First three books for 2012! >
The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke
While the setting and system of magic are interesting and new — I haven’t come across anything like them before — so much of the rest of this book is hackneyed stereotypes. It reminded me why I dislike reading fantasy sometimes.
Main character who is poor & downtrodden but has a Hidden Gift and is The Only Hope.
Another main character is a girl growing up in a brothel, about to graduate into a life of prostitution against her wishes (GROAN). And her older sister, already serving in the brothel, is the Happy Whore who preens & primps and says things like “it’s not such a bad life.”
Then there’s this description of another female character:
“… Laisa stared at him, her dark blue eyes wide with feigned shock. She had just freed her long blond hair from its combs and it tumbled over her shoulders in thick waves, but for once she appeared to be oblivious to the impact of her sensual beauty.” — these sort of stock descriptions really don’t work for me.
And then there’s the Big Bad Guy Who Wants More Power. We know he’s the big bad because he Brutally Kills Innocents.
Like I said, wonderful setting, an arid desert landscape that is colourful, meaningful, variable. The magic, to sense and control water, is well explained and felt. And the story itself picked up too. I plodded my way into the first half, basically screeds of set up, only to find myself picking the book up to read frequently.
(A good indicator whether a book isn’t that good is if I’m happy to sit & stare out the bus window on the way home instead of dig it out of my bag to read)
But stereotypes. Sigh. I need better characters than these. So I won’t read any more of this series and this book’s getting donated.
The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg
He’s a dowdy non-mage librarian. He’s a dandy fop with a fondness for lace. They fight crime!*
Seriously though. I liked this one. But it took me a good chunka time to get into it, and that was the writing style. Quite formal, descriptive, a little old skool, the language was entirely suitable for this story. I really ENJOYED the writing after a while too. It just required perseverance and some kind of mind switch or something.
I think this was very very well plotted — god, I loved uncovering each piece of information as Portier, the main character, did. I loved watching things come together. For most of the middle of the book, I was having a brilliant time reading this. Felt like the wheels came off somewhat towards the end, as I realised things weren’t going to come to an agreeable tidy end. I would’ve liked a bit more certainty. But in a way, the end of this book was more true to life than, say, true to a CSI episode.
A very good read though. Will definitely be seeking out the other books in this series. Glad I stuck through my initial “ew I don’t like this writing” reaction.
One Day by David Nicholls
(spoilery thoughts here, folks, so skip if you haven’t read it yet)
Somebody gave this book to me. Maybe my mum. Or s-i-l. Or maybe loaned it, I should find out, in case they want it back.
A great premise, one day in their lives, through the years, the same day. I could see myself writing a story with that premise. Well executed and finished. I have the movie version of the book, the one with the movie poster on the cover, and didn’t even realise it was Anne Hathaway until a colleague told me. EXCUSE ME? (that’s the sound of righteous-indignation-arriving-a-little-bit-later-than-everyone-else) She is utterly not who I had in mind as Emma. Like everyone else.
Her death surprised me, although there were touches of something like that coming, the careful detail of that day and where they were at in their lives… So when it happened, I felt like – oh, goodness, that’s what it was, all those senses. I LOVE it when authors do this. Whack the stuffing out of you. Not afraid to change the rules on you, the unsuspecting reader.
I’m rather fond of killing off characters myself.
And you know what, the books I really enjoy the most, I’ve said this before, are the ones with fabulous characterisation. And witty dialogue. How funny Emma is! A fabulous character. Give me some tragic drama beautiful characterisation any day. I’ll gobble it up.
* Read about They Fight Crime on TVTropes.org. And check out TheyFightCrime.org for a brilliant story idea generator.