hawkwing_lb: (It can't get any worse... today)
[personal profile] hawkwing_lb
Books 2011: 172-179

172. Elizabeth Bear, Range of Ghosts (ARC).

This? This may well be the epic fantasy I have spent my whole life needing to read without knowing what it was I needed.

I'm supposed to review it next spring for Ideomancer. So, in a nutshell: epic vastness. Coming of age (in more than one sense). Excellent characters. It could have been made to hit my "epic fantasy with cool shit and strong women" kink. It seems you can't really get much "epic fantasy with cool shit" without hypermasculinity... and you can't get much "cool shit and strong women" with that coming-of-age expansive epic feel. And "epic fantasy with strong women" doesn't bring the cool shit that often but this one does.

It's the best damn thing I've read since Paladin of Souls hit me over the head with its wonderfulness. And unlike Paladin of Souls, it's epic.

Yes, I have a thing for BFF with maps. It rarely finds worthy satisfaction. Here, it did.

Go now and make sure you will be able to read it ASAP. Trust me. Go.

173. Richard K. Morgan, The Cold Commands.

Morgan is doing something very interesting in this, the sequel to The Steel Remains. Not only is he subverting the normalisation of hypermasculinity and violence common to such writers as Abercrombie and Martin - and doing so very cunningly indeed - he's also chosen, in The Cold Commands, to interrogate the idea of the hero itself.

Meanwhile, he tells a story which is gripping in its own right. Where The Steel Remains stood alone, The Cold Commands appears to set up the first arc of a longer narrative. And I'm interested to see what happens next.

174. Kate Elliott, Traitors' Gate.

Third and last in series. Suffers from typical epic problems: too many point of view characters, too little time, a curious diffusion of focus.

175. Kate Elliott, Cold Fire.

The start of a new series. Elliott is a much more focused, controlled writer in a first person point of view, and the world of Cold Fire seems vastly more immediate - and as a result, interesting - than that of the "Gate" series. It's also much more fascinating in terms of setting, background, worldbuilding, and detail.

And the plot and characters aren't half bad, either. It has radicals and revolution. Recommended.

176. Kate Elliott, Cold Magic.

Sequel to Cold Fire, which I am supposed to review. It's also good - better, in fact, than its predecessor.

177. Ilona Andrews, Magic Slays.

Fifth in the Kate Daniels series, which is a decent blend of urban fantasy fluff with Things What Go Messily Boom. Daniels is less annoying than many other urban fantasy protags: she has a reason for being mouthy and a loner, has gradually become less of a loner, and the Werewolf Jerk Boyfriend is turning into a decent, almost sensible, longterm relationship.

Good boom. Recommended for when one needs fluff with killing things in.


178. Cicero, Defence Speeches. Oxford World's Classics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000. Translated with an introduction and notes by D.H. Berry.

Like it says on the cover, a selection of speeches for the defence by Cicero. Interesting and occasionally entertaining, but, I imagine, only of real interest to Classics geeks.

179. Gunnel Ekroth, The Sacrificial Rituals of Greek Hero-Cults in the Archaic to the early Hellenistic periods. Kernos Supplément, 12. Liège: Centre International d'Étude de la Religion Grecque Antique, 2002.

Mostly read - read enough that I will call it read - for my thesis. It contains much fascinating detailed discussion of the technical nomenclature of sacrifice and whether by calling sacrifices different names, different actions are meant, and what this means for the interpretation of heroic and chthonic cult.

Dry, but worthwhile.

Date: 2011-11-24 07:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ex-triciasu.livejournal.com
I am with you on Range of Ghosts! I started it a week ago, got interrupted, and I'm itching to get back. The writing is jaw-droppingly good.

Also keen to read Cold Magic. I really enjoyed Cold Fire and actually was thinking, of Elliott and Bear together, how both of them re-envision Earth-historical-magical contexts in such interesting and radical ways. And how welcome this is from my point of view. Too much more of this and I will have to start calling myself a fantasy fan again.

Date: 2011-11-24 01:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hawkwing-lb.livejournal.com
Yes. Cold Fire was particularly good on the re-imagining front. I don't know if you know Amanda Downum, or have read her stuff? But it does something similar, although a little less identifiably.

There's a very small group of people who write second-world fantasy that I will kill to read. Fortunately, it seems to be getting slightly larger.

Date: 2011-11-24 08:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puddleshark.livejournal.com
Looking forward to Range of Ghosts - anything that is as good as Paladin of Souls has to be good indeed...

I think I might have to try Cold Magic. I sort of bounced off the last series midway through due to epic-fatigue, but this sounds interesting.

Date: 2011-11-24 01:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hawkwing-lb.livejournal.com
It is a book everyone must read - Range of Ghosts, I mean.

Cold Magic is good, but occasionally lags. I find this to be the case with all of Elliott's work, actually, but much less so in the case of Cold Magic than in her previous work. It might be worth a shot, indeed.

Date: 2011-11-24 10:55 am (UTC)
clarentine: (Default)
From: [personal profile] clarentine
173. Richard K. Morgan, The Cold Commands. - this is, for lack of a better term, sword (and sometimes sorcery) fantasy, judging by the writers to whom you're comparing it? I am bouncing off so much of SFF lately (my fault entirely; too stressed to let go and immerse), but I did sort of like the Abercrombie I've read. Perhaps I can try this one.

Date: 2011-11-24 01:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hawkwing-lb.livejournal.com
Start with The Steel Remains, if you haven't read it. It's a sword and politics and creepy magic-y things book. :)

Date: 2011-11-24 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matociquala.livejournal.com
I liked these an awful lot, though I wish Morgan wasn't some damned SRS all the time. And this is ME talking.

(Also, so glad you liked RoG. YAY!)

Date: 2011-11-24 02:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hawkwing-lb.livejournal.com
Yeah, he could do with a helping of snark and a pinch of cheerful banter. It wouldn't hurt.

(Anyone who doesn't like it is made of foolish poor taste, and beyond help. :P )


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