[By Nic Lindh on Wednesday, 12 May 2004]
Let’s first come right out and say that I’m only halfway through The Paths of the Dead by Stephen Brust, and that is as far as I’m going to get. The novel has an interesting concept: It is written as though it is a book composed by a somewhat pompous historian living at a later date in the same world as the one where events take place. According to reviews on Amazon, it is supposed to be something of a riff on The Three Musketeers. Be that as it may–I sure can’t see it–it’s incredibly slow-moving and the ploy with the historian only succeeds in disrupting the suspension of disbelief so necessary for enjoyment of a fantasy novel.
The Paths of the Dead is also fatally filled with annoying and spirit-crushing dialogue like this:
“But there must be one thing you can tell me.”
“And what is that?”
“Why you have come to visit me.”
“Oh, as to that–”
“You are right, there is no reason not to tell you.”
“Then you will do so?”
“This very instant.”
“Then I await you.”
Aaaaaaaahhh! Stop it! This is how every freaking conversation goes. Bumpity-bumpity-bump with zero information exchange. It was cute the first five times, and then it started to hurt me deep inside.
Nope, can’t take it. Made it halfway through on sheer obstinacy, but that’s it.
Brust has finally come up with a more annoying fantasy tick than the infamous “ten pages to walk around a bush” syndrome. Didn’t think I’d live to see the day.