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Into the Nothing, Faded and Weary

By Joker, author of Mavericks

Jan 24, 2019: [Review up to Chapter 46]

Into the Mire is awesome.

It’s not the world-building. Frankly, the breadcrumbs Ms. Lucas gives us aren’t BAD, but they feel thin and nebulous. Believable enough, but not of any immediate concern to our heroes more often than not. There are integral moments in Riss and Calay’s life that are handled exceptionally, though.

It’s not even the superb prose. When I learned that Lucas was a professional writer, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. Even the most minute of actions isn’t wasted, they all move the plot forward or characterize our heroes. I can see these characters as if I’m watching a movie.

It’s the characters. Calay the feared blood sorcerer feels the most human and vulnerable of them all. To the superstitious rest of the cast his powers seem awful and boundless, but they came at a price they couldn’t fathom. Gaz serves to ground him as he effortlessly, but not guiltlessly, manipulates the rescue party, but Gaz is far from the perfect moral support character often seen in lesser stories.

Riss’ facade of being the perfect soldier begins to crack by Chapter 25 or so, and that’s when I began to like her more. We’re left unsure whether it’s the horrors of the swamp or the horrors of war that are slipping through. It’s too bad her childhood isn’t described like the others are.

Adal is a fresh take on the aristocracy and how their concern with prestige would hurt a child’s development while still keeping him sympathetic and largely blameless. But Torcha comes across as a remorseless sociopath at times and I don’t know why she would fit in with the others.

The swamp itself might as well be a character. The atmosphere is smothering and relentless, though at times it feels unwarranted given our characters have been attacked by swamp creatures only three times. Lucas takes inspiration from my favorite horror film of all time, the Thing, but it would do her well to remember the most important line from it: "Nobody trusts anybody now." The swamp is dangerous, sure, but it only exists to facilitate the paranoia our cast feels around each other. The paranoia is there, and is acted upon many times, but oddly enough is rarely highlighted.

I want her to make me squirm more. The melding trees are a disgustingly great idea, but have only shown up once! I want to see blood and sinew turn to bark, baby.

There are some holes here like any other serial, but the merits vastly outweigh the drags. And it does drag sometimes, but for almost any other serial I’d have put it aside when it does so. Even during the down moments there’s some nugget of characterization to be found. It really feels like this thing should be updated twice a week.

With the serial (seemingly) approaching the end and sequels in the work, Lucas has a tall task ahead of her to knot up the dangling plot threads in a satisfactory manner. But, knowing her, she’ll know just which ones to give us an answer to, and which ones to make us read the next story for.

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