Michael Ondaatje — Warlight

A novel in two parts. The first part swept me away as I turned pages and felt myself secure in the hands of a master story teller. The scenes were vivid, the details well chosen, foreshadowing adept. The set up of the sense of mystery, the demarcation of what was unknown, gradually coloured in, was very satisfying. By the second part I found myself losing interest a little. I was no longer in the scene, I was reading a report of a scene. The shoehorning of research, and stretch for whimsical detail and colourful set piece, and the fleshing out of characters, started to feel more novelish and less believable. Some of the paths to discovery seemed too convenient or contrived, and the tying together of loose ends in the final sections, including stock revelation, felt procedural rather than satisfying. I was kept too distant from the narrator, there was too little of his interiority; so while I discovered his childhood with him, I didn’t know him, or really how it had affected his adult life, and so I found I didn’t care about what he later uncovered.

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