Love Patricia McKillip's work in general. This is a good collection and I especially liked the pieces that were new plus "The Gorgon in the Cupboard."Love Patricia McKillip's work in general. This is a good collection and I especially liked the pieces that were new plus "The Gorgon in the Cupboard."
Upon reading it, I realized I had already read the longest piece "Something Rich and Strange," which had been previously published as a stand-alone....more
I continue to find this series original in many ways, layered, surprising, interesting, and, at times, confusing. I liked the new characters, especialI continue to find this series original in many ways, layered, surprising, interesting, and, at times, confusing. I liked the new characters, especially Francesca - she's awesome and I love the strong and skilled female character. I also really appreciate how the books deal with disability - this is unusual for SFF, I think.
I had trouble keeping all the factions and characters straight. The story can be slow at times (or maybe that's me mostly reading on the bus these days), but the magic is new and different, and there were a few curve balls I just didn't see coming. I've got number three lined up and ready to go....more
It took me a little while to get into this, to understand how the text-based magic worked in this world, who the characters were and what the conflictIt took me a little while to get into this, to understand how the text-based magic worked in this world, who the characters were and what the conflict was. But about a third of the way through it all clicked, and now I'm looking forward to the sequel....more
This book is classic Kay. If you like his other books (and I do), you'll like this one.
Kay writes alternate/fantastical history. This novel4.5 stars
This book is classic Kay. If you like his other books (and I do), you'll like this one.
Kay writes alternate/fantastical history. This novel is based on Renaissance Europe (Italy, Croatia, Constantinople). Like most Kay novels, there is political intrigue, changing alliances, a tricky balance of power, conflicting religious movements, and war. (I was reading this during several bombings in Europe and mass shootings in the US this summer, and all that fictional war was a little hard to take.)
Like most Kay novels, there is a good range of characters. Kay can write a lot of them - and their swirling interactions - well, which takes some talent. He focuses on a broad range of people, not just the ruling classes or the wealthy (although they are there too), which I appreciate. There are kings and emperors, courtiers and ambassadors and spies, councilors and religious leaders, ambitious princes and concubines, soldiers and farmers, merchants and sailors, wives, nuns, and prostitutes.
(Side note: Always the F-ing prostitutes. Kay writes strong female characters. He writes them well and they are not simpering ladies. In this novel, for example, we have a kick-ass archer who goes to war out of a burning sense of revenge, and ain't no one going to pull any hanky-panky she doesn't want on her. (Danica is awesome.) She's just one of several strong women in the story. However, in the worlds that Kay writes, there are always men using women for sex, and men have the power to treat women like chattel, and F that! I understand his novels are based on history and that's a historical truth but I don't like that women in general are so powerless in his worlds).
Like most Kay novels, there are several disparate story lines that move people around and then somehow they all end up intertwining. Often in unexpected ways. His writing is gorgeous - so many beautiful phrases. He is a master at dropping a hint and then coming back to it chapters later, which is both delicious and aggravating but pure and classic Kay.
A slightly spoilery inside note: those who were devastated by a certain cruel turn of events in Tigana (as I was) will find some vindication here.
Final note: I have read all of Kay's novels and it is only with this one that I realized that his versions of Christianity, Islam, and Judiasm (the Jaddite, Asharite, and Kindath religions respectively) also appeared in earlier novels (The Sarantine Mosaic series, The Lions of Al-Rassan and The Last Light of the Sun for sure, maybe others?) Mind blown. In fact, Children of the Earth and Sky has a few references to places and characters from the Sarantine Mosaic duology, so I wish I had read those more recently to get those references better. Call this one a very distant sequel....more
Volume two of this duo of interconnected and interwoven short stories / fairy tales was just as enchanting as the first. Complex, layered, and rich, tVolume two of this duo of interconnected and interwoven short stories / fairy tales was just as enchanting as the first. Complex, layered, and rich, the stories slowly build off of the ones before, and keep circling back as well. At the very end, we learn more about where the girls in the garden comes from, a sweet payoff.
I took too long of a break between the two volumes. Because stories in volume two reference stories in volume one, I recommend reading the second right after you finish the first....more
I delayed the start of reading this collection of two novellas and three short stories because I wanted to savor the knowledge that there was more RakI delayed the start of reading this collection of two novellas and three short stories because I wanted to savor the knowledge that there was more Rakursa fiction out there waiting for me. I've loved every installment in the Books of the Raksura - the inventive, creative fantasy world populated by so many kinds of sentient beings that I think Wells could write 100 books and we'd still only meet a few of them. The world-building is such a breath of fresh air!
And the Raksuran characters don't disappoint either. Shapeshifters that have reptilian/winged forms and bipedal humanish "groundling" forms, they are predators and farmers, fierce fighters and loyal friends, doting parents and generous lovers. They live in complex societies in mountain-sized trees in the upper levels of a vast forest teeming with unknown and threatening life, but also really like to go on adventures. I mean, what's not to love?
"The Dead City," a novella, is one of Moon's adventures shortly after he first met the Fell. Traveling in a blur of confusion and depression, he meets up with some groundlings. Letting himself get pulled into the danger happening nearby allows him to reclaim purpose and direction.
The short story "Mimesis" follows Jade out in the forest with some of her warriors. When one of them goes missing, she goes off the rescue him, but going alone may not be the wisest thing.
"Trading Lesson" is a short story where Moon's previous experiences in the groundling world serve his colony some good when traders come to visit.
"The Almost Last Voyage of the Wind-Ship Escarpment" is a short story about non Raksuran people's in another part of the Three Worlds who have agreed to broker paying a ransom to pirates. Will it be the last thing they ever do?
The final novella, "The Dark Earth Below," happens a year and a half after the events of "The Siren Depths." Jade is about to have her first clutch, Moon is terrified, and everyone is bored from the lack of adventures and challenges when the Kek at the foot of their mountain-tree signal for help. The Raksura get more involved with life in the bottom layers of the forest than may be good for them. ...more
I hated half the characters in the book and just didn't want to read their stories. I loved Althea and so many of the others, but just wasn't willingI hated half the characters in the book and just didn't want to read their stories. I loved Althea and so many of the others, but just wasn't willing to wade through all the a-holes to get to the good parts....more
Another great installment in the Raksura series, this one two novellas and two short stories.
The Falling World is a novella that comes after the evenAnother great installment in the Raksura series, this one two novellas and two short stories.
The Falling World is a novella that comes after the events of The Siren Depths. We see beloved characters continuing to be their bad-ass selves and Moon growing into his role within the Indigo Cloud court. This one met my need for MOAR of the Raksuran storyline.
The Tale of Indigo and Cloud is a novella that tells the story of the beginning of their relationship. I really loved this story because of the fierce and clever Raksuran queens, and how it is a deeper dive into Raksuran culture and society.
The Forest Boy is about a part of Moon's history before we meet him in The Cloud Roads, and also a bit about groundling life. Nice to have a different POV.
Adaptation is another prequel to the full series, about the Indigo Cloud Court before Moon arrives. It adds depth and background to parts of the tale we've only heard about after the fact....more
4.5 stars. A nice collection of fantasy stories written by women and with women in lead roles, plus dome analysis of the role of women in the fantasy4.5 stars. A nice collection of fantasy stories written by women and with women in lead roles, plus dome analysis of the role of women in the fantasy genre. I'm also excited by the list of new books and authors to read.
I'll come back with some additional notes about my favorite stories....more
This series is great. Such a unique and varied world, populated with all sorts of sentient beings. I love the Raksura, their ability to shift forms anThis series is great. Such a unique and varied world, populated with all sorts of sentient beings. I love the Raksura, their ability to shift forms and fly, their complex social structure and intricate courts/homes. Fiercely loyal, brave, impatient, complicated.
Wells writes complex characters and intricate relationships and I really love so very many of them: Moon, Jade, Chime, Celedon, Lithe, Malachite, on and on.
I've heard a piece of writing advice, that how characters inhabit their bodies is important to include in order to give a sense of groundedness to readers. Wells does an amazing job with the physicality of the Raksura - the snap of wings unfurling, the twitching of tails and flaring of spines, the nibble on a neck of a loved one.
In volume 3, Moon journeys to visit another Raksura court, but not by choice. Along the way, he learns about his mostly-forgotten path, encountered more gorram Fell, and figures out some things about his future. Another great installment....more
I'm really enjoying this series. There's some very creative world-building and development of cultures for the various peoples in said world. FemalesI'm really enjoying this series. There's some very creative world-building and development of cultures for the various peoples in said world. Females among the Raksura are both leaders and stronger than males, so the books also really explore ideas of gender.
In this book, our main character Moon and his compatriots head back to their source tree to rebuild it as their home, but things don't quite go as expected. Moon remains a courageous, independent hero in the face of all that follows....more