Books, 2012

Jan. 3rd, 2012 11:11 pm
aryllian: (Default)
To be updated throughout the year. Italics indicate a reread. Entries without numbers indicate that I didn't finish for some reason but read enough (and liked enough) to consider it worth recording.

1.(01/03/12)These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer
2.(01/05/12)Kat, Incorrigible, by Stephanie Burgis
3.(01/06/12)A Company of Swans, by Eva Ibbotson
4.(01/08/12)Dear Octopus, by Dodie Smith
5.(01/13/12)Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom, by A. C. Crispin
6.(01/17/12)The Ivy Tree, by Mary Stewart
7.(01/22/12)The Door Into Sunset, by Diane Duane
8.(01/26/12)The Children Star, by Joan Slonczewski
9.(01/29/12)The Black Moth, by Georgette Heyer
The Junior Officers' Reading Club : Killing Time and Fighting Wars, by Patrick Hennessey (p. 85)
10.(02/01/12)Perfect Gallows, by Peter Dickinson
11.(02/03/12)An Invisible Sign of My Own, by Aimee Bender
12.(02/05/12)Tunnel in the Sky, by Robert A. Heinlein
13.(02/08/12)My Enemy, My Ally, by Diane Duane
14.(02/09/12)The Romulan Way, by Diane Duane
15.(02/11/12)Bigger than a Bread Box, by Laurel Snyder
16.(02/18/12)Swordhunt (including Honor Blade), by Diane Duane
17.(02/21/12)Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare
18.(02/22/12)Drive, by Daniel H. Pink
19.(02/24/12)Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins, by Maddalena Bearzi and Craig B. Stanford
20.(02/27/12)To Touch a Wild Dolphin, by Rachel Smolker
21.(02/28/12)Kingdom of Gods, by N. K. Jemisin
22.(03/01/12)The Blue Castle, by L. M. Montgomery
23.(03/04/12)Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed
24.(03/04/12)The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley
25.(03/06/12)The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood
Palimpsest, by Catherynne M. Valente (p. 224)
The Map of my Dead Pilots: The Dangerous Game of Flying in Alaska, by Colleen Mondor (p. 62)
Visionary in Residence, by Bruce Sterling (p. 114)
26.(03/??/12)The Reluctant Heiress, by Eva Ibbotson
27.(03/20/12)Two Under the Indian Sun, by Jon Godden and Rumer Godden
28.(03/20/12)Will Supervillains Be on the Final?, by Naomi Novik
29.(03/20/12)The Somers Treatment, by Gillian Bradshaw
30.(03/20/12)Artist Descending a Staircase, by Tom Stoppard
31.(03/25/12)Crucible of Gold, by Naomi Novik
32.(03/29/12)The Lost Duke of Wyndham, by Julia Quinn
33.(04/05/12)Range of Ghosts, by Elizabeth Bear
34.(04/07/12)The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
35.(04/1?/12)The Empty Chair, by Diane Duane
36.(04/1?/12)Spike, by Peter David and Scott Tipton et. al.
37.(04/17/12)Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
38.(04/19/12)The Shape of Desire, by Sharon Shinn
39.(04/20/12)Looking for Rachel Wallace, by Robert B. Parker
40.(04/21/12)Glamour in Glass, by Mary Robinette Kowal
41.(05/06/12)Intruder, by C. J. Cherryh
42.(05/??/12)The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch
43.(05/??/12)A Maze of Stars, by John Brunner
44.(05/28/12)Gunner Kelly, by Anthony Price
45.(05/31/12)Some Buried Ceasar, by Rex Stout
46.(06/03/12)Truckers, by Terry Pratchett
47.(06/04/12)Diggers, by Terry Pratchett
48.(06/04/12)Wings, by Terry Pratchett
49.(06/11/12)Early Autumn, by Robert B. Parker
50.(06/11/12)Seven for a Secret, by Elizabeth Bear
51.(06/14/12)The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, by Alan Bradley
52.(06/16/12)Meeting, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
53.(06/26/12)Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein
54.(06/27/12)Silence, by Michelle Sagara
55.(07/06/12)Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
56.(07/09/12)The Killing Moon, by N. K. Jemisin
57.(07/11/12)Miss Buncle's Book, by D.E. Stevenson
58.(07/11/12)Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise, Part One, by Gene Luen Yang et. al.
59.(07/26/12)Buffy Season 9: Freefall, by Joss Whedan et. al.
60.(07/27/12)Enchanted, by Alethea Kontis
61.(07/30/12)The Princess Curse, by Merrie Haskell
62.(07/30/12)Debt: The First 5,000 Years, by David Graeber
63.(0?/??/12)Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman
64.(08/04/12)Sion Crossing, by Anthony Price
65.(08/08/12)Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, by Wendy Cope
66.(08/08/12)The Homeward Bounders, by Diana Wynne Jones
67.(08/11/12)Stardance, by Spider and Jeanne Robinson
68.(08/13/12)Mirabile, by Janet Kagan
69.(08/15/12)The Steerswoman, by Rosemary Kirstein
70.(08/16/12)Devil's Cub, by Georgette Heyer
71.(08/20/12)Death of a Dude, by Rex Stout
72.(08/22/12)Libriomancer, by Jim C. Hines
73.(08/22/12)The Last Musketeer, by Jason
74.(08/27/12)Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
75.(08/30/12)The Outskirter's Secret, by Rosemary Kirstein
76.(08/30/12)Team Human, by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennann
77.(09/06/12)A Woman of the Iron People, by Eleanor Arnason
78.(09/22/12)Rose Sees Red, by Cecil Castellucci
79.(09/22/12)Moon-Flash, by Patricia A. McKillip
80.(09/25/12)Flora's Fury, by Ysabeau S. Wilce
81.(10/04/12)The Banner of the Damned, by Sherwood Smith
82.(10/08/12)A Red Herring Without Mustard, by Alan Bradley
83.(10/13/12)So Silver Bright, by Lisa Mantchev
84.(10/22/12)Deadly Pink, by Vivian Vande Velde
85.(10/24/12)The Ordinary Princess, by M. M. Kaye
86.(10/24/12)Red Plenty, by Francis Spufford
87.(10/28/12)Here Be Monsters, by Anthony Price
88.(10/29/12)The Conqueror's Shadow, by Ari Marmell
89.(10/30/12)A Fistful of Sky, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
90.(10/31/12)Foiled, by Jane Yolen
91.(11/01/12)The Warrior's Apprentice, by Lois McMaster Bujold
92.(11/02/12)Brothers in Arms, by Lois McMaster Bujold
93.(11/05/12)Leave it to Psmith, by P. G. Wodehouse
94.(11/07/12)I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, by Alan Bradley
95.(11/11/12)Dragon Ship, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
96.(11/13/12)Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold
97.(11/??/12)For the Good of the State, by Anthony Price
98.(11/21/12)Earwig and the Witch, by Diana Wynne Jones
99.(11/23/12)Spring Muslin, by Georgette Heyer
100.(11/25/12)Still Life with Shape-shifter, by Sharon Shinn
101.(12/11/12)Dodger, by Terry Pratchett
102.(12/18/12)Sister Mischief, by Laura Goode
103.(12/20/12)Caddy's World, by Hilary McKay
104.(12/25/12)Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls, by Jane Lindskold
105.(12/26/12)House of Many Ways, by Diana Wynne Jones
106.(12/29/12)The Well-Favored Man, by Elizabeth Willey
107.(12/30/12)Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett

First read: 73
Reread: 34
Adult fiction: 68
YA fiction: 32
Nonfiction: 7
aryllian: (Default)
This is a science fiction book that goes into a lot of really big topics. Population pressure, reproduction, genetic engineering, functional immortality and the ramifications, artificial intelligence, and different cultures and different ethics to deal with these issues.

The characters -- a family that's come to the world of Shorra as so the parents can work as a translator and a genetic engineer, and much of their immediate circle of acquaintances and friends -- are real and they matter, and they're worth following around, but they're not the main point. The main thrust of the book is looking at the different cultures and situations, and the main story is a world level story, not a character level story. None of the characters lives a life outside the push of global and interstellar politics...which makes this another surprising entry in the I guess maybe I actually like politics in fiction collection. (I probably ought to add C. J. Cherryh to the collection and at that point I can quit calling it surprising.)
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I love C. J. Cherryh's aliens.

This books doesn't have aliens that are as well developed as the atevi (in the Foreigner books), but the thing that really struck me about the way things play out in this book is that the aliens and the humans end up living together. Like, not just in the same area, in nearby villages, in nearby but separate houses--really together. The human society is completely shaped by the aliens. I think that's pretty rare, although now I'm wondering if it's some sort of reaction to Pern since the aliens are called dragons in a few places. Because quite frankly Pernese dragons are said to be intelligent, but they're not that alien, they're pretty subordinate to humans, and usually (in the books, not the roleplay) don't seem to have ever that much personality that I can remember. The humans completely shape dragons lives in Pern, and this book is the opposite. It's pretty fascinating, because the humans are still recognizably human too.

That's not all that's going on, there are some very strange human clones that made me uncomfortable (they made the non-clones in the book uncomfortable too) and there's a long generational story going on as we follow certain families as the colony develops, and I loved the payoff at the end.

The other thing that I thought while reading this book is that Jo Walton has talked about how the style of her book Lifelode was based on Rumer Godden's China Court, and she was trying to do something that was completely domestic but ended up bringing in a traditional adventure kind of plot because it was too hard not to...and it occurred to me while reading this, that something like this might work as a completely domestic/China Court type of book--China Court + aliens--because all the weirdness (and therefore the interestingness) is right on top of the characters and their domestic life. In Lifelode, the weirdness is spread all over the world, which meant that the world had to come to the place where the story was set, because what fun is it if the weirdness doesn't show up? But it's hard to have lots of dramatic movement without having a traditional adventure plot to go with it, perhaps?

I will admit that there's a big fight in this book (traditional adventure plot final battle), but there doesn't have to be. I'm pretty sure it could be done without that. China Court + aliens would also require much much much more knowledge about the aliens, much more by way of details (because interesting as they are, they're not super developed aliens in this book), but that would be what made it that much more fascinating too. Of course, I love aliens.

Oh, also, I don't know anything about the Union and Alliance except that there are other books about these entities, but I thought that the background of the Union and the Alliance really added depth to this story, even without knowing exactly who they were.
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Politics and science and politics and romance and politics, and did I mention politics? Fascinating book. It made me forget that I'm not that interested in politics. Actually, maybe I am interested in politics.

One of the best things about this book is that the made up scientific advances were as meaningful as the characters thought they were. This book is crammed full of interesting ideas.
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Diane Duane is very good at writing characters it's a joy to spend time with. Even the villain of the piece was, well, not a joy, but understandable and sad.

This is a book about a company that writes MMORPGs, and while I don't play MMORPGs, I have written computer programs. In terms of feeling real, I was pretty impressed. All I really have to complain about in the portrayal of computers here is that the metaphors can get a bit too much (for me). I think the idea of writing programs using graphical metaphors is pretty interesting, programming languages do usually step up in abstraction as time goes on...but this wasn't an examination of that, it was making the book easier to write by changing all the hacking scenes into virtual battle scenes. It's explained that the battle metaphors are just metaphors for coding going on at a different level, but it doesn't feel real to me. On the other hand, I'm sure that will be more readable for most readers anyway, realistic or not.

I am also very intrigued by what might happen next.
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This book is beautiful and clever and funny and sad, and also triumphant. There are sequels, and as I recall, they're not as good, and I suspect that it's because the spearpoint for these characters has been used perfectly in this book, so what's left for the characters?

I might read the sequels and see if I'm right, though.
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Good book. I was a little dubious at first because the style was so stark, almost distractingly so, but then I got pulled into the story of Solveig, the king's daughter who, along with her siblings, was sent away to an isolated steading for the winter to be safe from a war.

The setting is Norse (and there may be very subtle magic or there may not), and stories play an important part in the book because Solveig is a storyteller and over the winter is given the opportunity to learn to be a skald. I'm not sure I agree with everything that's said about stories, but I was very interested in how stories were presented, how the role of stories was explored.

I also loved watching Solveig grow into herself, this is a fascinating and rather subtle coming of age story. Solveig not only changes, but her impact on other characters changes and grows. I also really liked the setting, it was perfect for the story and very real.

Sadly, the plot (who betrayed whom and why) doesn't make a whole lot of sense (I'm convinced there would better ways of accomplishing certain goals), but that doesn't really mess up the experience of reading it, the best part of the characterization and the journey the characters take while staying in one place, iced in for the winter.
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This book has a narrator. The narrator is very present in the telling of the story, very opinionated (in a good way), and that's part of what makes the story what it is. The other part is...magic realism? I'm not sure that I've really read any magic realism so I might not be using the term correctly, but weird things happen and they're pretty much accepted or seamlessly forgotten, or at least not viewed as all that weird. There's no hard line between normal and weird. It's refreshing after a lot of stories of the secret, hidden magic sort, where the line between normal and weird is an important plot point.

The setting is foreign to me but understandable, and the people are indeed people (even the ones that aren't human). It reads a bit like a parable, but mostly like a story. I enjoyed reading it.
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I sat down to read a little of this and ended up reading it right through; it's fast and fun. I thought it was going to be a caper novel (maybe the previous books in the series are) but it was a science fiction mystery, featuring a thief who doesn't really steal anything in this book (he's on vacation). Instead, he's accused of stealing things, fights in duels, is stolen from, and deals with personal issues. Not very deep, but enjoyable.
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If the previous book (A Fire Upon the Deep) was about identity, this book is about fear of death and memory. And identity too, that's still very important. I still think the main set of aliens in this book, the tines, are fascinating, though this book isn't really as exploratory of the wide tinish condition, it does get into some areas that the previous book didn't cover.

But like the title says, this book is mostly about the human children, the ones who escaped the blight, growing up and trying to make sense of their world. They don't make sense in the way that their foster parent, Ravna, would like them to, but then, children often don't.

As a sequel, it starts a bit slowly, reestablishing characters and introducing new characters; the problem takes a bit to come into focus. I really like the way the children re-evaluate what we saw happening in the previous book, in part because they want to admire their parents and not think of them as stupid people who delved too deep (err, too high) and woke the monster. It's so real.

I also really like that the skroderiders (skroderiders no longer) make deep but unexpected changes in the way that tines can interact among themselves.

I believed this book, and it left me hoping that there will be more.
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It bothers me that I'm not sure why this book is called Snuff.

Other than that, it's a pretty typical Vimes book. I really like the setting, Vimes in the countryside on vacation...unsurprisingly, he mysteriously discovers a mystery. It's a good mystery, with daring chases and unexpected turns.

Nevertheless, there's not a lot that stands out about this book in comparison with other Sam Vimes books. I kept confusing the villain (or maybe the subvillain) with a previous villain because he acted pretty much the same. I think the book could have used...well, there's reflection and there's reflection on the part of the main character. This book doesn't really challenge Vimes or leave him anywhere unexpected, he's a bit uncertain, but only in the way that means he's really sure he's doing the right thing and is only wondering about what other people might think. Other people, however, don't pose all that much of a problem.

Still, certainly worth reading. I always enjoy Vimes, whatever he's doing (also, I think there was a bit more of Lady Sybil than usual, and I really like Lady Sybil).
aryllian: (Default)
This is a great book. I was drawn in right from the start. It has some amazing worldbuilding in it, and some amazing concepts, but what I've always loved best is the tines, aliens that are made up of four to eight separate bodies, who use sound to think and coordinate their mind among their bodies. It's just such a weird idea, but it's pretty well worked out and the implications are fascinating.

And for all that this is a galaxy-spanning story about a powerful being known as the blight taking over entire systems, Vinge never loses track of the personal stories, which is what I read for. The children stranded on the tines world, the tines at war, the rescue mission that hopes to find a solution to the problem of the blight... all the characters are very real.

What's a bit less real is the blight. It's an impersonal threat that never makes much sense or seems to have any real motivation beyond being "evil" and taking over, but I suppose considering that it's a threat from beyond the singularity, a super-intelligent threat, any attempt to show it would have just made it even less what it was supposed to be. As it is, it spreads, and the characters react to it believably, but it's pretty generic.

So in the end, I don't think this is really a story about defeating the evil blight, or not. It's a story about identity. Everyone is faced with questions of identity. Some of them are the simple sort that you might find in any book, people changing their internal identities as they discover more about the world, changing their hates or their loves. But then there are the tines. An individual is also a pack, composed of discrete parts, separate bodies that can and do split and reform into people who have characteristics from all their bodies and their former packs. And there is Pham Nuwen, a human who was created to house a power and must figure out how much of himself is real. And there's also another alien species that discovers something very surprising about themselves. How these things play out...what any number of characters chose to do and how their actions spring from how they chose to view themselves and their identities...that's what really makes the story interesting (to me).
aryllian: (Default)
Sadly, this is not nearly as much of a gleeful romp as the previous book. I blame the concept -- Jacky Faber back at sea is not nearly as good a concept as Jacky Faber going to boarding school to learn to be a lady. However, I can't complain too much. It's definitely readable, and on the further plus side, I'm starting to trust the series to skirt the things that would make me throw the book across the room (though I still wish it wouldn't skirt so close).

In this volume, Jacky is pressed, serves on a warship despite being known to be female (the captain is crazy), becomes a privateer, and finally an outlaw. Actually, you would think there would be some romping in there, and there is, but it didn't make me laugh out loud at the audaciousness of it at any point.

I hesitate to say that things were too easy for Jacky, because there were definitely some dicey moments, but really, for a lot of the book, things were too easy for Jacky. She's in command for a good portion of the book, and yet doesn't have any specific problems with command, for example. She solves everyone's problems quite handily, her plans generally work out, and she doesn't get into minor trouble. She does get into major trouble, but that's different.

Anyway, quibbles aside, still fun. I'll still be checking the next book.
aryllian: (Default)
Based on the first few incidents, I thought this book was going to be fairly predictable, but then it goes off and does things that I wasn't expecting at all, before it concludes in exactly the way I was expecting. The part I wasn't expecting was quite enjoyable. It's also very Arthurian -- not in the way that means the presence of Arthur, or doomed romance, or betrayal -- in the way that means a questing knightly sort of supernatural adventure. Overall, a fun read.
aryllian: (Default)
Duainfey is a book without an ending, so I'm writing about these two together.

What I like about these books is when they're books about little things, manners and people interacting. One of the protagonists is the daughter of an Earl in a mannered society, "ruined" by a past choice to be slightly adventurous, and she must make a choice about her future. The other is a fey, a Wood Wise, who has been hurt in the past and in a healing sleep for a long time, awaking and having to deal with a world that has changed. Both of them must figure out who to trust -- and how to trust.

I also like the symmetry of each protagonist having to deal with the other's race having done them harm.

What I personally don't like about these books is when they're about one of the protagonists, Rebecca, being abused "on screen".

What I don't like about these books that I don't think is quite so personal but rather an issue with how the books are put together is the way that little things and big things are mixed. I don't think it's impossible to mix little things and big things, but I don't think these books succeed in doing it well. The conclusion was definitely a very big, world shaking event, but it came out of nowhere to me, and was seemingly without cost, at least in comparison to the magnitude of the problem faced and the magnitude of the change that was wrought. If what happened was an option, it was certainly not signaled sufficiently for me to understand going in that it was going to be an option, and I think that's important. Surprise is all very well, but this level of surprise has all the force of a deus ex machina.

I was also a little unsatisfied with the personal resolutions of the character arcs, because after everything the characters had gone through it seemed too easy. But that's a quibble. The main problem is that people should not be given the power to re-form the world, they should earn it, and while the characters did earn their character-level resolution to some degree, I think the world-level resolution was just a gift, and one that doesn't make very much sense to be given to these particular characters.
aryllian: (Default)
This is the final book in the series that began with Leviathan and continued in Behemoth. It reads just as quickly and easily as the other books, wraps up the characters' stories by taking them further along their paths and letting them face some consequences and find a way through. Personally, I felt like it was a little bit all over the place in terms of all the historical elements it wanted to include -- they didn't all entirely gel for me -- but that could just be because I was reading it while tired and distracted.
aryllian: (Default)
Fine, but light. I like the premise (princess from another world brought up in our world, pulled back into the other world and must figure out what to do), but I think more could have been done with the politics. I saw the thing that was (I assume) supposed to be a surprise coming for a really long time, enough that when it came out I was bewildered that there was explanation going on because I'd already figured it all out and then confirmed it in my mind. I'm sort of confused by the variable quality of Sherwood Smith books, but I suspect that the ones that seem light and are published by minor publishers were written longer ago, though there's really no way of knowing if they're only being published now.

Also, this book has no ending, it just stops.
aryllian: (Default)
There's something wrong with this book. I say that because my impulse was to write that there was nothing wrong with this book, and then explain exactly what's wrong. So yes, there is something wrong with this book, but there are a lot of things that are right with this book as well.

Theo, last seen in Saltation, is still a fun character to follow around. I really like both the plot with the Theo and the ghost ship trying to get to know each other, and the plot with Theo and the rest of clan Korval trying to get to know each other. I liked some of the other subplots as well. I'm not really a big fan of multiple viewpoints, but I didn't mind all the threads and viewpoints criss-crossing either.

So in terms of things happening, the book does deliver. However, in terms of being a book, I'm sorry to say that I was incredibly disappointed. I guess since the new books recently have been what I believe the authors are calling "side books", I was expecting something more from a book in the main line of descent. More polish, more focus, more depth, perhaps. More closure? I was expecting something more like I Dare, the previous main line Liaden book, which is a very satisfying as a book.

And while I enjoyed this book, it didn't live up to those expectations from the start. It just sort of meandered along, and I was happy enough to be on the ride, even if it was a little unfocused.

But then the book ends, and it not only ends abruptly, but it's like the authors decided that they had to fit a bunch more things in, so they added a dozen scenes at the end that quite frankly could use so much expansion that there could be another book there.

I have no idea what's up with that.

Is there another book that I don't know about that covers the missing plot? If so, I still think that was a terrible way to handle it. Basically, there's no book shape to this book at all, it's an ongoing serial. Which is fine, I was expecting a book, but I can live with an ongoing serial. But if I'm getting an ongoing serial, then give me all the details, don't skip most of the plot just because it's the end of the book.

No idea.
aryllian: (Default)
This is a middle book and there's no escaping it, although I suppose most middle books continue the issues of the first book, whereas in this book part of the issue is that the conflict of the first book is gone and the characters must try to find a new place in the world for themselves and their sub-community. But what makes it a middle book for me nevertheless is that the resolution is all decisions rather than actions, which I assume will come in a later book.

But all structural issues aside, I liked this book a lot. I liked it for the new cultures we get to see, for the cultures clashing both internally (subcultures clashing?) and externally, the issues of what to do when you've defeated your age-old enemy, and the relationships between the characters.

I will admit, however, that I spent about half the book trying to figure out how the first couple of chapters fit in with the rest of the book and finally gave up. The first couple of chapters tie in with the previous book, but the action of this book is focused mostly in other directions (new threats, new discoveries about the world). I guess I just think that the action (the conclusion of the big war) in the first couple of chapters seemed short-changed in favor of introducing a character and shifting the direction of a relationship. I'm still not sure why that wasn't done in flashback or something, because the focus of those chapters seemed weird to me and it really seemed like the story started after that. At least, the story I enjoyed the most, and which took up the whole book, started after that.

I'm not entirely sure that what I liked was something I'm going to get any more of in this series, though, because the book circles back to pick up some stuff from the beginning in the ending, so I think that circle is suggesting that the future is going to look more like the first book than this book. I was okay with the first book, but it was a little harsher as I recall. I suspect more of that may be coming in this series.
aryllian: (Default)
C. J. Cherryh is very good at explaining things, and not only at explaining things, but at going back and making something that seemed fairly simple into something more complicated, or making something that seemed like one thing into something a little different.

Which is sort of like life, at least for the sort of people who think about things that they've done or that other people have done, and trying to figure out themselves and the world. The world usually gets more complicated, or it reforms into different patterns, or you have new revelations. I'm just sort of amazed that this can be done so seamlessly in a book.

Tristan, who was created by a wizard fully grown and who we watched learning all the basics about the world, learning his potential, and learning how to be a friend, is still learning things in this book. Cefwyn, the dissolute prince who became king, is dealing with his past and his father's past as it is manifested in the kingdom that his father left for him. And they're all going to war, a war that has been building throughout the series. The war reminds me of the part of the Lord of the Rings that isn't Frodo -- lots of ordinary people going to war, but it's a magical war. They can't win but they still have to do what they can.

The characters face and overcome challenges and we find out more about the world, the characters, and the past, but we haven't found out everything yet. The next book is the last one, or at least the last one published; I hope it is the last one, and I hope it comes to a satisfying conclusion...because there have been so many hints and reformings, but I want to know what the real story is.
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