There aren’t many writers who can start with the concept of a literal fantasy woman, pulled from the pages of her book to fulfill her lover’s dreams,There aren’t many writers who can start with the concept of a literal fantasy woman, pulled from the pages of her book to fulfill her lover’s dreams, and turn her from a slave into a complex hero, struggling to understand her own identity and to create herself as a real person. Jim Hines is one of them.
Codex Born, the sequel to Libriomancer, is narrated by fantasy book lover and magician Isaac Vaino, but in many ways the book belongs to Lena Greenwood, a dryad drawn from a pulp SF novel and Isaac’s girlfriend. Libriomancer concluded with Isaac and Lena and Lena’s girlfriend (Isaac’s former therapist) Nidhi Shah agreeing that they’d embark on a shared relationship — both Isaac and Nidhi would be Lena’s lovers, which would allow Lena, product of her book, and thus destined to conform to her lovers’ desires, a chance to become her own person by existing in the conflicting space between Isaac and Nidhi. In Codex Born, that relationship starts to play out — both Nidhi and Isaac struggle with the dynamic, but keep on trying for Lena’s sake — and Lena continues to hope that she can find a way to preserve who she is, even if something happened to Isaac or Nidhi.
To celebrate finishing [a short story], I gave myself the morning off and finished a book I've been reading: StanWhat I wrote on my blog back in 2008:
To celebrate finishing [a short story], I gave myself the morning off and finished a book I've been reading: Standard Hero Behavior by John David Anderson. If you haven't pulled this off your library or bookstore shelf yet, don't pass go, don't collect $200, just head straight to the library or bookstore and pull it off. This is Anderson's first novel, and it's entirely satisfying--it features fifteen-year-old Mason Quayle, a struggling bard in a town where all the heroes have left, as he blunders into his first quest: a mission to bring the heroes back. One of the town's missing heroes is his own father, and the quest becomes as much about discovering who his father was as it does saving the town from impending invasion. The story is the traditional hero's quest spun on its head, and it's delightfully satisfying. You all know I've read several brilliant books in the past year: this one's pretty high on that list. It's been marketed as a children's book rather than YA (possibly because it's not very edgy), so get over to your junior fiction section and check it out. (And if anyone is on a list serv somewhere with John David Anderson and could pass on my admiration, I'd very much appreciate it! I've gotten too used to being able to compliment the authors I admire in their blog comments, I think. *g*)...more
Sidekicked did not disappoint. The book stars Drew Bean, the Sensationalist, a sidekick who doesn't have much in the way of combat ability; instead, he's got heightened senses, which is as much a pain on meatloaf day at school as it is when Drew is hanging over a swimming pool full of acid, waiting to be rescued. (Hey, at least he can tell you what kind of acid it is, just by smell.) When a major villain, thought to be dead, returns and frees his henchmen from the prison for supervillains, everyone is looking for Drew's hero, who defeated the villain the last time, but who has since vanished from the public eye. Drew's looking for him, too -- the man who was once his idol has left him on his own, making him less of a sidekick and more of an aside thought. It's tough to be Drew, but this young teen never gives up, and when he believes his friends are in danger, or just that someone has to do the right thing, he's willing to throw himself in the thick of things. Even when the results are disastrous.
While Standard Hero Behavior was a quest novel that ends up being as much about the relationship between father and son as it is about going on a heroic journey in a high fantasy setting, Sidekicked is about learning who -- and how -- to trust if you're a superhero in training whose Super has left the hero scene. But while I expected that mentor/mentee relationship to be the most important, it turns out that it's an entirely different relationship on which the plot hinges. I figured out the big reveal a little ahead of the characters in the book, but Anderson kept me guessing much longer than I expected. ...more