Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Secret Texts by Holly Lisle

Diplomacy of Wolves
Vengeance of Dragons
Courage of Falcons

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll already know that I really enjoy Holly Lisle's writing. Though I am an active member and moderator of the Forward Motion community which she began many years before I discovered it, this is not the start of my interest in Holly the author. She wrote books with Marion Zimmer Bradley, who was my favorite author for years, and then also with Mercedes Lackey. Those drew me to her solo novels and by the time I discovered, it was because of her name that I stopped and stayed.

She hasn't disappointed me yet :).

The Secret Texts is a wondrous series that plays to my favorite aspects of Holly's writing. She's created a people who have been split into three people by wars that occurred so far in the past that only prejudice remains. Even so, the prejudice continues as a strong and bitter force, condemning the innocent and the knowing without distinction. It is strong enough that even those who can hide their difference to live in normal society accept that their true nature means they are less than human. They do not question the classification. Just think for a moment how powerful that is. Not that one group oppresses another but that members of the oppressed class believe themselves the lesser and are not sure they should be left to live.

Anyway, world building is obviously one aspect I love, but the other is philosophy. I truly don't know where Holly gets her philosophies from, but they read the way Marx and Nietzsche do. These are not half-formed excuses to carry on the plot but full-featured approaches to life that, with very few changes, could be followed in our own world. I find myself lost in the different groups, my writer mind stunned to silence as my reader mind races ahead, absorbing the story itself. Holly once learned something from a situation one of her characters experienced and I don't find that surprising at all. I think many of us could learn something from listening to what the Falcons profess but at the same time we could learn something more from seeing how their approach fetters them (no pun intended, but I left it after I realized just cause ;)).

This is no simplistic series where right and good win out. This is a tangled tale where who is good and who is not cannot be measured at all points, where the lies one character accepts make enough sense that the reader has to question what the others are up to. When I was sure what would happen next, who would be the next threat, even who had died, I found myself wrong and yet not in a way that rang false.

All I can say is that I really enjoyed the series. If your tastes run the same way mine do, I think you will too.

1 comment:

April D. said...

I just finished reading "The Secret Texts", and found a similar experience. While my writer self was busy admiring the scope of the Holly's talent, my mind was racing off to discover the next scene and find out "what happened!". I thought it was kind of Holly to leave a few places where I could actually put the book down and fix a meal.

For instant gratification, I recommend "Hunting the Corrigan's Blood", which is available on her website in ebook. The Secret Texts are available from Powell's Books online store in ebook. If only I'd known, I could have read the trilogy from first book to last. Instead, I bought "Diplomacy of Wolves" and "Courage of Falcons" from the local Barnes and Noble, which was out of book two.

I sent for "Vengeance of Dragons", which arrived just in time to be read last. Authors take note: ordinary readers like myself are catching on to the delightful convenience of ebooks.