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Balcony of Fog

af Rich Shapero

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666316,719 (2.21)Ingen
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Summary: In a post-nuclear world, a laborer and a fugitive from a vengeful lover inhabiting a thunderhead meet up, transform to cloud-beings and eventually engage in a climactic battle.

Arden is a toiler in a post-nuclear war of toilers and overlords. He builds and repairs sluices channeling the water from ever present storms. He dreams of more, sailing away on the Mariod, named after a woman who sacrificed herself for him. After a beating from an overlord, he slips away to his boat and encounters a woman who seems to descend out of the sky. Estra is escaping an angry thunderhead driven by her former lover Ingis.

Of course they instantly fall into love and into the sack. Then when their escape plan is frustrated, Estra leads Arden into a transformation allowing him to ascend to the clouds. Arden finds himself transformed into a cloudlike figure capable of riding the clouds. For a while, it seems an idyllic life of incredible beauty. They immerse each other in Vats, cleansing them of bad memories and traumas, Spindles that draw out their wishes, and a pond of which they write their most private thoughts, which are transformed into cranes. Then there is love, where they merge their “motes,” their whole being into each other.

Of course it can’t last. Ingishead driven by a jealous and powerful lover relentlessly pursues them. At one point, Ingishead abducts Estra, with Arden relentlessly pursuing and ultimately rescuing her back. But Arden knows that any victory is temporary until Ingishead is defeated. Even as Arden builds Ardenhead, consuming lesser clouds and learning to wield lightning, there is also an inner conflict. What is Ingis to Estra? Why did she become his lover in the first place? How much of her heart did he still hold?

On one level, the story is about the lead-up to a climactic battle. It is also a study of the corrupting effects of power, which we see at work on Ingis. But will power and jealousy win over love with Arden? Will he become another Ingis.

Meanwhile, the structures of power on earth continue. A vengeful strike at one point seems emotionally cathartic but systemically unsatisfying. The Vats, The Spindles, and the cranes are interesting devices for the emotional healing and self-healing these abused characters need, yet self-revelation carries its own dangers.

There is some interesting world-building and ideas about self-knowledge mixed with what seem to me adolescent fantasy and pettishness. I think a gifted writer could have created a story of greater subtlety. As it stands, it is just OK. I can’t help but wonder if the immersive component of this project, pairing an app with this book, led to writing that does not stand on its own but is driven by the companion technology. Whatever is the case, I’d pass on this one.

____________________________

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. ( )
  BobonBooks | Jun 28, 2021 |
Decamp with an innocent toiler and his mysterious female companion to a metaphoric world in the clouds—a strange, vertiginous perch that reveals startling insights about the twisted dynamics of love and power.

Thank you, Goodreads and Rich Shapero for giving me a chance to read Balcony of Fog!

“King of the Heaven. Beholden to None.”

Ok there a lot of people saying that this book was just flat out awful. I can agree to some of what has been said but, I will not say that was a waste of my time. So here it goes the world building that Rich Shapero did in this book was amazing. Such great detail. He has definitely built a world that is very intriguing. The cloud ships and the realm its self was magical to read about.

Now for the part that I didn’t like. I think the characters back story or their personalities didn’t come out very well or it just wasn’t there at all. If as much thought that went into the world building was put into developing the characters and explaining in some parts why it was even happening this book would have been a lot better. Happy reading everyone! ( )
  jacashjoh | Jun 8, 2021 |
I got this book fairly recent and I just finished the book. I loved the book and I hope theres a sequel cause it's really good. ( )
  TimidLilWolf | Mar 15, 2021 |
I could only make it halfway through this before I decided to take the advice to not waste time on things that do not bring joy. This story has failed to capture my attention and the characters seem arbitrary. One of the problems--in my opinion--of fantasy fiction is that the writer can just make up the rules of how things work as they go which makes it difficult to appreciate a situation.
Shapero blurs more lines than he creates in this story and I cannot get myself to care about what happens to the characters. Because there seem to be no rules (one character was married to a god and now the two protagonists are riding through the sky on a cloud--yeah, it's like that) it is impossible to understand what is a real conflict and what is arbitrary.
I'm sure some people can really enjoy this, but even the parts written on terra firma seemed disconnected and difficult to follow. ( )
  gpaisley | Jan 5, 2021 |
In the first 23 pages, a man has been beaten into unconsciousness by a supervisor, and upon awakening, he finds himself approached in the fog by a naked woman. Why is she naked? Who can say? Because boobs? Anyway, after a brief interaction in which she reveals that she is fleeing from a horrible, possibly abusive, relationship and he agrees to hide her, they are suddenly having sex because apparently our hero is irresistible despite an utter lack of personality or inflection. In fairness, she not only lacks inflection and personality but also autonomy.

What happens next? Well, that will just have to be an eternal mystery because I simply am not going to finish this.

I received a complimentary copy of this, well two actually, from a Book Riot giveaway, and I really wish I hadn't. ( )
2 stem Zoes_Human | Dec 12, 2020 |
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