Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: The Twelve by James Burk

Dear Government Noseys: I met James at WorldCon, and we did a book exchange, which is how I got this.  I'm glad I did because I enjoyed it!

Synopsis from the website:  Valtierra, a city-state, is governed by archetypes. Every two years they choose twelve men and women to wear the masks and to become the Wise Old Man, the Fool, the Mother, the Harlot, the Warrior, and the rest of the council. But now Valtierra faces hunger, decay, and an enemy on their border and, when the need for leadership is greatest, one mask is worn by a foreigner and one mask hides a traitor.

Mini-review:  This book is one of a kind.  Burk takes a seldom used approach to story telling, one that could easily have flopped but in this case made for fascinating reading.  Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the twelve council members.   What you get is a wonderful tapestry of attitudes and impressions that still allow the story to progress without confusion.  While the book has adventure, it's really about people--their relationships and their duties to themselves and to the masks that represent a portion of Valtierra's population.  As a former military officer and wife to an officer who has been a commander, I liked Warrior Alton's command style and logical thinking.  If I must give a downside, it would be that sometimes the characterization repeated itself, so that I at times skimmed paragraphs where the Old Man is again thinking about what the Fool is like, etc.  However, they were not so distracting, and others might appreciate them.  Overall, I would recommend to anyone who enjoys medieval style fantasy, political machinations, or a truly unique read.

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1 comment:

Maria Tatham said...

Hi! An interesting review about a book that looks uniquely interesting! I'm glad I learned about it. Sometimes our reading worlds can be too small.