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Delirium's Mistress Hardcover – 15 October 1987
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- Publisher : Orbit (15 October 1987)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0099515806
- ISBN-13 : 978-0099515807
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A writing instructor at my university common gave nascent authors this advice: If you, as an author, ask your readers to carry a Volkswagon to the top of the mountain, figuratively speaking, they will do so. But when they get it there, they expect you to do someone with it. Delirium's Mistress is littered with abandoned Volkswagons.
Far too often, Lee interrupted her narrative to insert a sub-plot. Vampires? Sure. The release of an imprisoned immortal and immoral scholar from his prison of eternal coral? Why not. The capture and long endurance of the hero/protagonist by mildly hostile sea people? Or the resurrection (a plot point Lee never tired of using) of a mildly evil character from an earlier book who seeks redemption through the protection and education of the hero/protagonist? Archangels sent by the Gods to destroy those who worship the hero/protagonist? I guess. It all just gets so jumbled and tedious, though.
Motivations among characters are hard to find. Lacking such intrinsic elements in the novel, Lee offers us the distraction of incomparably beautiful maidens with raven/red/silver tresses and breathtakingly gorgeous men , all loved by the more-than-human elements of the Flat Earth, and all left without development.. Oh, and palaces made of improbable materials and peopled by impossible beings.
What worked in Night's Master was an overarching theme - the wicked and perverse interventions of Azhrarn, Prince of Demons, in the affairs of men - rendered in the books over the course of time and presented in short vignettes with a definitive conclusion. All the assembled stories made the finale satisfying, even if Azhrarn himself was the only consistent character. Delirium's Mistress never seems to end. Nor does it offer much purpose to the narrative, except to offer more glimpses into the Flat Earth, more ways to think about Azhrarn who, as he is perfected and immortal, does not change, and more ways to grow tired of multi-paged descriptive prose providing details into a garden, a palace, or a shrine.
If I had to guess, it would be that Lee adored her creation of Azhrarn, the immortal and beautiful beloved who offers cruelty and sweet delirium to those he favors, and wanted more and more of a venue to explore him. As Azhrarn is a rather limited character, she wanted to create his "un-brothers", but in each book, Azhrarn dominates the pages.
So if you came looking for a continuation of the Flat Earth series and found Delirium's Mistress, I would say you should probably stop with Death's Master and let the rest go. Or go write your own book set in this world.