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Book Roundup for October

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Well, I have several books I read the last few weeks,  a few of which I didn’t love, but I want to be fancy and add their covers here anyway.

First up is “Priestess of the White”, by Trudi Canavan. I actually like this cover. The colors are nice, and it promises to be a good vaginal fantasy series; pretty girl in toga, I’m seeing hot guys with two-handers in the mix. Well, not so much. I have many criticisms for this book, not least of which is that the prose felt rather young-adult in tone, although it is sold as an adult book, with the random sex scene thrown in to boot. Also the main character, Auraya, is special and gifted from page one, and then she just gets more special and more gifted from there. Not the most exciting arc. There’s a weird romance that I never really bought as well, so I started flipping pretty fast through to the end. I liked the concept of having Gods use priests as their earthly vessels and appear in person to them, but the magic powers seemed pretty arbitrary and in the end, it was an easy decision not to pick up the next in the series. I read this author’s other series “The Magicians Guild” and I would recommend it over this one.

Next is “The Privilege of the Sword” by Ellen Kuschner. I was really exited about this book. I read several reviews on various blog sites that were raving, and I loved her previous book “Swordspoint” so much. This new book shares the world and a few characters with her previous one, but it’s not necessary to have read the first to understand the second. I enjoyed this book, but I couldn’t help but have a little bit higher hopes for it. It’s fairly standard chick-lit mixed with a Dumas flair, almost like it could be a Disney film starring a plucky Anne Hathaway, who learns fencing on her crazy uncle’s bequest despite the scorn of society. Except there’s some strange sexual ambiguity that I still can’t figure out after finishing the book. Regardless, I really liked the characters, and I read it in one night because I really wanted to know how it ended. I suppose that was all the enjoyment I could expect! Oh, and this cover is pretty hot. I love the font and the girl, so five stars for that!

My favorite book in this group is “Mistborn” by Brandon Sanderson. Every so often, you discover a book with a magic system that makes you go, “Wow! That’s awesome! I want to be able to do that!” I can’t recommend this book enough to anyone who loves to read about interesting magical systems, and really good world-building. Not since Robert Jordan have I been so “bespelled” by magical creativeness. I really really liked this book, I liked the main character, I loved her mentor character, and the evil forces were interesting. Vin, the main character, picked up her talents a little quickly, sure, but hell, we’re not paying to read about an untalented bimbo. Fantasy characters are preternaturally gifted and learn things swiftly because they are invariably “Chosen”, you gotta buy that concept when you sign up for the genre. The only criticism I have is that the characterizations were pretty slim, you don’t really have much affinity for the secondary people in the plot, which could have made for an emotionally satisfying ending. Nonetheless, I will eagerly buy the next one in hardback!

Wow, that was a lot of vagina book. Let’s get in some penis! Too bad I’m not into it 🙁 The book, not penis. Ahem.

Ok, chalk up Gene Wolfe and Stephen Donaldson together in the Felicia column of “I’ll never like these dudes and their writing even though I know I should.” I don’t know how many times I’ve picked up the “New Sun” books, or the Thomas Covenant series and struggled to appreciate them, longing for something to click in my brain and I’ll gobble all the yummy novels up. It’s not gonna happen. This book is the first in an epic trilogy, and I would definitely recommend it to boys everywhere if they like a very high tone, fairytale-esque, brutal boy world. It’s strange and the prose is beautiful and I APPRECIATE it, but after 2 weeks on the nightstand, struggling to get myself to finish, I had to call it a day. In the future I hope to come back to it as I did the Elric series which I now love, but for now, I would kinda rather read a horrible “girl finding secret powers through sexy mentor” book any day. I’m trashy, what can I say. 😀

  • I liked Donaldson in the eighties when I was a teenager. Both the era and my age have moved on and I’m not surprised you didn’t like him.

    I love Gene Wolfe but I couldn’t figure out what he was doing with Wizard Night. I read both and they seemed more like an experiment than a story. Plus, I hate to sound prudish (even though that may be accurate) but the giants and their relationships to humans were just gross. I kept wondering, “Why even contrive such a thing?”

    But give the Book of the LONG Sun a try before you give up on Gene Wolfe. I think you will find it quite compelling. Also, his novels, There Are Doors and Castleview have a completely different style. Reading them after his Sun and WK fiction is like moving from Narnia to a Mission Impossible movie, only with magic still involved.

  • I WISH I could read more fiction – being a writer I really should but i guess i seldom find anything worth picking up to read.
    I’m in the process of reading Harry Potter 1 (the first time). I think the last time before now that I read a fiction book might have been the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe right before it came out at the movies.

    Non- fiction – that’s what I prefer. Psychology, Theoretical History, and so on and so forth.
    Though I DID read the Hobbit like 3 times when I was younger.

  • Tyke

    I get you with the Donaldson and not liking him.
    It seems everyone else I know loves those Thomas Covenant books. I read part of the first one and got to the rape scene and just couldn’t go any further. It’s one thing for the badguys to be bad, but this is a guy who up till that point has been portrayed as your hero even though he is disabled. I’ve heard it gets better but that stopped me in my tracks.

  • Mia

    “Let’s get in some penis! Too bad I’m not into it 🙁 The book, not the penis. Ahem.”

    Ah dammit Felicia, I was getting my hopes up there for a second! hehehe just kidding.

    And eww, you liked Robert Jordan, the Bricks of Time? Now I can’t trust anything you say!!

    Vagina books. I’m gonna have to use that in the future. Or maybe not, maybe people will think I’m reading porno magazines. Or maybe they’ll think that because of the porno magazine stash next to me.

    (I’m full of humor tonight 😛 )

  • cirby

    I always just wanted to walk up to Thomas Covenant and just smack him upside the head. He’s one of those characters.

    …and if you’re looking for an interesting turn in fantachicks, find “Lost in Translation,” by Margaret Ball. Spoiled rich girl wanders into a fantasy universe and university.

  • Mia, I have a fondness for Robert Jordan books, as a guilty pleasure, yes 🙂 Granted, I haven’t really read them over since I was about 16, and I feel like they MAY not stand the test of time were I to go back and read them. But Mistborn is really good, from an adult POV I swear! 🙂

    Mark, I appreciate the suggestion. I haven’t tried to read “There are Doors” or the other one your recommend, and I will DEFINITELY pick it up, because I feel like such a quality author deserves another shot. And I know what you mean about the weird giant thing. Grody. Kinda like some Piers Anthony books I read as a kid, I can’t remember the names of them, but they were Sci-Fi and had weird blob sex involved. Really eeew worthy.

  • Steve

    I read the entire Thomas Covenant series in one sitting years ago and I remember not being able to put them down at the time. I think I was intrigued by the fact that Donaldson spent so much time trying to turn such a pitiful human into a hero and in the end had to concede defeat.
    Even tho Covenant could occasionally save the other world, he could still barely cope with his own.

  • Carl

    I’m with you on not being with Donaldson.

    Orson Scott Card is most famous for his “Ender Series. But, I think his Tales of Alvin Maker were even better. The first three books (starting with Seventh Son) were spell binding. I think Card starts to lose it after that.

    Have you ever heard of Neal Stephenson? Snow Crash is seriously dated in many ways, but it’s a cyber-punk landmark that is right up there with anything William Gibson ever wrote. It is one hell of a lot of fun. If you like Stephenson’s style, then his epic 2100 page Baroque Cycle is a must read: it’s the definitive historical-sci-fi-epic-pirate-comedy-punk love story.

  • Jefferson

    You ever read the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy by Tad Williams? My favorite fantasy outside of Tolkien. Upon your recommendation I ordered that If You Want To Write book on your lofty praise of it. Curious to check it out.

  • Hm, I really scored the redundancy with “upon your recommendation I ordered that If You Want To Write book on your lofty praise of it.”

    It’s 3:30 AM and I just drove back from Bakersfield, forgive me.

  • LOL Jefferson. I love Tad Williams, I think his Otherland series is very underrated.

  • Yeah? I had heard from a few people who loved MS&T that Otherland didn’t offer a heck of a lot of new material. I was always curious about it, but never picked up the first one. Perhaps I’ll have to give ‘er a shot.

  • hoo

    Donaldson and Covenant are pretty polarizing. Lot of people hate Thomas and I remember vaguely disliking him when I read them when I was younger. Wolfe is usually held in a little more regard but some of his books are tough slogs.

    Robert Jordan started off well but the horrible editing turned me off less than halfway through. Just couldn’t see myself reading the last 5+ books in the series. Deserves credit for bringing a lot of new readers into fantasy though. Still, if I’m going to read a series that spirals a bit out of control I’ll stick to George RR Martin.

  • Virginia

    I know it’s a bit late commenting on an old post, but I didn’t have net for the weekend 😛

    I was just wondering if you’ve ever picked up Asimov’s Science Fiction. I get it sent to me, it’s about the size of a reader’s digest and not nearly as glossy/fancy, but I’ll often find a short story jewel. Usually about 1 per issue. A lot of the stories tend to move away from the typical hero with powers saving the world and shit, and focus instead on something like a moral dilemma or a full group of characters. I find it’s really nice to have something to read while waiting for my girlfriend to get out of work, or hell even as a quick ‘bathroom’ read, since every story is pretty short.

  • goateye

    brandon sanderson has some nice annotations on his web site… 🙂
    for those of you that have read Mistborn.

    http://www.brandonsanderson.com/anno.php?book=Mistborn&id=100

  • Bel-Rand

    Sorry, got to say I dont agree with you at all about Covenant. One of the most intriguing characters I’ve stumbled upon.

    But yeah, the “rules” in Mistborn are awesome, takes the whole story to a completely different dimension than it would have been in a “normal” magic-world. Elantris also had it moments so I am looking forward to seeing Sanderson wrap up WoT

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