The Serpent by Claire North. Or, A good game

The Serpent

Read December 2015
Recommended for fans of politics, Venice
 ★    ★    ★    ★ 

“She looks at her husband’s back, the empty glasses at his side, the coins on the table, and realises that there is anger on her lips, a tempest in her belly and her hands hurt–they burn from not clenching–and with the softness of winter mist in her voice says simply, -Yes.”

In 1610, a woman in Venice is trapped in marriage with a husband who is a compulsive gamer and womanizer. When he brings her to the gamehouse, she discovers she has a skill for games. Eventually she is invited to play for higher stakes.

There’s a long history of game motifs in fantasy. In this instance, while the game itself may have some background mystical elements, the actual story has concrete elements of political machinations. There is something beautiful in it, but it is the beauty of contrived artfulness, the sense that this picture is created. It is, perhaps, the difference between Ansel Adams

and da Vinci

Whether or not you enjoy this novella will depend on your tolerance for ambiguity, playing with the narrative form and general love of vivid language. I enjoyed it a great deal, but I happen to enjoy North/Griffin’s use of language, her ability to create characters and evoke settings. Coming from a child’s book that beat the reader on the head thematically, I particularly enjoyed the ambiguity of it.

“Are we perhaps a little sad? Have we, who know the turning of the times and have heard whispers of a future not yet named, developed some semblance of sentimentality that clouds us to the truth of things? Do we wish to be victorious and humane? How foolish we have become in our old age. How unwise.”

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
This entry was posted in Book reviews, fantasy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Serpent by Claire North. Or, A good game

  1. Pingback: 2015 A Reading Year in Review (not the city) | book reviews forevermore

  2. Pingback: The Thief by Claire North. Or, Hide-n-Seek | book reviews forevermore

  3. Zanna says:

    ambiguity is my jam

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