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Four Books - Qualified Perceptions
Four Books
Fudoki (by Kij Johnson)
I read The Fox Woman long ago; this is a sort-of sequel to it. Set in long-ago (and mythic) Japan, it's about a cat who loses her home and family, and made a human for a while by the spirits. It's also about the seventy-year-old princess, dying by inches and writing the story of the cat-woman. It's not a very exciting story, but it doesn't strive for that. It is thoughtful, and wistful, and poetic - and there are some bits I found particularly amusing, having to do with instantiating NPCs. Three and a half stars.

The Changeling Sea (by Patricia McKillip)
This is a small book - a fairy tale rather than one of my more usual epic fantasies - but it's lovely and haunting. Here is a bit of minor spoiler, which needs a bit of context. The main character's father was a fisherman lost at sea. There are people pining for the sea, and the land under it; her mother pines for her lost husband. Did he drown, or did he go to the land under the sea? The girl asks the sea-queen, and is answered:
"If your father had cast his heart into the sea, his body might have wandered into her country. But his heart came with his boat into harbor every night. So his bones may be in this sea, but his heart remains where he kept it all his life."
I love that. I don't want to talk like that in real life, but I want to play characters who can talk like that. I want to be able to give them that sort of dialogue. Four stars.

Orcs (by Stan Nichols)
This is supposed to be the book that makes you never see orcs the same way again. It had good praise quotes by reputable people on the cover, and a nice back blurb (someone on Amazon said "The person who wrote the back cover blurb should have written the book", which I agree with but didn't think of myself). But by the time I decided to retire it, it hadn't really gone anywhere remarkable (humans, orcs, elves, dwarves, ancient artifacts, kobolds, battle scenes, more battle scenes, even more battle scenes) except into the sort of gratuitiously over the top "evil" that suggests Dungeon Keeper to me rather than Sauron. Except Dungeon Keeper was parody, and this takes itself way too seriously. Anyway, the sentence that I am sure was meant to be creepy as opposed to over-the-top campy and made me give up: "She climbed down from the altar and unstrapped the bloodstained unicorn horn she used as a dildo."

Bone Song (by John Meaney)
This is, essentially, a police procedural set in a society where all electricity and half the populace are running on necromancy instead. It's a great setting, an interesting story, a likeable main character, and a good book. It has a couple of flaws - the love plot was so sudden that I was suspicious of it all book, and there's a bit that was too clichedly "And now I throw off the spell by the power of being the protagonist!". For all that Bone Song is festooned in even more gothic-horror decoration than Orcs was, I appreciated it a lot more. When it's Hallowe'en, there's no such thing as too over the top. Four stars.

Current Mood: cranky cranky

13 comments or Leave a comment
From: desireearmfeldt Date: July 21st, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fudoki sounds like something I ought to borrow. (And also Hunter's Run from a couple of reviews back, if someone else hasn't borrowed it. :) )
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 21st, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sure. :)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 21st, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, do you also want to borrow _The Fox Woman_?
From: desireearmfeldt Date: July 21st, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

(Whee, more semi-japanese enculturation for me!)
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: July 21st, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry that you're cranky.

That dildo line is hilarious. What a ridiculous word. Dildo. Dildo dildo dildo. Dildodildodildodildodildodildodildodildodildodildo
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 21st, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry that you're cranky.
There were about 1000 users deactivated last night, as a surprise to both them and me. It's making the morning kind of exciting.
arcanology From: arcanology Date: July 21st, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
That line is totally creepy.

However, it's more creepy about the writer than the actual line. The actual line is ridiculous.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: July 22nd, 2009 06:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I would love to borrow The Changeling Sea.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 22nd, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sure! :)
twe From: twe Date: July 22nd, 2009 12:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love The Changeling Sea. My favorite bit was when the magician says "Oops." :)
treiza From: treiza Date: July 22nd, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I heard from Austin once that one of things a publisher expects/demands from their reputable authors is nice blurbs to put on the novels of their new talent...
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 22nd, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I did kind of expect that praise quotes got shared around, but I would have hoped that the authors could pick which books they got to praise. :(
treiza From: treiza Date: July 23rd, 2009 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Maybe if you hate it, you can refuse, but he pretty much made it sound like new books got assigned to the venerable authors based on what market the publisher was trying to capture.
13 comments or Leave a comment