Monday, August 09, 2021

Shibumi


Shibumi, Trevanian tr. Anne Damour

Super good story. A little compressed though. There's a fairly uneventful section on spelunking in the middle whose purpose I understand but of whose length I am a little unsure.

Nevertheless, the book shows an extraoridnary balance, making me think that maybe the middle is long for a mystic reason at which my shallow mind can only grasp.

On a personal note, Shibumi argues very strongly against American–and American-influenced Western–culture. I am looking at North Americans in a new light after this.


Lavinia


Lavinia, Ursula Le Guin

Well-told story in Le Guin's characteristically calm depth.


Sunday, August 01, 2021

Nineteen Eighty-Four


Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

Bad, then good, then really bad.

I've always felt that one should read all books that draw one's curiosity, but this book is one I would prefer to read about rather than read.


Monday, May 24, 2021

Friday, April 30, 2021

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Demon Lord of Karanda


Demon Lord of Karanda, David Eddings

Book Three of The Malloreon.

Very good stuff, as usual. Excellent move onto a new continent, once again an unexpected volume of playful imagination.

Friday, April 02, 2021

King of the Murgos

King of the Murgos, David Eddings

Book Two of The Malloreon.

This is where The Malloreon starts to feel like a "Better Belgariad."

Let's be clear: this is an escapist fantasy series. We are looking for obvious heros with obvious powers that overcome mighty enemies. But we want that to take some time. We therefore have a quest, literally laid out in advance (and I mean the word "literally" literally), which we know will take five books, and which we know will follow the same path as the previous series.

If we can accept that we will not be surprised by the outcome, then we can immerse ourselves in the details: the language of writers who are clearly amusing themselves, the interplay of caricature and developed characters, and the modernization, the moral improvement on some of the themes that left the first series with some questionable taste. Finally, it is satisfying to puzzle out the little conundra that the group of heros continually get themselves into.

If the first series was racist (towards imaginary races, but still pricipally racist), then this particular book starts to show ways to move away from that racism. Given - we are still talking about racism between imaginary races, but the message throughout both these series that racism is Ok is somewhat foul. In this this book, we get hints that the authors are re-thinking that message, even if they do not do so fully.

Likewise with sexism, directed at women. In this book we start to get hints that women are equal to men, even if those roles are not fully realized equally. It is more about potential. The trend is going in the right direction.

That re-thinking: that reconsideration of individual character over caricature is what is exciting about The Malloreon and particularly about King of the Murgos. If Leigh and David Eddings had been alive to write a third series today, one feels that there may have been potential for something truly modern.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Unicorn Quest: Fire in the Star


The Unicorn Quest: Fire in the Star, Kamilla Benko

Kid book.

Pretty good. Some of the resolutions are contrived: like quite often a last-minute character or plot element comes in to undo all the tension.

And yet, I like how we see this writing "process" this way. I don't think all books should be made like this. It feels like Benko could have spent a little bit more time tying up some of the narrative knots and would then have had a series to rival real classics. But it also shows us that making a story is more than writing it.

So the storytelling may be slightly unpolished, but the series is imaginative, it is original, and it creatively inspiring, because the world Benko has built has potential well outside the story.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Guardians of the West

Guardians of the West, David Eddings (x2)

Book One of The Malloreon.

It starts slow, but one must put this in context: one has just finished reading the epic-fun Belgariad, and one wants more.

At that, a slow start is welcome, like a spring coiling, winding.

By the end of this book, we know we're in for a great series.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Lady in the Lake


Tha Lady in the Lake, Raymond Chandler

Good detective story. Not sure I really followed the unravelling: a little complicated. But overall tasty like pizza.