The Left-Handed Fate: 04/06/18
The Left-Handed Fate by Kate Milford is another Nagspeake middle grade novel. It's the sequel to the Kickstarter-ed (and soon to be reprinted) Bluecrowne. In terms of print order, it's the sixth book in the series (and as they are all in the same universe, I'm counting them as one series). Chronologically, it's the second book, coming after the events of Bluecrowne.
Right now I'm making big dramatic sighs and rolling my eyes not at Kate Milford or her books but at myself. When this book was announced on the heels of Greenglass House I had just read (skimmed really) The Broken Lands and I didn't know they all fit together, nor could I see the connection on my own. I had raced to read The Broken Lands because it was a library book and Milford's books aren't for speed-reading.
As you'll recall from my review of Ghosts of Greenglass House I complained that I wanted to see more of Nagspeake. Well, this book, the second half, at least, is set there. But like any Milford book it opens up more questions than it answers.
The book opens with the Left-Handed Fate, a British ship pulling into the Baltimore Harbor in as low key a fashion as possible. The United States is at war with Britain in the early days of the War of 1812. Maxwell Ault has hired the ship to take him here to pick up a piece of a weapon that his father was tracking down.
The item is no longer there and Ault not knowing for sure what he's looking for, only has the rumor that the item is now on a ship headed for Nagspeake. The Fate reluctantly agrees to chase after the ship, knowing that they might just be fast enough to intercept it before it reaches Nagspeake.
Their route takes them from Baltimore to Norfolk to Nagspeake. That's a southerly coastal route and it goes right by Nags Head — one of the places I supposed Nagspeake might be near. (See the first couple paragraphs of my Ghosts of Greenglass House review for my reasoning.
I'm not going to go more into where is Nagspeake or what is Nagspeake in this review, though both questions are big parts of the second half. I have at least one separate essay on Nagspeake in the works but I want to wait to read Bluecrowne before I finalize it.
The first half of the novel is basically character development and setting. It's there to flesh out stories told second hand in Greenglass House. It's there to keep Nagspeake grounded in reality and history before the second half where the fantasy elements take over.
Nagspeake is in many ways like a thematic marriage of Neverland and the Emerald City (or maybe Ev in its heyday). It is like the traveling city in Catherynne M Valente's Fairyland books but without the fae rules for human travelers. Put simply, Nagspeake is fascinating.
If you haven't read Ghosts of Greenglass House but plan to, I recommend that you read The Left-Handed Fate first.