Monday, October 17, 2016

The Eye of the Swan, by Kelly Robson

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(Mannerpunk) Newly raised to dutchess by the untimely death of her inlaws, Diane struggles to understand the role and not be dominated by others. (5,802 words; Time: 19m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆, Average

According to Tor, this story is set in the world of Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint.
"," by , published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The narration and dialogue are excellent, and Diane's realization that she can wield the power of the Duchy via finances is a clever one. As a promotion for the series, it's a good one.

Con: As a standalone piece, this is 95% setting and only 5% action. It does stand alone, but just barely.

But for the comment from Tor, we'd have thought this story was taking place in England during Victoria's reign. That no duchy of Tremontane exists isn't enough to make it fantasy; Middlemarch doesn't exist either, but no one claims George Eliot was writing fantasy.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Yeah, no magic; it's mannerpunk. Serial Box commissioned it as a promotion for their Tremontaine serial, which is a prequel to Ellen Kushner's classic queer mannerpunk SWORDSPOINT.

  2. I like "mannerpunk." :-) I've seen two or three stories that fit the same mold; maybe I'll use that term.

    I read "Swordspoint" a long time ago and really liked it. It's not strictly a Ruritanian Romance, though, because it has an unusual society that doesn't match anything Europe ever saw.

    The trouble here is that the piece is so short that the reader never gets to see any of those elements. Actually, I'd say the only element they do see is that Diane is not fazed to learn that her faithful servants are lesbian lovers. That's kind of thin, though. 19th-Century Europeans were aware of homosexuality; they were just good at pretending not to see it as long as the individuals pretended to be straight. Now if Diane had asked, "so how long have you two been a couple?" And they'd given a casual answer, THAT would definitely have pushed it out of Ruritania!

    Was there something else I missed?