So I got The Castings Trilogy by Pamela Freeman for Christmas which to be honest is probably one I wouldn’t have picked up for myself, but I read it anyway. It was a reasonably interesting book, although compared to some of my usual authors (Joe Abercrombie, George R R Martin, Kate Elliot) the story felt rather ‘neat’ things seemed to wrap up quite easily. Nothing went horribly wrong for anyone, like it tends to do in books by the authors I’ve just mentioned. But lets put that aside because this is not a review on the book, what this is is a post about the way in which the author told the story.
I’ve cut this due to length so please click to below for more (there may be spoilers):
She had about 4-5 main characters and often, in between chapters (which were written in 3rd person) she’d have small sections written in 1st person about someone a character had just met telling their life story or some important part of their life. For example one of the main characters meets a Horse Whisperer and starts to work for him, when they meet his wife she’s quite standoffish. The next little chapter is from the wife in 1st person summarising her life before she met her husband, then meeting him. How she gave him a love potion to make him want to stay with her, and then how she spends the rest of her life not knowing whether he truly loves her or it’s just the potion (and seeing as how he’s having an affair its clearly the former). Which all explained why she behaved the way she did.
Initially I wasn’t sure about this mechanic. I was slightly annoyed with the beginning of the book because when she was telling the main characters back story everything felt almost disorientated as she did what felt like a lot of repetition. Then suddenly I got presented with a 1st person chapter and I was like What On Earth?! Because honestly what are you doing mixing 3rd and 1st person?! It just seemed insane and I was like why do I care about this random person in a village that the main character is leaving?
Saying that this wasn’t enough to stop me reading the book though. (There are very few books I haven’t finished and usually these are because I’ve gotten horribly confused about what’s going on. For example I tried and failed to read the Silmerillian, as after page 4 or so I wasn’t sure who was related to who so I gave up. )
So I kept on reading and even now after I’ve finished the book I’m not sure what to make of it. Some of the 1st person section were quite interesting, gave you a bit of insight into some of the things that were going on around the characters. Such as the woman and her love potion, or the supposed demon possession that was just a ghost, or giving insight into where a certain ritual came from. Others though, like the random body found in a cave I didn’t particularly care about.
Now once you get to the end of the book you do realise that these chapters were kind of important. As you kind of meet the ghosts of all these people (and many more) at the end, and there’s an important bit about them all needing to be heard which is part of the resolution of the story.
I am therefore undecided as to whether I liked, or whether this worked as a way to tell the story. Like I said I found it really annoying at the beginning, and some of the sections were interesting and some were boring. It’s kind of a neat idea and I can see why the author has done it but on the other hand I’m not sure whether it really added anything to the story. I think perhaps it was supposed to make you care about more about the ghosts at the end, see that they were people once.
But still jumping between 1st and 3rd person I’m still not sure…. Comments or thoughts anyone?