Books read, last several months

I realized a few weeks ago that I’ve been forgetting to make book posts. So this is September, October, and November — but it is also an incomplete list. (I’ve decided to omit my research reading, because it would constitute a minor spoiler for the fourth Memoir.)

Dragon Age: The Masked Empire, Patrick Weekes. From a writing standpoint, this is probably the best of the DA novels I’ve read so far — in part because unlike Asunder, it doesn’t deal with the mage/templar issue, which I remain convinced is an almost-excellent idea that never quite seems to work in execution. I still wouldn’t recommend this book to people who aren’t invested in the franchise, though, because it is blatantly here to set up various plots for Dragon Age: Inquisition (which I started playing in November). Like, things are just not. resolved. I look forward to seeing the resolution, but you ain’t gonna find it here.

The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker. Part Five of my project to read all the World Fantasy Award Best Novel nominees. If you like finely-observed historical fiction (which you all know I do), this does excellently on that front. It didn’t give me quite the resolution I was hoping for with the central relationship, but I suspect Wecker was not out to give me that resolution in the way I wanted.

A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar. Part Six of the aforementioned project, and as we all know by now, the winner of the award. Samatar’s writing is beautiful, and the density of the worldbuilding was absolutely delightful to my inner anthropologist. I’ve heard she’s writing a sequel, which pleases me greatly; I was very interested in the religious conflict that got presented here, and I’m hoping the second book will follow that in more detail.

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, Zen Cho. Non-fantasy romance novella recommended by a friend. The real hook here is the protagonist’s voice; as for the romance itself, I liked it, but would have loved to see it written out as a full novel, with more complicating detail. As it stands, I didn’t have quite enough time to get invested in it.

Returning My Sister’s Face, Eugie Foster. I hate it when I only get around to picking up somebody’s work because I’ve heard they died. I had enjoyed the stories of Foster’s I’d encountered in various places; this is a collection of a bunch of them, with an East Asian focus. (A common motif in her work, but by no means the only one.) I enjoyed them, and will certainly read the other two collections I bought, but not yet: I don’t want to overdose on the theme.

The Shattered Gates, Ginn Hale. First in a portal fantasy ebook series, each book of which is (I believe) a novella. This was recommended by Rachel Manija Brown, I think; whoever it was, they gave the caveat that the series picks up a great deal later on. So this didn’t really hook me, but since I like portal fantasies, I’m willing to give this one another installment or two before I give up.

Wolf Hall, Hillary Mantel. Speaking of finely-observed historical detail! This is that huge brick of a book about Thomas Cromwell (not to be confused with Oliver, though he was Oliver’s great-great-uncle or something, and adopted the grandfather or whoever it was as his son) during the reign of Henry VIII. My knowledge of Tudor history is heavily skewed toward Henry’s kids, so I know just enough of what’s going on here to kind of recognize stuff; not enough to feel like I can see where everything is going. My one complaint is that Mantel has this weird habit of never referring to her protagonist by name, except in dialogue: Cromwell is always just “he,” and sometimes you have to stop and look to figure out which “he” a sentence is referring to. I have no idea why she does that. It’s off-putting, but the book does enough other things excellently well that I can get past it. Will definitely be reading the sequel.

The Younger Gods, Michael R. Underwood. (Full disclosure: the author has been a friend of mine for the last decade or so.) Fast-paced urban fantasy YA about a guy who runs away from his family of ~Cthulhu cultists, but of course doesn’t manage to escape their schemes for world destruction. I like the fact that Underwood made his own mythology; the metaphysics have a distinctly Lovecraftian feel, but aren’t based on actual Lovecraft. There were times where I wished the story had slowed down for more of a breather between action pieces, but given that I inhaled this entire thing on my flight home from Boston, clearly it was doing something right. 😛 People who like stories set in New York City to actually pay attention to the specific qualities of different neighborhoods may especially appreciate this one.

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