I started this in May, stalled out halfway through due to lack of time to actually sit down and concentrate, then picked it up last night and finished it today.

Due to a peculiar narrative sort-of spoiler, this is a very difficult book to discuss at all without ruining one of the surprises. So this will be elliptical until I get to the cut.

It's a historical novel set in 1459 Bruges (Belgium), and concerns a tangle of plots, practical jokes, spying, revenge, journeys, wars, bankruptcies, marriages of convenience, the Medici, and a displaced ostrich, all circling around a small cloth company.

It's a much easier and lighter read than the first Lymond book, although the details of the plot are just as hard to follow. Niccolo is much less angsty and more likable than Lymond, though he shares Lymond's fondness for overly complicated plotting. Though Niccolo at first seems rather uncomplicated, the book is basically a character study of him, and a mystery about who he really is and what he really wants.

I liked this quite a bit, and look forward to the next one.

Everyone should have an ostrich )
I started this in May, stalled out halfway through due to lack of time to actually sit down and concentrate, then picked it up last night and finished it today.

Due to a peculiar narrative sort-of spoiler, this is a very difficult book to discuss at all without ruining one of the surprises. So this will be elliptical until I get to the cut.

It's a historical novel set in 1459 Bruges (Belgium), and concerns a tangle of plots, practical jokes, spying, revenge, journeys, wars, bankruptcies, marriages of convenience, the Medici, and a displaced ostrich, all circling around a small cloth company.

It's a much easier and lighter read than the first Lymond book, although the details of the plot are just as hard to follow. Niccolo is much less angsty and more likable than Lymond, though he shares Lymond's fondness for overly complicated plotting. Though Niccolo at first seems rather uncomplicated, the book is basically a character study of him, and a mystery about who he really is and what he really wants.

I liked this quite a bit, and look forward to the next one.

Everyone should have an ostrich )
Godchild volume 1, demented manga by Kaori Yuki. The first panel is more cracktastic than entire multi-volume runs of some series.

Narration from the first panel: "Perhaps to ease his lonely soul, Cain starts collecting dangerous poisons. While living with Riff, his manservant since childhood, half-sister Mary Weather-- daughter of his father by a maid-- and Oscar, who wants to wed Mary, Cain meets Dr. Jizabel Disraeli, an assassin of the secret organization 'Delilah.' He wants to rip out Cain's eyes to add to his collection."

Barking mad Gothic horror, made even weirder by the tone-deaf English translation (that should be Merriweather and Jezabel), full of over-the-top horror, Gothic Victoriana, Lewis Carroll allusions, mad killers who wear rabbit masks impregnated with exotic hallucinogens, and disturbing sexual undertones and overtones such as a half-naked pubescent Cain writhing in his sheets, saying to his sexy valet/butler/true love Riff, "I didn't want that guy helping me dress."

Volume 2 contains the Parrot of Doom.

ES (Eternal Sabbath) volume 3, manga by Fuyumi Soryo. Gorgeous, spooky, and smart manga about a young man who can enter the minds of others, and the woman scientist who gets entangled with him. This volume is especially creepy, with great use of white space and silence to induce a sense of paranoia and tension. I continue to be very engaged by the main characters.

The Empty Empire, volume 1, manga by Naoe Kita. From page one: "Beyond the year 2500 AD, he appeared to unite the world: the Emperor Idea."

The telekinetic amnesiac clone of the dead (or is he?!!!) Emperor Idea escapes and is found by an ass-kicking young woman and a strange scientist who looks a lot like Hakkai. There is a sexy butler/valet, and a missing body, and two missing eyes from different people. Everyone's heads are strangely bulbous, and I laughed every time someone referred to Idea, but the characters were growing on me by the end of the volume.

Thud, by Terry Pratchett. Very funny, very smart. Vimes tries to stop Ankh-Morpork from exploding via ethnic tension between the dwarves and the trolls, and also to meet the equal challenge of getting home every night at 6:00 PM to read "Where's My Cow?" to his son. I particularly liked the bits with Mr. Shine. And the Gooseberry. And the girls' night out. And the guy who's supposed to audit the Watch. And I continue to love Vimes.

What the Lady Wants, by Jennifer Crusie. Early romantic comedy, slight but funny. My favorites of her earlier books are still Getting Rid of Bradley (the green hair!) and Manhunting (the terrible fates that befall every man the heroine meets).

Niccolo Rising, by Dorothy Dunnett. I only just started this, but it already makes more sense than A Game of Kings.
Godchild volume 1, demented manga by Kaori Yuki. The first panel is more cracktastic than entire multi-volume runs of some series.

Narration from the first panel: "Perhaps to ease his lonely soul, Cain starts collecting dangerous poisons. While living with Riff, his manservant since childhood, half-sister Mary Weather-- daughter of his father by a maid-- and Oscar, who wants to wed Mary, Cain meets Dr. Jizabel Disraeli, an assassin of the secret organization 'Delilah.' He wants to rip out Cain's eyes to add to his collection."

Barking mad Gothic horror, made even weirder by the tone-deaf English translation (that should be Merriweather and Jezabel), full of over-the-top horror, Gothic Victoriana, Lewis Carroll allusions, mad killers who wear rabbit masks impregnated with exotic hallucinogens, and disturbing sexual undertones and overtones such as a half-naked pubescent Cain writhing in his sheets, saying to his sexy valet/butler/true love Riff, "I didn't want that guy helping me dress."

Volume 2 contains the Parrot of Doom.

ES (Eternal Sabbath) volume 3, manga by Fuyumi Soryo. Gorgeous, spooky, and smart manga about a young man who can enter the minds of others, and the woman scientist who gets entangled with him. This volume is especially creepy, with great use of white space and silence to induce a sense of paranoia and tension. I continue to be very engaged by the main characters.

The Empty Empire, volume 1, manga by Naoe Kita. From page one: "Beyond the year 2500 AD, he appeared to unite the world: the Emperor Idea."

The telekinetic amnesiac clone of the dead (or is he?!!!) Emperor Idea escapes and is found by an ass-kicking young woman and a strange scientist who looks a lot like Hakkai. There is a sexy butler/valet, and a missing body, and two missing eyes from different people. Everyone's heads are strangely bulbous, and I laughed every time someone referred to Idea, but the characters were growing on me by the end of the volume.

Thud, by Terry Pratchett. Very funny, very smart. Vimes tries to stop Ankh-Morpork from exploding via ethnic tension between the dwarves and the trolls, and also to meet the equal challenge of getting home every night at 6:00 PM to read "Where's My Cow?" to his son. I particularly liked the bits with Mr. Shine. And the Gooseberry. And the girls' night out. And the guy who's supposed to audit the Watch. And I continue to love Vimes.

What the Lady Wants, by Jennifer Crusie. Early romantic comedy, slight but funny. My favorites of her earlier books are still Getting Rid of Bradley (the green hair!) and Manhunting (the terrible fates that befall every man the heroine meets).

Niccolo Rising, by Dorothy Dunnett. I only just started this, but it already makes more sense than A Game of Kings.
[livejournal.com profile] yhlee is contemplating reading Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles after repeatedly bouncing off the first fifty pages of the first book. In case she decides to actually do this, can a few of you suggest an easier entry point (perhaps the archery contest? perhaps the second book?) and summarize the action up to that point?

(I confess, this is as much for my own amusement as it is for her edification.)

Humungous spoilers in comments, obviously.
[livejournal.com profile] yhlee is contemplating reading Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles after repeatedly bouncing off the first fifty pages of the first book. In case she decides to actually do this, can a few of you suggest an easier entry point (perhaps the archery contest? perhaps the second book?) and summarize the action up to that point?

(I confess, this is as much for my own amusement as it is for her edification.)

Humungous spoilers in comments, obviously.
Really liked parts of it; generally felt it was too long and padded; Austin Grey is my new Sekrit Boyfriend-- really, he'd be much more satisfactory than Lymond. (So would Richard. Or Adam. Even Jerrott-- poor Jerrott.) Think Lymond needs meds for migraines and bipolarity. Despite my medical problem being nowhere near as bad as his, still rather jealous of the way he has people fawning all over him and cooling his fevered brow, etc, every time he's sick.

Still think Lymond caused most of his own problems, although now spreading some of the blame to Sybilla.

Pawn still highlight of series. I liked Phillippa better before she approached the glowing air of perfection which surrounds Lymond as well. Also, this lacks a villain of the stature of you-know^who is Knights and Pawn.

Also, the relationship they kept calling incest is not incest. Doing it with people related to you by marriage but not blood is not incest, although it is fairly squicky. As I predicted, the parentage issue was somewhat anticlimactic.

Finally, his Great Work is all in vain, right? Mary Queen of Scots is executed, right?

So how are the Niccolo books, King Hereafter, and the silly-titled mysteries?
Really liked parts of it; generally felt it was too long and padded; Austin Grey is my new Sekrit Boyfriend-- really, he'd be much more satisfactory than Lymond. (So would Richard. Or Adam. Even Jerrott-- poor Jerrott.) Think Lymond needs meds for migraines and bipolarity. Despite my medical problem being nowhere near as bad as his, still rather jealous of the way he has people fawning all over him and cooling his fevered brow, etc, every time he's sick.

Still think Lymond caused most of his own problems, although now spreading some of the blame to Sybilla.

Pawn still highlight of series. I liked Phillippa better before she approached the glowing air of perfection which surrounds Lymond as well. Also, this lacks a villain of the stature of you-know^who is Knights and Pawn.

Also, the relationship they kept calling incest is not incest. Doing it with people related to you by marriage but not blood is not incest, although it is fairly squicky. As I predicted, the parentage issue was somewhat anticlimactic.

Finally, his Great Work is all in vain, right? Mary Queen of Scots is executed, right?

So how are the Niccolo books, King Hereafter, and the silly-titled mysteries?
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Apr. 8th, 2005 07:41 pm)
I didn't think this was as good as Pawn-- not that anything could possibly top the latter's angst-meter, but I had several additional problems with it. I didn't find the setting as interesting, even though it was more new and exotic to me; but even still, I find cold and barbarism and bad food and a sort of early joyless totalitarianism much less interesting than the coexistence of a high level of sophistication, civilization, and art with freaky decadence and a different and more sophisticated sort of barbarism in the Turkish court. Also, there were hardly any women in Russia, except for Guzel, and she did surprisingly little.

Which brings me to my next problem: insufficiently interesting characters for Lymond and Phillippa to play off of, so the book only really caught fire in the last third when they finally got together. Which isn't to say that I didn't enjoy it; I loved the Slata Baba scenes, and everything Phillippa was in, especially in the last third.

Read more... )
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Apr. 8th, 2005 07:41 pm)
I didn't think this was as good as Pawn-- not that anything could possibly top the latter's angst-meter, but I had several additional problems with it. I didn't find the setting as interesting, even though it was more new and exotic to me; but even still, I find cold and barbarism and bad food and a sort of early joyless totalitarianism much less interesting than the coexistence of a high level of sophistication, civilization, and art with freaky decadence and a different and more sophisticated sort of barbarism in the Turkish court. Also, there were hardly any women in Russia, except for Guzel, and she did surprisingly little.

Which brings me to my next problem: insufficiently interesting characters for Lymond and Phillippa to play off of, so the book only really caught fire in the last third when they finally got together. Which isn't to say that I didn't enjoy it; I loved the Slata Baba scenes, and everything Phillippa was in, especially in the last third.

Read more... )
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Spoilers for Pawn and Buffy season 5.

Read more... )
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Spoilers for Pawn and Buffy season 5.

Read more... )
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Apr. 6th, 2005 09:53 am)
I spent yesterday in Shinjuku park under the cherry trees with a bento box lunch with at least twenty separate elements, many mysterious and few downright weird, a soda, a strawberry-blueberry shortcake (Western and particularly French pastries are done wonderfully in Japan), and Pawn in Frankincense, along with what seemed like half of Tokyo. But the park is big, so it wasn't unpleasantly crowded, just filled with a sense of communal happiness. A bunch of kids were hurling bits of rice crackers and popcorn at some very overfed koi and turtles, with their parents hanging on to the backs of their shirts to make sure they didn't tip into the pond.

Spoilers for first two-thirds of Pawn in Frankincense

Read more... )
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Apr. 6th, 2005 09:53 am)
I spent yesterday in Shinjuku park under the cherry trees with a bento box lunch with at least twenty separate elements, many mysterious and few downright weird, a soda, a strawberry-blueberry shortcake (Western and particularly French pastries are done wonderfully in Japan), and Pawn in Frankincense, along with what seemed like half of Tokyo. But the park is big, so it wasn't unpleasantly crowded, just filled with a sense of communal happiness. A bunch of kids were hurling bits of rice crackers and popcorn at some very overfed koi and turtles, with their parents hanging on to the backs of their shirts to make sure they didn't tip into the pond.

Spoilers for first two-thirds of Pawn in Frankincense

Read more... )
Yes, these are the perfect books to take on a trip: gripping, meaty, and dense enough to take a comparatively long time to read. Queen's Play was much easier to read, and better-written, or at least less over-written and unnecessarily confusing, than A Game of Kings. Lymond showed faint traces of being human, yay, and better yet, screwed up in a way which did not later turn out to be part of his Sekrit Plan.

Read more... )
Yes, these are the perfect books to take on a trip: gripping, meaty, and dense enough to take a comparatively long time to read. Queen's Play was much easier to read, and better-written, or at least less over-written and unnecessarily confusing, than A Game of Kings. Lymond showed faint traces of being human, yay, and better yet, screwed up in a way which did not later turn out to be part of his Sekrit Plan.

Read more... )
I went all the way to the famous used bookstore Acres of Books in Long Beach in search of any edition of The Ringed Castle, but none were there. Nor did it exist at Borders, though the others did. Dammit.

I am now about fifty pages into Queens' Play. It's a much easier read than the first book, despite the terrifying list of characters at the beginning, representing four factions and full of entries explaining in scary detail who's related to who and what their titles are-- none of which I am likely to remember-- and the simpler ones are like this:

Thomas Ouschart (Tosh), a funambulist

Despite this, the book is light and even funny so far. Lymond is on the Queen's business (sort of) in France, and is shepherding around an endearingly gauche Irish lord and pretending to be a member of his entourage. (I knew it was him right away.) There's a beautiful Irish maiden who will probably not survive the book and who was involved in an intrigue which has not yet been explained, but which played out very amusingly. I kept flashing back to Henry V's "Tennis balls, my liege?"

If I'd started here, I think I would have liked Lymond better. Here he's introduced as a top spy on a mission, and we see him executing it as best he can under difficult circumstances, and not having everything go his way. (OK, probably it is all going according to his Sekrit Plan, but so far it's not looking too good.) What's not to like? Whereas in the first book, he was introduced as a god among men who was busy rocketing about the countryside being melodramatic and inexplicable and making his family miserable, all the while exuding smugness and spouting totally incomprehensible witticisms. Amazingly, eighty pages into Queens' Play, he hasn't yet done or said anything that pissed me off. We'll see how long that lasts...
I went all the way to the famous used bookstore Acres of Books in Long Beach in search of any edition of The Ringed Castle, but none were there. Nor did it exist at Borders, though the others did. Dammit.

I am now about fifty pages into Queens' Play. It's a much easier read than the first book, despite the terrifying list of characters at the beginning, representing four factions and full of entries explaining in scary detail who's related to who and what their titles are-- none of which I am likely to remember-- and the simpler ones are like this:

Thomas Ouschart (Tosh), a funambulist

Despite this, the book is light and even funny so far. Lymond is on the Queen's business (sort of) in France, and is shepherding around an endearingly gauche Irish lord and pretending to be a member of his entourage. (I knew it was him right away.) There's a beautiful Irish maiden who will probably not survive the book and who was involved in an intrigue which has not yet been explained, but which played out very amusingly. I kept flashing back to Henry V's "Tennis balls, my liege?"

If I'd started here, I think I would have liked Lymond better. Here he's introduced as a top spy on a mission, and we see him executing it as best he can under difficult circumstances, and not having everything go his way. (OK, probably it is all going according to his Sekrit Plan, but so far it's not looking too good.) What's not to like? Whereas in the first book, he was introduced as a god among men who was busy rocketing about the countryside being melodramatic and inexplicable and making his family miserable, all the while exuding smugness and spouting totally incomprehensible witticisms. Amazingly, eighty pages into Queens' Play, he hasn't yet done or said anything that pissed me off. We'll see how long that lasts...
Right where I'd left off after posting the last bit, the plot took off like a rocket. I've now finished the book. I must now rush out to find some edition, any edition of The Ringed Castle so I can take the rest to Japan with me.

I did eventually acquire some sympathy for Lymond when )

After all my bitching, I should mention the book's virtues, which are that the prose is terrific when it's comprehensible and often even when it's not, and that the characters are interesting even when they're not likable. Most of all, they say that a movie with one great scene will succeed, and a movie with three great scenes will be a smash hit; this book has at least six great scenes, of which my favorite was Lymond questioning a little girl, with the fate of her parents depending on her answers.

So I ended up really enjoying this, even though it frequently read like this:

Lymond narrowed his exquisite conflower-blue eyes. "Like Duryodhana in the pool, I wonder if you might be a quincunx hyperborean tatterdemalion. Sic transit gloria mundi. The chariot wheel of Karna still turns, yet foi la cruz. Even Amaterasu was amused in her fuliginous cavern. Tumara naam kyaa he??"

The smaller man tossed back his hair, which, though bright as the aurium of Midas Rey, was no match for Lymond's burnished gelt. "Ore wa hagane no renkinjutsushi," he declared. "Shin da!".

Though only the faintest twitch of the twelfth hair of Lymond's eyebrow betrayed it, Will Scott realized that for the first time ever, Lymond was surprised. But the Master of Culter controlled his feelings masterfully.

"Shukriya," said Lymond, with an edge of danger in his voice. "Miru! Watashi wa kanzen no renkinjutsushi!"

"Huh?" inquired Will Scott.

"My dear Will," said Sybilla, "You must be a complete fool to be unaware of the truth which no one has ever told you, and to still believe that Lymond is a traitor. As everyone thinks he's a traitor, he behaves like a traitor, he says he's a traitor, and you've spent the last three months doing traitorous activities at his side, how is it that you have failed to perceive that he is nothing of the sort? Terrible consequences will come of your foolishness!"
Right where I'd left off after posting the last bit, the plot took off like a rocket. I've now finished the book. I must now rush out to find some edition, any edition of The Ringed Castle so I can take the rest to Japan with me.

I did eventually acquire some sympathy for Lymond when )

After all my bitching, I should mention the book's virtues, which are that the prose is terrific when it's comprehensible and often even when it's not, and that the characters are interesting even when they're not likable. Most of all, they say that a movie with one great scene will succeed, and a movie with three great scenes will be a smash hit; this book has at least six great scenes, of which my favorite was Lymond questioning a little girl, with the fate of her parents depending on her answers.

So I ended up really enjoying this, even though it frequently read like this:

Lymond narrowed his exquisite conflower-blue eyes. "Like Duryodhana in the pool, I wonder if you might be a quincunx hyperborean tatterdemalion. Sic transit gloria mundi. The chariot wheel of Karna still turns, yet foi la cruz. Even Amaterasu was amused in her fuliginous cavern. Tumara naam kyaa he??"

The smaller man tossed back his hair, which, though bright as the aurium of Midas Rey, was no match for Lymond's burnished gelt. "Ore wa hagane no renkinjutsushi," he declared. "Shin da!".

Though only the faintest twitch of the twelfth hair of Lymond's eyebrow betrayed it, Will Scott realized that for the first time ever, Lymond was surprised. But the Master of Culter controlled his feelings masterfully.

"Shukriya," said Lymond, with an edge of danger in his voice. "Miru! Watashi wa kanzen no renkinjutsushi!"

"Huh?" inquired Will Scott.

"My dear Will," said Sybilla, "You must be a complete fool to be unaware of the truth which no one has ever told you, and to still believe that Lymond is a traitor. As everyone thinks he's a traitor, he behaves like a traitor, he says he's a traitor, and you've spent the last three months doing traitorous activities at his side, how is it that you have failed to perceive that he is nothing of the sort? Terrible consequences will come of your foolishness!"
.

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