Jan. 8th, 2013

capfox: (Wonderboy)
(Programming note: time to get back on doing these again until I'm caught up with the backlog. I'm going to try to do 1 a day again until I'm caught up. Let's see how that goes.)

Homecomings are always harder when they're to secret institutions of secrets.

Book #66: Return
Author: Peter S. Beagle
Provenance: Borrowed from my mother

It's helpful to have your favorite book by an author be their favorite book as well. Sometimes it can lead to them playing around with it more, and that's the case here. My favorite book actually is Beagle's The Innkeeper's Song, and he's returned to set a number of shorter stories in the world since then, including a collection in Giant Bones, with this latest novella being a fairly notable installment. This is a rarer effort from him in this regard, a tale dealing with one of the main characters of The Innkeeper's Song itself, returning back to the monastery of secrets where they spent their formative years.

Really, the setup works quite well - our hero (alas, using the name constitutes a real spoiler for the original book) dispatches the latest bunch of assassins sent from the place, but there's something amiss about them and their behavior, and to work out the consequences, our protagonist returns in disguise to his old home and refuge. The welcome there is complex, the ultimate reason the monastery wanted him to return surprising and fairly monstrous, and the nature of the place and its residents revealed to be... well, not exactly a revelation, but not exactly what I'd expected, either.

It's always a pleasure to return to the Innkeeper's World, and Beagle gets the cadence of the lead character down right. The writing is typically brilliant, as you'd expect from Beagle, and the whole story was worth the time. The only thing is that it's really quite slight, even for a novella; I do feel like to get everything I'd have wanted for the feel of the place, it should have been a bit longer, but it was a good story as it was.

All told, if you like Beagle and you read the other books in this setting, then you'll definitely want to read this one, as it fills in much of this character's past. But definitely read the other stuff first - this isn't the story to start with in this setting, and it'll spoil a ton of things if you read this and then go into the others. And you don't want to be spoiled for the original too much. Beagle does twist some good tales, and this world is still my favorite.

Next up: Probably Paper Towns, I'm thinking.

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