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.)