This is a complete departure from Nix's previous YA work. It's adult regency romance meets gaslight fantasy. If you took Mary Robinette Kowal's GlamouThis is a complete departure from Nix's previous YA work. It's adult regency romance meets gaslight fantasy. If you took Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamour series and crossed it with the Parasol Protectorate books you'd get something like this.
It's similar in tone to Sorcery & Cecelia in that it has a nice light touch with a plucky heroine. It features one of my very favorite tropes: girl disguises herself as a boy ~ w00t! It's not steampunk, but an alternate regency era with magic in it. It was such a surprise and so so good.
The magical system is a little underdeveloped but the characters are marvelous. Truthful is fun and engaging, her lover is a darling, and I really adored it. No major nookie but the romance element is sweet. Charming, quite quite charming. ...more
This is a great book, a fantasy dealing out escape and battle, political maneuvering, and court etiquette underwritten by a beautiful romance of miscoThis is a great book, a fantasy dealing out escape and battle, political maneuvering, and court etiquette underwritten by a beautiful romance of miscommunication. Crown Duel is two novella length stories (Crown Duel & Court Duel) about the same characters combined into one novel. Mel is a strong capable single minded heroine, very like Elizabeth Bennett, only with a sword at her side. Her love interest is clever, appealing, and gentle....more
Correctly hailed as the scion of Mary Renault, this is a retelling of The Iliad told in first person from Patroclus's perspective. As I have always foCorrectly hailed as the scion of Mary Renault, this is a retelling of The Iliad told in first person from Patroclus's perspective. As I have always found Achilles's foil the most interesting character in The Iliad, I loved the idea behind this book. I wish we had a little more insight into why Achilles loves him so devotedly, but their relationship is believable and quite sweet. There is a great twist as to how Miller manages to finish the story of the war even after the inevitable. If you have read Homer, you should know that this will inevitably be a sad story. Be prepared to cry, but it is a good cathartic cry. ...more
Review pertains to an uncorrected galley given me to blurb by the editor.
A delightful Gaslight Fantasy romp set slightly later in time than The ParasoReview pertains to an uncorrected galley given me to blurb by the editor.
A delightful Gaslight Fantasy romp set slightly later in time than The Parasol Protectorate series and in, as you may have gathered, the heathen Americas. It features parochial upstart witch, Emily Edwards, and the deliciously named Dreadnaught Stanton.
I enjoyed this book immensely. It took me a little while to get into it and I had a few problems with info-dumps, but it takes A LOT for me to even finish a book these days. I not only finished this, I carved out time in order to do so. I adored the relationship between Emily and Dreadnaught, and I was absorbed by the mixing of historical and magical details building a colorfully different and yet entirely plausible Old West. I mean, come on, zombie gold miners with a kill switch? Brilliant! ...more
One of my all time favorite books, Sorcery and Cecelia started out as a letter game between two brilliant writers. The authors clearly enjoyed themselOne of my all time favorite books, Sorcery and Cecelia started out as a letter game between two brilliant writers. The authors clearly enjoyed themselves and the resulting novel is a joy to read, both as a story and as a window into the fun experienced by to marvelous authors.
Set in Austen-like 1817 England, which just happens to have some very polite magic rolling around, the plot is largely driven by excellent characterization, two strong heroines, and a great deal of humor. There are several ditty-like romances, and a tidy little ending that makes for an amuse-bouche of a read - tasty and bite sized. There are two follow up books, however, this one stands beautifully alone. Highly recommended!...more
Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper series, Book One: Terrier.
I'm beginning to, finally, recognize patterns in Tamora Pierce's heroines. When I was a kid I iTamora Pierce's Beka Cooper series, Book One: Terrier.
I'm beginning to, finally, recognize patterns in Tamora Pierce's heroines. When I was a kid I identified with her books so strongly I couldn't possibly step back as a writer to see her tricks. Now, with the benefit of age and distance, I read this book with new eyes. Her main characters always have some kind of fatal flaw - in Beka's case it's fear of public speaking and chronic shyness, for Alana it was cold and spiders, for Kel it was heights, and so forth. At some point, in each series, the heroine will be made to face her fear. On the other hand, she also has an equally strong good trait or two - for Alanna this was stubbornness and whit, for Kel a stoically strong leadership, for Beka it's dogged determination. For all of them it's surrounding themselves with supportive friends. There is always one major issue or problem in each book for each girl that only she sees (and proverbially, must be responsible for the solution). In Beka's case it's a problem of people disappearing, and since these people are her people (the poor and destitute) she undertakes their protection.
I like Pierce best when she's writing YA with a warrior girl main character. The Wild Mage series are my least favorite Tortall books and I gave up on her non-Tortall Circle series early.
But with Beka we're back to my favorite kind of read. I can't believe it took me so long to pick up this book! Pierce successfully weaves almost Noir police procedural with gritty crime and punishment in a fantasy setting. It reminded me, ever so slightly, of Vimes and the Night Watch of Ankh Morpork. Pierce is also using Beka to explore, for what feels like the first time, the commoners of Tortall - the neglected layfolk and the street people. So often fantasy novels are about nobles and quests, it was delightful to see what the underlings thought of the nobles. The use of Lower City slang and lingo pervades the book, but not so much I was uncomfortable with it. Like peopling her books with excess characters, Pierce has such a light touch you hardly notice the overload. (And her editors let her get away with it, they might not with a less seasoned YA author.) Her wide cast of characters includes animals and the return of one of my favorites of all time, the Wanderer, the Cat, AKA (spoiler alert) Faithful!!! Yay! I remember crying so hard in the last Alanna book when he returned to the Goddess. So to have him back in all his cheeky glory is truly wonderful. I would have bought this book on that fact alone if I had known.
So what are my final thoughts?
If you have a pre-teen girl in your life you owe it to the world to put Tamora Pierce in front of her. Beka is an excellent way to start, although Alanna will always be my favorite. Pierce is a master of strong tough young women. Women who know what they want, stand up for what they believe, hold a moral compass made of personal integrity, and still can love and be kind and surround themselves with friends. With the gruesome specter of reality TV looming over us, someone has to fight the good fight. We should all be so lucky as to have a little Tamora Pierce in our lives, and in our spirits.
I can pinpoint the origin of these books with the most clarity. I remember being handed the first one by a librariaNot really a review, more a memory:
I can pinpoint the origin of these books with the most clarity. I remember being handed the first one by a librarian, and begging my parents to buy it for me when I had to turn it back in. I remember then begging the librarian to tell me the date the next one was expected to release (that was the only way to find out, in those days). I remember the look and location of each new book, in the bookstore, when I went to pick it up. I still have all my first editions. Tamora Pierce is the only author I have ever expressly tried to meet, and she is the only author who's book I stood in line to have signed. This series actually did change my life....more
There are many out there who think The Hero and the Crown the better book, but I read The Blue Sword first and Harry is my one true love. That's partThere are many out there who think The Hero and the Crown the better book, but I read The Blue Sword first and Harry is my one true love. That's part of it. I always liked the romance line better in The Blue Sword. And there's something remarkable in that, because for most of this book the two are separated. Yet I believe in their match unquestionably. Alanna was my first girl with a sword and magic, Harry was the first one I felt was like me. ...more
This is my favorite book of all time. If I had to pick a desert island book, it would be this one.
There is something about the way this book flows thaThis is my favorite book of all time. If I had to pick a desert island book, it would be this one.
There is something about the way this book flows that is actually literary magic. It's about magic, and riddles, and all sort of other legendary things but it's like fractal mathematics: beautiful, impossible for an ordinary human to understand, and yet hypnotic. Just the opening paragraph is chilling, and thrilling, and all sort of other trilling llls in a row. I can't describe this book, because its better than that. It's not funny, or cute, or silly or any of those things. It's a work of pure lyrical genius. If you haven't read it yet, shame on you. ...more
Howl's lingers with me because of the humor, because of the perfectly executed twisting plot, because of the snapping dialog. Diana is possibly the beHowl's lingers with me because of the humor, because of the perfectly executed twisting plot, because of the snapping dialog. Diana is possibly the best writer of her generation but because she wrote mainly YA in a time before HP she was disregarded. You want to know what I think a book should be like? Read this one. ...more