For the fifty-seventh book in the challenge, I read Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, the first in her World of Riverside series.
This was a different writing style than the last several books I’d read, and it took a while for me to change my mindset to actually accept it without working too hard. It’s more descriptive and makes you pay attention, and the characters remain more of a mystery to the reader, even the narrators. Once I stopped treating it like a fluff piece I barely had to remain awake in order to understand and took it more seriously, I really got into the story and let the prose just wash over me and do its thing. It’s rather like The Tower at Stony Wood in that way.
You get no hint that there’s a gay relationship in it, or that it’s anything weird, or that the other characters think it’s particularly unusual for any reason other than the social status or personalities of the characters in the relationship. What is the swordsman doing with this crabby scholar? Why is he putting up with the way he treats him? Of course, in that area of town, being too curious about anybody’s business can get you in a lot more trouble than you want to deal with, and there is a whole lot of looking the other way and worrying about your own survival instead. That feels perfectly reasonable and real in that situation. In the upper-class world, it’s completely different. Everyone has plenty of time to dig into others’ dirt and spread it around and destroy people for funsies, and the moral and religious implications of every action can be discussed and scrutinized and abstracted into anything one wants. It’s just as ruthless, but differently so.
I’m definitely reading another of Kushner’s books. I gave this one 5 out of 5 stars.