Monday, February 23, 2009

Fly by Night, by Frances Hardinge

I forget now whether I started on the 18th, right after Erec Rex 2, or the 19th. Either way, this book took me a while to read, because it's now the 22nd. I don't usually take 4 or 5 days on a book. Anyway, it was published in 2005, had 485 pages (pretty hefty) and the chapters were pretty interesting. There's a prologue, and then the chapters are marked with letters of the alphabet. "A is for Arson," "B is for Blackmail," etc. It goes all the way to "V is for Verdict," for some reason. I don't know why it stopped at V. Why not Z? I guess X and Z might've been tough to think up words for. So that makes...*counts alphabet on fingers (just kidding!)* 22 letters, plus prologue, makes 23 chapters.

So the story was okay. It takes place in a fictitious land that sounds a lot like 18th century England or something. There are poor villages and bustling cities, fancy talkers, highway men (old-fashioned robbers), wigs, horses and carriages, poor literacy except for scholars and others, basically the works. The book follows a 12 year old girl Mosca Mye (funny name. Everyone is named a bit weirdly) whose father (now dead) taught her to read and she escapes her home village to follow a man named Eponymous Clent, a man who has such a way with words. For some reason she brings with her a goose named Saracen, who is quite fierce. I guess he was handy for scaring the right people off. The book is so long that it was a little hard to keep up with the whole plot. There are these guild wars, rumors of an illegal printing press, the Duke is a bit mad, there's a murder, and all the people worship these numerous gods, which I find confusing, but it seems the multi-god worshipping is normal for Mosca. Everyone does it.

Anyway, I'm not sure I'd say I liked it very much, but I don't think it was that bad. I liked the language people used in that kind of time. It's as if the author went in a time machine and wrote the dialogue as the people then would say it. The whole book was written like one of those classics, I think, but not in the boring way. Plus, I liked how the ending went. Like, Mosca at first is offered a chance at living normally and in safety, but she wants to continue following Clent, no matter where they end up. She says something along the lines of, "Books aren't enough anymore. I don't want a happy ending, I want more story." That's a pretty good ending line, I think. It's not exactly the very last line, but it's close to there. I don't know who else would be interested in this book, but it would be good if you gave it a try.

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