Because honestly? Horses just got boring. (Thanks to author Anne Leonard for the suggestion).
Review: Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
Historical fantasy, #2 of 9 Temeraire
‘“You speak in ignorant disdain of the foremost nation of the world,” Yongxing said, growing angry himself, “like all your country-men, who show no respect for that which is superior, and insult our customs.”
“For which I might consider myself as owing you some apology, sir, if you yourself had not so often insulted myself and my own country, or shown respect for any customs other than your own,” Laurence said.’
This is the second book in Naomi Novik’s fantastical reimagining of the Napoleonic Wars… with dragons! After the events of His Majesty’s Dragon, Temeraire has been revealed to be a Celestial, a Chinese dragon that is supposed to be ridden by only the Emperor and his kin. His Captain Will Laurence being neither of these things, the Chinese have come to take him back. Temeraire, naturally, refuses to be parted from Laurence, and thus the two of them begin the long journey to Temeraire’s homeland.
I have to confess that I felt let down by this book. There were several problems that served to make it less interesting than its humourous, exciting predecessor: Continue reading Book Review: Throne of Jade (Naomi Novik)
This hero stuff is usually a young person’s game. And, occasionally, a grizzled old veteran can get involved. It is a true rarity for someone to join the good fight for Fantasyland living in that in between ground.
This was a challenging topic: there are plenty of wise older mentors and brave young heroes, but apparently it really is quite rare to have someone in-between. Rare, but not impossible:
Mr. Norrell (Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke)
Strange is on the younger side, but Mr. Norrell is a stodgy, conservative, middle-aged man, comfortable with his station in life and more than a bit overzealous in hoarding information and defending his position as the only practical magician in England… until the appearance of Jonathan Strange gradually changes his view.
Gabi (Broken Monsters, Lauren Beukes)
I am in the middle of reading crime thriller Broken Monsters, and there are a lot of point-of-view characters throughout the book—but one of my favourites, and the one who seems to be the closest thing to a main character, is Detective Gabriella Versado. She is raising a teenage daughter, doesn’t always understand social media and the internet, and is an experienced police officer—the very first scene of the book has her pulling a prank on a young rookie who is having trouble handling a murder scene.
The older, more cautious, and very proper Captain Will Laurence ends up paired with the young firebrand of a dragon, Temeraire.
Lady Jessica (Dune, Frank Herbert)
Like I said on my mother’s day post, Jessica of House Atreides is the real hero of the Dune books, having set all of the events in motion with her rebellious streak and determination. Her son’s rise to power can be attributed almost entirely to her planning and persistence.
The Bagginses (LOTR and The Hobbit, Tolkien)
One major complaint I have about the LOTR movies (which I really love, for the most part) is Frodo’s youthful, naive attitude, as opposed to the more mature and worldly Frodo of the books. Setting aside Elijah Wood’s wide-eyed, teenage face, Frodo was in fact 50 by the time he set out with the Fellowship of the Ring, by far the oldest of the four hobbits. And though I can’t remember his age exactly, I’m certain Bilbo was quite comfortably enjoying middle-aged life when Gandalf and the dwarves disrupted him in The Hobbit.
Who did I miss this week? Who are your favourite older heroes?
I have been, at best, a sporadic participate in Top Ten Tuesday at the Broke and the Bookish… But I am particularly excited for this week’s, topic, which is an opportunity to think about the reading since starting this blog and pick my favourite ten reads.
Some comments: the top three were very easy for this – they are not only three of the best books I’ve read so far this year, but three of the best books I’ve read, period. If I gave star ratings, they would be 5/5 perfect scores.
After the top three, things get a little dicey, and I’m not as confident about the specific order, which might be a little different if I were to make the list tomorrow. Or even an hour from now! I am confident, though, that the books below are a fantastic testament to all the amazingness I’ve been reading since I started blogging this year.
I’ve also refrained from selecting multiple books from the same series, in the interest of variety. So without further ado, the top ten books I’ve read so far in 2015 – titles link to my reviews for further elaboration on why I enjoyed them!
An example of a wonderful Young Adult fantasy novel with feminist themes… If you are emotionally invested in young women’s agency and empowerment or grandparent/grandchild love, then this will be an especially moving read for you, as it was for me.
The story of two unusual (and fantastical) immigrants and their journeys of self-discovery, set in New York City at the turn of the century.
A retelling of the Sanskrit epic the Mabharata from the point of view of Princess Panchaali, the woman who married five husbands and whose desire for revenge started a war.
This is my go-to recommendation for Young Adult fiction since I read it: an original, well written, romance-free novel with a fascinating urban post-apocalyptic setting and a great protagonist.
The story of a time-traveling serial killer who selects his victims (the “shining girls”) from across time, and of the survivor who is trying to hunt him down. A violent, unique, genre-bending crime thriller that kept me glued to the page.
This book was just so much fun. If you are looking for fantastical entertainment and the idea of an alternate history where the Napoleonic Wars were fought with (super lovable) dragons sounds appealing, then may I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
A prophecy says that the country of Skala can only be ruled by daughters, and so a jealous king murders the women and girls in his line to ensure his son’s place on the throne – except for one niece, who grows up in disguise and believing she is a boy in this first book of the creepy and addictive Tamir Triad.
This haunting, post-apocalyptic book is about what humanity has lost and how they continue to derive meaning from their lives after the end of civilization as we know it. Not your typical piece of sci-fi, this elegant and tragic piece of art has stayed with me long after finishing it.
Ursula K. Le Guin’s masterpiece is full of astonishingly beautiful writing from its first sentence (“I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination,”) to its last. Everything about The Left Hand of Darkness lived up to what I have heard about it, and I found the experience of reading it profoundly moving.
Sometimes you read a book and all you can think is, where has this book been all my life. Unique ideas, challenging concepts, and themes that I care deeply about, all handled in an intelligent and meaningful way. A multibodied protagonist, a genderless society, artificial intelligence, social and class commentary… spaceships, explosions, personal vendettas, firefights. Ancillary Justice is everything that I ever wanted out of science fiction in one badass package.
Review: His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
Historical Fantasy / Temeraire, #1 of 9
Basically the only thing you need to know about this book is that it is a reimagining of the Napoleonic Wars… with dragons. What more could you want??
Will Laurence is a British Navy officer with a fiancé, his own ship, a good first officer, and a comfortable set up for life in general. His career is unexpectedly derailed when his ship captures a dragon egg from the French. When Temeraire – the dragon – hatches, he latches onto to Laurence (as dragons do, apparently) and Laurence gives up his life on the ocean for one of dragonback aerial combat.
Grab a map of Fantasyland and you are sure to see there is water. Of course not everything important is going to happen on land, right? Sometimes people actually have to get on a boat and hit the water. Where, being fantasyland, anything can happen.
Some of the best people are on boats.
Like Isabela, pirate queen of my heart.