his kid; Others didn't much really care.

(Like I said, these books are weird and book two didn't help with this. There's literally no reason whatsofuckingever to be friends with (or even show basic levels of compassion for) the Others and it's actively dangerous to even try because you're in danger of death--or being eaten--from both sides (assuming Humans First don't eat people, and I'm not willing to say they don't at this point).)

So Book Three--fucking finally--the all powerful Others make an effort to protect the humans who help them and actually like them from other humans trying to kill/evict/fire them from their jobs for being pro-Other.

We also find out the poor sad Others didn't do well in school because no one taught them how to take notes (deliberately, to oppress them) therefore putting them at a disadvantage in literally one place in alllll the world. Yeah, that worked to get my sympathy but also I couldn't work out why they didn't--like every other human born--kind of pick that up by observation or when your teacher tells the class to get out a piece of paper and take notes (i don' think the teacher secretly whispered it to everyone else in the class but the Other child, and didn't he notice them taking out paper and a pencil at some point and do as they do?). There's a lot about this, like how to use forks and eat food a certain way (honey on bread or people mock you?) and math and table manners and again, it's a cool idea that the Others were legit persecuted (in a way that literally has no meaning when you can control the fucking weather to kill everyone for funtimes) but her examples were things you could learn with a single viewing of The Breakfast Club or prime time TV, and Sparkletown does make TV and movies.

Basically--and I try here--there is no legit reason for the Others to get their feelings hurt by their fucking prey that they eat, like on-screen more than once. I'm sympathetic in the individual very much--mostly--but as a group, no.

Then there's the fucking Simple People (Amish?) and the Intuits (Wait for it: people with super special intuition aka situational clairvoyance aka cassandra sangue light), humans who are totally with the earth or are magic, and the Others sort of probably don't eat because reasons (I'm not clear on this). We met some in Book Two, where they live in harmony with the Others because they're enlightened or don't want much or live close the earth or something, and it was the first time the Others seem to maybe understand vaguely the idea that if you want people not to hate and try to murder you, you like, reciprocate that idea.

I hate them like a lot.

In the individual, they're cool and I like them, but as a group they're smug as fuck-all (we get along with the Others, see how well we ask permission for everything and never cross any lines and suck up like a lot? And they mostly only treat us like third class citizens: SCORE).

In less general, more character related news:

Meg and Simon are no closer to banging even though Book Two totally had an ending all like "is gonna happen" and no.

Also, all the rescued cassandra sangue start suffering from what appears to be sensory overload, which Book One sort of implied with Meg but suddenly and abruptly in Book Three took off to cassandra sangue committing suicide from the equivalent of environmental TMI and Meg's for no reason (after months out and about) upgraded to not being able to function sometimes instead of a quirk. So that was fairly jarring as hell, and the thing is, Bishop fell down by making Meg suddenly suffer from it, too. I would have actually bought "because Meg is super-special" as a reason it didn't happen to her as strongly, but no, so there went continuity.

Merri Lee is dating Officer Debany (Merri Lee is awewsome).

Officer Kowalski and Ruthie got evicted from their apartment because they are nice to the Others (Wolflover is the slur, yeah), and Ruthie lost her job for the same reason. She's a teacher--I think--and definitely is being hired eventually by Simon and the Others to be a real teacher for the Others so they learn how to take notes and use forks. Which glad Ruthie got a job, yeah, but I still don't get why the Others missed this on TV. They watch movies and TV; Meg and Simon have a goddamn date night thing going on with Sam doing just that. So--no idea.

Monty's daughter comes to Lakeside after the murder of her mother, and then makes the mistake of acting like a child, which upsets Meg and therefore all the Others don't like a small child because...she acted like a small child.

I have no idea what the fuck Bishop was doing here or why; the Others got five hundred thousand percent less sympathetic bullying a little girl--she's like between five and seven or something, we're talking kindergarten or first grade at best--whose mom was just fucking murdered (and she saw all bloody in the bathroom no less and who while dying told her daughter to take the train while pretending she was fine) and had to cross the country on a train all alone. Seriously, wtf? Why? What was the point? That's villain behavior, much like the Others eating people, so hey, consistency at least.

The end of the book, the Others who live in the wilderness (Super Others? Scary Others who the regular Others fear? They Who Walk Between the Fucking Rows? They're even more powerful and scary than the Others, so you know, poor things who aren't even around humans to be oppressed by them) have called--on the telephone, because Bishop does have a sense of humor--to give the verdict on whether humans are all to be made extinct because reasons (oppressed Others?). No extinction, but I think decimation or culling is on the table, because I needed another reason to think Humans First maybe had the right idea, thanks.

Final Notes

These are a fun read, don't get me wrong, but she's really not doing a great job on making the reader care about the Others other than in the individual (and sometimes not even then). So the entire rising Humans First hate group gaining steam isn't nearly as big a deal as it should be, or something you're supposed to root against. It's like trying to use A Tale of Two Cities as model for how the French Revolution was tragic for all the poor aristocrats because of the mean peasants instead of as an individual story. After three books, she's dug in on the idea the Others are victims (IDEK) and need to strike back now before they're...inconvenienced? A little?

Posted at Dreamwidth: http://seperis.dreamwidth.org/1018070.html. | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments

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Anne Bishop does some good writing, but fairly early on in her first series (the one that took place in The Gothverse Land of Enchanted Cock Rings) I decided that her id was a very strange place indeed.

This. Though I was way more comfortable with mandated cockrings, tbh. This, I keep getting thrown out of the fantasy for the 'seriously?' philosophical points of whether or not to eat people.

I roared through the first two books, and found myself a bit blah about this one. I think my issues were mainly around where the story was going.

Like you, I found the introduction of the "cassandra sangue can't cope and Meg is freaking out" a little jarring. I think I also expected the story to wrap up as a trilogy, so I was expecting more of a climax of this book and it kind of meandered.

I'll probably still read the fourth book when it comes out, but I don't think I'd bother a series re-read first.

The only one I really enjoy re-reading is Written in Red. Meg is awesome, and honestly, she could have avoided lots of problems by sticking primarily with Meg and Simon and focus on the personal and not the really incredibly fucked-up philosophy.

And yes on the trilogy thing; that threw me too. Plus, no advancement on the Simon/Meg, which was kind of frustrating.

Ooooh, long review of interesting :D

I haven't read the 3rd book yet but I liked the first two, though not as much as I liked the Black Jewels books. I have a much less negative reaction to the Others. I read the books as the Other's problem with humans is that they want more than their share of resources and the world. The Others are the guardians and custodians of nature, and they take their job seriously. And with humans pushing for more share of the pie because they can't feed their people, well, the answer is breed less people. The Others are a very collective/non-individual society, and that informs all of their attitudes, and I think is a major source of conflict. The humans are going 'I have a right to this, that, etc, me, personally' and the Others are going 'sort your shit out collectively, just because you breed too much does not make it our problem'. Just my two cents.

Yeah, I get the environmentalism angle, but the eating sentient, sapient creatures and basically creating an indentured servant class of them (without a way out) is sketchy on concept; the Others needed to be above reproach to get away with that at least on some level.

But except for environmentalism, they're as much dicks as humans, literally, so the 'superior' angle (which would be sketchy but at least workable) is out the door. They have racism and prejudice and all-around dickery in full measure--and use nature to destroy the earth when pissed off--and freaking eat people and sometimes for no better reason than its date night and why not, so I can't sympathize more than individually. Simon cut off water to all the people including children in Lakeside--as well as sufficient food because gardens need water--unless their parents pay a high water tax because a few people--who probably don't even live in that city--killed his sister and they couldn't find the culprit (possibly because even he guesses they were from out of town). So they also starve kids for no reason.

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