I saw a familiar cover in a bookstore, went to look at it, and realized that it was in fact the sequel of something sitting on a TBR shelf that I’d kind of forgotten about. Thus, I had to read the one I had before getting the next one because what if I didn’t like the first one? And the first one would probably be necessary to pick up and follow the new one. Thus, I took How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse off my shelf; I finished this in two days. Day three, I picked up book 2.
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse is basically a fairy-tale re-telling/update. The main fairy tale trope is the blessing of a baby princess by fairies and things not going as expected, but if you look carefully some other components are there as well, often to Rory’s annoyance or dismay. One element that is necessary and well done is the inclusion of the teacher and helper figures. We get a bit of Rory’s childhood mostly for world building and some character set up, and most of the novel takes place once Rory is about 16. As princess of planet Thorne, she is expected to make a political marriage like her mother (who is most definitely not the stereotype of the fairy tale mother who is mostly absent), and Rory doesn’t especially want to. There are a lot of politics, mostly inter-stellar but human centered. So now we have a good dose of science fiction, which works quite well. A lot of the connection comes from the practice of arithmancy, which is basically magic mixed with mathematics, physics, and computer science. An aritmancer like Rory’s tutor and her parents’ political advisor, the Vizier or Messer Rupert (depending on who you ask), can do things like read auras, cast hexes (basically spells), and hack turings (basically computers). Rory can and does do some of this herself, but she’s not an expert like her instructor is. Rupert sounds like a fun guy to hang out with, since he’s apparently a total geek when he’s not on the job.
When Rory gets shipped off to a space station to await her impending marriage to Prince Ivar, who is a total wuss and is probably going to be under the control of his probably evil Regent Moss once he comes of age, she takes the Vizier with her, but she also gets her part mech bodyguard Grytt and two soldiers, Zhang and Thorsdottir, and all three of them have enough personality to really keep things interesting.
In spite of the fairy tale and science fiction elements, there is still a little reality, especially when it comes to Rory. The narrator, almost a character as well, points out that sometimes Rory’s being a teenager overrides her fairy-bestowed gifts and her better judgement or experience. Similarly, sometimes, adults get impatient and snap when Rory gets too far into teen mode.
Then, there’s also the writing which sometimes contains some really good bits. For example, “His stomach muttered and shifted, like an old cat wanting nothing more than to nap in the sun and finding himself beset by kittens.” The simile is both creative and a darn good image, and also slightly funny. Overall, I have high hopes for the sequel which will be high on the list for 2021.