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16 Jul 06
1610: A Sundial in a Grave - Mary Gentle - Gollancz, 2003
* * *
Mary Gentle is an interesting writer who only found great success with her massive and popular historical fantasy Ash. I enjoyed it but didn’t think it was quite as wonderful as some people did - Ash herself was an extremely fine and memorable character, but the supernatural plot was irritatingly vague and the clever post-modern intercutting of the story itself with the story of its translator turned out to be less significant than it seemed it was going to. 1610 is in much the same vein, but Gentle has made three changes to the Ash template: the action takes place two centuries later, the main character is male and the modern-day element is missing (there is a reference to a fictitious novel and film called The Sons of Sword and Hazard, but there seems no reason for this other than to establish - unnecessarily - the Three Musketeers lace-and-steel genre). Two of these are fine, but the third - the male protagonist - is not.
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