Out of curiousity, is there anything y'all WOULD prefer me to blog about?
*** War of the Flowers by Tad Williams
It's unlikely any of you have known me long enough to know what a fan of Mr Williams I was in high school, but this is in fact the case. Naturally, when seeking out a really really long book to read (because I wanted to buy one and couldn't afford more than one) I thought of him because his books are always, even in paperback, small-print-laden bricks that one could beat a mugger to death with. To my pleasure he had actually, since I last read his work (early 2000s), published a new stand-alone novel. He tends to write these epic 3-4 volume stories with a collected 5000 pages, so I was really pleased to see something new from him that I could read without having to hunt up the sequels. Even if it IS about fairies. >_>
Uh, so it's about fairies. Irish-style, but anyone who's read his excellent fantasy trilogy "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn" would have guessed that already. Seems the fairy realm, trying to reflect the human realm, is full of things like enchanted cell phones and magic-mirror laptops, but unfortunately it's also full of greedy entrepeneurs and general assholery. The fairy king and queen, who once ruled with an even pair of hands and provided magical power to the realm, have been killed, and ruling in their stead are a coucil of families named for flowers. Unfortunately, they can't provide power themselves, so fairyland's been suffering from rolling blackouts like California in the summer. Enter Theo Vilmos, our tragic human semi-hero. He's been kidnapped to fairyland for reasons nobody will explain to him and embroiled in all this nonsense. Easy to sympathize with, we join him as he manages to go from a whiny slacker to a hero, which is what tends to happen in books by Tad Williams, accompanied by a cast of characters who are, despite the weirdnesses of fairyland, not wacky. Thank goodness for that. If you like fairy stuff at all and don't mind that the romance has been largely done away with and that there are a great number of pages in this book, I recommend reading it. It kept me busy for a week or two and that's saying something.
*** The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark
A book with this title needs to be a clever comedy, imho. Anyhow, this is an interesting YA novel about a 15th-Century Venetian street kid named Luciano. Told largely as an extended flashback, the story is about Luciano learning. Learning about what constitutes real friendship, about what drives people to good or evil deeds, about real heroism, about human selfishness, about abuse of power, about cooking, and especially about learning itself. Taken in as an apprentice by the palace's head chef, Luciano is gradually introduced to the chef's ideals about learning and keeping true knowledge safe until it can be shared with the world. It's not the first YA book I've ever read where the author is trying to imbue young readers with an interest in learning for its own sake, but instead of just showing us how algebra is really useful in the kitchen or how reading the work of Plato makes you think, she rounded up some really bizarre factoids. I have no idea where she got her Jesus resurrection theories, but some of the random info about the church and various food was fascinating enough that I'd actually like to look into them more myself. On the whole it was a fairly good book, and I can only wish it'd been more appropriately titled because I do like a good comedy.
*** Fables by Bill Willingham
A Vertigo comic series I've been meaning to read for a long time now. I plowed through the first 10 books and will get on with reading more soon. I did finish the main story, though, and that's what I'll be talking about here. Fables is the winner of several prestigious (to nerds) awards and deserves them all, in my opinion. (FYI Bill Willingham is the guy responsible for the entertaining Merv Pumpkinhead sidestories in Sandman & the Dreaming.)
Basically, every fable or fairy tale or mythological whatever is its own world someplace, and human interest in those particular stories makes the characters stronger (physically). A terrible Nemesis, an evil emperor, has been rampaging through these worlds with a powerful army, taking them over one by one. The people (and animals, and talking playing cards, and etc), known collectively as the Fables, have fled to the human world, where they've established Fabletown in a small neighborhood in New York City. Someday they intend to end the diaspora and take back the Homelands... someday. In the meantime they're ruled by King Cole, Snow White is his slightly bitchy and highly organized deputy, Boy Blue and his flying monkey help out around the office, and
okay, I STILL don't have time to finish my book list but luckily most of the rest of them are Discworld novels (I'm on a series rereading binge since the new book came out) so I'll just list them later. Oh and the 70s amateur detective novels. Which are very smartly written and the clever writing makes up for the lack of actual detectoring.
Later. "Baby are you down down down down down?"