Review: The Innkeeper’s Song by Peter S. Beagle

Rating:

The Innkeeper’s Song by Peter S. Beagle
1993, Roc Hardcover

Review Summary: Overall the choices the author makes – characterization, plot, themes and ideas – are all very different from standard fare, and I enjoy the non-standard fantasy world he creates through these choices, but the purposefully blunted energy of the novel keeps it from being a stronger, must-read book.

Full Review:

Beagle’s characterization is unique in that he has such a good grasp on the mood and intonation and feelings and expressions of regular people that his characters come off as feeling very earthy and very real, even as they are thrown into one fantastic situation or another. It is a trait I had noticed in Beagle’s Giant Bones short story collection but had not expected in a full-fledged novel. My thought, however, is that the only thing that makes this possible is the author’s constant switching between the point of view of all the different characters.

This constant switching is perhaps what masks for so long the lack of any particular depth to the plot, or to the characters themselves. So much is mystery and anticipation throughout the novel, but the answers are always rather anti-climactic. There are some interesting twists to the storyline, but nothing that can really pull the whole of the novel together into a cohesive work.

Overall the choices the author makes – characterization, plot, themes and ideas – are all very different from standard fare, and I enjoy the non-standard fantasy world he creates through these choices, but the purposefully blunted energy of the novel keeps it from being a stronger, must-read book. The style seems to be much better suited to short stories than novels.

05/30/07 CSL

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