by Terrance McArthur
& Marshall Ryan Maresca
We are happy to be a part of the blog tour for Marshall Ryan Maresca’s new book An Import of Intrigue. We have a review of the book, and we have a Maradaine Culture Report guest post from Marshall which is one of 5 on this blog tour that provide a deeper look into the different neighborhoods of Maradaine and the cultures that live there. There are also details at the end of the post on how to enter to win not only a copy of An Import of Intrigue, but also the first book in the series, A Murder of Mages. There are also links to purchase the book.
An Import of Intrigue: The Maradaine Constabulary by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Review by Terrance McArthur
They carry crossbows instead of service revolvers, and two moons shine down on the detectives in the streets of Maradaine, but An Import of Intrigue by Marshall Ryan Maresca is a police procedural with paranormal and steampunk rising.
Satrine Rainey is a constabulary detective, third class, who falsified her way into the job when her husband was injured in the line of duty, but earned it to keep it. Minox “Jinx” Welling is a bad-luck mage who works outside the official organized magic circles because they won’t let law enforcement into membership, so he’s self-taught. Together, they deal with some of the hardest—and strangest—cases the force has to face. I mean, when the first case of the week has you fighting a bear, you know things are going to get bumpy.
Satrine and Minox are pulled into an investigation of a foreign trader’s murder, a killing that is marked by cultural references that suggest several ethnic groups in the area of the city known as The Little East. Each ethnic blames another culture for the crime, and riots and warfare are the order of the day, with the police caught in the middle.
Maresca started the Thorn of Dentonhill series, then added the Constabulary series. The Maradaine world is richly explored in his work, with layers upon layers of class, culture, and magic. Eventually, the different storylines will merge, since they occur in adjacent areas. An included map helps readers place the action in a geographical context.
Minox suffers serious, life-threatening, magical changes, learning more about his powers. Satrine’s past as a spy is revealed, along with some major secrets. It’s complex, intriguing, and spellbinding.
Some of the reasons I recommend this book:
• Although the Constabulary of Minox and Satrine is mere blocks from the wizarding college and street gangs of the Dentonhill saga, they are parts of the same society, and dovetail nicely.
• Minox doesn’t use magic without a cost. His power use burns calories, and he needs food, usually a pushcart equivalent of McDonalds and some mystery meat.
• Satrine’s spy training had mesmeric elements that let her mind store facts until she needs them, giving her sudden flashes of arcane trivia and cultural etiquette.
• Using his fantasy society, Maresca is able to comment on issues like colonialism, class warfare, radicalism, racism, and sexism, and nobody would take offense, because it’s not our world.
An Import of Intrigue is a book worth reading, and part of a world worth exploring.
By Marshall Ryan Maresca
An Import of Intrigue takes place in a part of the city of Maradaine called “The Little East”, a handful of blocks populated by enclaves of immigrants and foreigners from all over the larger world. Most citizens of Maradaine avoid these enclaves, and their only understanding of other countries and cultures comes from Augustine Montrose’s memoir, My Travels of the World. Here we look at an excerpt from his book, where he talks about one of the cultures encountered in An Import of Intrigue.
I believe there is an element in the core Tyzanian character of embracing a duty for the sake of the greater good. That concept, which is rendered through spirituality and implicit understanding in Tsoulja, is made explicit and tangible in Lyrana.
Lyrana arose from the remnants of the administrative bureaucracy of the Tyzanian Empire, and as such, the entire society is part of the bureaucracy. Every citizen has title, rank and classification. Even children are assigned to a “juvenile cohort” and ranked and classified based on their ability.
“Ability” and “merit” are key terms in the Lyranan character, as they firmly believe that every person rises in station based on their ability and merit, and thus their system produces governing of the highest order, spared of the “poisoning factors of sentiment and nepotism”, as they said to me. (I believe they were not only insulting both our Parliament and nobility with this statement, but making a personal attack on me, as they often showed disdain toward me when they found out my uncle is a member of Parliament, and thus presumed I had not earned my place honestly. I chose to ignore these slights.)
I did discover that they do take removing any trace of nepotism from their system quite seriously. No one is raised by birth parents, and the concept of “family” is foreign to them. Immediately after birth, children are reared by designated Caregivers, and then brought up never knowing their blood relatives. “Any fool can breed. Raising children is best handled by experts.”
The Lyranans are masters of documentation and propriety, which can become rather unwieldy. As everyone has a title, and with that a degree of privilege, responsibility and authority, then a certain amount of time— and with that, a certain amount of paperwork— is devoted just to the acknowledgement of who is writing what, and why they are writing it, and what is it they need, and who it is to be delivered to, and who else is authorized to see it. A simple request for an underling to purchase more fruit at the market requires a four-page missive.
Needless to say, a significant portion of the Lyranan bureaucracy is devoted to the production of paper, and the ongoing renewal and maintenance of the rain forests in their northern provinces.
I imagine, upon reading this, you would think the Lyranans as a soulless people, with clockwork inside of them instead of blood and passions. Their gray-pallored skin, universally shaven heads and mode of dress that resembles military uniform would likely do little to diminish this view. However, I found a great level of beauty in the Lyranan culture. They cherish ability and merit rising to the top, and that includes their artists. Poetry, music, painting, dance: all of these are cultivated by the government, in a desire to express and promote beauty in its perfect state to all the people. oy— genuine joy— in all things is paramount.
I witnessed a performance of music and dance, in which dozens of dancers and musicians took the stage and began a melodic piece with all the dancers moving in unison— slow deliberate movements. And then the tempo increased, and the dancers in time. Then faster again, and again. By the fourth jump in tempo, some of the dancers and musicians made errors— far too minor for my eye- and dropped out, moving to the edge of the stage. Again, faster and faster, until all that remained was a single musician and a lone dancer, both going at ferocious speed with meticulous precision. It was possibly the most astonishing thing I have seen in my travels….
To enter to win a copy of An Import of Intrigue & A Murder of Mages, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “import,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 5, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.
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