Friday, February 17, 2017

FFB: Elegy Beach -- Stephen Boyett

This is as close as it comes to Evil Children in my reading this year.  The villain, while not a child, is at least a young man with childlike delusions of changing the world and a very dangerous guy.

A long time ago I read Stephen Boyett's Ariel and liked it a lot.  Twenty-five years after writing that one, Boyett wrote a sequel, Elegy Beach.  I hoped to find some of the same kind of magic in it that I'd found in Ariel, but it wasn't there for me.  Maybe it's not the book.  Maybe I've changed.

The setting of both books is a changed world.  For whatever reason, technology no longer works.  Magic does.  There are strange creatures and dangers.  There are unicorns.  Ariel is one of them, and in the first book the unicorn teams up with Pete Garey in a quest/coming of age story.  In Elegy Beach, Pete's in his 40s, living in California, and dealing with his difficult son, Fred, who, with his friend Yan, is trying to learn to control magic, to make it into a kind of technology that will help people get their world back in order.  As it turns out, Yan wants to do even more, and he becomes the villain of the piece.  Fred, Pete, and Yan's father go after him to stop him before he unmakes the world, and the book becomes another quest, which Ariel shows up and joins.

The tone of this one's a lot darker than Ariel, and I thought it was too long with some of the set pieces extended way beyond their limits.  I did like the climactic scenes in the remains of the Hearst Castle, but again I thought they went on a bit too long.  I wasn't disappointed in the book, but I didn't like it as much as I wanted to.


George said...

I have a copy of ARIEL around here somewhere. Some sequels just don't measure up to the original.

Todd Mason said...

One does have to wonder if Boyett returns 25 years later because he decided he had more to say, or because it seemed like a relatively sure sale, perhaps to a coterie, at least, audience.

I do wonder why sentient unicorns would have human names, but I guess why not.

J F Norris said...

This sounds very similar to what the writers on the new TV series EMERALD CITY are trying to do, though I admit they seem to be failing as its progressing. I like the allegorical implications of magic aligned to technology. Some writers can pull it off with intelligence and simultaneously make a comment about what we all take for granted in our so-called modern world.

Toby O'B said...

Of all the things that stick with me so many years after reading "Ariel", besides the reason why the hero and Ariel went their separate ways (LOL), was that little trick with the office chair to vanquish the bad guy. Always wondered if that would really work.....,