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Westmark
by Lloyd Alexander
184 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Fiction/YA/Fantasy

Read for [livejournal.com profile] mrissa's book-club discussion. My comment, abridged:

I clearly felt the influence of children's (vs. YA) literature in the heavy-handed characterization, the simple prose, and the arc length. Cabbarus seemed like a flat villain, and I never became much enamored of Theo. His philosophical struggles about morality appear distinctly childish, although perhaps I'm comparing unfairly to recent readings in philosophy at a layman but much more sophisticated level (solidly adult nonfiction).

The politics became more interesting, but again, I prefer the denser machinations of adult secondary-world fantasy. I did like the absence of magic; what subgenre is this exactly? Not fantasy-of-manners in style, but no apparent magic either. In terms of type, I'm also not fond of adventure stories.

Were it not for your discussions, I probably would not continue reading the series simply because I can think of so many better books to read (though I don't think WESTMARK is bad really); but I will persevere, and hopefully the other books are more satisfying intellectually.


All three of Alexander's books in the Westmark trilogy are classified as children's lit in my library; is this the younger side of YA or middle-grade?

Random comments: I haven't read a classic bildungsroman adventure fantasy in so long, but now that I have, I'm reminded that I dislike it. Many of the characters, like the dwarf Musket and his mountebank master Las Bombas, border on cariacture. I guessed Mickle's secret-ish when she and Theo met Cabbarus, so the drawn-out hinting from that point on was painfully tedious. The apprentice=devil jargon in the very first sentence was confusing; I've never heard that terminology before, and at first I thought it was meant as a funny allusion/pun.

Oh yes, the plot: Theo is an (orphan?) boy apprenticed to the printer Anton, happy with his simple life. When he agrees to print pamphlets for a mysterious Dr. Absalom, the press is unexpectedly raided by royal soldiers and destroyed. With that, Theo sets off on an unwilling adventure across Westmark.

Overall, I am not entirely repulsed, and the books are short enough for me to give the improving plot another chance; but were it not for [livejournal.com profile] mrissa, I don't know when that second chance would come given the length of my TBR list. I've already gotten The Kestrel from the library and I have been told it is a stronger book than Westmark, which for me did not live up to high praise from [livejournal.com profile] mrissa and [livejournal.com profile] yhlee.
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keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Keix

January 2011

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