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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fugitives of Chaos by John C. Wright

Fugitives of Chaos by John C. Wright. New York: Tor, 2006. ISBN: 978-0-765-31496-3

So here's the second volume in John C. Wright's Chaos trilogy. I reviewed the first volume, Orphans of Chaos, a year and a half ago. I guess Fugitives has been out for a year, but I only just now got my hands on a copy at my local library. That's my own fault, since much of my reading choices are determined by what shows up on my library's new fiction shelf, which is where I found Fugitives the other day.

So what is there to say about this book? If you read the first one and enjoyed it at all, this one is a must read too, as will be the third volume. The five children of the Titans, or whatever they are, continue in their adventures. All of the children have had their memories of the past escape attempt wiped out, but gradually recover them. And soon they're on the lam again, trying to learn what their real powers are, and how to use them to survive the even greater powers that appear to be arrayed against them.

Amelia, our narrator, spends some time underwater with her nasty would-be lover and husband, Grendel, son of Echidna. Not fun, but she eventually gets away. All of the children (or should I call them “young people”) eventually end up on a cruise liner, where further adventures ensue. Echidna, in her guise as a water monster several times bigger than the ship, arrives and commits mayhem.

In this book, the author spells out quite clearly who these children are. If he did this in the first volume also, I don't recall it, as my recollection is of being completely confused, and struggling for most of the book trying to figure out just what or who the characters were, and what the background for the story was. Now we're told under “Dramatis Personae” at the front of the book. Victor is Damnameneus of the Telchine. Amelia is Phaethusa. Vanity is Nausicaa. Colin is Phobetor, and Quentin is Eidotheia.

Even this isn't entirely clear, since Wright lists Phobetor as son of Morpheus and Nepenthe, while the web sites I Googled, list Phobeter and Morpheus as brothers. And Eidotheia is generally listed as the daughter of Proteus, while Colin is male. Wright lists Eidotheia as the “child” of Proteus, not specifying sex, and there is some hint in the story that Colin might have been female in his previous existence prior to becoming one of the orphans, this group of children that are seemingly hostages in some ongoing cosmic altercation between various groups of immortals or supernatural beings.

None of this is really of much relevance as you're reading the story. It hardly explains how or why these particular entities have the particular supernatural powers they do, or why they are being held as hostages, or how their interaction is going to play out. You certainly don't need to know or understand any of the mythological connections to enjoy the story as a story.

Whether or not you need to understand them in order to make sense out of what's happening remains to be seen. I'm sure my limited comprehension at this point is naive in the extreme. I'll just have to wait for the final volume in the trilogy which hopefully will make all things clear. Or at least as clear as the author is willing or interested in making it.

This is a well-written and entertaining story based on a very intriguing and unique hypothesis. Definitely recommended for anyone who read and enjoyed the first volume.

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