Books read, August 2011

A bit belated, but that’s better than forgetting entirely, right?

Mixed Magics: Four Tales of Chrestomanci, Diana Wynne Jones. Discussed elsewhere.

The Pinhoe Egg, Diana Wynne Jones. Discussed elsewhere.

Pyramids, Terry Pratchett. In which Pratchett sets his sights on ancient Egypt. I quite liked this one; I once took a class on Egyptology, which gave me enough context to snicker a lot at some of the jokes in here. And Teppic landed pretty squarely in the zone of “all the sexy parts of being an assassin” (primarily his competence, which I’m a sucker for no matter what skill-set it applies to) “with none of the bad parts” (i.e. actually murdering people). It’s kind of a cheat, narratively speaking, but I liked him enough that I didn’t mind.

Yes, Dear, Diana Wynne Jones. Er, not actually discussed elsewhere: I read this right before leaving for Japan, and didn’t get around to posting about it. I’ll remedy that soon.

Puss in Boots, Diana Wynne Jones. See above.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin. I generally find having gods as actual characters in a fantasy novel to be a bad idea, because they end up seeming like powerful but extremely petty humans. This was not the case here, which pleased me greatly: Nahadoth’s mutable nature was very well-played. I wish I’d engaged more with Yeine, though. Too much of what happened, especially at the climax, was the result of other people’s decisions and actions; I prefer a more active protagonist. But the novel laid an engaging enough foundation for the world and its mythological underpinnings that I’m interested in reading the next book, which follows a different character.

The Last Colony, John Scalzi. It’s been long enough since I read Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades that I know it undermined my reading of this one a little bit, but I still enjoyed it (if not as much as the first one). In particular, I am very very glad about the way it ended. There are certain things about the setup that have bothered me from the start, and it was very satisfying to see the story go “yeah, those things are a problem. How’s about we do something to change that.” These are mostly rollicking SF, but there’s thought underneath the rollicking, too.

New Spring, Robert Jordan. Discussed elsewhere.

The Order of the Stick: Snips, Snails and Dragon Tales, Rich Burlew. This is a good book for people who are already fans of the comic, and not so much for people who don’t know it at all, because it’s basically a DVD of special features: the original strips from Dragon, classic stories retold by the PCs (Canterbury Tales-style, sort of), the long-awaited 4th edition parody, etc. I enjoyed it greatly.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente. This is, of course, the book Cat Valente wrote as a crowdfunded website project, and subsequently sold to a publisher. If you want the whimsy of Alice in Wonderland with a bit more meat on its bones, or if you were always ticked about the way Lewis didn’t seem to care what being yanked in and out of Narnia would do to the Pevensies, this might be up your alley. I did have to read it in short bursts, though, rather than devouring it in one go, because otherwise I suspected I would get weary of its style. (Whimsy is not generally my cup of tea. I enjoyed this example of it, but I had to pace myself.)

0 Responses to “Books read, August 2011”

  1. marycatelli

    Ah, Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales! Such fun!

    But, yeah, you probably want to know the comic already.

    Or possibly be a D&D fan, since that might give you a way in there.

  2. marumae

    Gotta check out that Pyramids novel, sounds awesome.

    The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, I liked it when I first read it, though I wasn’t too happy about the ending, I agree with you on Yeine, I had a hard time relating to her as she seemed very neutral…you put it into words exactly, I felt like she was pushed from plot point to plot point. I admit I giggled on the sex scene though, but I did like the concept. It was decent for a first novel I think.

    Catherynne M Valente is an author who I keep getting recommended since her writing style seems right up my alley, but for some reason I have a hard time…not relating to or appreciating it, but…engaged in it? I’ve tried a couple of her books only to find myself not really getting enthralled and putting it back down and eventually returning it to the library unread. Cherie Priest is like this, although I have nothing wrong with either author I guess it’s just not the right time for me to read it? But I admit to having a guilty pleasure in Whimsy so I may pick this up.

    • Marie Brennan

      Pyramids is a Discworld novel, of course. (In case you didn’t know.)

      Cat Valente, for me, wanders back and forth across the border of prose stylism, if I can coin that phrase for the mode of writing that focuses heavily on the artful effect of the words as a key component of writing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that focus, but I tend to hit a point where it becomes an obstacle between me and the story, rather than a contributing element, and her work tends to straddle that border for me. So some pieces work, and others don’t.

  3. calico_reaction

    Do you plan on reading Zoe’s Tale by Scalzi, which is sort of a re-telling of The Last Colony, but from Zoe’s POV? I was very impressed with how much MORE we got out of the story with that book!

    • Marie Brennan

      I might. I knew about it, of course, and there was a point in The Last Colony where I thought “welcome home, visitor from another plotline!” Clearly there’s a lot of story there that didn’t get told here, though TLC is perfectly coherent without it.

  4. d_c_m

    I love Pyramids. 🙂

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