Updated on August 5, 2015
48. ‘The Chemickal Marriage’ by G.W. Dahlquist
This was the year that I started and finished GW Dahlquist’s epic trilogy. The books are sizeable, the story is long and complicated, and I’m heartily glad I read it.
‘The Chemickal Marriage’ – the third in the series – was just as long, rambling and complex as the other two books. Once again, there was a whole raft of new characters whose names I could barely follow, and a barely understandable web of motivations and cunning plans, that overlapped and interrupted each other with such frequency that I was left clinging to the few original characters, if only because I knew who they were.
There were plenty of pleasing elements. The fight between ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ that has been going on throughout the trilogy has become more public in this book: there is anarchy and open rioting (and worse) on the streets. I love that, by taking down so many of the major evildoers in the first two books, the unlikely heroic trio have managed to remove most of the people in positions of power, so the entire government has descended into chaos.
I liked the scene in the bath house, told from two different perspectives: Svenson sees it as a retreat for angelic females, who bathe in heavenly perfumes and bask in each other’s beauty. Miss Temple, on the other hand, a woman herself, sees it in all its grubby detail; the women aren’t angels, but flawed creatures with all the smells, imperfections and effluvia that one might expect.
Many of the things that wound me up about the other two books were still present. As well as screaming (as usual) “For God’s sake, KILL HIM!” at every other page, I also took up a new refrain for the first half of the book; namely, “For God’s sake, Chang, LOOK AT YOUR WOUND!” As for the Contessa getting stabbed with a glass spur filled with love and then, in the end, all the other characters watching her run away rather than finishing her off, that was more or less entirely expected. Oh! And how I could forget one of the climactic scenes, in which ALL the baddies suddenly trusted Svenson with the complicated machinery, which of course he tampered with, so that the entire saga came down to a simple case of the old switcheroo! By this point these issues had taken on a charm of their own, however. They didn’t annoy me so much as entertain me, and I ended up enjoying how ludicrous it all ended up being.
All in all, I would say this book, set in a slightly otherworldly land, with three solid, likeable characters, is a fitting continuation and conclusion to Dahlquist’s boisterous, fantastical romp. Put simply, it’s a good, fast-paced, quite ridiculous read.
“For a blinding, screaming instant, Cardinal Chang perceived the whole of his soul, suddenly naked, balanced on a precipice. Then every part of him was taken away.”
This book is the reason I read the trilogy in the first place. Months and months ago Penguin was offering advance copies to the members of their Proof Group. I asked for one, got it and realised it was part three. So I went back to read the first two and now, at last, I have completed the lot. Hooray!
If you enjoyed my review, why not buy the book and let me know what you think?