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880 pages, Mass Market Paperback
First published March 1, 1998
“The man who worries about what will next be happening to him loses this moment in dread of the next, and poisons the next with pre-judgement.”
“I’ve just been living from day to day. Waiting for something or someone else to change the situation.” His eyes studied her face, looking for a reaction to his next words. “I think I need to make a real decision. I believe I need to take action on my own.”
Look forward, not back. Correct your course and go on. You cannot undo yesterday's journey.
*The characters matter. The majority of characters in A Game of Thrones are AT BEST observers, and often not even good at that; all the characters (especially viewpoint characters)in Ship of Magic have agency: they are making things happen, everything they do affects the plot, the story. In A Game of Thrones the plot is happening around the characters--when they could make a difference, they don't, because characters get in the way of the plot. That could work, but only if the reader has a sense that characters caused the plot in the first place. Ship of Magic only takes place because of decisions made generations ago, and how the current people are trying to live around and with those decisions. There is a deep, complicated back story that at no time takes over what's happening now, but only makes it possible. Can I say how much I've missed this?
*A Game of thrones suffered from odd, arbitrary chapter breaks that always followed only one character (ideally, and when Martin didn't abruptly drop into omniscient when he forget what he was doing) and didn't follow the same characters in a row BECAUSE. The chapter breaks and POV changes in Ship of Magic are based on the timeline and pacing. And they don't just skip the big scenes to sum up later.
*The characters in Ship of Magic are so much better. In fact they're so awesome, I'll have to get back to this.
*The women are just as complex as the men! and just as active! and compelling! and have equal textual representation in a sexist world! and there's no creepy, overdone euphemisms for genitalia! and no glorified, underage, fetishized rape scenes! uhhhh....I feel like I shouldn't have to expect such things, but I am comparing it strictly to GoT here.
*This is also a vaguely historically-based world with only rare magic. Only here it's embedded from the beginning, and while not understood and distrusted by the inhabitants of the world, it doesn't follow the pattern of: 100 pages of ambiguity 1 sentence maybe? (x3) 100 pages ambiguity full-on firewalking and suckling dragons!
“One must plan for the future and anticipate the future without fearing the future.”
“As long as you believe it is impossible, you close your mind to understanding it.”
“It is the nature of humans that we tend to pass our pain along. As if we could get rid of it by inflicting an equal hurt on someone else.”
“What you are born to be, you will be, whether it be priest or sailor. So step up and be it. Let them do nothing to you. Be the one who shapes yourself.”