Valery Leith – The Company of Glass

As I wrote in an earlier post, I bought The Company of Glass (1999) by Valery Leith because the back cover text only gave a description and gave nothing away about the plot. I thus had no idea what to expect, but the description sounded interesting so I took the gamble.

The Company of Glass is a non-mainstream fantasy novel. It contains fairly original concepts and ideas. One might have read about similar things but Valery Leith does it in her own way. It is a book which is about persons who are undergoing the transition from a tribal to a people society. In the meanwhile they live in a world with strange monsters and mysterious and dangerous human-like creatures where there are places where time and space are not what they seem. That would be enough spoiling but for a review, especially when it is about non-mainstream fantasy, I have to present some key elements to at least give an idea. Luckily Leith helps me in preventing in giving away too much too soon.

One thing that I immediately liked about the story is that it doesn’t have an introduction. The story starts from the first page while you immediately have been left with some gaps of knowledge by the prologue. The pace of the story can be seen as fast, but I see it as simply not bothering with details or just random events to set up characters which are usually part of an introduction. Even as this is a trilogy, the story comes to an actual conclusion, leaving some openings for the sequel. I’m not that much a fan of cliffhangers, especially as I don’t have book two yet, so a conclusive story was a good thing.

The book is told from the view-point of several characters. This was done fairly decent, but I’ve seen it done much better. There is some character development but the story was not particularly set for that. This is a more story-driven than character-driven novel. What I mean with that is that the author is all about telling the story. The characters play there distinctive role but it is not particularly their actions that decide the story.

The book contains a number of mysteries. I like this, because it makes the reader guess what the answer will be. One mystery involved the ending of the plot of the first book and I guessed it correctly, although it is not something that doesn’t leave other openings or explanations. I don’t know if other readers will see it that easily.

A weak point about the style of writing was the use of flashbacks. Instead of having an introduction Leith added a fairly large number of flashbacks to explain some background about several characters. In my view there were too many of them. Some of them could have been done through dialogues to avoid the repetitive nature of this element in the early story or simply postponed so they were spread out more.

This book certainly was an interesting and enjoyable read due to its original ideas and lack of mainstream elements. The depiction of the characters and the writing style however were quite average and didn’t make much impact. It wasn’t bad, but also not particularly noteworthy. I do recommend it for any fantasy fan. I myself have ordered the next two books online (as I doubt I will find them anytime soon in my local bookstores) as I want to read more about this great story. I can say it was a good gamble, something which I usually am right in.

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