September 12, 2006

Running Away With a Goose and a Liar: Fly By Night

What if you'd been taught to read, but had nothing to read? In your world, books are banned, as is literature, which can be inflamnatory, and cause people to THINK THOUGHTS. -- Even seeing print is punishable with terrible punishments, and sometimes death.

12-year-old Mosca, (whose name means she's named for a god who keeps away flies) and her really educated father, Quillam Nye, used to live tucked away in a waterlogged little city, but then... Quillam dies. Unfortunately, he's taught his daughter to -- gasp! -- read, which inflames her active little mind. The town is enflamed, too, but with suspicion, and soon her father's books are in flames, and Mosca has nobody and nothing, and ends up the untrusted little drudge of her aunt and uncle. They're ever so glad for her to keep their accounts, but they lock her up at night in a mill. Her only friend in town is a goose... and a vicious MEAN goose at that.

One night, Mosca changes her life. She climbs out of that Mill. She burns it down (oops!), steals the goose, and casts her lot with the most smooth-tongued liar she's ever met: Eponymous Clent. She rescues him from the stocks, and together, they make a break for the city of Mandelion, where rival guilds are plotting to take power from the Duke and his sister, where good people appear to be the bad guys, where every decision might be the wrong one, but where there's more excitement and danger than Mosca has ever experienced in her entire life.

Mosca wants a story -- and Mosca gets one. Her ability to read in this strange new world is a gift that changes her life.

This is an enormously enjoyable story with multiple plot elements. Mosca tries to judge right from wrong and take appropriate action, but there are so many pieces of the puzzle that she doesn't see -- that sometimes even the reader doesn't see at first -- that it's hard to know what she should do. Politics, religion, and history all tangle up to present a colorful, vibrant and lively sense of place, and Mosca is a bright, ferocious, intelligent little personage, who is fun to join on her adventures. It's hard to believe that this is British author France Hardinge’s first novel.

Fly By Night is a hugely complicated, hugely readable epic novel, and it's amazing to think that with Hardinge's three-book deal, we not only get MORE of Mosca's story, but we also get books that can only get better and better! Cheers!


Erin said...

I enjoyed Fly By Night as well, and am eagerly anticipating the author's feature novels!

a. fortis said...

Oh, CRUD!! I was too slow. You beat me to it. I just read it last week and loved it, and was lagging behind on posting a review. :)

tanita s. davis said...

Post it anyway!!
I have a feeling that yours is more actually LITERARILY in-depth, and I'd love to hear what you have to say about it.