Tuesday, April 22, 2014
The Glass of Time by Michael Cox
The Glass of Time is the sequel to the excellent book The Meaning of Night. If I remember, I said in my review of the first book that I wanted an ending where Edward triumps and Phoebus and Emily get their comeuppance (as it stands, only Phoebus dies at the end of The Meaning of Night). Did this book achieve that?
Well, the meaning of night follows Esperanza Grost (dubbed Alice by Lady Tansor, aka Emily) as she serves her as a ladies maid while trying to fulfill some great task. In the same house as her is the (rather volatile) housekeeper Mrs Battersby, and her two sons Perseus and Randolph and of course, all the servants. If you've read the first book, you can probably predict what the mission is. If you haven't read the first book, well, you should read it beforehand, or else the reason for the mission might seem very implausible.
It's really hard to talk about the book without using spoilers, but I shall try. Basically, vengeance was achieved, although it wasn't as satisfying as I thought.
But what I was really surprised at was the development of Emily's character. I went into the book fully preparing to hate her, but as the story went on, I started to sympathise with her. She becomes a more complex character than the first book, which was both infuriating (because I wanted revenge, not to feel sympathy) and admirable (this book humanized her. I admire that).
The next strong character would be Esperanza/Alice. The narrative is told mainly through her point of view, and she's a very likable narrator and character. Because she starts her Great Task with very little information, she basically fumbles her way though everything. The relationship between her and Emily is really interesting as well.
Unfortunately, apart from these two ladies, the rest of the characters were rather disappointing. Perhaps its because my focus is on Emily and Esperanza (and finding out how the events in The Meaning of Night end), but I found Mrs Battersby, Perseus and Randolph, and the relationships they had, to be boring. I felt that they were not fully sketched out, which meant that I didn't sympathise with her.
In fact, I thought that the subplot involving Mrs Battersby and Randolph rather unbelievable. The same goes for the relationship between Esperanza and Perseus. These relationships felt unconvincing and distracting to me. Sure, they added plot-twists, but I never understood the character motivations.
Don't get me wrong, this is a good sequel. It clears up questions and frustrations that I had from the first book. I would really like to know more about the time period between the two books though, although we do get hints, I would love to know more in detail. Pity that a third book won't be coming out.