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Review: Tremontaine (Season 2)

Friday, January 27, 2017 - 13:01

Yesterday I thought I didn't have a review to post this week. But then, yesterday I didn't have one--not until I finished listening to the final episode of Serial Box's Season 2 of Tremontaine, based on Ellen Kushner's Riverside setting. The serial is released weekly in 13 episodes, both in print and semi-dramatized audio format. I consume it via the latter because that fits into my schedule better. As I noted in my review of season 1, this may have unknowable consequences for how I receive it. In particular, I find some of the character dramatization to be unnecessarily grating, in particular that of Duchess Tremontaine.

There really isn't an overall plot summary to give as background. An assortment of vastly diverse characters navigate a braided tangle of stories revolving around their various personal, political, and economic goals. As a prequel of sorts to Swordspoint, it is probably best enjoyed without too detailed a knowledge or memory of that story, so you aren't constantly trying to calculate how the end of Tremontaine will manage to match up with the start of Swordspoint. The Riverside of the serial is, in many ways, completely re-envisioned.

My overall opinion on this second season is much the same as for the first: I enjoy it, but I don't love it. There are specific characters I'm quite fond of (hi, Micah!), others...not so much (Rafe, get over yourself), and some I really would have liked to know more about (*waves shyly at Esha*). It's the nature of a serial of this type that there are only a few complete plot arcs. And I'm left uncertain whether the incomplete ones will be pursued later or simply dropped by the wayside. At this point, my largest beef is the rather clumsy way in which several of the threads were yanked in unexpected directions in the concluding episode. One particular last-minute development (no spoilers!) was both so unexpected and so casually brutal that I'm still dealing with the narrative whiplash.

Bits and pieces of the series are quite entertaining, and the world is richly envisioned. I'm impressed by the way all the various contributing authors have managed to give consistent voice to such an array of characters. But it hasn't really given me that "what happens next?" feeling.

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