Midnight Over Sanctaphrax: Better than first, not as good as second

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsMidnight Over SanctaphraxMidnight Over Sanctaphrax by Paul Stewart

Midnight Over Sanctaphrax falls into the middle of the first three books of the series. While Twig’s character is enlarged upon and other interesting ones added, the book falls too easily into the same episodic nature of the first book, where one peril follows closely upon another with none of them ever explored in enough depth so that they truly feel dangerous or suspenseful. The nature of the basic plot, Twig searching for his lost crew after his skyship explodes and hurls them in different directions, also unfortunately lends itself to a sense of dull repetition as he searches, finds, sends off for safekeeping, and searches once again with the same results.

At times the plot of Midnight Over Sanctaphrax is somewhat contrived and at others may call for a bit too much suspension of disbelief, but overall it’s imaginative and energetic, moving along in quick if repetitive fashion. It also, like the second, improves on the first by adding other levels of depth beyond simple fear of being killed/eaten (though as in all three, there is a fair amount of both). Here issues of slavery and class rear their heads and if they are handled a bit sketchily, they do deepen the book’s complexity and pleasure.
Recommended, though a bit disappointing as it seems to regress a bit from the second book.

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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