Sorry if you checked here earlier and there was no content! I set this to auto-publish, then I broke my ankle and forgot to a) write the review and b) turn of the auto-publish. My apologies for any confusion!
Notes on Diversity:
A great and glorious diverse cast! So much queer! There are brown people! There is a decidedly not neurotypical child! There are poor people, and there are rich people, and every one of them is beautifully realized and fully-rounded!
Tremontaine, Season 1—created by Ellen Kushner, and written by Ellen Kushner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, Patty Bryant, Paul Witcover (guest author)–is ambitious. The cast is large; the scope of the plot is huge and full of intrigue.
The Duchess of Tremontaine banks the Tremontaine fortune on a ship called the Everfair. When the Everfair sinks, slowly, methodically, all hell breaks loose on the sly. Of course we see the Duchess’ perspective on the matter, but we also see how this single event changes the course of dozens of other lives: the chocolate traders (among them the wily and overly curious Kaab Balam) whom the Duchess has woven into her plots, a young scholar (Rafe Fenton) whose merchant family has financial ties to the Duchess. And through happenstance and talent, a farmer girl named Micah runs into Rafe Fenton and becomes a scholar herself. There are more characters, a great many more–Kaab’s family, Kaab’s forger girlfriend, Tess the Hand, the swordsman Vincent Applethorpe, the Dragon Chancellor, and the Duke of Tremontaine himself. Each have their own arc within the story. Each have their own lives, and their own part to play in this tale.
But, oh, the relationships! Each one is so carefully crafted and developed over time! EVERYTHING HERE IS SHIPPABLE FARE MY FRIENDS. I found myself, in particular, rooting for Kaab and Tess, and I was not disappointed.
Those two crazy kids. It’s written as love at first sight (at least on Kaab’s) end, but she does not approach Tess as a thing that is owed her. They become friends, they experience horror and joy together, and then they become lovers. And even then the story doesn’t stop. Kaab and Tess are from vastly different cultures, different classes, have wholly different ways of interpreting the world. The immensity of their cross racial/cross cultural romance is not downplayed in the text at all, and I loved the book (season?) for that. I also loved that Kaab and Tess were, in so many ways, equals. Yes, Kaab is a warrior, and trained, and is held in high esteem by her people. Tess…less so, as a Riversider. But Tess is a forger of great reknown. She is good enough that she needs a dang bodyguard. She has formidable talents, too. She is no simple damsel in distress.
And the plot. I wonder what it must have been like for the writers to parse out a plot this convoluted but this cohesive. Nothing that’s introduced get’s dropped. As the finale closes in, all the puzzle pieces fall into place, all the foreshadowing pays off. But…how? How do you do that with all these writers writing the same thing? Wonderful execution. and speaking of wonderful execution, the narration by Nick Sullivan, Sarah Mollo-Christensen, Katherine Kellgren was pitch perfect the whole way through.
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