Open Book Thread
I’ve fallen behind in book reviews, so I’m going to do a multibook post, starting with Mainspring [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon], by Jay Lake. Lake envisions a clockwork universe where the Earth orbits the sun on a great track, with an equatorial gear twenty miles wide … and the Mainspring of the world is winding down. Apprentice clockmaker Hethor Jacques must find the Key Perilous and rewind the Earth’s mainspring.
I loved the “What if?” of this book, the central idea and the exploration of how a clockwork universe would work, both the mechanics and the implications for the inhabitants of that world, their beliefs and ideas. (Though I still don’t understand how such a world would have seasons.) The characters … Hethor took a while to grow on me. And there’s an underlying noble savage thing going on with the southern “correct people” that makes me uncomfortable. Overall, I think the idea was stronger than the story, but the story wasn’t bad, and the idea was fascinating. I’m interested in checking out Escapement, the sequel.
Next up is MythOS [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon], by Kelly McCullough. This is the fourth of McCullough’s books about magical hacker Ravirn/Raven and his webgoblin Melchior. I’ve enjoyed this series a lot. They’re fast-paced, interesting, page-turners with just the right amount of humor. Or maybe I just have a weakness for all things goblin.
This time around Raven finds himself in an alternate universe, one which runs on a Norse mythology OS instead of the Greek system he’s used to. It’s an interesting switch, and livens up the series as Raven gets drawn into new conflicts and has to figure out a whole new system of magic. The second book remains my favorite, but I’d put this one as runner up.
This is the fourth book in a series. If you liked the others, you’ll like this one. If you didn’t, why are you still reading the series? Really, people…
I mentioned Laura Resnick‘s Doppelgangster [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] in her First Book Friday post — this is book two in a series that started with a Luna title, then jumped to DAW. You can tell it’s a second book, but Doppelgangster stands alone pretty well. The most fascinating thing to me about this book is that it’s urban fantasy in which the protagonist is pure human. No magic, no mixed genetics, no nothing. That’s something I haven’t seen much of, and I enjoyed it.
Esther Diamond is a struggling actress and waitress in New York. Her restaurant gig happens to be a popular mobster hangout, and the mobsters are starting to die from magical means. Diamond and her friend Max the Magician need to figure out what’s going on and stop it. To complicate things, her potential boyfriend Lopez is also a New York detective — and he doesn’t believe in magic. The mobsters sometimes felt a little over-the-top, but overall it was a fun adventure.
Finally, there’s Dog Days [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] by John Levitt. Our hero Mason is a gifted magician, though he appears to lack the discipline to fulfill his potential. He’s currently making a living as a jazz magician. More importantly, he has a magical companion named Louie, an ifrit who takes the form of a small dog. For everyone who’s gotten tired of fantasy authors and their cat-loving ways, this is the book for you.
The magic system was fairly loose and undefined, but this worked with Mason’s improvisational style, which fits well with his jazz background. But that may not be enough when a powerful enemy decides he wants Mason dead, for reasons that would spoil the whole book if I shared them. I appreciated the mystery and revelation, though the bad guy felt a bit flat. But sometimes evil, nasty villains make for fun reading. Plus, magic dog!
So there’s some of what I’ve been reading over the past few months. What about you? If you’ve read any of these, what did you think? If you’ve been reading something else, feel free to share. I need to build up my wish list for the holidays 🙂
November 22, 2010 @ 10:27 am
I’ve been reading the Bard’s Tale books (Almost finished the second one), and I think they’re pretty good. They’re funny, they’re short, they’re pretty easy to read – Everything I want in a book. Just before that I read Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw (Who’s a fairly infamous games reviewer), and whilst the first half was brilliant, the second half was absolutely terrible.
Also tried to read Hobb’s Farseer trilogy, but I’ve given up just over halfway through the second novel. The blurb of the third book has put me off finishing, and whilst I’ve not not enjoyed them, I’ve not liked them enough to read the third book, which is the biggest one AND it has the smallest print. No thanks :p
Will look into MythOS series, it sounds different enough to be good. Plus I do like humour 😉
Jim C. Hines
November 22, 2010 @ 10:29 am
Who’s the author for the Bard’s Tale books?
I’ve really liked McCullough’s series. This may sound odd, but his style reminds me a bit of me 🙂
November 22, 2010 @ 10:50 am
They’re generally done by two authors (Which is quite odd as they don’t seem to go past the 300 page mark), but the first, second and (I believe) third are co-authored by Mercedes Lackey. Josepha Sherman is the other half for the first book, Ru Emerson the second and I think it’s Mark Sheperd for the third.
November 23, 2010 @ 2:34 am
I also mentioned Esther’s humanness in my review of Doppelgangster. It is something that makes the book stand out and I think it forces Esther to solve the problems rather than just blasting them apart as some UF authors prefer.
November 23, 2010 @ 6:39 pm
I like to read a YA or a light-hearted stand alone novel in-between epic fantasies, so the last book I read was The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan. It was pretty good. I liked his Percy Jackson books, but not so much the Red Pyramid. That might be because the pretty much the only things I knew about Egyptian mythology is what I absorbed by watching Stargate, which is a little pathetic. Greek however, is almost something you can’t get by without knowing a bit about.
I read Towers of Midnight before that. I like Sanderson better when he is writing his own stuff (Mistborn is supper awesome!), but I’m a sucker for anything wot 🙂 . Next I’m going to start Shadowheart by Tad Williams. If the previous books in the series were anything to go on, its going to be great.
Jim C. Hines
November 24, 2010 @ 9:23 am
I’ve never read Sanderson, but I’ve got two of his books on my TBR list. Given his success, the guy’s doing *something* right, and I want to learn what it is so I can steal it for myself 🙂
November 25, 2010 @ 12:33 am
in part, you already have. You have turned a genre on its head by making goblins more than just sword fodder for the hero. Both you and he make the genre evolve. We need more like you.