Review: Liesmith by Alis Franklin02:02
Author: Alis Franklin
Date of publication: 7 Oct 2014
Genre/Themes: Urban Fantasy, Queer
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My rating: 3 Stars
Working in low-level IT support for a company that’s the toast of the tech world, Sigmund Sussman finds himself content, if not particularly inspired. As compensation for telling people to restart their computer a few times a day, Sigmund earns enough disposable income to gorge on comics and has plenty of free time to devote to his gaming group.
Then in walks the new guy with the unpronounceable last name who immediately becomes IT’s most popular team member. Lain Laufeyjarson is charming and good-looking, with a story for any occasion; shy, awkward Sigmund is none of those things, which is why he finds it odd when Lain flirts with him. But Lain seems cool, even if he’s a little different—though Sigmund never suspects just how different he could be. After all, who would expect a Norse god to be doing server reboots?
As Sigmund gets to know his mysterious new boyfriend, fate—in the form of an ancient force known as the Wyrd—begins to reveal the threads that weave their lives together. Sigmund doesn’t have the first clue where this adventure will take him, but as Lain says, only fools mess with the Wyrd. Why? Because the Wyrd messes back.
This is a rather unusual read for me, a queer urban fantasy, which I picked up after a recommendation from a friend.
I liked a lot of things in the story and enjoyed reading most of it but at some point I felt lost in the the complexity of the Norse mythology which was presented in overwhelming detail. I had to google far too many things in order to make sense of the story and this took away from my overall enjoyment of the book.
The strongest element in the story for me was the way the author played with/subverted traditional sexual roles and romantic standards. Sigmund was an adorable, so-not-typical romantic lead - geeky, neither ubermanly, nor gay, just ordinary, yet capable of loving without a question. His two best friends were interesting and unusual female characters, together with his father they made strong supporting characters who contributed a lot to the main story.
The other main character, Lain/Loki was rather complicated and difficult to understand and evaluate. His was interesting and his episodes were both amusing and confusing. Sigmund and Lain's love story was very sweet - real, intimate, there was no pretence, despite how non-traditional it seemed.
The writing was strong and convincing, creating an intriguing and complex world building. Besides the strong romantic element the story was really action-packed, especially the second half of it. I'm not a gamer myself, but I found the gamer perspective and jargon which permeated some of the story telling well done and interesting.
Still, I felt there were to many unresolved issued by the end. It was difficult to appreciate the subversion of traditional mythology in the story when I'm not sufficiently familiar with the original myths. It's a HFN ending and I hope that the sequel which is coming next year it will clarify some of the things that baffled me here.
Overall, it's a curious, unusual story, well told, which will be better appreciated by people who are more familiar with Norse mythology than me.