Thursday, January 11, 2007

Valley of Silence

by Nora Roberts
Book 3 of the Circle Trilogy

It's never a good idea to stay up late reading a book when you've just started a new job. You run the risk of waking up late the next morning with horrible black bags under your eyes, hair sticking up at odd angles, and the title of a book creased into your cheek. It was worth it though. It's safe to say that Valley of Silence was the best book of the trilogy.

Cian and Moira's story was a much more compelling read than the other two; the love story more moving; the danger more urgent. It still suffered from the problems of the other two books: i.e. too much dialogue and not enough action. There were more conversations on why Moira and Cian couldn't be together than was needed. But because the love story between Cian and Moira was so great, those problems were less annoying than in the other two. I enjoyed reading of their struggle to love each other, knowing that it could go nowhere and would end in pain. I also enjoyed reading a story in which the characters were emotionally honest with each other and with themselves. Those are the type of characters, the kind of people, I can respect.

I also respect, Roberts' willingness to show the gray area that lies between good and evil. Roberts, as so few popular authors do, has the courage and the wits to show that what we would call evil can have sympathetic facets. "Evil" can love, it can know pain, it can know fear, it can feel the need for family. I appreciate Roberts including the sincere affection between Lilith, the Vampire Queen, and Lora, her companion.

What I didn't appreciate, however, was the detail that Lilith sleeps with the five year-old vampire "son" Davy. I didn't see the point in including such a nasty detail. In particular I could have done without this sentence: "In the moonlight he [Davy] saw the battlefield, and the beauty of it made him shake as he did when his mother let him put himself into her and ride as if she were a pony."

I had to read that sentence at least twice over to make sure I'd read it right. When I was sure I had, I wished I hadn't. I mean really Nora, was that necessary? I can handle uncomfortable plot lines but that little detail just wasn't needed. I'd gathered that Lilith and Davy were "lovers" already, I didn't need it thrown in my face. And it just seemed incongruous with the style of the rest of the story. In many ways, this trilogy is a way for Roberts to push the envelope but I think she pushed it a little too far with Davy's storyline.

In any case, I suppose I should also add that the conclusion of the book, and the trilogy was satisfactory but predictable. But then what popular romance story isn't predictable? They all mostly end one way, happily ever after, which is why I read them when I just want to feel good. After all, I saw the resolution to Cian and Moira's love story coming a mile away. But it was great romance reading nonetheless and one I'll return to again. I wish the other books had been as good as this one, I wish this trilogy had been as good as the Three Sisters Island Trilogy or the Key Trilogy, and I wish there was time enough to stay up reading all night and still get a good night's sleep. On a completely unrelated topic Cian says, "But the hours mattered, every minute of them." Damn right they do. Now, I'm off to get some sleep.

Dance of the Gods, pt. 2

by Nora Roberts
pgs. 125-316 (End)
Book 2 of the Circle Trilogy

Still a lot of talk...Yadda, yadda, yadda. Blah, blah, blah. I don't have a problem with dialogue at all. What I do have a problem with is with dialogue that is repeated over and over again for - I don't know - space? How many conversations must the members of the circle have about how they need to stick together and tell each other everything? It was a concept I grasped quite well in the first book; why do the characters need to be reminded of it every other page? Why do I have to read about it every other page?

And Blair's repetitive inner dialogues grew, well, monotonous. I appreciate getting a glimpse into a character's head. It's one of the things that makes Roberts' characters come alive and something at which she usually excels. I can't figure out exactly what happened here. It could be that, because Roberts had to spread the action out over three books, there was less action in each and more dialogue than was needed or wanted. Yet, that argument becomes difficult to make when one considers that this isn't Roberts' first trilogy. She's done several, most of which are much more compelling reads than the Circle Trilogy thus far.

It's interesting too that, despite all the dialogue - inner and otherwise - I didn't understand the characters all that well at the end of the day. As characters in a book, I liked Blair and Larkin perfectly well. As people I could imagine actually existing, they fell fairly flat. And, I said it before, Blair is simply too much of an Eve Dallas rip-off for me to really appreciate her as a separate character. There were some differences, i.e. Blair doesn't mind doing typical girly things; Eve doesn't even have an idea what that is. But those differences weren't substantial enough to make me feel as if wasn't reading the story of a poor and uninteresting descendent of Eve.

Despite all of that, I do look forward to reading Valley of Silence. I can't wait to read Cian and Moira's story. It is my sincere hope that it turns out to be worth mostly uninteresting reading I've had to put up with so far.