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A bunch of books - Qualified Perceptions
A bunch of books
# Infinity Blade: Awakening (by Brandon Sanderson)
Brandon Sanderson is like an actor who does Shakespeare and action movies and commercials for pancake syrup. I could think "Did you need the money that badly?" but no, he really seems to be having a blast chewing the scenery about pancake syrup, and I can appreciate that. So, Infinity Blade is an iPad video game, with a very minimal plot. There isn't much beyond:
A man in armor stands outside a castle. He says 'Father... I will avenge you.' He goes and fights a bunch of foes (it's a good fighting game) until he reaches the God King, and, if you are me, the God King slays him. Then, the screen says "Eighteen years later..." and there's a guy in the same armor, standing outside a castle, saying 'Father.... I will avenge you.'
It's almost elegant. So they asked Brandon Sanderson to write an ebook (more like a novella than a novel) to go with it, and he did, and it's really not bad. It has character and plot twists and grounds the game premise - though I am a bit disappointed that it stopped where it did, as it's apparently also a leadup to Infinity Blade II (which had not come out at the time I read the book, but is out now). Okay, it's not Mistborn, but sometimes ("I'm on a horse!") a commercial is really fun to watch.

The Alloy of Law (also by Brandon Sanderson)
This is a 300-years-later sequel to the Mistborn trilogy, and now we're back in pretty good action movie territory. Sanderson really does the best three-dimensional fight scenes of anyone, since all his magic systems involve weird movement powers. I am mildly dubious at the convergent evolution towards something much like the US of the 1800s, but "looks like a society we recognize, despite having no reason to" is the traditional suspension of disbelief of the steampunkish genre. I figured out some of the surprises but not others, which is my ideal, though I wasn't expecting quite as much of a "To be continued..." as there turned out to be. Anyway, a lot of fun and certainly a lot lighter than things like The Way of Kings. Four stars.

The Fox, King's Shield, Treason's Shore(by Sherwood Smith)
The rest of the Inda quadrology. I thought Inda was really good; I thought the rest wasn't quite up to it, though still good. I liked that the story so clearly takes place in a wider world, with corners of plots poking in from elsewhere - it didn't quite push me into thinking "whoops, I have missed reading some prereqs", as sometimes happens. I liked the way even the soldiers you only see for a scene have their own plots - it's reminded me of how Stephen King gives characters mundane plots at the beginning of the story, to humanize the characters before the monster jumps out at them. The names kind of drove me crazy - multiple characters have the same name, and each character has multiple names. And Evred, who I adored early, becomes less sympathetic, so that was sad. Call this four stars too.

Hard Magic (by Larry Correia)
It's pretty much exactly what it tries to be - a kind of campy alternate history (zeppelins!) with People With Powers, with some interesting twists. The thug being the one who thinks hardest about how his powers work was nice. The fierce teleporter girl was nice. Amusingly, mjperson was just telling me about a different book in which the people with TK were called Movers, which this also did. It felt very Champions or Wild Cards - not quite to comic books, but very much people with powers and mechanics put into the real world all higgledy piggledy. It's very action-y, and the final confrontation was a bit more satisfying than the "and then he strove extra bonus harder against the insurmountable odds, and the striving won the day!" that you sometimes see. The thing that wins the day is actually *clever*. I'll give it my standard three and a half for "I really enjoyed this but need not sell it to everyone else."

# The Secret Country, The Hidden Land, The Whim of the Dragon (by Pamela Dean)
Charming, and beautifully written, somewhat confusing, and very funny in places. The plot starts with the standard "Children are transported to a strange fantasy world" premise, but in this case the fantasy world is more or less the imaginary world they've been playing a complicated make-believe with every summer, and they've replaced the princes/princesses whose roles they sometimes played. So while they try to pass for the people they're replacing, they're also finding the plot differences from the story they made up, and trying to avert the disasters they plotted, and doing a lot of arguing. Argument is both about whether or not where they are is real, and what that means, and also something that's very much like a party trying to flail about understanding the plots in a role-playing game. There's a lot of piling up what facts they know for sure with their instincts about how the world works, which might be right or might not, and coming up with lists of important unanswered questions. I was often a little confused, but that often fit with the characters being their own sort of confused. Four and a half stars.

Wild Life (by Molly Gloss)
I think this is a desireearmfeldt book. Poetically written, writery, feminist, and only barely fantasy (plausible sasquatches), it doesn't feel like the sort of book I read, but I liked it. Plot: free-thinker/mother/writer goes to join a hunt looking for a lost girl in logging woods. There are eventually some sasquatches.
(edited to add: # is ebook. I didn't finish any audiobooks this time; Kindle is starting to beat ipod for convenient handless reading).


13 comments or Leave a comment
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: December 11th, 2011 12:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I should return books so I can borrow more. (The Paula Dean trilogy and Alloy of Laws.)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 11th, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I should remember to put legends for my markup in - the #s are ebooks, so they are peskier to loan but I can probably figure it out if you have something to read them. :) But I can loan you Alloy of Laws easily!
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: December 11th, 2011 04:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

Also, I have a Kindle Fire now, so I can maybe read them that way!
desireearmfeldt From: desireearmfeldt Date: December 11th, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Inda started bugging me by the end, because I felt the author had a great book he was failing to write well in a couple of ways, some sentence/paragraph level, some scene/structure level. Which was sad because I was into it by then. I'd be interested to borrow the rest of the series if you own it, because I like the story enough to want to know where it goes -- but I suspect I might end up having to rail if I read them. :)</p>

Wait, The Hidden Country is by Pamela Dean??? Huh. That book totally traumatized me when I read it as a pre-teen, because I didn't realize it was Book 1 of a series, so when I got to the end and it just kind of stopped with no plot resolution whatsoever, I thought it was the mother of all open endings, and I was quite anti-open-ending at the time. Years later in MITSFS I discovered it had sequels, and the universe changed... But I never actually read the sequels. I feel like I should go back and start over and just read the whole thing -- which would probably make a different impression on me as a adult anyway... But I also didn't realize it was by Pamela Dean, some of whose other work I've now read. Fascinating.

In sum, may I borrow zillions of your books? :) (Clearly I also need to read the one you recommend to me by name.)

firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 11th, 2011 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hidden Country is ebook, so peskier to loan unless you have something that can read them. But I can loan you the rest of Inda and Wild Life easily. :)
desireearmfeldt From: desireearmfeldt Date: December 11th, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Does my phone with kindle/stanza count for ebook-loaning purposes? (probably... Though then I'd presumably have to read swiftly on my phone, which isn't my current practice but I totally could.). I've heard that ebook loaning exists, but how does it work?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 11th, 2011 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, there are two forms of Kindle book loaning. The first is if the book has been set to be loanable, I can loan it to exactly one person ever for a period of two weeks.

But these particular books aren't set to be loanable that way, so I am going to try the second kind, which is to remove the DRM. If that works, please don't, you know, upload them to bittorrent or email them to everyone you know, and to make the loaning vaguely conform to what it would be if it was a physical book, I'll loan them to Meg when you're done with them and you can delete them. :)
marcusmarcusrc From: marcusmarcusrc Date: December 11th, 2011 04:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. There's just something that doesn't quite work for me in terms of Sherwood Smith books... the elements are there, and then I get annoyed. So as I read Inda and The Fox I kept on switching between "want to keep reading!" and "gah, hasn't this X been overused?" (as a minor example, I was convinced that the headaches one character kept getting were going to be a plot point... until I realized that lots of characters were getting headaches...) (at least, I think that was Inda/Fox... I can't remember if I read book 3, and I definitely didn't read book 4)
greenlily From: greenlily Date: December 11th, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've got the Hidden Country trilogy in paperback if you'd like to borrow them.

I recommend them heartily, but not as heartily as 'Tam Lin' or 'The Dubious Hills'.
lillibet From: lillibet Date: December 11th, 2011 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you enjoyed Wild Life, I heartily recommend The Hearts of Horses, which is not magic realist at all, but still amazingly lovely. Or there's The Dazzle of Day, which is Quakers in Space and again, lovely. She has such a light touch with her prose.
jadia From: jadia Date: December 11th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved your review of the first book...and Brandon Sanderson. Hee!!
From: tirinian Date: December 12th, 2011 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Did you deliberately not assign a number of stars to Infinity Blade? :-)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 12th, 2011 12:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Wild Life neither. I often don't give stars to things that are sufficiently different than my usual books. :) In Infinity Blade's case - it's about as good a novellazation (that's probably not a word) of a video game with no plot as I could imagine - but that's a really big caveat. Whether or not you want to read it really depends on whether you've played the video game or are a Brandon Sanderson completist (which mjperson might be).
13 comments or Leave a comment