Interesting, but not as satisfying as I'd hoped. Please don't get the impression this is a book about the death class--this is a book about the womanInteresting, but not as satisfying as I'd hoped. Please don't get the impression this is a book about the death class--this is a book about the woman who teaches the death class and the various ways tragedy has informed her life and the lives of her students. I enjoyed it, for what it is, but it hasn't really stuck in my mind. Worth reading if the premise intrigues you....more
I guess I'm more over paranormal romance than I thought--roughly the first two thirds of this is straight up bookish Mary Sue (in her most palatable fI guess I'm more over paranormal romance than I thought--roughly the first two thirds of this is straight up bookish Mary Sue (in her most palatable form) meets dark and brooding vampire, and once upon a time I would have been all over that. (See: Obsession with L. J. Smith, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.) But the third book in this series beat out Stephen King on the bestseller list, and I wanted to know why, dammit, so when I got bored I couldn't just put it down.
Things picked up toward the end, which was gratifying, and I'm hoping the next book will be more of that and the glorious historical references and less rapid-fire courtship. Glad I picked it up from the library, upset they don't have the second one in right now....more
Requisite disclaimer: I work for Simon & Schuster, of which Gallery Books is an imprint, and that's how I got a copy of this book. I have paid noRequisite disclaimer: I work for Simon & Schuster, of which Gallery Books is an imprint, and that's how I got a copy of this book. I have paid no money for it and I have an interest in getting you to buy it, but I wsn't paid to write this review, I read it of my own free will, my views are my own and are not representative of those of my employer, and I honestly think it's worth a read if you're into gritty urban fantasy.
I sniffed this bad boy out earlier in the production cycle but decided to wait until we had finished books to read. I don't know why. I thought it might itch my chronic Dresden-files longing but I think I'm just introducing a new obsession.
The Dresden comparison really is apt, though. The magic works a little differently--while Dresdenverse spells are fueled by the energy or soul of the caster, ustari magic works on blood. Sometimes a little, but frequently oceans of it, sometimes spilled willingly but all too often gushing out to the bleeder's horror, to create commensurately horrible, delightfully inventive effects. Same idea, different execution.
Lem's got a way with the Words that turn that blood into magic, but unfortunately for him he has too much of a conscience to spill the blood of others. And idimustari, the kind of low-level trickster-mage he is as a result? Not a thing you can put on a resume for a white collar job application. Lem and his giant of a man companion/pet Mags end up getting wrapped in some big-time mage's attempt to basically bleed the entire world dry when all they wanted was to find enough cash to buy some McD's to keep Mags and his bottomless appetite fed for another few weeks, and things go about as well as you would expect from a book with a razor blade on the cover. There just wouldn't be a story otherwise, would there?
I like this for a lot of the same reason I like the Dresden books: you have a flawed hero trying (and often failing) to maintain his morals in a totally amoral world, trying to balance his own personal happiness with saving an uncaring world from the apocalyptic nightmares shaking down around him. The side characters are intriguing and mostly believable, though Somers's work suffers from the comparison--he just hasn't had the time and space to build these characters up. I honestly feel like Somers has created a stronger cast in less time.
Sure, sure, there's a save-the-girl, save-the-world plot going on, but at its core this book is about Lem's deep friendship and love for Mags, about how far he's willing to go and how much he's willing to give up to save a world that ostensibly hasn't done shit for him.
I did have some issues with the pacing, especially toward the middle, when things seem to somehow both whip around and stall out. Things happen! Confusing things! But wait, we aren't any closer to our goals! It shows that this used to be a series before being repackaged into a single book, unfortunately, though if you look at the cover of Trickster, the original stand-alone? God, no wonder we started over. It looks like something I would have made in middle school, totally derivative from genre conventions. I'm not totally fond of the new cover, but it is far and away better than what we did initially.
Somers has given Lem a great voice and a quick wit, and it was truly a pleasure to spend the 500-odd pages with him. This is some choice-grade entertaining fiction with just enough depth to keep my brain happy and entertained on my (extremely long and tiring) commute. I know I've already established that I have an ulterior motive in telling you to read this, but I honestly think it's worth it if you're into urban fantasy. I don't consume horrible books in two days even if they're free. ...more