By Seanan McGuire
Author’s Website: seananmcguire(.)com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Omar
Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.
Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.
Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.
Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.
Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.
More than a hundred years ago, the alchemist Asphodel D. Beaker dreamed of the world changing and evolving for the better. She believed that by bringing forth and giving life to the Doctrine of Ethos, this would give humanity the means to evolve. But the Congress of Alchemist disagrees with her and instead kills all of her followers and tries to sabotage her. To be able to make her dream come true, she created a being that would outlive her and complete her plans. She started by writing a children’s book series that would plant her idea in the mind of children, Over the Woodward Wall, by the surname A. Deborah Baker.
A hundred years later the Construct, Reed, finished his maker’s plan and gave life to the Doctrine of Ethos, into the body of two newborn babies, Roger and Dodger. To give his creation more power and be able to control them, he separates them, and he observed them over time until they find each other in their own minds.
I liked the Middlegame, it was a great story of siblings finding each other over and over again, changing with time, and understanding their powers. While the book might look scary big, being +150,000 words, it is an easy read once you start. My favorite topic in this book was alchemy. I liked how the author used it in her story. The creation of beings and the feats that were beyond the normal human means. Most of all, I liked how it was a bit more scientific than just plain magic, making it the best combination.
I liked Dodger and how she was different from what she was designed to be and was much more. I also liked Erin and her personality, like Dodger and Roger, she knew more about what was happening than any other character and she knew what she wanted and how to get it. Roger was true to his side of the doctrine and he fit correctly with the narrative.
The Doctrine of Ethos was an interesting thing. The doctrine believes that music could influence reality, composed of mathematical and poetic notes. This theory is seen in the story with the powers the twins have, and how together they could change the world.
Without knowing it, Middlegame is full of timelines and time jumps. Because we follow the life of the two main characters since their birth, it is necessary to skip parts of their lives and focus on the important events. I liked how timelines and the narrative of the book were written and the surprise I had when I finally understood it.
While the book ended in a good spot, either open for future books or a standalone book; I still would have liked to read more about Asphodel D. Baker, what she did with her life and her children’s book.
If you are a fan of Seanan McGuire and her work, then I recommend the Middlegame. In this story, the forces that rule the world take on flesh bodies and acquire humanity. Two siblings separated at birth find each other again and again, but each time they almost destroy the world a little bit, and one time they don’t.