First, to note. I’m going to be talking about Laini Taylor’s series, both Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Strange the Dreamer. If you haven’t read either series in full, proceed at your own risk. Spoilers also for Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series.
I managed to devour Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor, and was pleasantly surprised by what I found there. Something I read about not too long ago was this concept that… I can’t remember the name of, but it’s basically when someone from the majority culture has to swoop in and save the day for the “helpless” or “barbaric” minority culture. I was really worried that Lazlo would become something along that line, befriending the city of Weep while at the end realizing that he was also connected to Weep’s enemies, Minya and the other godspawn, putting him in a position where he could do the whole swooping in and playing rescue the damsel culture thing.
In the end, though, thank all the muses, that’s not what happened. Weep did not become allies with the kids in the citadel, although a few people were more open-minded than the rest. Sometimes, wounds cut too deep to just talk away, and I’m so glad that Taylor sidestepped that path and found a new way to make a happy ending for her characters. One must wonder, though, if separation is the only solution to this kind of situation. If amends could be made, in some shape or form, that would not put either side at a disadvantage.
Their solution literally put Weep and the citadel a world apart, and this was a thing that had piqued my interest in passing. I find it strange that fantasy is now beginning to incorporate multiverses, because they’re not really like what you’ll find in sci-fi, where access to the multiverse tends to be the focal point of the plot. Rather, it’s a thing that exists, that doesn’t pertain directly to or specifically for the plot, but just sits in the aether.
They end up kind of like easter eggs for the dedicated reader. Perhaps the writer writes things with certain familiar terminology or borrows the same lore and rules of magic. Taylor writes about gods and monsters that are very reminiscent of Dreams of Gods and Monsters, her final book of her first series. Likewise, Sarah J. Maas already noted before the release of Kingdom of Ash that her A Court of Thorns and Roses series did not take place in the same world, but in a different world and that the two storylines were not likely to intermingle. Well, sorry for the spoiler, but she ended up changing her mind on that part. I bring it up now because it’s a major reason why I wanted to talk about this in Taylor’s series.
How do I feel about this particular mode of writing? It is, essentially, two very different series that have a similar feel but don’t have any other inter-connectivity — no shared characters, no shared geography — and they are canonically the same because they come from the same multiverse. So, like, I get it. Even in my own piece of fiction, I find myself so overwhelmed with every new piece of knowledge that all I want to do is follow every lead and write and write and write. In a fantasy world, every character’s life seems more interesting than the mundane setting we find ourselves in. So when you have more stories to tell, but no way to fit them into the original story, I totally get wanting to write them. It’s difficult, anyway, to come up with so many different worlds and make each world as in-depth as we world-builders desire.
As a result, I find these easter eggs to be kind of fascinating, and as a reader, it can open up the mind to more extensive possibilities. As an author, however, it feels more limiting. There are so many story ideas in my head, and they remain unconnected as they should be, that it seems like a disservice to my readers to get stuck in just one, even if that one suddenly multiplies a hundredfold into a multiverse. Which means I’ll probably stick to a soloverse for the time being. I’m interested in seeing in what other ways a multiverse will the fantasy genre, and if other tropes of sci-fi will bleed in, and vice versa. Any genre will get tired after awhile if it’s not experimented with. Except for the romance genre, but that’s neither here nor there.
Anyway, that’s all I have for today. I had expected Muse of Nightmares to take me a lot longer to finish, but it didn’t. So now I made a trip to Barnes & Noble (I feel like I’ve betrayed Gramercy Books, but I was out of town and I had a gift card so) and now I’ve got two books on my TBR list for the rest of the month: 1) Christopher Paolini’s newest release, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm and 2) Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines, which I didn’t realize was a book, just a movie, and since it doesn’t look like I’ll get to watch the movie anyways, I thought it’d be really fun to read the original text. I’ll post my thoughts on Twitter after I finish each book, as per usual.