Friday, May 29, 2009

Polyphony: The Two of Cups by Lee Benoit

TITLE: Polyphony: The Two of Cups
AUTHOR: Lee Benoit
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 22k)
GENRE: Gay ménage fantasy erotic romance
COST: $2.49

With his love finally rescued, Adiun must now fashion a new life for not only himself and Devi, but also their growing band of friends, and friends of friends. They have to learn how to be together again, but Devi is not so sure their two is the right number any more…

Taken literally, the definition of polyphony is the composition or collection of many sounds, as in music with multiple, harmonious voices. That is the effect the author is attempting to attain in this sequel to Master of None, that effect of bringing a lot of different - yet similar - people together, and while the hints of it are there, they aren’t nearly as strongly portrayed as the first story.

This begins not too long after the conclusion of the first story, and Adiun and Matti have to find a new way of living. They have the rescued Devi and Sauda, and there isn’t a damaged one amongst the quartet. There are some interesting dynamics going on here, but the vast majority of it is never explored. Too much is reliant on knowledge of the first story, a weakness that prevails nearly throughout the novella. Devi is very broken from his time in the brothel, but his emotional depths feel only skimmed over. Really, he’s the one the reader should most sympathize with in this, too. For most of the first book, he’s an elusive figure, that shadow in the background that Adiun is always striving toward. He’s the one I was most eager to learn more about, but what I got lacked the depth I’d experienced the first time I was introduced to this world.

Much of the story, in fact, seems sparse in comparison to the richness of the world presented in the first story. While the prose was certainly competent enough, it felt like the author relied too heavily on previous knowledge and instead focused on the immediate here and now of their situation. That’s all well and good, but I’ve read a lot of stories since the first one. It took me quite a long time to recall the details I needed to round out the details provided in this one. To consider this in any way a story that can stand on its own merit, I needed a little bit more than what I got. It feels like there’s a fine balance to be made between providing background exposition and getting on with the present day conflict. I’m afraid, for this reader, that balance was never found. It wasn’t until the epilogue, in fact, that I felt I found the voice that had entranced me with the first story. If only that voice could have been carried throughout the entire novella.


8/10 – Simple and clean, but not as engaging as I expect from this author


6/10 – The story suffers from an inability to stand alone, much of the necessary characterization happened in the first book


6/10 – It lacks the depths of the previous story until the very end

Entertainment value

6/10 – Disappointing in light of how much I truly enjoyed the first one

World building

6/10 – Too much depends on knowledge from the first book



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