Review: In the Lion’s Mouth
I’m just not getting it. Science Fiction. I hate the fact that I sometimes sound like a broken record, but there’s just so little SF out there that I’ve read to prove me wrong that I just can’t help but feel jaded. The up-side is that as long as it’s well-written, I’m not going to rip into too much, because if there’s one thing that is consistent and good about these books, it’s the prose.
IN THE LION’S MOUTH by Michael Flynn (Amazon) is the third installment in his most recent space opera series featuring the inimitable Donovan Buigh. I wasn’t very keen on the second, UP JIM RIVER (EBR Review), but I decided that to be fair, I had better read the first, THE JANUARY DANCER (Amazon), before diving into this one. Unfortunately, I needn’t have bothered, for I just found more of the same: a beautifully-written story with a swiss cheese of a plot that ended with me asking, “What was the point of that?”
The story this time around is framed by an agent of the Shadow, Ravn Olafsdotter, and is relayed to Donovan’s daughter, Mearana, and his sometime lover, the Hound Bridget Ban, by Ravn because Donovan has, for reasons known to Ravn, gone missing. Mearana and Bridget are eager to find Donovan, and so they abide the Shadow’s presence in their home, instead of instantly killing her as an enemy, and settle down to listen to Ravn’s words.
Ravn spins a tale that is varied and complicated. Told from the point of view of Donovan, instead of through Ravn’s eyes (don’t ask me how this works–Donovan already has so many people in his head though that it didn’t bother me too much that Ravn was, technically, now another one). Donovan has chosen to return to Commonwealth space, and finds a civil war brewing, in which he becomes somewhat involved.
Similar to JANUARY DANCER, none of the details of the story seem to matter, as the tale jumps from one setting to the next with little to no connection other than through the vague intricacies of the Shadows and Hounds, the two major powers, of known space. In the end, it is not the story that matters, but the unknown motives of Ravn in telling the story in the first place. In this way, IN THE LION’S MOUTH was very much like the other two books in the series. This similar structure was what had led me to the same final question each time:
What was the point of that?
In this case, it seems to be to elicit a particular response from a person of interest.
And that’s all.
Sorry, but I just can’t get behind that. Despite the awesome writing, despite the cool history and universe that Mr. Flynn has developed here, despite the way in which–for very small periods of time–he grabs my interest in full by the characters or the world or the events of the story (before, in my opinion, quickly throwing it all down the drain), I have come to the conclusion that this is all nothing more than what I’ve come to expect, in general, from Science Fiction. If you, like me, would rather enjoy both the beginning, middle, and end of a story, would rather read about awesome characters and powerful stories, why don’t you try some of the Science Fiction authors we love instead. After this read, I’m definitely going to be heading back that direction.
- Recommended Age: 16+, though you should probably recommend something they'll enjoy better
- Language: Very little
- Violence: Gets pretty gory in the various deaths described
- Sex: A handful of references