Title: Some by Virtue Fall
Series: The Seven Gods: Book One
Author: Alexandra Rowland
Length: 150 Pages
Category: Alt U, Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
At a Glance: The subtly self-referential aspect of Some by Virtue Fall is that this story itself would have made for a brilliantly entertaining play, with heroes and villains, action and suspense, betrayal and a duel and a bit of subterfuge and criminal activity and courtroom drama. And in the midst of it all, romantic conflict as a relationship blossoms between two women from rival troupes.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: By the King’s Edict, men have been banned from performing on stage.
Everyone else is still out for blood.
Sabajan Hollant, director and co-founder of the celebrated Lord Chancellor’s Players, has one resolution: This time they’re going to do it right. If they want to keep their noble patron—hell, if they want to stay in the theater business at all—they’re going to have to keep their hands clean. No accidents, no rising to other troupes’ provocations and taunts, and certainly no more duelling in the streets.
But their arch-rivals have different plans, and soon enough, Saba and her troupe are caught up once again in an escalating drama of revenge, betrayal, and outright sabotage.
The men may have started this war—but Saba and her remaining players are going to end it.
Review: The play’s the thing, as Shakespeare said, in Alexandra Rowland’s Some by Virtue Fall, a delightfully cutthroat homage to the theatre and the notion that where money and profit are involved, the wealthy spoil everything.
One of the amazing things about reading is getting sucked down a rabbit hole of information that I didn’t know I wanted until I found it. The long and storied history of gender in stage performance plays a role in this short novel, when men routinely portrayed women on stage, which reflected the notion that it was improper, impure even, for women to portray themselves (this article in The Harvard Gazette is a quick and interesting read). The central conflict in Some by Virtue Fall is that, by order of the king, men have been banned from performing because they can’t seem to behave, so the women and, after lengthy conversation about the possible repercussions and consequences, trans men, have stepped in to take over and keep the art of treading the boards alive and well.
An additional conflict of the story is that the monied have stepped in as patrons of the arts—purely for the vanity and spectacle of it, it would seem—and where the money goes, so follows the competition between the troupes. This is also where the title of the book becomes significant: one troupe, led by Sabajan Hollant, simply wants to produce the best plays possible to entertain their audiences and stay afloat. Their rivals, however, will do whatever it takes to sabotage them, up to and including stealing their playwright’s work. By sin the Reds are determined to succeed, by virtue the Lights will fall. That is, unless Saba can figure out a way to stop them, even if it’s in the least virtuous way possible. Surely Saba wouldn’t run headlong into anything so impulsive as to do crimes herself . . .
The subtly self-referential aspect of Some by Virtue Fall is that in Alvana’s—the aforementioned playwright—pursuit to create a work that will wow audiences, this story itself would have made for a brilliantly entertaining play, with heroes and villains, action and suspense, betrayal and a duel and a bit of subterfuge and criminal activity and courtroom drama. And in the midst of it all, romantic conflict as a relationship blossoms between Saba and a woman from the rival troupe. Nezaya mes Akhal shouldn’t be trusted, cannot be trusted, but Saba has never been able to resist a pretty face and a fine pair of assets. She takes Nezaya into her confidence against her own better judgement, which seems a grave miscalculation until the final act and all is revealed.
All’s well that ends well, as the Bard wrote, and that holds true. I’m not sure, as this was a complete story in and of itself, where the next book will take readers, but I’ll be there to find out.
You can buy Some by Virtue Fall here:
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