Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book # 15 - The Guns of Avalon (Chronicles of Amber #2) by Roger Zelazny.

So... Corwin escapes from the clutches of his brother Eric and runs off into the Shadows, trying to get to Avalon, where he spent some time it seems.

Ok, I admit, when it said Avalon, and he ran into Lance, I got pretty excited. To say that I love me some Arthurian Legends is an understatement. So I thought cool, lets see what Zelazny does with it... not much. I'm hoping that's not all. Lance kinda just... drops out of the picture, not much is done with the Avalon aspect. It just seemed like some namedropping in here and I was pretty disappointed.

There's some interesting set up though, and Corwin's travelling companion, Ganelon, is pretty interesting. This Black Road business is cool, and I like how we got to meet some more of the family. But this book really didn't pick up till practically the last few pages when Corwin actually reached Amber and a new, very unexpected threat, made itself known. I had been considering about not continuing through this huge tome, but now I think I will.

 Book #16: Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

This one is the third book in the Temeraire series and really all I can say here is... yeah, I`m done. The novelty of dragons flying around during the Napoleonic Wars has worn off for me and I`m not really interested in Will Laurence as a character or the continued efforts of Temeraire to emancipate the dragons of Europe. It was fun for a couple of books, but not enough to continue.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sex and violence and art history

50 Book Challenge, Book #14: Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore.

If Tyrion Lannister were a French, Post-Impressionist painter, he would be Henri Toulouse-Lautrec as written by Christopher Moore. Urbane, intelligent, witty, of short stature, a big drinker and having a great appreciation of working girls of all kind, it was a little hard for me not to draw the parallel. It doesn't take anything away from Moore's new book, in fact it is Moore's characterization of the various famous Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters that I liked the most. Especially his Renoir.

In crafting his tale of art and Bleu, the near immortal muse who inspires it, he gives us a wonderful walk through art and inspiration and the terrible price that inspiration takes from those she inspires. I wasn't fond of Bleu herself, she made not a bad femme fatale, but not a great one. Her accomplice, the Colourman, is a sinister little creation though. There's the usual Moore bawdy humour, mad-cap hilarity and great one-liners.

For me this isn't quite up there with Lamb or Fool, but better than his vampire trilogy and Fluke.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

50 Book Challenge, Book #13 - Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey

Don't really have much to add about this one that I didn't already talk about in the previous entry, Dragonheart. We're still with Fiona, who through a rather huge tragedy (and one that I actually thought was kinda interesting), is now Weyrwoman at Telgar Weyr. So we go through life at Telgar, fighting thread with all of Pern understrength, lots of injuries, more thread fighting, an ending that was kinda ehn... and I dunno, just not a lot of action really even though there was supposedly a lot of action going on.

This book does delve rather heavily into Fiona's unorthodox, polyamorous relationship between herself, her Weyrleader T'mar (the rider who's bronze dragon flew Fiona's queen), Kindan (a harper who McCaffrey uses as a main character in other books) and Kindan's partner, Lorana. This is all fine and dandy as it's always been established that relationships in Weyrs tended to be more flexible as riders would take different mates based on who their dragons were flown by. But this 4 way relationship felt awfully forced. I actually had no problem seeing the bond between Fiona, T'mar and Lorana, but with Kindan it was like, oh ok so Fiona's had a crush on his as a child, and he was in love with her older sister who died during the Plague, but now that Fiona's older and is a Weyrwoman and kinda awesome... OF COURSE Kindan should just love her too... Ah yeah... could I have some causality here please? It just really didn't work for me.

So yeah, I'm done with the Todd McCaffrey version of Pern. It just lacks for a lot unfortunately.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

50 Book Challenge #12: Dragonheart by Todd McCaffrey

It was early highschool when I was introduced to the first 3 of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern books. I loved them. Pern quickly became my other favourite imaginary land, beside Narnia and Middle Earth. I kept with the series despite what I felt was diminishing returns, and when McCaffrey passed away earlier this year, I honestly mourned.

Her son, Todd, has picked up his mother's creation and is attempting to carry on. This, Dragonheart, is I believe the first of his solo books, the others written in conjunction with his mother.

Dragonheart is... not very good. I appreciate that Todd is carving out a time of his own in Pernese history; the Third Pass of Threads, thus avoiding the origins of Pern, Moreta (6th Pass) and of course F'lar and Lessa and their co-horts of the 9th Pass. He's trying to build his own stable of characters and difficulties, but unfortunately, there's not a lot of originality in a lot of his ideas.

We have a holder Plague in the series of books he wrote with his mother (an idea we already saw in Moreta), and now in his solo books, he unleashes what looks like a superflu against the dragons this time. This book deals specifically with a group of riders going back in time to an abandoned weyr to mature a couple of clutches, and to give injured dragonriders time to heal. Kinda been there done that too when F'nor is sent back with a wing and an immature queen dragon to breed some more beasts for severley undermanned Benden Weyr.

The characters are ok... but nothing special. McCaffrey doesn't have to worry about a lot of world building since his mother's already done that, so his overly detailed description of the running of a Weyr is a little... dull. His mother did great action scenes; world changing duels, Thread fighting, the exhilerating dragon flights... Todd just doesn't have his mother's craft, no matter how hard he tries.

All that being said, I will probably read the continuation of this story... and then, sad as it seems, I doubt I'll be continuing on with new adventures in Pern, I'll just periodically revisit the old ones.
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