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July 25, 2011

Book Review - Bird of the River by Kage Baker

The Bird of the RiverKage Baker has long been one of my favourite authors, as my memorial post to her can tell you. I won't go into all of the great works that she wrote that I devoured, because most of it is done in that post.

I wasn't a slavish fanboy of hers, though; I was able to be critical when called for, despite what some of my non-fans might believe. I've ripped two of Baker's books in the past, including the grand finale to The Company series.

However, she could always be relied upon for some great characterization and wonderful writing.

Which is why I'm sad that The Bird of the River is Baker's last published novel. There are some short stories that I haven't read, and a novella that I just bought from Amazon, but this is the last full-length novel.

Thankfully, it's quietly phenomenal. My review is here.

From the review:
This is the story of a river boat named the Bird of the River and a young brother and sister who have to make their way on it after their drug-addicted mother dies in a horrible accident. They also have to figure out their place in the wider world, and thankfully their pseudo-family on the boat will help them with that. Young Eliss is the main character, a teenager who excels at being able to spot river snags that must be destroyed or maneuvered around. As the oldest, she has to take care of her half-brother, a boy with mixed heritage - he's half "Greenie," a race that is horribly looked down upon by the humans of this world. Add to the mix a new passenger who is travelling incognito to search for a lost member of his rich family and a ship's captain who gets wildly drunk every time they reach port, and the reader gets a sense that all is not right with Eliss's world.
Baker's characterization skills are at the forefront here, because there's not a lot of action in the book. But the characters just fly off the page, making you really care about them.

This is a fantasy book that even a non-fantasy fan can like. There are some fantastical elements in it, but not enough to drive a fan of good writing away from the book.

I'm very sad that Baker will no longer be writing.

But I'm very glad that, at least in regards to her novels, she went out on an extremely high note.

Let me know what you think.


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