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Illusion (1991)

por Paula Volsky

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaDiscussões / Menções
580731,041 (3.99)1 / 15
  1. 20
    The Traitor's Daughter por Paula Brandon (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Paula Brandon is a pseudonym for Paula Volsky. Readers who enjoy her work under one name may enjoy it under the other as well.
  2. 11
    The Moon and the Sun por Vonda N. McIntyre (feeling.is.first)
    feeling.is.first: both books are set in alternate French court, complex politics & difficult moral choices
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Mostrando 1-5 de 7 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
I loved Volsky's The Grand Ellipse, so I had high hopes for this. Unfortunately it just dragged and didn't really get anywhere. I gave it 160 pages, but after 2 or 3 reading sessions that all ended in me wanted to start skimming in hopes of getting on with the story, I gave up. Her writing is beautiful, but in this case, everything just took twice as long as it should. The "French" names were also problematic because I couldn't pronounce most of them and there were way too many of them, so I immediately lost track of who was who.

I would give other books from her a chance, but this one I couldn't finish. ( )
  ragwaine | Feb 24, 2021 |
Unfortunately I have to list this book as a DNF. The writing was fine but I just couldn't get myself to pick it up and read it. I expected something with some magic and fantasy: but this book is a retelling of the French Revolution with a couple of parlor tricks thrown in. I really dislike "feel bad' novels full of suffering and social injustice and that's pretty much all I have read so far. The actual non fiction books I have read about the French Revolution were more compelling and interesting than this.

Maybe someday after I have read a couple of inventive, magical flights of literary fantasy I will try it again. ( )
  Equestrienne | Jan 5, 2021 |
This book started so well. It had a really engaging hook. The author gets the reader really invested in Eliste, her uncle, and Dref. Then I got past the beginning and the middle dragged, and kept dragging. Nothing interesting is actually happening in the Shereen court because Eliste is not interested in it, even when the revolution is happening. When it switches perspective to the revolutionaries, I had a difficult time caring about their plight. It was at this point that I wondered why this book is written as a fantasy because it is not as if the plot needs magic. This could easily have been historical fiction and it would have made more sense. The world building is confusing if you have any context for the French revolution, but maybe I was overthinking it. I ended up skipping 100 pages and it turns out I didn't miss much, when the author finally gets around to reuniting Eliste with Dref. But at that point, I was disinterested in finishing the book. ( )
  Kittyfoil | Sep 5, 2020 |
I really wanted to like this book. I haven't read much lately that could be straightforwardly classified as fantasy; this was going to be a welcome relief, the kind of book I could read without worrying about its greater significance or blah blah blah. A fun book, without being simple-minded.

I've read [b:The White Tribunal|910723|The White Tribunal|Paula Volsky|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1179379863s/910723.jpg|895828] and [b:The Wolf of Winter|1022227|The Wolf of Winter|Paula Volsky|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1331171627s/1022227.jpg|1008354], both by Volsky, and I enjoyed both. The Wolf of Winter felt very... Siberian, or Russian, or something along those lines, and seemed to be a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, while The White Tribunal felt like a weird take on The Count of Monte Cristo. I've re-read both, and they stand up as being entertaining but not world-shaking. It helps that I read them in high school, when my predilection for tortured, outcast, and/or complicated characters was at its height; both books satisfied this desire. I believe she uses the same setting for most of her books, but there's still continuity beyond geographical names.

Illusion was just too unwieldy, too slow to start, too fragmentary. Volsky re-tells the story of the French revolution, giving her ruling class magical power instead of the monetary and political sort. The main character, Eliste vo Derrivale, is part of this ruling class and strikes a nice balance--she swallows enough of the social norms to be realistic, but questions them enough that she does not alienate readers. She's a mostly good person who's never had to question her place in the world; it would definitely be interesting to see her forced into that questioning.

The problem is that even after getting through a third of the novel, revolution is still fomenting, has not mustered the carbonation required to bubble over and ruin the fine silk tablecloth. Eliste is still courting, attending the queen as a handmaiden, taking erstaz cocaine to keep up with the chores, the parties, the gifts, the men. Volsky intersperses this with passages from revolutionaries' perspectives, which are interesting but disruptive. Everything was at least mildly interesting, but the pacing was so slow that it just wasn't interesting enough. And, not being a French revolution buff, my historical interest wasn't enough to overcome the flaws of the text.

I had to put this one down. It breaks my heart, as I liked the other work I've read from Volsky, and she writes well. Granted, I never stopped to marvel at a particularly beautiful or well-written passage, but neither was I tripped up by bad writing. Her prose is invisible, and in non-"literary" fiction, I'd say that isn't a bad thing. But that's one less reason to keep reading, and I'm afraid Illusion needed it. ( )
  prufrockcoat | Dec 3, 2019 |
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