Books read, June 2011
In which it will be obvious that I am now working on a novel.
Dreaming of Wolves: Adventures in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, Alan E. Sparks. I don’t actually remember how much of this book I got through — not all of it, certainly — but whatever, we’ll count it as read. I picked it up for environmental detail on the aforementioned Carpathian Mountains, as it is the account of a man who went there as part of some wolf-studying project. It’s not very well executed, but I got what I needed from it, more or less.
The Land Beyond the Forest: facts, figures, and fancies from Transylvania, E. Gerard. More research, and again I didn’t read the whole thing; just the section on Romanians. This was written in the late nineteenth century, and wow, the racism. I have to quote:
Briefly to sum up the respective merits of these three races, it may be allowable to define them as representing manhood in the past, present, and future tenses. The Saxons [of that region; not of England] have been men, and right good men too, in their day; but that day has gone by, and they are now rapidly degenerating into mere fossil antiquities […] The Hungarians are men in the full sense of the word, perhaps all the more so that they are a nation of soldiers rather than men of science and letters. The Roumanians will be men a few generations hence, when they have had time to shake off the habits of slavery and have learned to recognize their own value.
Yeeeeeeeah. But, well, I’m writing a nineteenth-century-ish novel set in a Romania-like region, so I don’t regret picking this up from the library. On the other hand, I don’t think I’ll be copying from it all that closely: there is merit to Isabella being obsessed with dragons and really quite careless of human notions like racial superiority.
Eight Days of Luke, Diana Wynne Jones. Discussed elsewhere.
The Snow Queen’s Shadow, Jim C. Hines. If I’d gotten around to posting this sooner, I could have said, ha-ha, I have this book and you don’t, nyah nyah. But the book is out now, so I’ll skip that part and go straight to the bit where I say that Hines has done a remarkable job wrapping up this series. He’s said elsewhere that it took him a while to figure out that the fairy tale books have been about questioning and complicating the notion of “happily ever after,” and this delivers on that theme, in very excellent ways. (Also, to echo Mris: this series is now done. So if you’re one of those people who prefers to wait until you can get all the books, you’re now cleared for take-off.)
Deep Secret, Diana Wynne Jones. Discussed elsewhere.
So far, July is shaping up to be the Month of Much Manga. (And comics, but that doesn’t alliterate, so.) But we’ll see how it goes.