wilderthan: ((Fujin) Won't understand)
I'm always saving reviews up until I have a bundle to post -- and then the bundle gets too big. Oops. My reviews on goodreads always get posted as I finish the books in question, though, so follow me there if you want more regular (and more complete) updates on my reading material.

Oh, and starting this update, I'm going to try and put a little description by the cut, since I'm guessing it might help people find the reviews of mine that they're more interested in.

The Inventor's Companion, by Ariel Tachna: Steampunk gay romance with examination of slavery/prostitution/caste systems )

The Anvil of Ice, by Michael Scott Rohan: Relatively generic fantasy )

The Winter Ghosts, by Kate Mosse: Predictable mystery with ghosts )

The Drowning City & The Bone Palace, by Amanda Downum: Political fantasy with necromancy and trans characters )

The Half-Made World, by Felix Gilman: A sea of moral ambiguity in the key of steampunk and Western )
wilderthan: ((Fujin) Won't understand)
I don't think there are major spoilers in here, but just in case and since the third book came out very recently...

Review of the Naamah trilogy: cut for potential spoilers )
wilderthan: ((Fujin) Won't understand)
A couple of groups of reviews going up now in a minute, because I realised how big a backlog I have...

Huntress, by Malinda Lo )

The Dark Wife, by Sarah Diemer )

Heart's Blood, by Juliet Marillier )
wilderthan: ((Yuffie) Whoa)
Prince of Annwn (Evangeline Walton)

Prince of Annwn is the first in a series of retellings of the Four Branches of the Mabinogion. Evangeline Walton wasn't Welsh, but nonetheless she made herself very familiar with the sources, and while she added to the story, there was nothing that I could see that wasn't in the spirit of it. She expanded and humanised the stories of the Mabinogion, giving Pwyll more of a journey and an arc of character growth, and adding a conflict between older faiths and new ones. At times there was a bit of endorsement of the 'Universal Spirit' idea: "In essence all Gods are the same, and one; but few mortals have glimpsed that Untellable Glory, and no human mind may hold it." Which, given that I'm a Unitarian Universalist, appeals to me.

Evangeline Walton's prose is clear and easy to read, and while at times there's a touch of the archaic about the phrasing and such, it doesn't get ridiculous or bogged down in it, and sometimes Pwyll's thoughts are refreshingly modern and direct. There are some beautiful passages, too. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the tetralogy.

The Children of Llyr (Evangeline Walton)

The second of Evangeline Walton's retellings of the Four Branches of the Mabinogion, The Children of Llyr is heartwrenching. The story of Pwyll, Prince of Annwn -- it's harrowing enough at times, fearing that he's messed everything up, that nothing will be good again... But the story of the children of Llyr is something else again, the destruction of two races, of a whole way of life.

It's better than the first book, to my mind: it got under my skin so much, so that I could hardly bear to keep reading, but I could hardly bear to stop. I fell in love with Manawydan, especially, and ached for Branwen, for Nissyen, and even at the end for Evnissyen. Evangeline Walton really brought the tales to life, here, and made them feel vibrant and urgent and pressing. She had to add less, I think, to make the story interesting, so it's also perhaps more true to the source.

My only complaint is the slight preachiness, near the end, where Bran the Blessed talks about governments and so on. It's an anachronism, which the text acknowledges, and it pulled me out of it.

There's such a sense of inevitability, of doom, of all the bright things going dull... I loved it. Much as I love the stories of the Mabinogion, my heritage, they weren't set on fire for me until reading this.

The Song of Rhiannon (Evangeline Walton)

The Song of Rhiannon, a retelling of the Third Branch of the Mabinogion, isn't as powerful as The Children of Llyr, which is a relief, in a way. There's a time of healing for the characters, as well as what they suffer during the action of the story, and there's a happy end for them as well. It continues to follow the characters of Manawydan, Rhiannon, Pryderi and Kigva. There are actually few other characters in the story, fleshed-out or not, but the character of the Bogey made me smile quite a bit, as did his interactions with Manawydan.

Once more, Evangeline Walton brings the characters to life. I can't remember anything in the Mabinogion about some of the elements she introduces, e.g. about Pryderi's father, but they all seem to belong quite naturally.

If I didn't already care about Pryderi, Rhiannon and Manawydan, though, I don't know how much I would have loved this book. The retelling of the Second Branch is the strongest so far, and can stand alone, but this can't, to my mind.

I have serious love for her version of Manawydan, in all his wisdom and dignity and his love for his land.

The Island of the Mighty (Evangeline Walton)

Island of the Mighty retells the last branch of the Mabinogion, the story of Gwydion, Arianrhod, Llew Llaw Gyffes, Blodeuwedd and Goronwy. It begins with a retelling of stealing the pigs belonging to Lord Pryderi. Gwydion uses this to provoke war, allowing his younger brother to rape the king's footholder. This also leads to the death of Pryderi, which doesn't endear Gwydion to the reader who has also read the retellings of the other three branches -- and also to the disgracing of Arianrhod and the birth of Llew Llaw Gyffes.

The themes Evangeline Walton explored in the other books come to fruition here, as power passes more and more from women to men, even power over birth and the rearing of children. Arianrhod is not very sympathetically dealt with, I have to say: often Walton's work suggests that the passing of women's power is a bad thing, but Arianrhod is capricious and unkind, considered by characters and text unnatural -- for the crime of not having wanted to bear a child! Blodeuwedd isn't treated with much sympathy here, and the other women are barely characters.

It's hard to sympathise with most of the characters here, particularly as they stir up war, steal, lie and trick each other. I still enjoyed it as a retelling and think Walton dealt well with the material, but I wish she'd been kinder to Arianrhod and Blodeuwedd, who were both unable to fit in the patriarchal society that wanted power over women's bodies, and expected them to abide by two conflicting sets of rules.
wilderthan: ((Books) And shoes)
A Memory of Wind (Rachel Swirsky)

When I saw a review of this book, and found out I could download it free from Tor.com (here), I was intrigued. I love stories about Greek myth -- actually, retellings of any myth -- and especially those which bring back the lost voices of women of these stories. So I downloaded it right away. It's a short story, really, so it doesn't take very long to read, and it drew me in from the first paragraphs: the way she describes Iphigenia going toward the sacrifice, losing everything she had before, is amazing.

There was one moment at the beginning which put me off, and that was the description of Odysseus as really wanting war. If I remember rightly, in the Iliad, he actually pretends to be mad to avoid going to war, and is only pulled into it when they prove he's sane by the fact that he won't run over his son with the plow he's using.

I liked the view of Clytemnestra this offered -- the moment in the cart when Iphigenia looks at her mother's hands, knotted by arthritis. That's a really powerfully real image, to me.

The writing is poetic, evocative. I really liked it, and especially the very last paragraph, which works so well.

The Monster's Million Faces (Rachel Swirsky)

This short story is available at Tor.com, here. I didn't like it as much as The Memory of Wind; Rachel Swirsky's writing is as effective, here -- more to the point, perhaps, sharper, somehow -- but it didn't sink its hooks into me. Perhaps because I didn't let it, because I've had therapy, and it is hard, and this situation just seemed... too easy. Even though it takes so many tries for him to get something that worked, it still seemed too easy. Perhaps if there had been more doubt, more emptiness at the end -- maybe if it had ended on the line, 'No reason at all,' where the reader is left to do that bit more work. If the story ended there, you're left to wonder if that scenario really did ever lay anything to rest, or whether the narrator was still left without any help. I guess because I believe that everyone is different, that no one thing works for everyone. I do believe there is a cure for everyone, but I don't believe in forcing everyone down the same path. I wouldn't even want my mind altered in this way.

Maybe the technology is possible, maybe it will be like that one day, but for now it felt like cheating. It didn't ring true.

Eros, Philia, Agape (Rachel Swirsky)

Eros, Philia, Agape is lovely. It's available, like the other short stories by Rachel Swirsky that I've been reading, on Tor.com, here. It's a lovely story, which reminds me a little of Isaac Asimov's The Positronic Man -- except more emotional, more evocative, more tender and more sad. Despite how short it is, it creates a world and characters I fully believe in, and the writing is lovely. My heart was in my throat while reading parts of it, just for the aching tenderness in it.

I think perhaps my favourite detail is that little Rose wants to be a robot like her father. Of course she does, it makes so much sense, and the way she insists on it is just -- ouch, my heart.

Oh, and I love that there's a gay couple in the background, matter of fact and loving.

(A warning, though: there are brief descriptions of childhood abuse and rape. They're very brief and not explicit.)
wilderthan: ((Akihiko) Oh yeah?)
A while ago I promised some Welsh Fiction in English reviews. Here goes... Organised by author, with a little preamble.

Allen Raine )

Caradoc Evans )

Lewis Jones )
wilderthan: ((Dr Horrible) Status quo)
The Forever War (Joe Haldeman)

The Forever War is pretty pacy, easy to read. Sometimes the long descriptions of technology or warfare get a bit wearing, and there isn't enough of the human angle, but by about halfway through, I was starting to care without realising it, and by about seventy percent of the way through, I felt like I got a kick in the stomach when one of the few things that seemed like it was going to be a constant stopped.

I know very little about the Vietnam War, so I know very little about the climate this book came out of. The end, the moral of the story, reminds me a bit of Ender's Game, and something in the tone and so on reminds me of John Scalzi's Old Man's War. I definitely didn't like this as much, though.

At first glance, you might either see it as annoyingly homophobic (the main character is a homophobe, just a bit) or somewhat encouraging (whole societies become exclusively homosexual, with heterosexuality being deviant). I think it's a bit more complicated than that. There's the narrator's prejudice -- examples in this review -- and then there's the fact that he ends up being the only one, but the thing that clinches it is, for me, the end. For all that I'm emotionally engaged in the particular couple, it irritates the heck out of me that at the end, heteronormativity wins: the main character meets up with his female lover, and one of his surviving homosexual friends decides to get therapy to make him straight.

I don't know where Joe Haldeman stands when it comes to sexuality, now or back in the seventies, but I think The Forever War does come out on the side of heteronormativity, in the end.

Forever Free (Joe Haldeman)

I really enjoyed Forever Free, a direct sequel to The Forever War, with many of the same characters -- up to a point. I liked the set-up, although it was slow, because it rang true for the characters and promised more adventures to come. It was obvious that it was going to go wrong, of course, but that was going to be the interesting part.

And at first, it definitely was. I was intrigued by what scientific explanations Haldeman would come up with, and vaguely thought I remembered reading about the ruins of an older civilisation on some of the planets mentioned in The Forever War, and wondered if it was anything to do with that... There were hints from the Taurans about going into the unknown, okay, so maybe there is some clue somewhere as to what happened...

And then things went weird. Suddenly a new set of aliens showed up, but they had nothing really to do with it and were just an exposition device. And then -- pop! Another alien shows up, and shit gets philosophical.

It didn't hang together, for me.

Forever Peace (Joe Haldeman)

Forever Peace is an interesting book in itself, describing how the group mind from The Forever War/Forever Free could come about, but I didn't really engage with it very much emotionally. Partially because the main character, Julian, is self-destructive and emotionally off. It's self-defence, perhaps. It's not a headspace I want to spend much time in. At least it's reasonably well handled.

It isn't really connected to the other books very closely, either, which doesn't help, and the switching between first/third person is odd: sometimes it felt natural, and at other times, really jarred.

I enjoyed it, in parts, but it sort of leaves me shrugging a bit in ambivalence, too. I didn't have the same compulsive drive to read just a few more pages that I did with the other two books.




And a quick opinion poll: I've been reading a lot of Welsh literature, and have been posting the reviews only on goodreads. Would anyone like a selection of my reviews of Welsh lit (probably the ones of my favourites) to be posted here, or are you all as ambivalent as I thought you would be?
wilderthan: ((Gale) Demons)
Reminder: I don't post all my reviews here, so add me on goodreads (here)if you want to see all of them.

Don't Look Back (Josh Lanyon)

Started reading this when I was awake with a stomach ache at five in the morning. It's very readable, and kept my attention, even in that state -- and I finished it in one go today. It's pretty standard fare for Josh Lanyon, in the sense that there were no surprises, but he always manages to make it readable, and I enjoyed the character growth these particular characters had to go through, particularly that surrounding Peter and his friend Cole.

The sex scenes were pretty numerous, given the dream sequences, but there was one in particular that was really effective. The others I could've taken or left, but there was one in the middle that I thought was really well done and revealed things about both characters and their relationship.

I also liked the background friendships with Roma and Jessica. It'd be nice if there'd been more of their involvement, rather than the rather expositiony way they were handled.

For lazy, quick reading, I really have to learn that there's none better than Josh Lanyon. I'd been a bit reading-blocked, if that's possible, just working away on The Decameron and course books, but hopefully this unstoppered it a bit.

Shards of Honour (Lois McMaster Bujold)

Normally I wait to post reviews here until I've read the whole series, but that'll be quite a while with Bujold, so I'll give her a tag of her own instead.

I've been meaning to read Bujold's books for a while. Everyone has sung her praises, it seems -- though there hasn't been a reliable consensus on which book to start with, Cordelia or Miles, so I finally plumped for doing things chronologically. I'm told the later books are higher quality, but I do like to begin at the beginning.

I didn't really understand the hype about this book, in any case. I did enjoy it, but it didn't blow me away: I've read plenty of speculative fiction which I found fresher and/or more profound. I did enjoy the characters, but I didn't live in their skins with them; it was reasonably well paced, but there were sections where it was far too easy to put the book down. I didn't get deeply absorbed in the political game being played, either: it was functional, certainly, but not riveting. I did get quite involved with the fate of Bothari, and there was horrible pathos in the situation with him and Elena. That aspect of the books isn't simple at all, and I did connect with that. The aftermath section really affected me, too.

Definitely looking forward to continuing with the series, but not deeply in love with it (yet?).

Blackberry Wine (Joanne Harris)

The first time I tried to read Blackberry Wine apparently wasn't the right time to try to read this book. This time, though, I read it practically all in one go -- with, yeah, a glass of wine. Joanne Harris' prose is always easy to read, really clear, and I can believe in the characters she creates at least enough to carry on to the very last page. Joe, in particular, rang true with me: a miner's son, a gardener, a Yorkshire lad... Jay, perhaps not as much, particularly not at the beginning, but yes, enough that I cared what happened to him.

I love the everyday magic that Joanne Harris' characters work. Just normal enough that you can believe it's true for a while. Just close enough to coincidence or wishful thinking that if you can't step over into fantasy, you don't have to.

I don't think I'm likely to reread any of Joanne Harris' books: I guess to me they're a bit like chocolate, or a bottle of wine. You can only have the experience once. But I do greatly enjoy them, and will be sad when there are no more that I can read.
wilderthan: ((Gale) Demons)
Storm Glass (Maria V. Snyder)

When I first got my Kindle, the Glass books -- or maybe just the first one? -- were on offer, so I got them then, remembering the Study series as fun, easy to read, but vaguely trashy. I just looked over my reviews for the Study books, and I think I remember more clearly what my problems were. And, to some extent, I think they're less in evidence in this book. I don't think I had a particularly deep connection to Opal, the narrator of this book, either, but it didn't jar me either, so that's alright. There are romantic scenes, but again, they didn't bother me as much -- less clich├ęd? I'm not sure. There's something very hinky going on between Devlen and Opal: he has sex with her under very, very false pretences, so that part bothered me a lot -- or rather, it bothered me, in the sense that it rang false, that she didn't seem more bothered by it. I did like Kade, and actually rooted for the main pairing of this book, so that works.

One of the things I disliked, the sense that all the supporting characters disliked the main character for being special, remains. The thing with Pazia seemed almost a repeat of Roze and Yelena, although admittedly my memories are blurry. And the other thing, my dislike of how Yelena became more and more special, more and more different, seems to be playing out here too. It'd be nice if Opal remained a One Trick Wonder, in a way, and came to terms with it, rather than realising she has massive superpowers.

All in all, I enjoyed it, though. I know the list of complaints makes that hard to believe! But it's easy to read, and the plot is reasonably compelling, and there's enough up in the air at the end of this book that I want to pick up Sea Glass and get stuck in immediately. I have a lot of criticisms of these books, but less than I did of the Study book, and they do have that same compelling quality that makes me want to read on.

Sea Glass (Maria V. Snyder)

Sea Glass felt more like the Study series all over again. I'm not really surprised, as Maria V. Snyder seems prone to using tropes, etc. Opal did seem different to Yelena to me, owing to her different background, but now they're starting to become more similar -- she's learning to fight, she's picked up two soldier-protectors, she's gaining more and more power...

The end of this book did help. I have no confidence that the situation is going to last -- I've already started reading Spy Glass as I write this review, so I'm not quite able to separate the end of one and the beginning of the other, so bear with me -- I know that Opal's already special in the way she's lost her magic, too. I'll be much happier if the events at the end of this book have actual permanent consequences.

The main reason I got these books still holds true, though: they're easy to read, quick, and pretty fun. This managed to hold my attention on the train despite restlessness and anxiety. Admittedly, a more complex and better book might not have done simply because of the concentration needed, but whatever. It was still a good distraction.

Spy Glass (Maria V. Snyder)

Spy Glass, the conclusion to the Glass trilogy, really rubbed me up the wrong way. It's interesting, in the way that all the strands of the story come together, but I didn't believe in the conclusion. I don't believe in reformed criminals, or in settling down and having babies with someone who raped you, abducted you, etc. I didn't believe in Kade giving up on Opal so easily, and I didn't believe in what felt like a very rushed ending.

It left a rather bad taste in my mouth, really. Like the other books, it's a quick read and relatively absorbing, and I liked the larger role Valek had in this book, but I felt somewhat... betrayed, I guess, by the ending. I don't have all that much to say about it, given that.
wilderthan: ((River) Walk alone)
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much (Allison Bartlett)

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is definitely the wrong title for this book, because that's really not what this book is about. The love of stories is something I can relate to, easily -- or even the love of beautiful first editions. The amoral antics of a thief who wants to have books as a status symbol, and the wishy-washy morals of the story-hungry writer, are not something I can sympathise with as much. And I increasingly worried about the latter. She could have reported thefts of books worth thousands and thousands of dollars; she could have reported credit card fraud; she could have helped to discover where Gilkey hid the books.

By the end of the book, I wasn't sure that she would do that last -- and I knew she didn't report the thefts or the fraud. She becomes an unreliable narrator, I think. I mean, humans already tend to be, because even the most honest of us have fallible memories. I was almost more interested in that increasing swing to being on Gilkey's side.

In any case, as a book, it's easy to read, though not exactly glittering prose. It's a collection of recollections and personal musings, none of which I found particularly interesting. The more interesting figure of Ken Sanders, the "bibliodick", was rapidly written out as he began to notice the author's growing bias and unethical practices.

Lifelode (Jo Walton)

I've loved everything I've read by Jo Walton, but it's so hard to rate them in relation to each other, because they're each so different. I enjoyed Lifelode more than Tooth and Claw, but perhaps less than Farthing -- yet I rated both four stars. I loved Among Others most of all her work so far, and I'm not sure Lifelode matches up... Maybe I should be rating all her work that I've read so far five stars, except Tooth and Claw.

Her range of work is fascinating. Her books are not like each other, and yet all of them are well-written and ambitious, and succeed very well with their ambitions. The narration of Lifelode, for example, is done in both past and present tense, because for one of the main characters, time is like that: all things happening at once. I expected to see more of the more distant past, through Taveth, but it was very much about that generation, the people she knew. It's a very warm book, full of family bonds and love.

It's also interesting in that polyamory seems to be the default, and Jo Walton treats that sensitively. There's a sense of great strength in the relationships, but also an acknowledgement of the problems they'll succeed. There's also LGBT people, and one who seems pretty much asexual. She always writes about all kinds of people, and that's another thing I really appreciate about her writing.

It's also nice that the gendering of roles isn't a really big thing here. Taveth is a housewife, but she chooses that, and her role is central to the functioning of her home. But even a female priest is still just called a priest, not a priestess.

I've managed to say all that and say nothing about the plot. It's a domestic fantasy, although there is also a level on which it is about gods. I think the homelife is as important to the story as the bursts of fighting, and the magic -- the bonds between people are, I think, more important, as they are what is under threat. Don't go into it expecting a big showdown at the end, or something like that.

Child of the Northern Spring (Persia Woolley)

I really wasn't impressed by Persia Woolley's version of Guinevere's story, to begin with. The transitions between past and present were clumsily done, and this version of Guinevere wasn't anything particularly new. It reminded me very much of Mercedes Lackey's version of the story, Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit, except that this Guinevere is less of a warrior-type. They had definite similarities, though, with the deaths of their mothers, their links to Epona, etc.

However, as it developed, I came to enjoy it much more. The prose never really rose above mediocre, in my opinion, but the characters were well presented, and their relations to each other well thought out. The glimpse of a young, angry Gawain was fantastic, though too brief for a Gawain-lover like myself, and I particularly liked Bedivere. The relationship between Arthur and Guinevere also felt real, and I sort of don't want to read the rest of this trilogy, because it will separate them. Although not inevitably, I suppose: Sarah Zettel's books sidestep that issue, why can't others?

Another thing I appreciated was her care in the author's note regarding the choice of place names and such. She chose to call the Welsh people the Cumbri, which is nice, given that the word "Welsh" actually comes from the Saxon word for "foreigner". I think she navigated that well.

So, all in all, surprisingly satisfying -- I think I will track down the other books.
wilderthan: ((Quistis) Sophisticated)
Because Jo Walton is rapidly becoming one of my favourite writers, and because I loved this book, and because this is a new book and I think people should buy it, here is my review of it, all on its own, immediately I've finished the book.

I tried to write this review without spoilers, but it depends on what you consider to be spoilers. I think it's a book based more on characters than events, and I don't think knowing some of the events will spoil the whole, but you might want to exercise a bit of caution...

Jo Walton -- Among Others )
wilderthan: ((Mitsuru) Angry)
The other promised catch-up post.

The Years of Rice and Salt (Kim Stanley Robinson)

Rather than a novel, this is more like a series of short stories/novellas. It follows the same characters through various incarnations. In some of them the connections are easy to make, in others it's not so easy. The alternate history aspect is interesting, and couldn't have been fully explored without this device, I suppose, but I found it jarring to be jerked from time period to time period, culture to culture, and I never really fell in love with the characters as continuations of the previous characters. There were characters I found interesting in each separate story, but I didn't necessarily like them in their other incarnations, I mean. If I had, maybe I'd have cared more.

As it is, I ended up abandoning this book for a while, and almost skimming to finish it. I really liked "The Alchemist", and kind of wanted more of it than that -- that and the first story especially stick in my head.

An interesting idea, but the execution didn't work for me. I might reread it someday.

Always Coming Home (Ursula Le Guin)

I expected to take a long time over Always Coming Home. In a way, I wish I had: there's a lot in it, and a lot to reward a slower, careful reading -- this time I went plunging through it for the narrative, such as it was, enjoying the layers of understanding that came to me, imagining and figuring out what I didn't know. I didn't read the "Back of the Book" section, this time: another time, I think I will. I just wanted to fly through it, this time, total immersion in a culture that does not exist.

Always Coming Home is a collection of stories, of fake-histories, of poems and plays and things that do not neatly fit into our genres, belonging to a culture that does not exist. The first note says it best, "The people in this book might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern Carolina." It seems to be the story almost of the Native peoples, and then it begins to mention computers and other technologies of our day... The way the world came to be this way isn't really seen clearly, only seen in its effects on the people. It's very interesting to read this way: interesting, and frustrating, because like real history, it doesn't always show you the bits you most want to see.

Ursula Le Guin's writing is beautiful, as always, and easy to read and understand despite the invented words and concepts. I sort of imagine this as the way she might build up any culture, in any book, through the scraps of their literature and histories that come to her... It's quite a nice thought, actually.

I didn't read the "Back of the Book" section, preferring to keep things vaguer, not spelled out. I will probably read it one day, but not now.

Though I greatly enjoyed this, I don't know if I'd dare recommend it to anyone. For me it required some patience with the original idea, which turned into delight as Ursula Le Guin once more captured my heart. For others, who didn't find Earthsea compelling, it'd be dry as dust, I think. And as with many books, but particularly with those that are a bit different, someone might find they love it, when they have never loved Le Guin's work before -- or that they hate it, when they've always loved her work.

Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit (Mercedes Lackey)

Mercedes Lackey's version of Guinevere's story is mostly distinctive in her choice of sources: she has taken elements mainly from the Welsh tradition, and tried to weave a coherent story out of them. The three Gwenhwyfars named in the Triads, the abductions by both Melwas and Medraut, Gwenhwyfach... It's very interesting that she chose to use the Welsh tales.

The subtleties of the relationship between the Christians and the pagans in this story were also an interesting decision. Normally people draw them as diametrically opposed: this co-existence and slow merge is an interesting way to look on it.

However, her characters and plotting are not particularly distinctive. The first three quarters of the book is rather slow, and she doesn't even meet Arthur in that time. Her time with Arthur is largely glossed over, too. She's a Celtic warrior-woman, and a scout, but ultimately that doesn't seem that important... the most important thing in it is her moment of sacrifice, sacrificing that to her duty when she goes to marry Arthur. And even then, I don't think that moment has the power it could.

The relationship with Lancelin is profoundly unsatisfactory, and seems almost a by-the-by to add a touch of romance. If something more was done with them at the end, maybe...

This is a fun enough read, and based on some interesting ideas. But it's a bit slow at times, and it's not exactly a deep and involved retelling

Day of the Triffids (John Wyndham)

The Day of the Triffids is a book I've meant to read for a long time. Sometime way back when, I forget quite why, Dad told me the basic story -- not with characters, just the basic ideas -- and as an impressionable little daddy's girl of probably about eight years old, it stuck in my mind.

I actually expected something a bit more trashy than this, after some reviews and comments I read. It's certainly got the seeds (heh) for a lot of horror writing -- Stephen King's work is quite similar in some ways, in The Stand and Cell. It's got some ideas that're creepy as all get out: the lurking triffids, genetic experiments, satellites full of plagues and nukes and god knows what, the return of feudalism...

In a way, I've read this book before -- nothing that happened really surprised me, because I've read enough post-apocalyptic fiction to have thought about how things would work out if [xyz] happened. It's a reasonably realistic guess at how things would've turned out if this was all the case, I think.

It's a reasonably compelling read, too. There's a chapter full of back story, which drags a bit, but for the most part it goes along at a pretty good pace, and there's genuine anxiety about whether Bill and Josella will find each other again and so on.

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