Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven, City of Dragons, Robin Hobb
I’ve been wanting to read The Rain Wild Chronicles for years- these were the books I was waiting for a kindle to read, because I KNEW I would read them, but I also wanted to save money- not only that, but bookshelf real estate is at something of a premium in my world- I knew a Kindle was coming, I just had to decide when.
Well, were they worth waiting for? Yes, I’d say so- I’m still reading the final book in the series and will probably be done with it in a few days- I’ll have to wait until august for The Fool’s Assassin (oh god, Fitz and the Fool? Together again? I can hardly wait)
In stark contrast to the rest of the books Hobb has created in this universe the rain wild chronicles focuses heavily on romance- every character, near enough, is coupled off, finds romance, falls in love- it’s almost as though, after years of denying Fitz Molly, and denying the Fool Fitz, she finally decided to indulge in an “EVERYONE GETS A BOYFRIEND” book, and I have loved it- I think if you were new to the series it might feel a bit much, but after NINE books with various amounts of drama and woe it feels nice to have a book that has pages which make me actively gleeful. Not to say the books are devoid of hardship or sorrow- as ever, it’s there. Much as the Liveship Traders gave us Althea and Malta- strong, fiercely independent, entirely distinct and individual female characters, and the books of the Six Duchies gave us headstrong and self-sacrificing Kettricken, The Rain Wild Chronicles has a slew of strong female characters, tinged with her characteristic tendency of writing very honest, naturally flawed, characters- there are no Mary Sues in Hobb’s world; the most gentlemanly and respectable of her characters can be a snivelling weakling and even the most snide and cruel villain has a shred of sadness or humanity. Hobb creates a living, breathing world that I feel I know as well as my own; the imagery she weaves is vivid and alive, her characters real people. I’m shorting the series, and her writing as a whole, to sum up three such worthy books in a single post, but it’s largely because I need to get back into the world she’s created and see what happens next. Read them, read them. Read all her work if you want a treat.
Dodger (Terry Pratchett)
The first non-discworld book of Pratchett’s I’ve read since Good Omens. I was interested to see how he’d fare, and the answer is just as well as ever. This, however, is not necessarily a good thing. I enjoyed the book and it was certainly readable, but repetition of expressions which may seem like continuity and tradition when placed in the same universe come across as lazy writing when highlighted by being removed from that place.
Pratchett uses identical language to describe the Thames as he does the River Ankh in Discworld; true that the latter was inspired by the former, but the trend continues with the smell of Onan the Dog of London being described identically to that of Foul Ole Ron of Ankh Morpork. He’s the same writer, and stylistic similarities are to be expected, but the new setting highlights that over the years he has fallen into habits which speak of an indulgent fondness for pet-phrases which, while exciting and witty when new, fondly remembered when seen again, are a little tired when played out and repeated in a new landscape.
Dodger was fun to read, but the only time the plot surprised me was when twists I had expected, surely, to come, were instead forfeited for the sake of going exactly where we had been lead. A bit of a disappointment.
A lot of books to come, just need to update- I may be lazy and sum up a whole series of books in a single post to save time.
Divergent (Veronica Roth)
Ok, ok ok. I mentioned reading the Maze Runner and a friend asked if I’d read this, and I was like “hm. No.” and then I read this.
That’s how it happens. Sometimes you read big, important, books that have survived the years and sometimes you read two different YA dystopian future novels back to back. and you feel no shame.
Divergent is definitely better written than the Maze Runner. I know people have compared it to the Hunger Games, and really there’s very little similarity at all.
I read this one last night. I read this one in my morning break at work, I read this one during lunch, I read this in my afternoon break for so long that I was nearly late back to my shift, I cast sideways glances at this while I ate dinner and then immediately finished it in the couch whilst ignoring The Voice playing off the TiVo. The book wasn’t ground breaking; it was derivative and a little cheesy and very predictable, but you know what? When you allow yourself to read a book like that; in a rush, as close to all at once as you can manage, you end up so immersed it doesn’t matter. It was enjoyable, it was fun to read, I think I will almost definitely get at least the second book in the series (I have no idea how many there actually ARE) if not this week then maybe next month (I’ve bought too many books this month already…)
Like Dystopian futures? Like female characters who aren’t afraid to fight and hurt people? Like reading Young Adult fiction even though you’re a grown ass adult with an English Literature degree? Read Divergent. Eat some chocolate. Have a sit down. You deserve it; it’s the weekend. No one needs to know.
The Maze Runner (James Dashner)
Oh god, what? another book this week? Just wait, friend.
I have to admit to having mostly read this because Dylan O’Brien is in the upcoming movie adaptation and I’m a massive fan of his work on Teen Wolf and wanted to get a feel for what the movie will be about.
The Maze Runner was a pretty average sort of book- perfectly easy to read, quite enjoyable. I don’t feel I’ve come away from it with any groundbreaking thoughts and I don’t think I’ve come away from it profoundly changed, but it’s a YA novel and I’m a… Regular A. Reading is allowed to just be enjoyable, it’s allowed to be a pleasure that’s purely self indulgent, and reading this book was just that for me. I enjoyed reading it, it passed some time; I liked it well enough to stay up late for the sake of it. I didn’t immediately click to buy the second in the series, however. Will I ever? Meh. Perhaps. It’s a rainy-day read; maybe if it’s super cheap one day I’ll pick it up, but for now I feel it’s a little too predictable for me to invest time into when I have other books waiting.
Worth reading, though maybe not rushing out for. Pick it up at a library or borrow a copy, certainly, and if you allow yourself to suspend your internal critical reader you should be able to find a few enjoyable hours in this book.
Hidden Warrior (Lynn Flewelling)
I’m super tired after working a double shift, but all the same comments I made on the first book in this trilogy still apply. Well written, thought provoking. A+ Sorry for being lazy!
The Woodcutter (Kate Danley)
My first Kindle book! This e-reader was an early birthday present from my parents, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I picked up this book for 99p due to having purchased another fantasy book and getting credit, and I was intrigued by the premise.
This one didn’t grip me immediately; the very short (one or two page) chapters and fairytale-retold quality at first made it feel a little like a fanfic, but at about 40% of the way through I realised I was completely hooked, and finished it in one evening.
It feels a bit of a showpiece/experimental novel, but it brought up a lot of thoughts and plotbunnies in my own mind, which is what a good book should do to a writer; burrow into your fertile mind and plant eggs which will eventually hatch into little hybrid thoughts.
The story focuses on The Woodcutter, a mystical creature with a man’s appearance whose blood runs clear; sap. He’s tasked with maintaining peace in the Wood, a land which borders between the 12 magical kingdoms and the ordinary non-magical lands, and ensuring that the mystical fairytales continue as they ought to within the Wood.
The novel contains blue-blooded fae, Baba Yaga, Dryads, Oberon and Titania, Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White and Pixie-Dust addicts. The Red Shoes, Little Red Riding Hood and Odin also made appearances, along with almost any other fairytale and folkstory you might care to think of.
A disjointed beginning flowed into a good read and one which I’d read again. If you get a chance and can get past the at times stilted prose (“ten years and ten years more~”) you’ll find a dream-like book which is worth your time.
Week 5/6/7 (eek)
The Bone Doll’s Twin (Lynn Flewelling)
I haven’t read this one in years; it took a little getting into, but by the end I was in deep, man. One of those occasions where I went to curl up in bed with it and took the next in the series down off the shelf before I went, even though I still had a quarter of it left, because I knew I was going to want to put one book down and immediately pick up the next. Which I did, because holy yes do I love the world Lynn has created in Skala etc.
This is a sort of prequel to her Nightrunner series, and focuses several hundred years before the creation of Rhiminee; I know she’s not as well known as a lot of “big” fantasy writers, she’s no GRRM or Robert Jordan, but if you’ve ever thought you’d like to see more queer representation in your fantasy, her books are for you. Seregil, one of the two main characters in her Nightrunner books is pansexual, Alec is at least bi. The Tamir triad, this series, focuses on a girl who at birth is disguised in her brother’s skin to appear as a boy, even to herself. Raised as a male, she’s ashamed of her desire for “girlish” things until eventually she learns the truth and then struggles with justifying her two selves; the desire to regain her “female” body and her fear that those she loves will view her differently and turn away from her. It’s the only time I’ve seen a fantasy novel with a main character who can be viewed as transgender, and it’s worth reading, especially for cis people who feel confused as to the “whys” of feeling your body isn’t right.
But aside from any sexual/gender interests, the story is good- there’s sword fighting, ghosts, demons and magic of the crystal-and-sourcery brand and also the blood-and-bone and herb variety. Lynn Flewelling does court life very well, and it’s more than worth your time to read her work if you haven’t already.
I haven’t finished a book in 2 weeks! I’m just over halfway through my next book, so I’m hoping that I’ll have some time in the year where I go crazy and read a whole series in a week or something, because I’m falling ahead so early.
However, the project has not been forgotten or abandoned! Somehow it just took me a long time to get into this book.
Losing You (Patricia Debney)
Patricia was one of my seminar leaders during my time at university. Like I did with a lot of my writing-teachers who were published, I picked up some of her work- I started reading this back then, but a series of events occured with precluded my reading more than a few pages and never getting around to it until now, so this is my first new book of the year!
Patricia Debney is a prose-poet primarily; this is a novel, but there is a lyricism to her writing style which shows clearly her basis in poetry. Each word is chosen and placed- weighted and purposeful.
The novel is perhaps more of a novella; it’s short, short enough to be read in a single long sitting, which is no bad thing; I think it was Poe, maybe? who said that was the length stories should be, so you get to see it all in one go. Anyway. This one left me with a lot of unanswered questions. It felt a little like a character study of the two women. I was left wondering what words were lies, which were delusions and where, exactly, the truth lay.
Worth a read if you can pick it up, most definitely.