Books Read, July 2014

Most of these were read on the Okinawa trip.

Jhereg, Steven Brust. I had tried to read this once before, several years ago; did better this time. There’s a noticeable resemblance in the tone of this and Nine Princes in Amber, so I wonder if it’s a thing of the time period — a kind of modern edge to dialogue and narration in a setting that is mostly or entirely secondary-world. I find it somewhat jarring, but not enough so to put me off reading more.

The Duchess War, Courtney Milan. I’ve heard enough about Milan to want to give her books a try, and started with this one on recommendation. It was enjoyable, though not quite as engaging to me as Bourne’s series; I especially liked the way things went with the hero’s mother, including her in-character acknowledgment that she was in a position to play the role of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in their particular story. (It so often seems that characters in historical novels live in worlds where the literature of their periods doesn’t exist.) Also, points for the obstacles between the romantic pair feeling real, rather than contrived: Minnie’s agoraphobia felt overdramatic, but Robert genuinely screws up dealing with her concerns, and has to make up for it later.

Goliath, Scott Westerfeld. Last book of the Leviathan trilogy, an alternate WWI with bioengineering and dieselpunk. I wanted to smack Alek for his whole “destiny” thing, and the perspicacious lorises came verrrry close to being Plot Help Ex Machina, but in general this was a fun conclusion, where the characters had to make some actual choices with actual costs. My main real complaint is that Goliath was too much of a macguffin.

Dust Devil on a Quiet Street, Richard Bowes. When I found out I was up for a Best Novel WFA, I decided I should read the other nominees, and started with this one. As I suspected, it was not really my cup of tea: a semi-fictionalized autobiography, and a story of the sort where most of the fantastical content is on that border where maybe it’s real or maybe it’s symbolic or maybe the characters are just imagining things. I have never been a fan of that mode, and am not likely ever to be. But if you are a fan, your mileage may well differ.

Dragon Age: Asunder, David Gaider. Either Gaider got a ghostwriter to help him out, or he learned MASSIVE amounts from writing The Stolen Throne and The Calling. I picked this one up solely because I know the stuff that happens in it is going to be highly relevant to the third DA game (one of the characters from here will be a companion in Inquisition), and expected to do as I did with the first two, mostly skimming through it for content without really engaging. But from the very first page, this one is obviously different, and better. Worlds better. I won’t say Asunder is brilliant, but I actually enjoyed reading it. I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t already know and care about the DA setting — among other things, it suffers from the setting’s perennial problem, which is a failure to really balance the mage/templar conflict — but if you’re a fan of the games, it isn’t a bad read.

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