Friday, June 29, 2007

Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

More of the Napoleonic War With Dragons saga. Except that this didn't involve much war...

Let's see. Temeraire belongs to an insanely rare and valuable, not to mention sacred, breed, and the Chinese who bred him want him back. So Temeraire, Laurence and crew take a very slow boat to China, where they are subjected to culture shock, formal dinners and diplomacy, not to mention intrigue.

Middle books in fantasy trilogies usually involve a lot of landscape and traveling from place to place, and this is no exception. (Actually, I've since realized that this isn't a trilogy. Oh well.)

The difference in status of dragons between China and Europe (and apparently most other places) is a major theme.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Dark Water by Linda Hall

A mystery, sort of... perhaps more of a literary-ish suspense novel. Took the basic plot convention of the abused woman being stalked and played around with it a little.

I was annoyed by the side tale of the philandering, adultering deacon who was seen as a pillar of his church community - it seemed too blatant.

The ending was remarkably unsatisfying. The second half of the book was much like watching a train wreck, or a spider spinning a web for a hapless fly. I'm used to mysteries with more satisfying closure.

Not a bad book, but not really my thing.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Scholar of Magics by Caroline Stevermer

Great fun. Not as memorable as College of Magics -- this was very much a comedy of manners in a fantasy guise, and had less poignancy. But the characters were just human enough to keep the story real.

Friday, June 01, 2007

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

The Napoleonic Wars, with dragons. Almost an alternate history, except that given the great difference this level of aerial transport and combat would have made to the course of history, everything was far too recognizable.

I was reluctant to read this at first, partly because of the Napoleonic war angle (I'm not fond of too much military detail in my historical reading) and partly because of the dragons (I'm not especially fond of traditional fantasy trappings, unless they're unusually well done, or used mythopoeically). That said, I very much enjoyed this; the dragons were neither mythic nor traditional, but fully fleshed out, as were the humans. They did resemble Anne McCaffery's dragons in some ways, but the pseudoscience behind them was better thought out. And the military details of how dragons might be used in combat were also carefully thought out and integral to the plot.