April 4th, 2007


Massive book catch-up

6. Don Quixote (Cervantes)
This is a surprisingly readable book. You can tell it's not contemporary, but it's not nearly as dated as you would expect it to be. I particularly loved it when it got meta-textual in an utterly postmodern way -- not just the early scenes discussing literature, but the later scenes in which the first volume's existence becomes part of the story of the second volume. And for a "classic", this is a darn fun read. Although a serious time commitment. ****

7. Fables: Wolves (Bill Willingham et al)
Yay! Bigby's back! My unreasonable joy prevents me from any objective review of this book. *****

8. Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
I first need to say that reading the explicit and slightly unexpected sex scene on the bus on the way to work in the morning was a very disconcerting experience. Overall, though, this was quite a good read (I admit to some surprise on my part). There was some tendency to show off the amount of research that had been done, but it was, for the most part, blended into character reasonably well. I was upset at the bad guy's continued existence (usually a sign that I've bought in to the emotional world of the story), and cheered for the good guys. Not high literature, but a solid, fun read. ****

9. The Professor and the Madman: a Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (Simon Winchester)
There's an interesting story here, about one of the most prolific contributors to the OED being an imprisoned madman; I'm sorry to say that the story carries this book more than the actual writing. I got the feeling that the author was "coasting" -- not discovering anything new, just trying to popularize things that were already known (and he probably did quite well at that). It felt a little too slick for non-fiction, and too artificial for fiction. It didn't quite do it for me, alas. **

10. The Innkeeper's Song (Peter S. Beagle)
Peter S. Beagle is probably most famous as the author of the Last Unicorn -- that's certainly what I know and love him for. This book is not in that book's league, but it's a very good story, told in an interesting way. It held my attention, and kept me guessing. The ending seemed ... not easy, but as if there'd been a great stretch to produce a happy ending. A good read throughout, though. ****

11. His Majesty's Dragon (Naomi Novik)
This book was exactly what I needed, when I needed it. I'd been feeling kind of down and mopey, and this was the perfect antidote. It's a lovely piece of fantastic writing, about an alternate Napoleonic Wars, in which there are dragons. The good people are good, the bad people are bad, the dragons are, well, sentient dragons, and there's even a piece of background that allows the women to be rather more... feminist, maybe?... than they really should be. And it's a series! Which fills me with joy. *****

12. Perdido Street Station (China Mieville)
There's a reason this book is award-winning. It's fabulous. Dark, surreal, very creepy. "Vividly imagined" doesn't even begin to cover it. *****

13. The Last Light of the Sun (Guy Gavriel Kay)
Like all of Kay's books, this is a captivating ride. There's a vast cast of characters, and plenty going on. But I had difficulty discerning what the "story" was. There are almost too many characters, with too many stories, on too many different sides, and it's impossible to identify an antagonist -- at least not consistently throughout the book. Some books could get away with this kind of ambivalence, and I think it's likely part of the point, but the kind of epic tradition this evokes demands a clearer sense of what the essential conflict is, and what "success" or "failure" would be. Still enjoyable, just missing some essential "meat". ***

Collapse )
  • Current Music
    Belle and Sebastien -- A Century of Fakers
  • Tags