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I am a fan of this series, which began this time last year with The Bone Season, and carries on now with The Mime Order. The alternate universe that Samantha Shannon began building in The Bone Season comes to fruition in this, the second part of a seven-book series.
First – if you haven’t yet read it, do read The Bone Season first. This book is certainly not one of those part-of-a-series-but-stands-alone deals – everything about the first book is integral to building the action in the second book, which is centered on the concept of freedom.
Our heroine, Paige ‘The Pale Dreamer’ Mahoney is rejoined as she successfully (though not without drama) leads a group of sighted humans out of the prison-city of Sheol I, based in old Oxford. These humans each have different paranormal gifts, one of the most highly-regarded of which is Paige’s gift, as a dreamwalker. Sighted humans are deemed unnatural by the order of Scion, which is the name that London goes. Scion began after the reign of Edward VII, who was blamed for opening the door to the unnaturals through a seance gone wrong.
I can understand why fantasy writers are absolutely fascinated with the idea of London having hidden depths. With that much history, and that many ancient buildings, it is a city begging to have alternative worlds built into it. Shannon has built this world very expertly. There are machinations within machinations, with new discoveries about how Scion works within the underworld and at a higher level, every page you turn. These details do not overwhelm the plot, butadd to them, as with any good world-building. I feel like this book is so good due to a really great partnership between Shannon and her editors. As with any good editor, you can’t see them, but you can feel their influence.
Paige is a wanted criminal, her face on every screen in Scion. Along with this, she has been fingered in the murder of the Underlord, Haymarket Hector, leader of the Unnatural Assembly. Hector acted as king of the unnaturals’ cohorts, and his death leaves a vacuum at the top which must be filled according to custom, by a scrimmage – a magical fight, often to the death for many participants.
Since she has returned, Paige has been searching for a way to make changes – to alert the other sighted humans to what has been happening beneath their noses in terms of the imprisonment of their kin and their gifting to the Rephaim as food and servants; and to ultimately change the rule of Scion, to allow gifted humans to walk freely among regulars. Her mime-lord, Jaxon Hall, refuses to let her talk, and she finds his control over her difficult to go along with, especially as she grows to realise that the way he manages them is constantly through self-interest – usually to amass further fortune.
I wanted Jaxon to be a better person, possibly because Paige wants Jaxon to be a better person. Like her, he came from nothing; but unlike her, this makes him more determined to stay above this nothing he came from, without any interest in allowing others to do the same. His talent is as a binder – any spirit whose true name he inscribes on his skin must remain by his side and do his bidding. The reason for Jaxon being the way he is will be explored in future books in the series I suspect, as he certainly has secrets that will add to the playing out of the plot.
I urge you to read this series if you enjoy dystopic fantasy. My review of The Bone Season is here. Start with the first in the series – then by all means, carry on. There is word that the first book is being prepared to become a movie by Andy Serkis and his production company, Imaginarium. If this is done well, I can see this series growing to be as big as The Hunger Games.
Reviewed by Sarah Forster
The Mime Order
by Samantha Shannon
Published by Bloomsbury