19th December 2021
This is the first properly stand alone GRRM novel that I’ve attempted to read, and it’s quite different from his most famous series.
The story follows a shipping magnate on the 19th century rivers of the US south east (I think) as he’s hired by a group of what appear to be vampires.
I found it hard to engage with. The characters didn’t feel particularly compelling to me, and the plot seemed slow and ponderous. The narrative feels like it’s deliberately intended to be reminiscent of novels of the time, and this seems like it’s meant to bring back some sort of feeling of nostalgia for similar works, but that’s not a cultural reference point I have.
Similarly the setting itself is from a history that I don’t identify with, and from a culture that feels distant and alien and not compelling enough in itself to attract me to keep reading. If I’d grown up on tales from the time and place then maybe I’d have been more receptive, but I didn’t.
And so I stopped halfway, deciding that it was better to find something to enjoy rather than force myself to keep going. And I don’t in any way regret not finding out where it was going.