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1, 3, 2 books - Qualified Perceptions
1, 3, 2 books
Dragon Bones (by Patricia Briggs)
Light but not fluffy, adventuresome without being amazingly epic, and generally a good combination of fun and emotionally dramatic. It's a level lower-key than I'd expect for the plot - Ward, the heir originally pretending to be an idiot to keep his wicked father from killing him, is the heir to a minor dukedom, rather than the kingdom. The mercenary band campaigning against the bandits is about six people, and they receive a decidedly cool welcome by the villages they try to defend, due to being non-local. And a lot of things aren't the obvious choice - when the duke dies, and the uncle is regent, he isn't actually an evil uncle, just an intimidating one. It wraps up a little quickly (I found out that it's secretly the first half of a duology, and it loses half a star for not being clear about that), and meanders a little on the way there, but the meandering and the characterization and the mistakes that the characters make all ring reasonably true to me. Three and a quarter stars.
The Westmark Trilogy (Westmark, The Kestrel, and The Beggar Queen), by Lloyd Alexander
Every so often I have to read something from that realm between children's books and adult. When Harry Potter went mainstream, it even became Acceptable. Who knew Lloyd Alexander had written things other than the Chronicles of Prydain? Well, twe did, I think, having seen this at her house. Oddly, it's almost an anti-Prydain. The conflict is not so much between Good and Evil, more between the righteously stubborn and the other righteously stubborn. Monarchists versus Republicans, barricades in the streets, deciding to shoot your prisoners because you can't hold them, finding that fighting something you hate turns you into something you hate even more. It's political, and muddy. Really, not at all what I expected. The darker tone and moral greyness jars a little for me with the kind of simplified characters that fit in with the young adultness - some of the bad guys are just flat out Wicked, and everyone youngish is a variant of Gavroche. But, still, interesting. Three and a half stars.
The Blade Itself and Before They are Hanged (two out of three of a trilogy), by Joe Abercrombie
First, this is a very incomplete story without the third book. (At least, I must hope that it's a complete one after the third. Some of the Amazon reviews suggest that this is not as true as I might like). The first book introduces the characters and launches them into the plots (one Quest, one War, and one Political Intrigue); the second follows their wanderings as things get worse, and worse, and worse. At the end of the first book, almost nothing has actually happened; by the end of the second, almost everything has failed. There are a number of different characters and groups, who only lightly impinge on each other; it's a bit like Song of Ice and Fire that way. And the everything-goes-wrong is a bit Martinesque too. The author has a remarkable touch with making unpleasant characters sympathetic while retaining all of their unpleasantness; I really can't explain it. Four and a half stars.


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mathhobbit From: mathhobbit Date: May 20th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can reread the Chronicles of Prydain from time to time, but Westmark is too depressing for me to read as an adult. Lloyd Alexander has actually written a lot of stuff, some of which I own and can lend. If I recall correctly, most of his fantasy is more childish than Prydain rather than less.
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