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Senlin Ascends (Josiah Bancroft)

Started by droqen, March 06, 2022, 10:30:32 AM

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It may be too much of a gut reaction, having only read twenty-six pages, but there is a certain feeling about the author that I got from reading this book that turned me off.

Senlin Ascends

Quote from: p19Senlin was unprepared for marriage in every way. He possessed neither the imagination nor emotional warmth that intimacy required. [..] Here was the moon and the rocking crib and the far from prying eyes and every romantic thing a man could request, and what did he do with it? He was drowning in opportunity.

Marya lay propped on her elbow watching him appear to sleep with his eyes open. She pressed the flat of her finger against his cheek, lifting up a smile like a fishhook, trying to tease some life from him. She tugged at his earlobe, bit lightly at his shoulder, and blew on his neck. Still he lay, sometimes flinching but not responding.

Quote from: p18What sort of husband loses a wife?

Quote from: p6He imagined she had married him because he was kind, even tempered, and securely employed.


Of course, Marya had a few unusual habits of her own. She read books while she walked to town[..] She was fearless of heights and would sometimes get on the roof just to watch the sails of inbound ships rise over the horizon. She played the piano beautifully but also brutally. She'd sing like a mad mermaid[..] And even still, her oddness inspired admiration in most.

Quote from: Back of the bookMild-mannered headmaster Thomas Senlin prefers his adventures to be safely contained within the pages of a book. So when he loses his new bride shortly after embarking on the honeymoon of their dreams, he is ill-prepared for the trouble that follows.

To find her, Senlin must[..]

If I were to put it into words, I'd say that this story hinges on a sort of philosophy of gender roles and relationships that I don't subscribe to and don't find interesting. It's possible that the book will subvert them - like I said, maybe this is too much of a gut reaction - but we have Senlin, practical guy who somehow gets married to quirky mermaid girl Marya. He's all stiff and stoic and she's described in this awe-struck way as a lovely creature of beauty, and she's trying to crack through his shell, and in about the first ten pages she's fridged to motivate the hero's journey.



Actually, it gets worse... the very last line of the book is "Whatever Marya's state, whatever mine, I will find her, and I will carry her home."

This kind of weird romantic ambition as fuel for the male protagonist suuuuuucks imo. Marya and Thomas got married (and in the first 26 pages, it's not clear why they got married at all), and by the end of the book he's still hung up on her. She's barely a character. He is hung up on, and therefore the reader must be invested in, and therefore the author is relying on, this dream image of Marya, rather than her existence as an actual character, an actual person.

Art is subjective. I'm just going to say it's really, really not for me, and I'm very glad I trusted my instincts 5% of the way into the book.


It's funny how in the Black Company there is a similar sort of strange romance for the male protagonist but I'm actually into it -- maybe because the situation is so self-aware, or because it really touches on the reality of the relationship after the pining.

Or maybe I just can't vibe with Thomas Senlin and Marya as characters.


Skimming randomly through the book to confirm my bias:

Quote from: p351"You don't have children, do you?"

"No, my nuptials were a little too brief for that." Senlin could hardly keep the bitterness from his voice.

She was not even a character. Senlin is not bitter about his relationship, he is bitter about the idea of a relationship! So annoying.