In The Seeds of Dissolution William C. Tracy does a fantastic job weaving the Dissolution universe together. Every little detail of the world the story took place in was so real and flushed out that it felt like it could be coexisting with reality right now.
The diversity of species and their genders was my favorite aspect of world building. Not all creatures in the universe were limited to binary genders like humans. Some had third genders. Some were genderfluid, switching back and forth between not two but four pronouns.
The whole concept of seeing symphonies and using them to manipulate things like sound, wood, bodies, and even space was also fascinating. I haven’t read a book with a magic (?) system quite like it. I added the question mark because the people who use the symphonies think of themselves as scientist, though to Sam, who is new to the world, and a reader like me, it seems like magic.
As far as characters go, I could relate to Sam and his anxiety. I think we are triggered by the same things. Even though my sometimes anxiety manifests in different ways, Sam’s really seem authentic.
However, I thought the message the book sent about medication bordered on dangerous. Sam’s brief mentions of it were about how it made him feel were negative. It sounded like he was given some kind of sedative — one type of medication used to treat anxiety, and that had tarnished his opinion of all medication.
It’s okay to have one character with that opinion, but then the one who was a psychologist looked down on the idea of medicating anxiety, though in her case, she used the symphonies, not pills, to treat Sam. She called it a bandaid, and its effects reminded me of self-medicating with alcohol so I didn’t have panic attacks at a wedding.
Numbing anxiety with alcohol is a bandaid. Most doctors and psychologist I’ve met see medication is a tool. It should take the edge off of anxiety so a person can get to the root of its cause and learn how to properly cope with it. This perspective was not offered, and I don’t think there was any acknowledgement of the fact that not every anxiety treatment makes everybody feel the way Sam described.
If I had read this book back when I was in my teens or early twenties, it would’ve added fuel to my resistance to medication — something I needed to get my anxiety under control — something I wish I had tried sooner.
The saving grace with this book’s portrayal of treating anxiety is that it painted talk therapy in a positive light.
This above issue was really the only problem I had with The Seeds of Dissolution, and is the only reason I gave it four stars, not five. Everything else was fantastic!
I loved the dynamic between Rilan and Origon! There personalities were different but compatible, and the tension between them has me hoping something happens between them at some point in the series.
And the twins. They are adorable, and so is their relationship with Sam.
The plot had a slow build at times, but in a good way. I never lost interest. I had time to linger with the characters while they struggled, triumphed, and failed. Not every story needs to hurtle ahead at breakneck speed, and with The Seeds of Dissolution, the pacing and the story were a perfect match.
If you are looking for a book with secondary world setting and a wide range of LGBTQ+ rep, then check out the The Seeds of Dissolution.