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Wrong Train, Right Time ([personal profile] wrongtrainrighttime) wrote2017-06-02 08:19 pm

The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard

de Bodard, Aliette. The House of Binding Thorns. Penguin Random House, 2017. eBook.



I read this because, well, I read the first book in this series and I loved it. I was especially drawn by the promise of focusing on Madeleine, one of the protagonists of the first book, who I found particularly intriguing.

Now, looking back at it... It's strange, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what to say about it. It was good, obviously. I tore through it in a single night and cheerfully paid the price of the lack of sleep that engendered. Still... I can't think of anything coherent to say afterwards. So here are a few bullet points.

  • Lots of awesome returning characters! I will admit that I was deeply fascinated by the increasing depth given to Asmodeus. As a character, he's definitely modeled in a certain mode that I associate strongly with a certain flavor of anime villain, for some reason. And de Bodard does an amazing job with that archetype. She doesn't stint on his cruelties and flaws, but also doesn't stint on his loyalties and generosity. He is vicious and cruel but he's not capricious -- and that makes him utterly fascinating.


  • Thuan's really exciting as a new character. I loved his introduction, the way he navigates the world, his bad romance with Asmodeus. At the end of the novel he made an impetuous, idealistic decision... And I want to see how it turns out.


  • Oh, Madeleine. I'm glad that she finally managed to have a breakthrough and move on. And yet the realization that allows her to do so is strangely heartbreaking, the idea that the best she can do to move forward is to believe that Asmodeus won't hurt her without a reason. In a way it's capitulation to the predation of the Houses: she hasn't escaped in any way, she's just found a way to live with her situation.


  • Hooray for more dragon politics! I desperately want to see how Thuan's decision will echo through the kingdom of the Seine. I hope they're in the next book, if there is one. i'm sure there are still many loose ends related to Fallen/dragon relations...


  • Philippe's subplot was great. His anger, his desperation, his need. And Isabelle's return! I was not expecting it to happen this quickly, so that should be...interesting. What will happen when House Silverspires finds out? Also, why is phillippe's ritual different from Asmodeus'? Could he repeat it?
    So many questions...


  • Berith and Francoise were utterly heartbreaking. Though I wonder about Berith, as I don't remember the whole "domain/dominion" thing from the first book, and the other Fallen don't seem to have similar purviews for their power. I wish we had gotten more Berith and Asmodeus reconciliation stuff. I'm so glad that they got a happy ending of a kind, but I'm afraid for them, too. What will happen to House Hawthorn now...


  • Overall, great plot momentum. Started off wondering how all the bits would fit together and then watched in amazement as it was all woven together in a smashing conclusion. Masterful stuff. How do you even plan that kind of thing?


So basically, I was super into this book, I'm super into the characters, and I await the announcement of a sequel.