Friday 1 March 2019

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Multiple Points of View in Fantasy

Multiple Points of View in Fantasy

Ad: Titles with an asterisk (*) were gifted to me by the publisher for the purposes of providing an honest review.

Books with multiple points of view (POV). They can be pretty awesome, getting to see a story for someone else's perspective, see what they see, what they're thinking. It sheds a whole new light on a story. But in some books - and I must say, I've only seen this in a fantasy books - we get multiple POVs where the characters aren't actually together. They're in different parts of the world, or even if different time periods. Where you seem to be getting more than one story in a book, but that you know that they will, at some point, intersect, or make a difference to other characters' stories. These stories can be really interesting, but of course, there are cons as well as pros to having multiple POV stories where the charcters don't meet, or only do so briefly.

On the one hand, they can make for very clever stories. While at first, for a while, the different strands may not seem to affect each other, there will come a point where things suddenly fall into place, and you realise exactly what a feat of plotting and imagination the book is. There's also the element of feeling like you're getting more out of the story; it's not just one story, but several. And if it's written well, you'll be completely invested in each POV character's own individual story.

But on the other, sometimes there can be too many POVs, so that by the time you come around to someone's POV again, you can't quite remember where you left them. It can also be confusing - what is happening with which characters? It can also make a story seem slow, because there are so many characters to keep up with, the story moves at a slower pace. Or you're interested in one POV more than another, and you have to wait until you get back to it.

I think generally speaking, I prefer one POV, but let's look in more detail at the books I think do it right, one that was a little less enjoyable, and a couple I'm excited for!

Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart


Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart* is about Serena and Nomi, who are together at the beginning of the story, as one prepares to become a possible a Grace - a "companion" - to the heir to the throne, and one to be her maid, in a patriarchal world that offers women few options. But everything goes awry when one is arrested and sent to an island prison while the other becomes a Grace, where being a Grace is not all it's cracked up to be.

Grace & Fury does the multiple-POV-in-different-locations really well, and mainly, I think, because it's dual perspective. We don't have to wait too long to catch up with the characters, and each girl's story is captivating. And it helps that each chapter ended on it's own cliffhanger, and so you can't help but want to read more about each character. I'm pretty sure this kind of story is my favourite, with just the two POVs.

The Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb


The Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb is the first book in The Liveship Traders trilogy, which is the second trilogy in the Realm of the Elderlings series of books. Now, I will not have a bad word said about Robin Hobb, but of all the series in the Real of the Elderlings, The Liveship Traders is my least favourite. Before I go further, I think I need to give context to the series.

The Realm of the Elderlings consists of:
  • The Farseer Trilogy - set in the Six Duchies for the most part from the POV of Fitz
  • The Liveship Traders trilogy - set in other parts of the world; Bingtown, Jamaillia, and the Pirate Isles, from the POV of Althea, Malta, Kennit, Wintrow, Vivacia and Amber. This series is set after the events of last trilogy.
  • The Tawny Man Trilogy - back with Fitz in the Six Duchies, set after the events of the last trilogy.
  • The Raid Wild Chronicles - set in the Rain Wilds, from the POV of Thymara, Alise, and Sedric, set after the events of the last trilogy.
  • Fitz and the Fool Trilogy - back in the Six Duchies, with a lot of travel, told from the POV of Fitz and Bee, set after the events of the last series.
As you can see, The Liveship Traders has the most narrators, and while I enjoyed it, I've not been able to re-read yet. There are just too many narrators, with too much going on. And this was the case of where I was more interested in some characters than others. What happens in this trilogy is hugely important to the rest of the books in the Realm of the Elderlings, the events have far reaching effects... but it was just a bit much for me.

Furyborn by Claire Legrand


As I write this post, I am currently reading Furyborn by Claire Legrand*. And mate, it is so good! And what's different here is that while Rielle and Eliana are in different parts of the world, their stories take place a thousand years apart. What happens with one changes the world in such a big way, that the world is almost unrecognisable with the other. The story is set around a prophecy of the coming of two queens, the Sun Queen and the Blood Queen, one who will save the world, and one who will destroy it. But who is the Sun Queen and who the Blood Queen? Each character's story is told in alternating chapters. Obviously, I know who is which - or at least, I think so, because of what I'm reading in the storyline set a thousand years later, but I don't yet know how that happens. And it's interesting to see how history is viewed, yet also see it play out.

This is another book where each chapter ends on a cliffhanger, and the chapters are fairly short, too, and I find it so difficult to put this book down! It's brilliant! This is defintiely one where the distance works, but again, there aren't as many POVs.

Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon


I've not yet read Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon*, but my god, I am so excited for it! According to Imi of Imi Reviews Books' review, there are four narrators, whih doesn't sound like too much, and Imi absolutely loved it! And there are quite a few positive reviews on Goodreads, so I think this one is a pretty safe bet! Be sure to read Imi's review!

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons


The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons* is another book I'm really excited to read! According to Asha of A Cat, a Book, and a Cup of Tea's review, The book starts at the end of the story, with two characters, Kihrin, who is in jail, and Talon, Kihrin's jailer, telling the story to each other, with Talon telling the events that lead up to the beginning of Kihrin's's story, that ends with him in prison, but in alternate chapters. And apparently, it's full of many twists and turns! It's a different take on the multiple POV story, not entirely too dissimilar to Furyborn, but with one story directly leading into the other, time-wise. Be sure to read Asha's review!

Over to you graphic

So Have you read any of these books? What do you think of multiple POVs in fantasy novels that are separated by location or time? Are you for or against? Any books you thought did it well, any that did it badly? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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  1. I haven't read any of these that you mentioned, but it did inspire me to write my own multiple points of view post! That one will be going up next week! Lol.

    It's funny, I didn't really stop to think about it, but most of my multiple points of view books are fantasies. I mean, I have a few dual points of view that come across in paranormal books, but all my heavy multi-focal points came from fantasies. One was a sort of cross between fantasy and modernity, so I guess a YA Urban Fantasy if you will.

    I generally have no problem with multiple points of view. I prefer there being an easy way of knowing right away of whose perspective we're entering though. There is the occasional book that will make you guess or read on for paragraphs before you finally realize who is speaking! It's really annoying when that happens. I much prefer the whole name the chapter the character name thing. It really helps to know before even starting whose perspective you're getting into.

    And I totally notice the whole everything ends in a cliffhanger thing too! It drives me nuts! But in a good way, because I soon forget about character A's cliffhanger when I get into character B's story and then character B's chapter ends in a cliffhanger and I enter character C, repeat and cycle back to character A! It's a little disorienting at times, but it never lasts long! Lol!

    Great topic post! It definitely got my mind whirling for my own discussion post!

  2. Like you mentioned multiple POVs can either really enhance a book---or it can be distracting. I am a HUGE Robin Hobb fan, but it's been many many years since I read The Liveship Traders Series, so I don't remember if the multiple POVs bothered me. In Furyborn I ended up enjoying Eliana's story a bit more than Rielle's, but I did like how they were related.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction