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Three Books - Qualified Perceptions
Three Books
Gardens of the Moon (by Steven Erickson)
As part of my obsession with covers, I include here the covers of the hardback (left) and the paperback (right). Interesting change.
Anyway. I'm not giving this one a rating, because I couldn't finish it, but I didn't really dislike it. I'm not sure why it felt so much like homework, but when I find myself wondering what's on television while I'm reading, then it's not sufficient fun. It's not badly written. It's not badly plotted. It's dramatic. There's an interesting war on, and betrayals, and multiple sides and shifting alliances. It reminds me a lot of the Black Company: gritty, uncertain, and the mages are rare, immensely powerful, immensely old, and eccentrically named. Gods meddle, but aren't on any mortal's side. The Second Legion has a loyalty to each other that trumps loyalty to the Empire. The cast is big, but the key characters are reasonably distinguishable. It's my genre, and it has themes I usually enjoy. Someone ought to love this book, and I don't understand why that isn't me. Anyway, if anyone wants to try it, maybe it's your book instead. (Warning, book 1 in what is expected to be a ten-volume series; up to book 7 is (are?) out already.)
Mistborn (by Brandon Sanderson)
(mijven recommended this a long time ago, but I got distracted and read Elantris instead. But I give her lots of credits for introducing me to Brandon Sanderson. Who, I discovered (when trying to figure out what the ninth metal is) has a web site full of little comments and annotations, in chapter order! I love this! I read televisionwithoutpity commentary after watching TV, and read IMDB trivia after seeing a movie; I sometimes read amazon reviews after reading a book, but that's not quite the same thing, and most of them aren't what I want to read. But this is. On the other hand, I often don't go through DVD commentary afterwards, because it just takes so long. I probably should try doing that more.).

Anyway. About the book. It's the first in a trilogy, but it stands alone reasonably well (yay!). The back of the book gives away one of the little mysteries, but I suppose if it hadn't, I might have paid less attention to the chapter blurbs telling their own story. I like the mixed genre of theify-heist and peasant-rebellion-against-evil-empire and pride-and-prejudice. I like the characters. I really like the action scenes - they're well choreographed and are easy to imagine, as well as being dramatic and distinctive. Sanderson is very proud of his magic system, which has a tirinianesque aesthetic balance - sort of like Conflux psi powered by Rainbow River water. (And there's some backstory stolen from Auria to round the whole thing out.) Four and a half stars.

Ventus (by Karl Schroeder)
This book has the wrong cover for the sort of story it is, and there's a bit of the blurb on the back that is inexplicably noodleheaded (like, if a trailer for The Empire Strikes Back made a big point of "the mystery of whether Luke Skywalker or Han Solo is actually Darth Vader's son"). Other than that, my only complaint is that it could have been a little shorter than the 660 pages it finally finishes at. The setting is a planet run by terraforming nano/AI entities which have stopped talking to the colonists, and it's the setting and society which is the heart of the book. There are some offworlders sneaking around chasing other offworlders, and some locals, from peasant to queen, and (as Joshilyn Jackson would say), then some of them get set on fire to see what happens. Also four and a half stars, though I think I liked Mistborn a little better.

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5 comments or Leave a comment
ricedog From: ricedog Date: March 21st, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you read any other Schroeder?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: March 21st, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nope, not yet. I was thinking of investigating the Virga trilogy (by which I often seem to mean "acquire and then put in the ever-increasing pile of books to read").
ricedog From: ricedog Date: March 21st, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't know they were all out yet. I have....Permanence?....somewhere in the queue.

I highly recommend Lady of Mazes.
ukelele From: ukelele Date: March 24th, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am looking for a new backpack and desireearmfeldt says your might meet my criteria. Can I ask what sort it is, and if you like it?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: March 24th, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have a Tom Bihn Smart Alec, which I like reasonably well. It looks larger than it is, because it's tall but not quite as fat as the standard backpack shape. The zipper is totally different than what I think of as standard backpack; on the plus side, there's no stress against the zipper seam (which is how standard backpacks wear out for me, along the zipper), so I'm optimistic that it'll last forever. On the minus side, it's not quite as good for putting One Really Big Object in. I got it two years ago, and have seen no appreciable sign of wear at all.
5 comments or Leave a comment