Sunday, November 6, 2011

Book Review: QUIS CUSTODIET by Manna Francis

administration five cover

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?--a Latin phrase traditionally attributed to the Roman poet Juvenal, which is literally translated as "Who will guard the guards themselves?" or "Who watches the watchers?" It is frequently associated with the political philosophy of Plato and the problem of political corruption, but the original context had nothing to do with Plato and instead referred to the problem of ensuring marital fidelity. (via wikipedia)
Toreth is looking forward to his assignment auditing the Greek branch of Investigation and Interrogation, where he can catch some sun, enjoy the per diem, and basically do no work for three or more weeks. The only thing he isn't happy about is leaving Warrick behind in New London for that entire time. When he finds out our old pal Carnak is in New London working for Warrick's company while Toreth's away, he has a spaz and starts obsessing over Warrick cheating on him. Meanwhile, the Greek office actually does require some investigating. Worst paid vacation ever!

Quis Custodiet was a definite improvement over Control. I liked the new setting of Athens, and getting some stories from other characters' eyes gave the series a much-needed change-up. As the title indicates, the stories in this book are basically all about trust and leeway allowed, both politically within the Administration and in personal relationships. Both Toreth and the Administration are paranoid about betrayal because they themselves can't be trusted. On the flip side, Warrick and the other average citizens of the Administration don't even expect fidelity and honorable behavior; it's simply not going to happen (although it does seem like Toreth's slowing down quite a bit in this novel--he must be getting old). They're just happy if they get what they want out of the bargain, which in Warrick's case is sex. So by that analysis one could say that Toreth's and Warrick's relationship is a synecdoche of the Administration's politics.

That being said, I do still think Warrick's being shunted into the background more and more, and his character is becoming much harder for me to connect with. He just seems way too accommodating and not very autonomous, whereas Toreth still pretty much does what he wants. Not that he would be Toreth if he didn't!

In any case, it seems like this series is refocusing on the outside world of the Administration now and not exclusively on Toreth and Warrick's relationship, which is probably a good move on the author's part.


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