"Stable of Dragons," Peter S Beacle. A not very good poem (in the sense that it seems to be prose with line breaA collection of stories about dragons.
"Stable of Dragons," Peter S Beacle. A not very good poem (in the sense that it seems to be prose with line breaks) about a breeder of dragons who hopes to have a half-dragon son someday.
"The Rule of Names," Ursula K LeGuin. Mr.Underhill is the only wizard on Sattins Island. He's not particularly powerful, and in fact he's a bit comical, with his timidity, bow legs and puffing breath. But then another wizard sails in, and Mr.Underhill finally truly reveals himself. A wonderful mixture of cozy charm (think of the Shire) and merciless natural cruelty.
"The Ice Dragon," George RR Martin. Adara was born in the dead of winter, and she still has some of the cold that killed her mother in her. She smiles little, and all her affection is given to the little ice lizards and dragon that come out when the winter is at its coldest. But then war comes her farm, and Adara (view spoiler)[sacrifices her ice powers and her ice dragon to protect her family. (hide spoiler)] On the one hand, definitely well written: the dragon, Adara, and her imaginative adventures during winters were charming and memorable. On the other hand, the kingdom is the usual pseudo-European feudal medieval type without anything to distinguish it from all the fictional fantasy kingdoms out there, and I am exhausted by stories that include rape and the horrors of war in this kind of casual way. I want to read a story about a girl riding an icedragon, not (view spoiler)[her sister getting gangraped while their dad watches from where he's been nailed to the bedroom wall. (hide spoiler)]
"Sobeck," Holly Black. Amaya's mom is acting a little crazy about a crocodile god she believes lives in the sewers, but Amaya's used to her mom being a little off. But then she gets dropped down an open manhole as a "virgin sacrifice" and Amaya realizes this has all gone too far. Holly Black writes some of my very favorite characters: the kind who are used to taking care of themselves, who find clever solutions to weird problems, who have emotional vulnerabilities and sometimes make bad choices but are still good brave people nevertheless. Amaya is great, and I'd love to read more about her (view spoiler)[and her someday grown-up dragon (hide spoiler)].
"King Dragon," Michael Swanwick. An enemy dragon crashlands near Will's village. It has just enough power left to threaten the whole low-tech village into declaring him their king. Thanks to a hint of human in Will's ancestry, he's able to successfully interface with the iron dragon, and is used as the dragon's mouthpiece. One day the dragon goes too far, and Will devises a desperate plan to end his tyrannical reign. This short story is actually part of The Dragons of Babel, which is, btw, set in the same universe as The Iron Dragon's Daughter. I'm torn: on the one hand the writing is great and everything in this story is totally interesting and fascinating to me. I love the way Swanwick writes the intersection of tech and magic; no one else does it quite the same way. But I hate that terrible things always happen in Swanwick stories...someday I'll read a pleasant one in which no bombs blow up an entire village square full of children and I'll die of shock. Also, I'm not sure I like the idea of cutting out a section of a published novel and putting it in a short story collection published years later, even if the story does stand alone.
"The Laily Worm," Nina Kiriki Hoffman. After their royal mother dies, Masery and Perry get a stepmother, who at first seems kindly and then reveals her true nature. She transforms her step children into animals: Masery into a fish, Perry into a dragon. Through her enchantment, Perry is forced to guard a tree against all comers, killing many knights and despairing of his morality and freedom. I really liked the way this story was told; it's got a great fairy tale rhythm to it.
"The Harrowing of the Dragon of Hoarsbreath," Patricia McKillip. A Dragon Harrower comes to the tiny island of Hoarsbreath, where winter lasts 12 months of the year, and convinces the islanders that their winter is caused by a dragon curled around the mountain deep under the snow. Peka Krao, a miner who loves the cold isolated darkness of Hoarsbreath as it is, nevertheless promises to guide the Dragon Harrower. The story is beautiful; the writing, perfection itself. Every sentence in this story is like a multi-faceted gem: gorgeous, and slightly different depending on how you look at it.
"The Bully and the Beast," Orson Scott Card. Bork is a giant of a man. He has a gentle heart and a trusting soul, and so he is used by everyone. At last he is ordered to slay a dragon, but in their first confrontation Bork sees the truth of his life and is ashamed of it.
"Concerto Accademico," Barry N Malzberg. A dragon enters an orchestra hall while a symphony orchestra practices. The musicians are all shocked and confused, since none of them knew dragons existed, but then decide to play for the dragon. Not my kind of writing or story at all.
"The Dragon's Boy," Jane Yolen. Young Artos is looking for a lost hound, but finds a dragon's cave instead. The dragon promises him wisdom, and so day after day Artos returns to the cave to hear its odd but strangely helpful lessons. I liked the earthy little details about life in the Dark Ages of Britain, and I especially liked Artos and his feelings toward the dragon.
"The Miracle Aquilina," Margo Lanagan. A woman witnesses a series of miracles as a god-touched woman repeatedly refuses to marry a king, no matter how he taunts or torments her.
tbc as I read more["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Teenaged Kivali is ordered to attend a government camp aimed at making her a compliant, group-oriented citizen. While there she struggles between whatTeenaged Kivali is ordered to attend a government camp aimed at making her a compliant, group-oriented citizen. While there she struggles between what the camp tells her, what she feels, and what she was taught at home by her adopted mother and meditation mentor. I appreciated the gender bending main character--there are very few I've come across--and I loved the way she thinks of lizards and dragons as avatars, helpers, friends, and family. Her imagination is wonderful, and the way she uses is jives with what I remember from my own questioning teenagerhood.
That said, I really wanted more plot and more explanation in this book. By the end I still didn't know what vaping was, or what the Blight was like, or what was going on with the government, or how the underground operated, or what Kivali and her mom's plan is...It was a nicely in-depth and personalized look at someone coming of age, questioning their certainties, and working through new crushes and friendships, but it frustrated me as a sf book because there was so little attention to anything else like world building or resolution....more
Isyllt, a spy and necromancer, is sent to Symir, capital of a sort of pseudo-Asian fantasy nation currently under the rule of the same Empire that herIsyllt, a spy and necromancer, is sent to Symir, capital of a sort of pseudo-Asian fantasy nation currently under the rule of the same Empire that her own nation narrowly escaped from generations ago. Her duty is to destabilize the colonial government, thus distracting the Empire from invading elsewhere. She has various allies in this mission, among them Zhirin, the young apprentice of an old friend, who has joined the rebellion against the Empire. But also has many foes, among them the Empire's suspiciously powerful geomancer and the more radical arm of the rebels, who want no foreign interference in their affairs. Isyllt's bodyguard Xinai defects and joins this more extreme and violent group almost immediately.
The tale is told through the alternating viewpoints of Isyllt, Zhirin, and Xinai as each strives to discomfit or destroy the imperial forces. Although the setting is wonderfully described and there's a good deal of nuance and heartbreak in those who have to struggle between compliance with colonization and warring with their own people, the story itself didn't really engage me. It was easy to put the book down, and I had a hard time remembering the characters. Even in the final battle I had to slow down and rack my brains for which person was which. Still, that climax, and the magical powers displayed therein, are really what made this book worth reading. Earlier in the book I'd internally grumbled at how little magic Isyllt did, but once danger hits and she's deploying shambling corpses as shields or catching lit grenades with her bare hands and then rendering them into rusty hunks of dead metal, I was totally satisfied. Xinai also shines in the last battle, both as a mage and as a daughter of her beleaguered country. The last few chapters are as epic in consequences and spectacle as the earlier chapters were lacking in spark....more
Amusing suberversion of classic tropes of fantasy lit and especially tabletop roleplaying games. If your D&D game has ever gone a little off the wAmusing suberversion of classic tropes of fantasy lit and especially tabletop roleplaying games. If your D&D game has ever gone a little off the wall, you'll probably recognize yourself in this book. Features a fun set of characters, each as odd, ballsy, and flat-out honey badger as the next....more
General Billington-Smith was a roaring hypocrite of a man who bullied his family and servants. Everyone is surprised but not particularly grief-strickGeneral Billington-Smith was a roaring hypocrite of a man who bullied his family and servants. Everyone is surprised but not particularly grief-stricken when his bloody body is found after a disastrous weekend house party. As is usual with Heyer mysteries, practically everyone had the means and motive, and there's a great deal of palaver between the house guests about which one of them did it. Inspector Harding tries to make sense of the guests' depositions, each more self-serving and mildly false in some detail than the next. Like most readers (going by the other reviews here on goodreads) I was correct in supposing that (view spoiler)[ the murderer was the General's first wife, and that his scrawled "There" was the beginning of "Theresa." 91% into the book, the Inspector finally cottoned on--apparently he had to look through a book of names to think of a name that began with T. Admittedly, I thought the ex-wife was actually Mrs. Twinings thanks to some nicely laid down red herrings. But still, I was annoyed that no one even investigated the first wife until so late in the story. (hide spoiler)]
As is often the case with Heyer, the characters were laid out in very broad strokes and were pretty much slight variations on her favorite character types: the strong silent male, the fluttering weak female, the brassy flirt, the weak-nerved artistic young son, the sensible lady love interest, the shameless cad, etc. The seemingly obligatory romance subplot is conducted a little swiftly to my tastes (from meeting to engagement in just a few days), but is written with a nice light and funny hand, ex: (view spoiler)[
For quite twenty minutes after he had gone the conversation between Miss Fawcett and Inspector Harding had no bearing at all upon the problems that might have been supposed to engross the Inspector's attention, and was not remarkable for any very noticeable degree of intelligence or originality. It seemed, however, to be an eminently satisfactory conversation from their point of view, and might have been continued for an unspecified length of time, had not Miss Fawcett chanced to ask Inspector Harding if he realised that if no one had murdered the General they might never have met.
(hide spoiler)] And there are countless fascinating details about life in that era and culture, like which types of people drank cocktails and when, the import and signals given off by various types of hats and gloves, and of course, the (odd to the modern audience) low status of police detectives. There's a great bit where Miss Fawcett asks Inspector Harding, "'Do you really wear a god-forsaken badge under the lapel of your coat, and show it to anybody who wants to know who you are?'" And he answers "'No of course I don't. I'm not an American!'" ?!?["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Amaranthe was a conscientious Enforcer until a treacherous conspiracy branded her a traitor. Now she and her weird band of malcontents (bound basicallAmaranthe was a conscientious Enforcer until a treacherous conspiracy branded her a traitor. Now she and her weird band of malcontents (bound basically by their common bad reputations and need to have something or someone to belong to) try to find good deeds to do to get into the Emperor's good graces. In this one, they foil a foreign attempt to poison the capital city of the Empire. Kinda steampunky fantasy set in a nation early in industrialization, with lots of nice earthy details (like the taverns feel like places I could walk right into) and working class characters. My favorite part of this series is Amaranthe herself, who has insane plans, is a total neat freak (my favorite scenes are when her underlings point out that she's cleaning while burglerizing a place, or some other totally inappropriate time), and brings people together through sheer bloody-minded will. She's a weird mixture of clear-minded cynicism and idealism, someone who just wants to obey the rules except that she keeps seeing what's wrong with the rules. She's chaotic good but desperately wants to be (and thinks of herself as) lawful good, and it's adorable....more
A rich man is found dead by a blow to the head, but the murder weapon can't be found and thanks to the testimony of number of witnesses, the time in wA rich man is found dead by a blow to the head, but the murder weapon can't be found and thanks to the testimony of number of witnesses, the time in which he could have been murdered is only a few minutes. The investigation is pretty rambly, and is usual with Heyer's mysteries, I knew whodunnit and how before the detectives. I had no patience with the Norths (pretty but dramatic Helen and her stoic husband, each thinking the worst of each other), and even though none of the other characters did either, it was still a bore to have to read so many scenes of theirs. I liked Neville Fletcher, who is that common Heyer character, the burbling lazy ninny who is actually incredibly clever, and I thought (view spoiler)[the support for his romance with Sally Drew was nicely laid. (hide spoiler)]...more
After 22% of the book is taken up by a terrible house party in which every guest is more despicable and unpleasant than the last, the body of the richAfter 22% of the book is taken up by a terrible house party in which every guest is more despicable and unpleasant than the last, the body of the rich guy everyone argued with is found in a locked room. Because of course. The writing of the murder investigation is fine, but rather too much time is taken up with repetitious conversations between the house guests. Two other problems: the murderer and method was obvious to me from the page it happened ((view spoiler)[Well, ok, I knew Uncle Joe did it because OBVIOUSLY, and I knew he did it when Nathaniel stumbled on the stairs. I didn't know the knife was a ceremonial dagger from the wall, but aside from the useful fingerprints, where the knife came from didn't actually matter.), so waiting for everyone else to catch up was very trying. And secondly, the seemingly requisite romance that Heyer likes to throw into her murder mysteries didn't work for me. (view spoiler)[Aren't they cousins? Who are goodish friends who've never evinced any romantic or tender feelings for each other in the least? The abrupt proposal seemed to come from nowhere. (hide spoiler)] That said, I did like the subthread with Maude and her book, and I thought the murder mystery was just clever enough without being absurdly unlikely. (hide spoiler)]...more
good art and coloring. the original x men are transported in time and shocked to see what they and their legacies have become in the modern era. Ive mgood art and coloring. the original x men are transported in time and shocked to see what they and their legacies have become in the modern era. Ive missed a bunch of stuff in the last five years or so, but I could still follow along. I love stories in which characters meet their past selves, or meet their future selves, and this storyline presents both points of view equally--great fun!...more
Mark has some adventures (gets out of a ceremonial marriage to a fish queen, fights Martians, takes down a crime boss) while his friends worry about hMark has some adventures (gets out of a ceremonial marriage to a fish queen, fights Martians, takes down a crime boss) while his friends worry about him and he worries about his grief-stricken mom. At this point I'm only reading these because they're all available at the library and sometimes I want to read some superheroics, but the blandness is really wearing on me....more
Turns out faux-Superman (aka Omniman) was secretly an alien bent on domination all along! Which I think we all suspected from book one, but he's partiTurns out faux-Superman (aka Omniman) was secretly an alien bent on domination all along! Which I think we all suspected from book one, but he's particularly pitiless in his reveal, telling Mark that his mother is only a pet to him and that Mark himself is replaceable. The scenes between them are pretty brutal, but the rest of this book feels like boring filler. ...more
A very funny book about the terrible ways thirteen historical figures dealt with romantic breakups. I didn't know all the figures, but of those I didA very funny book about the terrible ways thirteen historical figures dealt with romantic breakups. I didn't know all the figures, but of those I did know well, I thought the history was pretty good. A little lacking context and nuance, but not the kind of outright falsehoods and stretched truths that I'm used to from pop history books. Plus I found myself actually laughing out loud at points....more
Patricia loves running through the woods talking to birds (who sometimes talk back), while Laurence is a computer and tech genius. They're both too paPatricia loves running through the woods talking to birds (who sometimes talk back), while Laurence is a computer and tech genius. They're both too passionate about their interests for even the other weird kids at their school, and amidst the taunts of their classmates they form first a tentative alliance, then a fast friendship. Laurence is the only person Patricia can tell about her experiments with magic, while she's the only audience for his weird inventions. But there's something about Patricia that gives people the willies, and after a guidance counselor has a vision that she'll end the world and only he can stop it, Patricia and Laurence are torn apart.
A decade later, Patricia and Laurence run into each other again. He's become a tech wunderkind, while she went to magical school (which sounds part Hogwarts, part Brakebills, and part all new weird novelty) and now heals and curses people throughout San Francisco. (Just as their adolescent friendship felt totally real and recognizable to me, so too did their reunion. There's something both wonderfully freeing and terribly uncomfortable about seeing someone who knew every part of you when you were a raw teenager, and Anders captures those feelings perfectly.) Both want to save the world, but they're coming from completely different points of view--Laurence wants to preserve humanity, even if it means sacrificing Earth, while Patricia wants to save the Earth and is teetering on whether that means sacrificing humanity. When the ecological collapse starts to speed up, decisions have to be made.
I didn't love every sentence of this book. There's a tinge of literary fiction to this that I can't put my finger on, but I never like. (If the kind of books that get literary awards are to your tastes, you'll probably appreciate this book even more than I do.) But I did love the way Anders describes things as grand as San Francisco or the magical academy of Eltisley Maze, or as small & intimate as the feelings a man's body hair gives to his lover, or the warmth of fellow feeling between madrigal singers right before choir practice. These characters and places feel lived in and real, detailed and earthy without getting sucked into exhaustive plodding specifics, reminiscent of my own friends and relations without feeling trite or cliched, and just plain interesting to read about. Laurence and his nerd friends felt like people I might walk into a party and meet, while the magic Patricia and the other witches do was a great combination of very grounded and totally insanely powerful. (I seriously loved the magic in this book.) And I loved the plot and the solution(ish) to the ecological collapse at the end.
I'd like to add, as a final point of how enjoyable this book is, that I casually picked it up to read the inside blurb, sat down to read the first few pages, and did not get up again until I had finished it. ...more
An heiress proposes an elopement to an impoverished rake; she'll do almost anything to escape her abusive family. Luckily for her, she lives in romancAn heiress proposes an elopement to an impoverished rake; she'll do almost anything to escape her abusive family. Luckily for her, she lives in romance-land, where marriages of conveniences like these inevitably end in discovering True Love.
I liked how solicitous the hero was of the heroine, and that there was actually a bit of plot to this. ...more
The Radleys are a normal suburban family with the typical problems such families have in novels: the parents live meaningless and boring lives and feeThe Radleys are a normal suburban family with the typical problems such families have in novels: the parents live meaningless and boring lives and feel trapped and stifled by their marriage but don't have the courage to do anything about it, while their teenagers are disaffected and self-absorbed. They're also vampires, which I thought would add excitement and interest. 174 pages in, and this hope was not met. Instead it was page after page of characters' boring internal workings as they wish for connection and excitement. I skimmed the rest of the book; a lot of stuff apparently happens, but none of it gripped me. And I was disappointed that (view spoiler)[each of the Radleys end up embracing their vampire sides and giving up on being abstainers. (hide spoiler)]
People who like literary fiction would probably like this book a lot more than I did. As fantasy stories go, I found it completely unsatisfying. I didn't care about the characters, I didn't like the minutia-obsessed writing style, and I didn't like the undercurrent of disdain for normal life that I felt running through it.["br"]>["br"]>...more