Review: Sweep with Me, by Ilona Andrews
eagle at eyrie.org
Sun Feb 23 19:22:54 PST 2020
Sweep With Me
by Ilona Andrews
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #5
Sweep With Me is the fifth book in the Innkeeper Chronicles series.
It's a novella rather than a full novel, a bit of a Christmas bonus
story. Don't read this before One Fell Sweep; it will significantly
spoil that book. I don't believe it spoils Sweep of the Blade, but it
may in some way that I don't remember.
Dina and Sean are due to appear before the Assembly for evaluation of
their actions as Innkeepers, a nerve-wracking event that could have
unknown consequences for their inn. The good news is that this
appointment is going to be postponed. The bad news is that the
postponement is to allow them to handle a special guest. A Drífan is
coming to stay in the Gertrude Hunt.
One of the drawbacks of this story is that it's never clear about what
a Drífan is, only that they are extremely magical, the inns dislike
them, and they're incredibly dangerous. Unfortunately for Dina, the
Drífan is coming for Treaty Stay, which means she cannot turn them
down. Treaty Stay is the anniversary of the Treaty of Earth, which
established the inns and declared Earth's neutrality. During Treaty
Stay, no guest can be turned away from an inn. And a Drífan was one of
the signatories of the treaty.
Given some of the guests and problems that Dina has had, I'm a little
dubious of this rule from a world-building perspective. It sounds like
the kind of absolute rule that's tempting to invent during the first
draft of a world background, but that falls apart when one starts
thinking about how it might be abused. There's a reason why very few
principles of law are absolute. But perhaps we only got the simplified
version of the rules of Treaty Stay, and the actual rules have more
nuance. In any event, it serves its role as story setup.
Sweep With Me is a bit of a throwback to the early books of the series.
The challenge is to handle guests without endangering the inn or
letting other people know what's going on. The primary plot involves
the Drífan and an asshole businessman who is quite easy to hate. The
secondary plots involve a colloquium of bickering, homicidal chickens,
a carnivorous hunter who wants to learn how Dina and Sean resolved a
war, and the attempts by Dina's chef to reproduce a fast-food hamburger
for the Drífan.
I enjoyed the last subplot the best, even if it was a bit predictable.
Orro's obsession with (and mistaken impressions about) an Earth cooking
show are the sort of alien cultural conflict that makes this series
fun, and Dina's willingness to take time away from various crises to
find a way to restore his faith in his cooking is the type of action
that gives this series its heart. Caldenia, Dina's resident murderous
empress, also gets some enjoyable characterization. I'm not sure what I
thought a manipulative alien dictator would amuse herself with on
Earth, but I liked this answer.
The main plot was a bit less satisfying. I'm happy to read as many
stories about Dina managing alien guests as Andrews wants to write, but
I like them best when I learn a lot about a new alien culture. The
Drífan feel more like a concept than a culture, and the story turns out
to revolve around human rivalries far more than alien cultures. It's
the world-building that sucks me into these sorts of series; my
preference is to learn something grand about the rest of the universe
that builds on the ideas already established in the series and deepens
them, but that doesn't happen.
The edges of a decent portal fantasy are hiding underneath this plot,
but it all happened in the past and we don't get any of the details. I
liked the Drífan liege a great deal, but her background felt
disappointingly generic and I don't think I learned anything more about
If you like the other Innkeeper Chronicles books, you'll probably like
this, but it's a minor side story, not a continuation of the series
arc. Don't expect too much from it, but it's a pleasant diversion to
bide the time until the next full novel.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Russ Allbery (eagle at eyrie.org) <https://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>
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