Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Maria V. Snyder's Glass Series

I’ve just finished reading all of Maria V. Snyder’s Glass series. This includes, Storm Glass, Sea Glass and Spy Glass. Simply put, they are wonderful. I couldn’t put them down. That is part of the reason I’m reviewing the series and not each book. The other part of that reason is that each book picks right up where the previous left off, so it’s almost like one really long book.

In Storm Glass, we follow Opal, who we met toward the end of the Study books, through her last year at the Keep, that is at magic school. Except she’s an odd student with odd abilities and her education didn’t go smoothly, especially her last year. We hardly see her at school though. There is tons of action, tons of on-the-spot decision making, and characters that are easy to relate to. Opal is not the super hero that waltzes in and just saves everyone. She suffers, she sacrifices and she gets very upset by the things that happen to her. She also has to deal with the consequences of being a young person in an adult society.

The only unsatisfying thing for me about Storm Glass is the ending. (Mild Spoiler Alert) While the build up and action were great, it died for me after. Opal goes in, does her thing and just passes out. The others deal with the clean up, and I feel like I missed out on something, like she missed out on it. Sure it’s not important to her story, but by not seeing the payoff I almost feel like it didn’t happen.

Sea Glass sees Opal returning to school, only to have her story turned against her. Everything that happens to Opal always gets turned around on her. Her decisions are always questioned. But she is resolute to set things right. She gets closer to that in this book as she gets older and more experienced with the “joys” of the real world. Old enemies turn up, with more at stake and different agendas. Conflict twists around Opal and her abilities and reputation, constantly getting her into trouble. But she’s able to put smarts to use and depend on her trusted friends. This book did not let me down at all.

Spy Glass gives us a new Opal. She’s had so much happen to her in the first two books. This one shows how she recovers from the events up to now. She has a more hardened exterior, more smarts and knows a lot more about her enemies. But this still doesn’t make it easy for her. Her personal life is in a shambles and she’s working through the last few issues from all her previous exploits. But the way she tackles them now is the good result of all her previous trouble. I almost feel like a proud parent watching the ways she’s grown. (But I’m not a parent, and any parent in their right mind would never put their children through these things.)

Another thing I can laud about the book is introduction of “really cool stuff.” She shows us the processes of glassmaking as only someone who’s done it can, and not too many people have. She talks about diamonds and other gemstones (my other passion) with authority. This book is not the first time people have blackmarketed diamonds to fund a war. So bonus points for working in modern issues. Snyder has done her homework. And some things, like all the spy work, I really wonder how she describes it so well? Has she done some of that, or is that just the skill of her writing at hand?

This entry is cross posted at Wandering Around the Words.

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