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Ghost Talkers
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2017 Book Club Discussions > February 2017: Ghost Talkers - First Impressions (No spoilers)

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Lisa (tenaciousreader) | 301 comments Alright, this is where you can talk about your first impressions of the book, general reactions to the tone/setting/characters/writing style and just how you feel about the story from the first parts you read.

PLEASE keep this discussion spoiler free! If you have something specific you want to say or ask, please either use spoiler tags, or wait and comment in the following discussions. Thanks!


Lisa (tenaciousreader) | 301 comments Alright, so I read this one a little while a go, but it did make a strong first impression on me. I absolutely loved the entire concept of intelligence gathering from recently deceased soldiers. The idea of it set me on theorizing how that could be used in war time, and also how it may shape the story.

I also really enjoy the atmosphere and setting for this one.

So, what are others thinking? Enjoying it so far?


kels  (lanom) | 7 comments I am not usually a huge fan of historical fiction, unless it's alt-history / steampunk, so this is a pretty big departure from the norm for me. It's also my first time reading anything by Kowal.

With all of that in mind, so far I'm really enjoying her style of writing, and I really like the character voices. I'm definitely intrigued by the story concept, and am interested to read it with something of a feminist perspective. So far, I don't feel like I'll be disappointed.


David H. (farrakut) | 517 comments Mod
kels, do you not consider this to be alternate history?

As for me and this book, yeah, it's great--I think Kowal does a great job with this one--nice to see something new from her after her other series.


Daniel Eavenson (dannyeaves) | 1 comments There's Kowal's voice right in the first scene. I remember when I first picked it up I thought, like the Glamour series, we'd be spending a lot of time in the company of the higher classes, but this is a war book. Right from the start things are dirty and sad and dangerous. But the strong voice of the main character and her steadfastness anchor the whole thing fantastically. Really a great read.


kels  (lanom) | 7 comments David - a fair point! I can see how one might term it alt-history.

When I say alt-history, I personally mean a drastically different version of how things went down (so, like the United States of Japan as a very recent example). This isn't so much alternative, to me, as it is the same history but with extra colour? It's alt-history like Indian Jones is alt-history :)

That said, I've just finished it, and I really did love the hell out of it. So perhaps I need to use less narrow / rigid definitions for my categories.


Lisa (waytoofantasy) | 19 comments Mod
So, I too read this a little while ago. I've read some of Mary's other books and I have to say, I really felt this was a major step up from her series. The characters are certainly more fleshed out and I love the concept. I actually think Mary writes war very well, I remember her second Glamourist Histories book dealing with that as well and I think it's a strength of hers.


David H. (farrakut) | 517 comments Mod
Here's my personal take on the historical/alternate-history/secret history categories....

Historical fiction: Could conceivably have happened in history and is presented that way. Example: Three Musketeers (not contemporary since Dumas is writing about 2 centuries earlier)

Secret history: Like historical, but usually has fantastical/SF elements, but is done in such a way that very few people know about it. Example: Indiana Jones.

Alternate history: History literally took a different path but this can be a huge change, especially if paired with magic or time travel aspects. Example: Kowal's Glamourist books are pretty much the same but adding (publicly known-about magic changes a lot, especially after the events of book 5).

I could see Ghost Talkers being considered possibly secret history, if you consider how few people know about the mediums, but then again, ghosts are real and people can be psychics and I feel like it's enough known about that it's alternate history. :-)

I tend to be overly broad in my SF/F definitions, but I always find it interesting how authors play with and within historical events--you've got the carbon copies (Drake & Stirling's General series is really just Justinian & Belisarius being retold) or tweaking aspects--ghosts are real & can be used as spies--or just going with it (Tidhar's Bookman Histories got real weird by the end of the first book.)


David H. (farrakut) | 517 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "So, I too read this a little while ago. I've read some of Mary's other books and I have to say, I really felt this was a major step up from her series. The characters are certainly more fleshed out and I love the concept. I actually think Mary writes war very well, I remember her second Glamourist Histories book dealing with that as well and I think it's a strength of hers. "


I think there was either a podcast or written interview with Kowal actually asked for assistance (maybe from Myke Cole, or someone else?) with some of the scenes in this book. Actually, it might be in the afterword. Always curious to see to what extent authors ask others when writing!


Hannah | 18 comments David wrote: "
I think there was either a podcast or written interview with Kowal actually asked for assistance (maybe from Myke Cole, or someone else?) with some of the scenes in this book. Actually, it might be in the afterword."


So there is a bit in the afterword about how John Scalzi made her change the opening scene from a dinner party.

Seeing as it's the first page, I don't think it's exactly a spoiler, so how does everyone feel about the current incarnation of an opening scene, and how do you think a WWI dinner party (possibly involving the Ghost Talkers) might have gone down instead?


Kavya | 8 comments Really enjoying this. I took to the characters immediately. Also, every time minor character Lethbridge Stewart is mentioned, I get Doctor Who flashbacks.


message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (waytoofantasy) | 19 comments Mod
Honestly, I am glad that it opened the way it did rather than with a party, definitely helped set the tone of the novel right away.


David H. (farrakut) | 517 comments Mod
I agree--the proper tone was set, and the only purpose of a dinner party is for an intro to the mediums and their mission (like that aunt who's nominally in charge_, but I think throwing us into the action, as it were is far more useful. I basically can't envision it starting any other way.


Chell (bookchellf) | 9 comments I am really enjoying this book so far. Also I think the start is perfect it gets you right into the thick of things and had be hooked. It is also not what I was expecting at all and truthfully I happy for that. It is surpassing my expectations. I especially lover Ginger. I've had a think for female leads who speak their mind lately.


message 15: by Zay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Zay I decided to listen to it on audio since I was going to be doing a lot of driving. I liked that the author read the book and she did a great job at it. I found the concept of ghost talkers and using ghosts in a war effort different then fantasy I've before, and interesting.


Andrew | 6 comments Yes, so. I probably should have posted here before I read the whole thing. Um. First impressions...

From the cover, I was expecting the book to be mostly a romance novel with a fantasy backdrop. The the introduction made it pretty clear that the romance was going to be the secondary focus of the novel after ghosts/spying/whatever else the circle gets up to. The fact that "romance" isn't in the top shelves should have been a clue as well.

Anyway, the tone is great from page 1. I really enjoyed it.


Victor | 22 comments I tend to avoid certain genres like the plague, romance being one of them but I said it's time to get over my preconceptions and now that I've finished it, I'm glad I did. I found it ... well balanced and with memorable characters. The premise is well explored through the novel and the first line is how it should be: engaging.


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