Item description for The Rat And The Serpent by Bryn Llewellyn...
The Rat And The Serpent by Bryn Llewellyn
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 0.75" Weight: 1.22 lbs.
Release Date Feb 28, 2005
Publisher Prime Books
ISBN 1930997833 ISBN13 9781930997837
Availability 144 units. Availability accurate as of Oct 28, 2016 08:17.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Rat And The Serpent?
Cliched premise, unique style, and overall predictable. Not recommended. Jul 18, 2006
The Rat and the Serpent is subtitled "a tale in black-and-white", and Llewellyn's distinct gothic writing style is at the center of this novel. Taking place in a city called Mavrosoplis, where social stratification is existent and unbreakable, Ugli, a crippled nogoth (beggar and homeless man), uses his powers at a shaman of the Blackrat to work his way up the social latter through a number of tests and challenges. The further Ugli climbs, the more he is fed, housed, and provided for, but the more his liberties of thought and idea are restricted. Eventually Ugli decides he must climb to the top of the social ladder in order to overthrow it, freeing the city from social stratification and proscribed thought. Sorcery and shaminism, magic and transformations run throughout the novel. The writing style is heavily stylistic, indeed written "in black-and-white" with stunted, impersonal language. Ugli is something of an anti-hero, full of faults and insecurities, difficult to root for even if the audience agrees with him. All in all, this is a strange, highly predictable, but well-plotted gothic fantasy novel. I didn't enjoy it very much, but it did keep me reading.
To give credit where credit is due, Llewellyn definitely has a strong, circular plot. Ugli's climb through society is evenly paced throughout the end of the book (although the climax in the final chapters is somewhat rushed), character development also progresses steadily, and the revelations and increasing importance of sorcery and shaminism build steadily until they become the climax of the book. Furthermore, a diary runs alongside Ugli's narration, and between that and the last chapter of the novel, the story comes full circle from beginning to middle to end to beginning and from gutter to home to manor to gutter. However, the side effect of this well-plotted, solid circular story is that the events in the book are highly predictable and become increasingly predictable as the book continues. The challenges and tasks by which Ugli climbs the social ladder are overly scripted and become repetitive, as each new rung of the social ladder is revealed they, too, become predictable, and the climax at the end of the book is so well built up that it is entirely predictable and seems short and anti-climatic.
Llewellyn's writing style is so stylistic that it feels forced, but it is an interesting deviation from any novel I've read before. The absence of color, exaggerated gothic themes (everyone carries black parasols, citidenizens wear white make up and black eyeliner, sorcery runs the city and ritual magic is powerful and, at least in Ugli's frame of reference, common), and stunted writing make this text feel very different. Is it interesting to read for style alone, and the bizarre style helps to transport the reader, highlighting the differences of Ugli's world and making the entire story feel dramatic, otherworldly, and tactile. Ugli is also an unusual protagonist: the audience may agree with and support his thoughts and desires, but he is utterly unlovable. Nervous, crippled, naive, uneducated, slow to grasp, easily lead, asocial, and clumsy, Ugli is not only an antihero, he's an antihero that holds almost no appeal to the audience. As a result, it's hard to become personally invested in the story. Between writing style and protagonist, the reader is too removed from any sort of reality or identification to worry much for Ugli or for his city. The writing style alone may make this book interesting, but in the end the book has very little impact on the reader.
This is not a book that I would recommend. Unique as it is, its predictability and unappealing protagonist make it a disappointing read. Except for the city itself, nothing is new, nothing holds secrets, nothing grabs the reader's attention and creates interest. The solid plot means that, should you start it, you will probably get into it and finish it, but this isn't a novel I'd go out of my way to pick up. The unusual style conceals a predictable, unexciting story, and as interesting (albeit cliche) as the setting is, that is not enough to make this a worthwhile book.