Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Book: Myadar's Snare by Sophia Martin

Part 1 of The City Darkens.

Jarldis Myadar is called to the capital by her husband, but arrives to find that things have changed dramatically, she has no rights as a mother, or as a wife, and to top it all off, fashions have changed so much that her arrival causes shock waves. Myadar has to learn to play her husband's game or lose all access to her son, an idea that she can't bare the thought of.

I found this book really hard to place genre wise. I was expecting a fantasy book, but after starting reading I almost immediately ruled that out. There are robots and cars and all manners of futuristic things, but at the same time there are multiple Gods mentioned, a ruling cult, a monarchy and an alternative style of aristocracy. I eventually did settle on speculative fiction, as the main theme of the book seems to be Myadar's oppression and what little choice she has in anything.

I thought that the way eras seemed to mesh together was really good, Martin's descriptions meant that nothing seemed out of place, despite futuristic technology, some aspects expected of high fantasy and the introduction of 1920s style fashion. Or at least, the way that I imagined the fashions described was like the 1920s flapper style. I found it interesting how Martin included drastic changes in fashion, and Myadar's reaction to the changes (the women's clothes are scandalous to her!). In fact Myadar's reaction to all the changes seemed to fit with the changes themselves.

I think Martin's mini-series has great potential, she has clearly thought out how the changes are happening, and it is evident that she has realised that they can't all have happened at once and is having a gradual change occurring in her book.

One thing that has confused me slightly is the position of women, it is clear to me that Myadar's position as a wife is rubbish, she is property and Reister can do what he likes to her, but at the same time Myadar's mother in law seems to have more freedom and more power, and I don't really understand how that is. Similarly Myadar's fellow Jarldis, who Reister insists she becomes friends with, seems to have more power, though her marital status is unknown, could the difference between married and unmarried women really be that great?

I'm really intrigued  by Myadar's story and the two sequels have already been added to my (rather large) to read pile!