Thursday, August 11, 2011

Starcrossed

Starcrossed by Elizabeth Bunce is the story of a thief caught up in a web of espionage and political intrigue, surrounded by religious controversy, in a nation on the brink of civil war.  If you like stories with those elements you may enjoy this one.  However, it also may remind you of other books you have read that have done it better.  That is what happened with me.  Ordinarily I try not to compare books when I'm reading, but sometimes it just can't be helped.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Digger thrives as a spy and sneak-thief among the feuding religious factions of Gerse, dodging the Greenmen who have banned all magic. But when a routine job goes horribly wrong and her partner and lover Tegen is killed, she has to get out of the city, fast, and hides herself in a merry group of nobles to do so.  Accepted as a lady's maid to shy young Merista Nemair, Digger finds new peace and friendship at the Nemair stronghold--as well as plenty of jewels for the taking. But after the devious Lord Daul catches her in the act of thievery, he blackmails her into becoming his personal spy in the castle, and Digger soon realizes that her noble hosts aren't as apolitical as she thought... that indeed, she may be at the heart of a magical rebellion.

Starcrossed has a lot of characters and I found many of them to be intriguing.  Unfortunately Digger wasn't one of them.  She is a master thief, but she is not an overly intelligent one.  She continuously made decisions that had me questioning her critical thinking skills.  You can't blame her naivete either, because she is not naive.  While talented at picking up objects that don't belong to her, she is neither observant  or capable of analyzing information, making her terrible at the espionage she becomes involved in.  She also has a hard time keeping things to herself.  How she made it as long as she has in her chosen profession I could never quite figure out.  The villains are stereotypical and predictable, almost farce like.  Some of the supporting characters are what kept me interested.  Raffin and Durrel were intriguing for the five seconds they were in the book.  Then Meri, the Sarists, and Wierolf were fascinating as well.  When Digger was with any of these characters the book was interesting.  When she was not, which was too often, I had a hard time continuing.

Even as a lover of political intrigue stories, I was never engaged by the plot.  I did feel there were way too many major coincidences used to move along the action or explain things.  Not one single revelation in the whole story surprised me.  I was never even puzzled or curious.  I couldn't shake the feeling while I was reading that it had all been done before.  This in itself doesn't bother me.  It is just that it has been done so much better that this book suffers in comparison. When the book first came out it was being mentioned as something fans of Megan Whalen Turner might enjoy.  People should really be careful about comparing other books to hers.  It sets up unrealistic expectations.  Reading Starcrossed I was reminded more of Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith and Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw.  Both of these books have similar elements but they are better executed than in Starcrossed.   

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