Friday, October 24, 2014

The Fall of Kings (The World of Riverside #3), by Ellen Kushner (author), Delia Sherman (author), Ellen Kushner (narrator), Delia Sherman (narrator) Nick Sullivan (narrator), Neil Gaiman (narrator), Simon Jones (narrator), Katherine Kellgren (narrator), Robert Fass (narrator), Richard Ferrone (narrator), Tim Jerome (narrator)

Neil Gaiman Presents, August 2013

This is a real treat, a wonderful performance of a very enjoyable book.

Set in the world of Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword, it's about forty or fifty years after Privilege. Katherine is Duchess Tremontaine, and Theron, Alec's posthumous son from his very late marriage to Sofia, now a physician and a Doctor of the University, is her heir presumptive.

He's also young, romantic, a poet, and an eternal student, flitting from one field of study to another, currently studying rhetoric. His heart broken (most recently) by the artist Isolde, who painted him for a year and then was done with him, he meets the dynamic young magister, Doctor of History Basil St. Cloud.

St. Cloud doesn't know this about himself yet, but he's a budding radical, a specialist in ancient history who is starting to go back to primary sources, and beginning to suspect that the despised wizards that the equally despised "mad" ancient kings brought south with them were not all charlatans and frauds.

When St. Cloud, trouble-making scholar, and Theron Campion, descendant of Duke David, the killer of the last king, but also of that last king's sister, fall in love, they set in motion political and emotional upheaval that will rock the city.

We see parts of city life absent from the earlier novels, and an exploration of why, until now, these have been fantasy novels without magic. We finally get some sense of the larger kingdom, and how it works for those who are neither the privileged class nor the Riversiders.

The performance is in every way excellent. The voices are well matched to their characters, with sound effects and transitional music that enhance the sense of being drawn into the world of the story.

Highly recommended.

I bought this book.