anthimeria: Astro City superheroine Flying Fox (Flying Fox)
[personal profile] anthimeria2012-02-29 08:31 pm

Discount Armageddon review (no spoilers)

Through means cunning and clever, I have laid hands on an advance copy of Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire. The official release date is March 6th, also known as next Tuesday.


I had a lot of fun with this book. I love the variety of cryptids, I love that Verity reacts to everything surprising with violence, I love the many, many questions (and terrifying suspicions) the book leaves us with at the end, and like everyone else, I love the Aeslin Mice. HAIL THE NEW SERIES!

Cryptid, noun: Any creature whose existence has not yet been proven by science.  See also "monster."

Cryptozoologist, noun: Any person who thinks hunting for cryptids is a good idea.  See also "idiot."

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Review: Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
Pan Books, 2000. 867 pages.


New Crobuzon is a giant metropolis that is inhabited by a variety of sentient species such as humans, khepri (insect women), cactacae (cactus people), garuda (bird people) and many more. It's a grim place, ruled by a corrupt government that enforces its power with the help of a brutal militia. Its technology is characterized by a mix of steampunk machinery and thaumaturgy (magic).

Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is a rogue scientist renowned for his unorthodox research methods. When he isn't staying at his workplace, he's living with Lin, a khepri artist. Not entirely comfortable with being in an inter-racial relationship, he keeps her (mostly) a secret. Yagharek, a garuda from the desert whose wings have been cut off as a punishment, comes to New Crobuzon to engage Isaac's services, hoping that Isaac can help him to regain the power of flight. Isaac starts his research and eventually, all hell breaks loose.

My thoughts:

I had difficulties to summarize the plot and I still don't think I did it justice. The universe of Perdido Street Station is as complex as it's unusual and bizarre. I was immediately gripped by Miéville's powerful descriptions. The first one-third of the novel is entirely dedicated to world building and character development, and that's the part I loved best.

My favorite character was Lin. The story of her upbringing by a religiously zealot mother and her struggles with the norms of khepri society make her a fascinating, multi-layered personality. It's a pity to see her disappear midway through the novel. Miéville has lost the chance to create a truly exciting female protagonist here. I would have liked to like Derkhan, political activist, lesbian and close friend of Lin and Isaac, but as soon as the action/adventure plot starts, she's reduced to a mere sidekick.

The weak point of the novel is indeed the action/adventure part. As soon as the problem is developed, everything becomes predictable and there's even some sort of deus ex machina involved. I was glad for the unexpected twist in the ending. It was a bit annoying at first, but it definitely kept me thinking.

Perdido Street Station may have its weaknesses, but overall it's a captivating read. I'm looking forward to the next novel in this universe.
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
[personal profile] holyschist2010-03-02 08:33 pm
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Assorted book reviews

I've been trying to review every book I read since January 2009 (am still behind on the end of 2009 and this February), so here are reviews of some of the fantasy books I've read so far this year. Links go to ful reviews.

Urban fantasy, Discworld, and fairytales )
pippin: (Default)
[personal profile] pippin2010-03-03 03:17 am
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The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin.

I'm not really sure how this book, in its current form, got published. A couple of intriguing ideas shouldn't make lazy writing okay. Very disappointing. Hopefully it's just a severe case of debut-novel-itis and her next books will be more strongly constructed!

contains spoilers )
valtyr: (Infinity)
[personal profile] valtyr2010-02-17 01:12 pm
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Reviews of Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore

These two novels are the first two by Kristin Cashore. They're young adult fantasy, and while Fire is set in the same world as Graceling, they only have a slight connection - they're set in neighbouring countries that don't really interact, and only share one character. (These reviews do not contain plot spoilers, but have some information about the world-building, so if you like to come to novels completely cold, don't click the cut!)

Reviews within )

Anyway, I really enjoyed both these book, I am eagerly awaiting the third, and I totally recommend them, for adults or young adults. (Fire does have a fair bit of discussion of rape, but there's nothing explicit and no rape is committed within the timeframe of the book.)
lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Genre: Fantasy)
[personal profile] lea_hazel2010-02-17 01:54 pm
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What Are You Reading/Looking Forward To?

What are you reading right now?

What upcoming books are you looking forward to, and when do you plan on getting/reading them?

I'll start )

ETA: I forgot to ask: Does anyone know of a community for mystery/detective books on DW? I searched the interests and checked the comm promotions, but couldn't find anything.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
[personal profile] hatman2009-11-24 12:46 pm
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Book recs: Two series

Came across a couple of interesting series lately. Thought I'd share.

1. Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy

At first, it just seemed like standard fantasy fare. There's magic. There's a powerful villain running an evil empire. A lowly peasant with unsuspected powers who will clearly play a key role in overthrowing him.

Sanderson's previous book, Elantris, was kind of like that. Long, meaty, interesting, but nothing that special.

But the Mistborn trilogy is bigger than that. There's a whole new system of magic (with whole new facets revealed from book to book). What seem to be casual, unimportant details are gradually revealed to be indicators of vast underlying secrets. There are new twists, new ways of looking at the same characters. Everyone turns out to have been completely wrong in some way, even the gods (who don't appear until the third book). And yet it's perfectly clear that all of it was planned by the author from the very beginning.

At times, it does seem a little heavy-handed that way, especially towards the end. Revelations and exposition can be tricky. "... and I just realized that little thing from way back in the beginning was actually a sign that..." Still, that's a small thing. Overall, it's well written, with a good amount of depth and complexity.

Which is promising, because Sanderson is the writer entrusted with fleshing out the outline Robert Jordan left for the final books in the Wheel of Time series.

2. Dance of the Gods by Mayer Alan Brenner

I'm only just starting this. I'm not entirely certain how good it's going to be. But it's cool so far. A number of characters, each with a distinct voice and narrative style. Different locations. Different problems. A swashbuckling desert adventurer is tracked down and whisked off (on the back of a giant bird) to see an old and powerful friend. The next chapter introduces us to a hard-boiled private detective who works his way through a kidnapping case in a city with such complex, chaotic, and unstable politics that just about the only thing you can count on is an insurance company - and that only because they're backed by one or more gods (and you don't want to meet the claims agents). The adventurer's friend turns out to be a wizard who, despite all precautions, has found himself trapped in a mysterious teleporting castle (and the only means of escape would seem to be finding and freeing the castle's owner, who is likely a local deity, from a magical trap of his own). Then we jump back to the city (a different part of it), where we meet a multifacted character who is introduced as a doctor but turns out to be superhumanly competent in a number of fields (and who has a very dry and amusing take on life), and we learn a little more about the city as he moves through the chaos.

... And that's just the beginning of the first book.

The series was originally published in the late 80s and early 90s, but didn't do too well. According to the author, it did develop a small cult following. He believes the book was simply too far ahead of its time, as the genre has developed since then and styles have changed. So he posted the books free online at his website. They're available in a number of formats, including chapter-by-chapter podcast read by the author. It's an experiment to see if the books have a modern-day audience (and, if so, to figure out what happens next).

I came across it while browsing the books from MobileRead, which has a vast catalog of free Kindle-friendly books.
starlady: (through the trapdoor)
[personal profile] starlady2009-11-16 01:19 am
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Recent fantasy reads

Tim Powers, On Stranger Tides.

Elizabeth Bear, By the Mountain Bound.

Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

(All links go back to the reviews at my journal. I generally don't spoil.) Anyone else read these? What did you think? In particular, I'd love someone to explain to me just what the heck people love about Tim Powers, as I more or less can't stand his books. (I should mention that On Stranger Tides was recently optioned for the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie.)