I don't normally put down a book midway through - it has to not only not be particularly interesting, but also not be excitingly bad. So getting two in a row is unusual. I did finish the third, but decline to read the rest of the series, so that's nearly the same thing.
- The Grand Ellipse (by Paula Volsky)
- This had a lot of promise. A sort of round-the-world-in-eighty-days plot in a fantasy/steampunk genre. But the author seemed to put work into the world, and into the romances, but not into the characters or the plot. The protagonist vows she will win. She will do anything to win, this she vows. With fierce and adamant vowedness. But she doesn't actually seem to have a plan other than "win", and "do anything" appears to mean "buy train tickets, and grumble that it's not fair when someone has some other method of transportation". The racers all mostly glob together on the same train, or boat, or magic teleportation method - they start to scatter due to randomness as the plot goes on, but I didn't really see how they expected to beat each other towards the beginning. And the B plot hadn't gotten out of the many-times recurring scene of "Mage demonstrates his Sentient Fire to King. Uh oh, what if King figures out he's not really who he says he is?". Enh.
- Ceres Storm (by David Herter)
- Well, his language glitters. I like "century rose" (even if I never quite got what it was) and "void mariner" and the ship called "Starswarm Pyre" and the like. (Oddly, Amazon thinks that the language is at a 5th-grade level on Flesch-Kincaid, which is a digression into "Hee! It's funny that they have these buttons to tell you this now!". But I guess the words are short, though baroque...). But language isn't enough, and I couldn't be bothered to care about the characters, or the plot - the epic scope needs something to personalize it, and the action is sparsely written enough to be somewhat inexplicable.
- Sorcery Rising (by Jude Fisher)
- This book I finished. This book, I am working myself into a rant about. Much of it had promise. There were characters I cared about. There was some novelty to the plot - there is a war coming, being stirred up, but exactly why and by what is not as explicit as it might be. It is something like reading a variant of Othello in which Iago has no soliloquys, and many of his scenes occur offstage. You can see the forces at work, in the spaces between the viewpoint characters, rather than in front and explaining themselves. The theme of the magic coming back, and buffing little cantrips and gypsy charms into crazily powerful effects was amusing. But despite all that, parts are still foolishly rough. For example, there's a scene where a girl is being burnt at the stake by a mob. Her father watches sadly, not interfering. Then a guy climbs into the bonfire with a sword. Everyone assumes he's going to kill her (because why else might one climb into a bonfire - to kill the victim!) This spurs the girl's father into action to try and save her; why didn't he try before? Was burning okay, but stabbing is Just Out? Of course, the guy with a sword is trying to save her, but he later gets the credit for his Deed of Heroism, trying to kill the horrible witch extra-dead. But isn't the point of burning witches that it's painful and not fast? If you're burning your witches, don't you get pissed if someone tries to cut their torment short? And, there's an epic poem (admittedly, the suggestion may be that the poet is not a good one) in progress about the guy's heroism!:
In battle's heat, midst flame and fightHa! He's Green Lantern!
He drew his sword in blackest night.
To give the witch to Falla's might
Such was the act of a true knight.
Then, let us look at the map for this book. I have never seen such a map, which goes out of its way to be as non-helpful, mystifying, and downright confusing, as possible. It is a masterwork of anti-mapness.