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books catchup

I read Games Wizards Play and I was disappointed, to be honest.

Plotwise, it's quite interesting. There's nothing epic or earthshattering this time; instead the Wizards' Invitational is on, a competitive event where young wizards demonstrate their projects to a jury - a big international science fair. They are mentored by older wizards who the Powers think can pass on knowledge. It's meant to be a opportunity to help younger wizards experience without the life and death consequences that errantry usually brings.

A few specific things that bothered me: first, authorial voice intrusion. Oh, this is such a peeve for me and it's a little unfair to authors, because done well (in my subjective opinion, obviously) I love it a lot, and a strong prose voice or narrator is also fun. But I really hate hearing character voices become authorial mouthpieces. If soapboxing is needed I'd rather have it thematically, though I'd rather it not at all. In Games Wizards Play it was especially egregious, with Nita having paragraph-long monologues...in the middle of what should be conversations. I don't remember Nita being like that. The books have always had lots of internal dialogue but it's never been so blatant. She practically talks over the other characters. And I agree with what she's saying! Kit also had this problem.

Also, I can hear tumblr speak through Duane.

The parts with the Planetaries (Jupiter and Pluto) really fell flat for me. I don't know exactly why - not enough cleverness/difference from other portrayals? It was personification played fairly straight, and in a universe populated with beings like the Transcendent Pig I expected other things! Also Nita barely put the bed there for a few hours; I can't believe Pluto remembers. It's a long callback (to what, four or five books back?) - impressive for allusion purposes, but makes no sense for the characters involved.

A lot of the secondary characters felt like images of themselves instead of actual characters. See Matt, Lissa, etc. Interesting characteristics - no flesh. This makes me sad because the side characters used to be so much fun - I enjoy the quick glimpse of Rhiow but again it's playing on old lines of the story and not something new.

Finally, oh god, this is apparently the wrong book for me, but zzzz teenage love story. There's so much of them worried about their relationship and feeling awkward about others looking at them etc.

I was really hoping someone would slap Penn Shao-Feng but actually he was one of the more interesting parts of the story - a genuinely dislikable but still weirdly investable character. It's not so much that I was fascinated by him, or thought he was interesting - rather that I really disliked him but still wanted to know what was going on and why. Duane's not really into characters that are awful for no reason. And the way his storyline wraps up is pretty satisfying - I was afraid that after two books the Roshaun problem would be impossible to conclude satisfactorily but it actually solved the problem neatly. So that was good.

I also read Edge of Worlds, by Martha Wells, which I enjoyed a lot more. It's about the Raksura, a shape-shifters groundlings/skylings in a world full of different sapient species. It's been a few (peaceful) turns since the last book, but the whole court has had a strange, premonition dream linked again to the Fell, shape-shifters that prey on other species. Moon and Jade and some of the other Raksura sail away with a group of strange groundlings to investigate an sea-bound island that the groundlings think that the Fell-and-Raksuras' forerunners might have built.

I really liked this instalment! It does follow the similar pattern of the previous books (something with the Fell comes to the attention of the courts -> they investigate). But the characters are interesting, although somewhat distant/flat feeling; the writing as a whole sort of holds you at arms' length. It complements Moon's ambivalence about Raksuran (and all) society quite well, actually. I think what separates my investment in Wells' minor characters and Duane's is partly that as non-human characters, I cut a little more slack, and probably that Wells spends a bit more time on the side characters; The Edge of Worlds is more of an ensemble piece than Games Wizards Play, with a few scenes cut in from the perspective of Shade even.

I like that there's a big variety in groundling societies, though Wells does write a lot of scholarly/explorer types - though on the other hand it's a handy explanation, since Moon is usually travelling somewhere and is likely to meet on the road those who are also travelling. I also am pleased that she's managed to squash all the different characters from previous books into this one - Delin, though he's old, and Niran, and also Malachite! And Shade and Lithe! Though really I'm surprised Malachite let them come; last time Shade had to sneak onboard and hang onto the bottom of the boat to get to come along.

I'm really glad Rorra got introduced - the sealing realm sounds really interesting! Personally the deep ocean gives me the heebie-jeebies (it's so vast, so deep, so inhospitable for humans, and also the creatures that have lived at the bottom haven't felt much evolutionary pressure and make great cases for studying the biological past!) but I want to see so much SF/F about the sea. I was so disappointed when Peter Watts' Starfish was made the sea practically the same as outer space. Hmph.

CLIFFHANGER NOOO. I immediately got online to see when the next book would be (thank goodness stuff like this is online generally). It's next year D:

Actually I found the pacing for the book quite good. The betrayal did come really close to the end - so close that I was eyeing how little of the book was left and wondering if there was time for a resolution. But it moved at a good clip.

Progress mostly stalled on Sorrows of Young Werther and Here Be Dragons. I am reading a biography of John's rule during my breaks, and it's going well. It'd be going better if people in medieval England had more than like, five names in circulation. I cannot keep track of everyone! The big names, like William Marshal I can remember, but sometimes it's disputes of William vs William.

Crosspost: http://silverflight8.dreamwidth.org/175650.html.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 31st, 2016 09:44 am (UTC)
this cliffhanger had killed me, killed me dead. now such a long wait! and i was very upset about [character death], surprisingly so for how much of this character is in the active narrative. but it was just so chilling.

i loved that moon had finally settled in, and that we've shifted the conflict from 'moon uncertain about his place in court, mopes' to dealing with external pressures; i loved his woes on this matter, but at some point it would've started feeling contrived, and i'm glad we didn't go there. and daddy!moon is so adorable! i loved how he's with the kid who's got a crush on him too; he'll grow up to be a great line-grandfather at some point :)
Jun. 9th, 2016 02:25 am (UTC)
Ahhhh I don't wanna think about how long it's gonna be. And yes to the character death being surprisingly affecting. I don't think Wells usually kills off the Raksura; they're much hardier than the groundlings (and other creatures generally) so it was doubly a shock there, I think.

Don't kill Delin though :( I would cry.

Yeah, exactly! I am really glad Moon is feeling a lot more secure in his place! I mean, I doubt it would completely go away (he's been living on his own for a long time and it'd be weird if it was suddenly like he was a Raksura born and bred in the colony) but glad that it wasn't such a driving force anymore; I like books where characters get to keep their growth.

You mean he will be an even grumpier line-grandfather than Stone! :D
May. 31st, 2016 09:29 pm (UTC)
Sorrows of Young Werther

Jun. 1st, 2016 02:25 am (UTC)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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