"There is war in a fantasy version of Sri Lanka, where the large royal family controls magic and the peasant rebels have guns. Ezi is a useless prince, whose only power is speaking to animals who wont agree to fight for them. He also writes poetry and suffers from naive delusions about making peace with the enemy. But drastic events change everything.So here's the thing -- I'm the author, and I don't understand this review. Is Lois saying that the story fails because we only see events from the prince's viewpoint? That's sort of an interesting claim, although I'd argue that the prince is pretty clearly an unreliable narrator, and as such, his viewpoint holds a multitude of possibilities, depending on how you read what's happening around him, filtered through his perception. Did the reviewer just miss that option?
This is a political work, if only because it evokes comparison to current events. As such, it can not be seen as simply a childrens fairytale about a young prince earning his crown. Thus it is unsatisfying to see the events from only a single point of view, in which the king is good and kind and wise and the rebels are the most clichd of terrorists. And the elephants, whom everyone knows to be wise, are gravely deluded."
Or, is she warning the reader to be wary of taking the prince's viewpoint at face value? That would be a more helpful reading, I think, but based on her phrasing, I don't think that's actually what she was saying. Is it?
And is she actually saying flat out that the pacifist message of the elephants is clearly wrong? And if so, wrong in her viewpoint, as a reader, responding to the story's perceived argument, or, conversely, wrong based on her interpretation of what the author / story intended? I can't tell.
Normally I think it's a bad idea for authors to engage with their reviewers -- or at least a dangerous idea. But I found this review confusing. Maybe I'm too close to my story.
Also, I wonder how many of my readers on this story read it 'straight', as it were -- as a sort of triumphant, traditional ending. Whereas what I intended was something rather more grim and even cynical. For me, this is at least in part the story of a fall from innocence, into the temptations of power. But I'm not sure I actually succeeded in getting that across...especially considering the tone of this other brief review by Sam Tomaino:
"The issue begins with young Prince Ezi, "Talking to Elephants" in the story by Mary Anne Mohanraj. He tries to convince them to help his country against the invading Hansithi. He befriends his pretty cousin, Madhuri, who has power over fire and water. Things work out in a surprising way in this delightful fantasy."Delightful? Really?