More Books Online

I'm still reading my book a week from Tor.  They publish a wider range of fiction than I expected – more than just sword and sorcery epics and techno thrillers. 

This week, I'm reading Farthing by Jo Walton, a thought-provoking piece of alternative history in which England makes a truce with Hitler in 1940 instead of resisting his advance across Europe, thus freeing Germany to attack Russia unmolested.  The war grinds on in Europe while England exists in a state of uneasy calm, sliding slowly and quietly into fascism, placing increasingly onerous restrictions on homosexuals and Jews and the poor, becoming more like Nazi-controlled Europe all the time.  The book is part country-house mystery, part drawing room comedy, and part political dystopia.  I'm enjoying it, although I'm a bit anxious about how it will end – badly I fear.

Jo Walton

Last week I read The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory.   This was a bog-standard fantasy novel complete with elves, irredeemably evil demons and a conflicted young hero trying to come to terms with his magical powers while discovering that it's his destiny to save the world.  It wasn't awful, although the undigested lumps of exposition scattered throughout caused me some pain, it was just totally unoriginal.  I was left wondering why fantasy for adults is often so much less inventive and sophisticated than fantasy written for young adults.  If you're after a clever, complex depiction of a troubled, prideful young magician, Ursula le Guin's Wizard of Earthsea is a great place to start.  If you want wit, good writing, and fantasy elements that have symbolic weight (often magic functions as a metaphor for the power of the emerging adult self in these novels) instead of sitting blank and flat on the page, try anything by Diana Wynne Jones, or Margaret Mahy's young adult novels.  As a bonus, there's not an elf, goblin, or dwarf anywhere to be found in these authors' work, and no sign of the cod-medieval setting so beloved of the post-Tolkien writer of adult fantasy.    

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2 Responses to More Books Online

  1. "Enjoy" is an awfully positive word for what I did about Farthing. Good book, but not the kind of thing that ends in rainbows and waltzes. There's a sequel to it if you'd like called Ha'Penny. I've got a Tor connection too and am glad that this is one I've already read- I'm already behind enough on stuff to read.For the fantasy, lately it's been Neil Gaiman and rereading the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. I'd recommend the Redwall series to you if you haven't read them already.

  2. Janette says:

    I just finished Farthing. And it did end badly, but not in the way I expected, which makes it worse. I liked Carmichael…..I've been reading Neil Gaiman recently as well. American Gods is up online at the Harper Collins site – it's on my list of things to read soon. As I'm only getting to read while Petra's napping, the list is getting rather out of hand I love the Dark is Rising sequence. I missed out on it as a kid, but have read and reread it since I found it as a procrastinating grad student. I think I might have read one of the Redwall books, but a long time ago. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to search them out.

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