Monday, January 21, 2008

Book Tour--Auralia's Colors

It's possible that I may be on record--somewhere--as saying that I don't like omniscient point-of-view. It has been suggested to me that I probably wouldn't even notice omniscient if it were well done; that it is omniscient's evil cousin, head-hopping, that I actively dislike. It's also possible that I argued the point.

It's possible that I have to eat crow.

Auralia's Colors is apparently written in a point-of-view that drifts the line between third person and omniscient and I admit I didn't give the style a lot of thought while I was reading it the first time.

Here are the first couple paragraphs:
Auralia lay as still as death, like a discarded doll, in a burgundy tangle of rushes and spineweed on the bank of a vend in the River Throanscall, when she was discovered by an old man who did not know her name.

She bore no scars, no broken bones, just the stain of inkblack soil. Contentedly, she cooed, whispered, and babbled, learning the river's language, and focused her gaze on the stormy dance of evening sky--roiling purple clouds edged with blood red. The old man surmised she was waiting and listening for whoever, or whatever, had forsaken her there.

Those fevered moments of his discovery burnt into the old man's memory. In the years that followed, he would hold and turn them in his mind the way an explorer ponders relics he has found in the midst of ruin. But the mystery remained stubbornly opaque. No matter how often he exaggerated the story to impress his fireside listeners--"I dove into that ragin' river and caught her by the toe!" "I fought off that hungry river wyrm with my picker-staff just in time!"--he found no clue to her origins, no answers to questions of why or how.

The Gatherers, House Abascar, the Expanse--the whole world might have been different had he left her there with riverwater running from her hair. "The River Girl"--that was what the Gatherers came to call her until she grew old enough to set them straight. Without the River Girl, the four houses of the Expanse might have perished in their troubles. But then again, some say that without the River Girl those troubles might never have come at all.

This is how the spark was struck.

...and the story takes off from there with Krawg's point of view, the old man who discovered her, who has a very distinctive voice as you can see from the above snippet. You can learn more about the book here or read the entire first chapter here as a .pdf file.

I'd especially like you to notice Jeffrey Overstreet's evocative use of color words. These are important because color has been banned by the queen. Even though the queen disappeared a number of years ago, the king refuses to go back on her decree out of (misplaced?) loyalty to her.

How do you ban color? Color is going to exist in nature no matter what. You can't eliminate it there. But the folk who belong to House Abascar aren't allowed to own any personal color. Instead, anything with color is confiscated by the royal house and kept in the vaults against the day when House Abascar is revered enough to release its color back to the people.

But the River Girl doesn't play by the rules. She seems able to create color out of non-color. Vivid hues that evoke the wonder of color in those that see her work. How long before Auralia's Colors are noticed by the Royal House?

Jeffrey Overstreet was kind enough to answer a smattering of random questions for me. If you're curious what we might have talked about, pop back Tuesday!

Meanwhile, other folks are also talking about Auralia's Colors this week. Check out: Brandon Barr, Jim Black, Justin Boyer, Grace Bridges, Jackie Castle, Carol Bruce Collett , CSFF Blog Tour, D. G. D. Davidson, Chris Deanne, Jeff Draper , April Erwin, Marcus Goodyear, Andrea Graham, Jill Hart, Katie Hart, Timothy Hicks , Heather R. Hunt, Becca Johnson, Jason Joyner, Kait, Karen, Carol Keen, Mike Lynch, Margaret, Rachel Marks, Shannon McNear, Melissa Meeks, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Mirtika or Mir's Here, Pamela Morrisson, Eve Nielsen, John W. Otte, John Ottinger , Deena Peterson, Rachelle, Steve Rice, Cheryl Russel, Ashley Rutherford, Hanna Sandvig, Chawna Schroeder, James Somers, Rachelle Sperling, Donna Swanson, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Jason Waguespac, Laura Williams, Timothy Wise


John Ottinger III (Grasping for the Wind) said...

Very true Valerie points at my blog. A negative reaction shows the power of a book as much as a positive one.

John said...

Good summary! I'll be back to see what Overstreet had to say!

Robert Treskillard said...


I'll stop back to see Jeffrey Overstreets answers to your questions! That should be a treat.

You are right that the writing style does border on omniscient, but like you, I didn't find it bothersome.

I forgot to tell Becky that I was participating in the CSFF Blog tour this month, and so am not on the list of participants. If you have time, take a look at my review of the book on my blog!


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

I didn't think it "bordered" on third, omniscient; I thought it was unapologetically so. It's one of the reasons I had a hard time feeling close to the characters, I think. I knew them all equally well, though I never really knew Aurala or what she wanted. Except when she was insistent about her name and when she wanted to present the king with her gift. For me, those were two of the best scenes in the book.


Shannon McNear said...

I know, Val, I thought the same thing about the omni POV ... and then, like you, I just fell headlong into the story ... :-)

Unknown said...

Hi Val--just cruising by to see what you thought of this book.

I liked your review! And thanks for posting the excerpt. Fantasy Critic (a secular reviewer) really loved it too.

I look forward to reading it this year.

Unknown said...

BY the way, aspie mom is me, chrisd from write and whine!

Kait said...

I never really thought about the "head jumping" aspect of the book. I can't really think of any books where this annoys me.

Can't wait to hear what Mr. Overstreet has to say!

Sojourner said...

Like Rebecca I had a very hard time feeling close to the characters because of the style, however I enjoyed the premise of the book.
You mentioned, "How do you ban color?" I thought it was interesting that the result of banning color in the home and in clothing led to the lack of ability of the people to truly see color in the world around them. Living in a former communist country that effectively banned "hope" in the process of daily life for so many years I see the same trend, the inability to see that hope still exists in the world.

mindsinger said...

Dear Val,
I guess I'm not well enough informed about views to speak to your comments about that. Whatever it was, though, it didn't bother me as I read. I look forward also to Jeff's answers to your questions.
Donna Swanson