When I travel, I read A LOT. On an average domestic flight with airport waiting time, I’ll probably read 3-4 books. So, I did some reading when I was in Pennsylvania, both on planes and trains. Okay, I slept mostly on the train, but I had a book open.
While many of these books were fine, one book merits a little special conversation. You may remember me singing the praises of Prospero Lost about a year and a half ago, and how impressed I was with L. Jagi Lamplighter’s handling of a huge cast, and deft weaving of literary, historical and self-created characters. I appreciated the skill that went into writing the book, and studied the book for the lessons it taught me as an author.
During this past year, I read the second book, Prospero in Hell. It is a middle book and reads like a middle book. It’s a good book, but it’s a bridge, and just like The Two Towers, what you think of it in the end is going to depend on where it takes you to in Book 3.
I wouldn’t be gushing too much to say that Prospero Regained is the best book of the series. Again, Lamplighter weaves a tapestry of a gigantic cast with mythic and literary overtones, but the added bonus in this book is that our heroine becomes self-actualized. Painful changes and realizations occur for the characters as they journey through Dante’s Inferno, and these become archetypical changes as well as personal ones.
For me the litmus test was the appearance of Prospero himself. After an almost three book lead-in to the character’s appearance, there was a lot of weight on the author’s shoulders to produce an interesting character who was worth all this fuss. The author neither opts for an easy one note of one emotional type, or the other common technique that this character might be a villain in the piece (plenty of red herrings in that direction!), but balances a multi-faceted character against the situation he creates and the children that he has loved and dominated. There are no apologies for Prospero being a manipulator, but at the same time there is great pride in the parent when the children rebel.
So, a very satisfying end to a very good series. I’ve been lucky enough that L. Jagi Lamplighter has agreed to pop by soon to be the next author in my writing process interviews. Read the books, read the interview, tell your mom you’ve got in the recommended daily allowance of Shakespeare sometime soon.