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Pump Six and Other Stories
Paolo Bacigalupi

The Duke of Shadows

The Duke of Shadows - Meredith Duran The first section in India is (surprisingly) awesome; the bits back in London get a bit muddy. Still. This is by far the least dodgy romance novel I've ever read that attempts to deal with colonialism in India. (Admittedly, that's neither a very high bar nor a very large sample size, due to the aforementioned very, very, very low bar.)

I'm not saying this a deep, in-depth, nuanced, thoughtful discussion of the Sepoy Rebellion, but I am saying that it plays as more than scenic backdrop for the hero and heroine's introduction. I'm not saying the heroine is anachronistically enlighted, but I am saying that she is called out on her "but of *course* the white people are better!" nonsense both within the text and in the narrative structure. I'm saying that there are at least two Indian characters with names and dialogue who do not exist solely to yenta or support the heroine and hero, who is himself of at least partial Indian descent.

I just wish it hadn't narratively fallen apart for me once everyone's back in London. It falls too closely to the "oh, for the love of god, can you people not have a conversation like grownups?" category. They both have legitimate beefs with each other, but they get magnified to ridiculous (though occasionally sexy) proportions because of their utter lack of ability to Use Their Words.

Still. The India bits were highly engaging and enough to pull me through the eye-rolly bits.