Monday, July 12, 2010


I like this picture of Chill better than the actual cover, so it's going here too.

Almost a year to the day later, I finally read the second part to Elizabeth Bear's Jacob's Ladder trilogy (I actually finished Chill on July 9th at camp). And unfortunately, I wasn't really impressed with it. With Dust, I didn't want to put the book down. With Chill, I generally couldn't be bothered to pick it up.

Chill picks up pretty much where Dust left off. Perceval is now captain of the ship, which she has managed to save from the dying nova star. The Jacob's Ladder is now accelerating, but it has been damaged in the process and is now in dire need of repair. So enters Caitlin, the Chief Engineer, who must find a way to repair the damage with the limited resources available onboard.

At the same time, Arianrhod, a woman who should have died, has escaped. And so Tristen, Perceval's First Mate and head of the house of Conn, and Benedick, Perceval's father and Tristen's younger brother, are trying to track her down. With a colourful cast of characters, many of whom appeared in Dust (like the necromancer Mallory and the basilisk/torch Gavin), the two brothers journey across the ship in pursuit. Engaged in a pincer movement in an attempt to cut her off, the two brothers encounter vastly different things, from carnivourous plant people to ancient enemies of Tristen's.

You may have noticed that Perceval and Rien, the two stars of Dust, do not really feature in Chill. While it's true that Perceval is now captain, she really doesn't have much to do with the plot of Chill at all, grieving for the loss of Rien. And that was one of the problems of Chill, that we have lost a confident character who was a lot of fun to follow.

The other problem is that the narrative is so fragmented. In Dust, the story was mainly told from one or two perspectives (Rien's and Perceval's). But in Chill, we are all over the place, following three main characters who are facing vastly different things. While I liked all of them, I just felt that everytime I started to get into what one was doing, the narrative would switch to one of the other characters.
Another problem might have been that I read Dust over a year ago, and forgot a lot of what happened in the book (and who some of the characters were). For that reason, when Grail comes out, I'm going to reread both Dust and Chill before reading it. That will also give Chill a second chance.

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