The Stone Light: All exposition

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Stone Light by Kai MeyerThe Stone Light by Kai Meyer

Fleeing from a fictitious Renaissance Venice on the back of the flying lion Vermithrax, the orphaned Merle is persuaded by the Flowing Queen, the mysterious entity that had for so long protected Venice from the besieging Egyptian armies but now inhabits Merle’s body, to seek help from Lord Light, the ruler of Hell. Back in Venice, a small rebel army is gathering under the guidance of another mysterious power who is determined to protect the city against the Egyptian army whatever the cost. The pharaoh is also beset by treachery from within his own forces. How will all these competing forces be resolved?

The answer is they won’t. The Stone Light is the second book in the Dark Reflections trilogy by Kai Meyer. The first book set up an intriguing and mysterious Venice, and just when the action started the book ended. It wasn’t even really a cliffhanger, but rather felt like the publisher had decided to hack a long novel into three short books. This second book exacerbates the problem of the first. It reads like a fancy cocktail party, where the host is taking you around and introducing you to a bunch of important people, and hinting at dark secrets and hidden pasts in between walking you from room to room. This entire book is exposition. None of the major story lines get advanced in a meaningful way and just when we get to the point that we know the backstory on all the major characters that Meyer has introduced, the story again stops. There is no meaningful conclusion, and there is no way for The Stone Light to stand alone outside of its place in the series.

The prose is beautifully rendered (this is a translation into English by Elizabeth Crawford), and Meyer does a lovely job with world building, but at this point I am so irritated by the lack of meaningful action and the wretched job of plot development in each book that I am not sure I will pick up the third book in the series.

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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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