March 20th, 2010

Pretty Words

In a Nutshell: Books: Rosemary and Rue/A Local Habitation - Seanan McGuire

Yeah, I never did catch up on my booklogging, did I? I need to do that. I'll probably give fairly short blurbs for most of the stuff until I catch up, especially since I've let it go long enough that I don't even greatly remember a bunch of the stuff I've been reading. *ahem*

Anyhow, Rosemary and Rue is the first book in a new urban supernatural series by Seanan McGuire, with A Local Habitation being the second newly released book, and more to come. These were recommended to me by someone who knows the author IIRC (I believe scifantasy but I could be wrong), and so I especially meant to comment on the fact that yes I have read them and enjoyed them, but keep forgetting. So:

Yes, I have read them, and I enjoyed them.

Oh, you all want details? Well fine, be that way.

These books take place in the modern day, in the city of San Francisco. And as is usual with the genre, there is a second lesser-known world existing alongside our normal mundane lives: the world of the Fae.

And here's where the books differ from the norm: there may be wizards, vampires, other forms of magic or whatever in this world, or there may not - they're just not addressed, at least so far. These books are about October (Toby) Daye, a private investigator and changeling (half human, half fae), and about her life and the doings of both the human world and Faerie. Instead of having a whole slew of different types of undead, werecritters, mages and the like, the book instead has a whole slew of different types of Fae, drawn from legends and mythology, with a set mythos all of their own.

There are for example the Cait Sidhe, or cat fae (Final Fantasy fans may be more familiar with the "Cait Sith" spelling). And the Kitsune, or fox fae. There are Selkies, the seal shapeshifters of legend. Or the Night-Haunts, unseen fae that dispose of the faeries' dead, leaving behind a human-seeming corpse so that their existence is never revealed - because pure-blooded fae are immortal, and thus their flesh does not decay. All sorts of fae, each with their own quirks and attributes, with a solid-seeming world behind them that is revealed more and more as the books progress. But I'll stop there before I go from "whetting the appetite" into "revealing everything the books have to offer before the reader can discover it on their own."

As for the stories - the characters feel real (I mean, except for the whole being non-human and magical and stuff in many cases - minor detail!), and are interesting. The stories are intricate enough and involving, and I basically just enjoyed most of the things about these books.

My main complaints would be that while the first book sets up a wonderful little local world and characters and connections I'd like to see more of, the second book then splits off into another area, with some of the things from the first book, but not as many as I'd like. And second, and this is a more personal-taste thing, the author can be brutally hard on her protagonist, much like Jim Butcher is on Dresden. Personally I like challenge and difficulties to overcome, but I don't like seeing the hero, who I'm sympathizing with, suffer quite that much! Like I said, personal taste thing.

Aaanyhow. If you like the urban supernatural genre at all, you might want to check these out. I enjoyed them, I bet others will too! (Even without my whole elf-fetish thing. Y'know.)
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In a Nutshell: Books: The Codex Alera series - Jim Butcher

This is probably going to be one of the shorter ones. :p

I've read this series over the course of, well, months, with the last one having come out in November, and me having read it then IIRC.

Anyhow, while Butcher is known for his urban-supernatural series the Dresden Files, this is a more typical fantasy. Well, typical in that it's a non-technological society with magic of a type woven into the fabric of life and society, atypical in the form that the magic takes, and the world-building.

The world itself is heavily Roman influenced - from my own reading, I got the impression that some Romans had somehow ended up in this Other World and been stranded way back in the day, and the society was built up based on them and their influence. So lots of those types of names, military units, etc etc.

The society however is also influenced by Furycrafting - or the main form of magic in this particular little world. Pretty much everyone (or every "normal" human, which is the society most of the main protagonists, especially *the* main protagonist, belongs to) has the ability to use... spirits of the elements, for lack of a better term, known as Furies, usually bonding to one or more of a certain type. Some people can only use Furies of one type, which have a given purpose (water for healing, metal for strengthening swordsmanship and athletic ability, and so on), others can use Furies of many types. People also vary greatly in the strength of the feats they can perform with this ability, giving, well, pretty much as wide a scope as traditional magic.

There are other races within this world though, and this is one of the main driving forces of the stories - the conflicts with the various races and how they're resolved, some peacefully, some very much not so.

Most of all though the stories follow one particular character, Tavi, as he grows to adulthood and comes into his own, along with the characters who have woven themselves into his life.

I generally enjoyed the series, enough that I not only read it all the way through but ended up picking up the last one in hardcover, rather than wait for the paperback. The world is different and interesting, and I enjoyed the characters, who are very much shades-of-grey for the most part. The stories are about forgiveness and redemption about as much as anything else.

There are some flaws of course - for one thing, the books have long periods between them, meaning we don't really get to follow the main character on his road to adulthood so much as we peak in on him from time to time, which isn't quite what I prefer. Also, as with the Dresden books, Butcher likes to torture his characters a bit much for my taste. ;)

But overall, I enjoyed the series enough. Not as much as Dresden, but that might just be because I tend to like the urban supernatural genre a bit more. (In general. Specific books obviously are going to be all over the place on my like-o-meter.) So if you like fantasy, and want to try something a bit different, maybe give these a spin.
Pretty Words

Parasha: April suggestions?

Just realized it's past the halfway point in the month, and I haven't solicited anyone yet.

Er.

You know what I mean. Solicited opinions. Pervs.

Ahem.

Anyhow, any suggestions for next month? If y'all are interested in continuing this, that is. Frankenstein doesn't seem to have gone over completely well, not sure if it's the book or just flagging interest. :/ Anyhow, let me know what y'all think!