Brat Farrar (bratfarrar) wrote,
Brat Farrar

Down to Agincourt : an incoherent, inadequate review

I'll begin with a caveat: Down to Agincourt loses much of its impact if you aren't at least passingly familiar with seasons 4-6 of the TV show Supernatural. But I say this as someone who's watched only a handful of episodes, all of them either pre- or post- those three seasons, so take that as you will.

Right. So. I don't often post links or recommend/review things online because I spend too much time online and don't want to entice anyone else down that path. Of course, I'm about to recommend a 200,000+ word series of novels, so again, take that as you will.

The opening premise is pretty simple: character A (Dean) somehow falls into an alternate future (okay, it's actually pretty complicated) where his alternate self has been running a ragged militia trying to prevent Satan from ending the world. Said alternate self was killed moments earlier by Satan during a botched assassination attempt. Character B (Cas), who is a sort-of-fallen (thanks to alternate character A) angel stumbles across character A, and things go from there.

But that makes it sound like a summer action blockbuster, and it really isn't that at all. All of the action is either offstage or over so quickly that the POV character barely has time to recognize what's happening. Instead, this is a story about two guys who were each deeply damaged by the other's dead alternate universe counterpart and how they slowly (slooooowly) begin to heal each other. Mostly accidentally. And it's also about what you do when everything (everything) says the world is about to end and there's nothing you can do to stop that from happening. Plus there's the whole thing about figuring out how to run the ragged militia your dead alternate universe self left to you. I mention this because seperis takes what could have been either background coloring or awkward info-dumping and turns it into a reflection writ large of what's going on with these two characters: as things improve with them, so too the state of the militia camp.

Also, amid all the serious talks and sometimes painful misunderstandings, there are bits that are really, really funny. This is not an angst-fest. Or a romance (in the trashy-novel sense of the world; it would nearly qualify in the medieval epic sense): 193,000+ words in and we've only just had a third party mention the possibility, and only because the camp is rampant with rumors (because how else do you fill your time when the world could end at any moment?). In pretty much everything it feels real. The characters feel like real people, the dialogue reads like something you might overhear, the problems they deal with (mostly intelligently, which is always nice) are the sorts of things that would come up in such circumstances. But at the same time there's just the faintest wash of symbolism over everything; you can ignore it, but it's there once you start looking at things more closely. (Well, in one part it does become quite blatant, but there are fever dreams involved.) Oh, and despite a major injury on one character's part, it's also not a hurt/comfort story. There isn't really any category you could pigeon-hole it into, I think--it's too big and too emotionally complex.

Down to Agincourt: series overview at AO3. Two books, 200,000+ words. Chapters going up semi-regularly.

map of the world Map of the World: eleven chapters, 154,000+ words. Ends just after what would have been a cliff-hanger.

it's the stars that lie It's the Stars That Lie: four chapters and counting, 54,000+ words. Starts directly up from where Map of the World ends (as in, the first line won't make sense unless you've read the last paragraph of the previous book).

The fake book covers are modeled after the Everyman's Library new series of dust jackets, because I'm a sucker for graphic design and prefer to reformat ebooks that I like into something more like reading a 'real' book.
Tags: cover art, reviews & recommendations, supernatural

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