32. Elizabeth Bear, The White City
Don Sebastian in Moscow. A beautiful little book, fascinating and painful.
33. Barbara Hambly, Dead and Buried
The ninth Benjamin January book. An accident reveals that the Faubourg Tremé Free Coloured Militia and Burial Society are about to bury the body of an unknown white man - unknown, that is, except to Hannibal Sefton, fiddle player and January's friend. Blackmail, family secrets, and lies abound. Hambly's 1830s New Orleans has a very dark and at times almost claustrophobic atmosphere, and as usual is brilliantly described.
34. Elizabeth Moon, Kings of the North
Dorrin Verrakai has successfully become Duke Verrakai in Tsaia. In neighbouring Lyonya, King Kieri Phelan must deal with matters of his succession and the apparently arbitrary caprice of his mysterious co-ruler, the Lady of the Ladysforrest. Meanwhile, Captain Arcolin encounters a brutal warlord claiming descent from ancient kings. All this is complicated by the reapparence of provenance-less royal regalia. Which talks.
Meh. Pick a point of view and stick with it, dear author. The leaping around leaves the resulting narrative with a strange feeling akin to aimlessness.
35. Laura Anne Gilman, Hard Magic
CSI with magic. Fluff.
36. Mercedes Lackey, Trio of Sorcery
A short novel and two novellas. The short novel features Di Tregard and is set in the early 1970s, the two novellas feature characters I haven't encountered before and are set in the mid-90s and approximately now, respectively. Engaging, and significantly better than anything else I've read by Lackey recently - this is far closer to Phoenix and Ashes
or Black Swan
or Reserved for the Cat
37. Steven Brust, Tiassa
A distinctly bizarre book, stylistically, even by the standard of previous Vlad Taltos novels. I... Well. Hmm. I'll need to read it again to come to any verdict on it (which I will, because I'm supposed to be reviewing it properly
for Ideomancer), but I'm far from sure, right now, if it's being perfectly clever apropos
to its purpose, or whether its cleverness is the authorial equivalent of singing an opera while standing on one's head, juggling knives, in the rain, for the pure hell of it.
Either way, relies on one's previously familiarity with and affection for the characters in greater degree than previous offerings. I doubt it stands alone very well.
38. Douglas Hulick, Among Thieves
Are we sure this is a debut novel? I mean, seriously? Because it's damn good
. Thieves, imperial relics, gang warfare and politics and friendships made and broken apart - Not to mention some really tight writing.
I recommend it.non-fiction
39. Plato, Defence of Socrates, Euthyphro, and Crito
. Oxford World's Classics, OUP, Oxford, 1997. Translated with an introduction and notes by David Gallop.
Justly famous dialogues concerned law and justice, worth reading even if one disagrees with them completely.
This translation is lucid and readable, and the introduction (unlike Waterfield's to Plato's Timaeus
, for a contrary example) is not only helpful for contextualising the dialogues, it's short.
40. Sandra R. Joshel, Slavery in the Roman World
. Cambridge Introductions to Roman Civilisation, CUP, Cambridge, 2010.
Intended as an introductory treatment of slavery in Roman society, Joshel's work here is lively, accessible, and illuminating in useful ways. The high quality of the numerous illustrations - which are helpful without being intrusive - is an added plus.
The book is a short one, only a little over 200 pages long. It is divided into five chapters, with a glossary of commonly used terms at the back. The first chapter, "An Introduction to Roman Slavery" sets Rome and slavery in their broad historical contexts. The second chapter, "The Roman Social Order and a History of Slavery" attempts to trace the development and social role of slavery within Roman society over time. The third chapter, "The Sale of Slaves" discusses the legalities and the potential experiences involved in the sale and purchase of slaves. The fourth chapter, "The Practices of Slaveholders and the Lives of Slaves" attempts to use the available evidence to cast light on what the Roman slave, urban, elite, or rural, would actually have experienced during slavery. The fifth and final chapter, "Slaves at Work: In the Fields, the Household and the Marketplace," discusses pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, slavery and work.
As an introductory book, some of the discussion is necessarily basic, and due to the nature of the available evidence, areas of Roman social life including life as relates to slavery remain understood only sketchily. Nonetheless, I feel that this is a very solid, very readable introduction to the topic.
At the moment, in between my stressful, panicked moments*, I'm reading Beckwith's Empires of the Silk Road
- and matociquala
? Thank you
for mentioning this book: it's brilliant - and looking forward to reading Flanders' The Invention of Murder
. Life could be worse.
*I confess, I've taken the last three days completely off. I need a clear head to think about this progress review, and relaxation appears to be the only way to get one. Caffeine certainly wasn't working.