Any Other Name: An improvement in almost all ways

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsAny Other Name by Emma NewmanAny Other Name by Emma Newman

I didn’t enjoy Between Two Thorns, the first book in Emma Newman’s SPLIT WORLDS series because I didn’t like the characters, felt a little lost in the world, and thought the plot was boring. However, at the end of that novel things started to improve and since I already had the second book, Any Other Name, loaded into my phone (Brilliance Audio sent me review copies), I listened to it.

Any Other Name picks up where the previous book ended (it is absolutely necessary to have read Between Two Thorns). Cathy is trying to adjust to her new (old, really) life as a young woman in the Nether but she doesn’t really fit in because she’s not interested in all the old-fashioned female activities she’s supposed to be doing. She wants to get back to Mundanis where she can finish her schooling and become a lawyer who advocates for oppressed people. Escape is on her mind, but her family is determined to marry her off. Meanwhile, Max the Arbiter and his gargoyle sidekick are trying to figure out what the Agency is up to and Sam, the Mundane, is having marital problems that may be connected with goings-on in the Nether.

Any Other Name is an improvement in almost all ways. Newman seems more confident — her story flows more naturally, the writing is better, and even some humor is present. The world is starting to make more sense, though that may be because we’ve been in it for twice as many pages and not that it’s actually related more effectively. Either way, I felt more comfortable in Newman’s world this time.

The characters are also becoming more interesting as we build up some history with them, though characterization is still a problem area. For example, Cathy is  determined to get away from the Nether and get an education so she can help people, yet very little else of her thoughts or behavior seems so noble. It’s hard to believe that her intentions are any better than that she just wants to selfishly do her own thing. If she was truly motivated by love for other people, she would think differently and would treat the people she knows better. At this point in the series it’s hard to like (or even believe in) the heroine of the story, but perhaps Emma Newman has plans to develop her significantly in the next volume. If so, I think it’s likely that Will, the rogue she has to marry, will be the person who has the most beneficial influence on her. That would be pleasantly ironic.

Emma Newman is doing a great job with the narration of the audiobook version of the SPLIT WORLDS series. If Brilliance Audio sends me book three, All is Fair, I will read it. I hope that the improvement will continue.

Fans of SPLIT WORLDS can sign up to get free short stories set in this world.

Cat has been forced into an arranged marriage with William – a situation that comes with far more strings than even she could have anticipated, especially when she learns of his family’s intentions for them both. Meanwhile, Max and the gargoyle investigate The Agency – a mysterious organisation that appears to play by its own rules – and none of them favourable to Society. Over in Mundanus, Sam has discovered something very peculiar about his wife’s employer – something that could herald a change for everyone in both sides of the Split Worlds. File Under: Fantasy [ How Grotesque | Taking Tea | Lords of Misrule | Sorcerous Magic ]

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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