Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Man Who Risked His Partner, Stephen R. Donaldson

The Man Who Risked His Partner
Stephen R. Donaldson

The Man Who Risked His Partner is the second in Donaldson's mystery novel series, once again featuring Mick Axebrewder and Ginny Fistoulari. This novel sees Brew and Ginny taking on a bodyguard job shortly after the events portrayed in The Man Who Killed His Brother.

I found this novel to be substantially better than the first, and probably a bit better than the fourth. The story is more complex and I (at least) didn't figure it out until the hero did. There are more characters this time around as well, and they're given more depth and background. There was one nit that bothered me, but overall it seems a solid story.

As before, Donaldson continues to pound on his characters, but since his stories really are all about internal struggles with our desires and abilities, as well as our relationships with others, that's what I'd expect. This time both Ginny and Brew have big holes to dig themselves out of, both mentally and physically.

One of the reviews on Amazon said something like: the angst ridden nature of the novel depresses the reader. I didn't find that the case, but I can see that others might. If that's a problem for you I suggest not picking up any Donaldson at all. His novels are the literary equivalent of Pink Floyd's The Wall, in which everything is dark and black and tormented until the very last second. In that last moment - Outside The Wall on the Floyd recording, and the last few pages of TMWRHP - we get just a tiny glimmer of hope; a hint that things might get better. And even in the Thomas Covenant novels, the restoration of The Land at the end is almost an afterthought in the writing. The real story is Covenant and/or Avery's inner struggle and redemption. The Land is simply that struggle made outwardly visible, and its recovery is basically the last thing we see, and then only briefly.

The Man Who Risked His Partner is a good book. It may be from a genre I'm less interested in, but it's still a worthwhile read. If it interests you, you'll probably want to read The Man Who Killed His Brother first - to set the stage - but it's not as good as this one.

The Donaldson mystery novels in question are, in order:
  1. The Man Killed His Brother
  2. The Man Who Risked His Partner
  3. The Man Who Tried To Get Away
  4. The Man Who Fought Alone