Some may say that listening to an audio book doesn’t count as reading it–that you lose something in the process of imagining the action for yourself, and that there’s an extra layer of interpretation between you and the author’s words because someone else is reading them to you.
Me, I don’t quibble about this much. As far as I’m concerned, a decent narrator can do a great deal to make a story come alive, and Patrick Tull did do a very fine job narrating the version of Treason’s Harbour I listened to. I did have to do various mental doubletakes at his portrayals of various character accents, since I have Aubrey and Maturin thoroughly imprinted into my brain as Mr. Crowe and Mr. Bettany from the movie–but aside from that, Mr. Tull did do very well distinguishing character accents from his own voice. And in general he seemed a fine narrator for the overall flavor of an Aubrey-Maturin adventure, very British, very proper, and sounding in character for the time frame in which the books are set.
As for the story itself, now we’re talking. This has been my favorite of the last few of the Aubrey-Maturins I’ve read, in no small part because of the delightful intrigue plot involving Stephen having to help Mrs. Laura Fielding, who’s been forced by the French to try to spy on their behalf because they’ve imprisoned her husband. There are quite a few hijinx involving Aubrey being mistaken for her lover while she is in fact trying to seduce Stephen, and Aubrey himself mistakenly believing that Stephen is in fact having an affair with her–all of which provides quite a bit of lovely character interaction between our two principles.
Played off against this is Stephen’s actual intrigue going on with Mrs. Fielding, as he enlists Mrs. Fielding’s willing help to turn the French’s efforts against them. Meanwhile, Jack has intrigue of his own as he’s ordered to go on an urgent mission into the Red Sea, which gives the reader a fine opportunity to see an older, more seasoned Jack desperately trying to turn his fortunes around by pulling off another spectacular success… and what happens when things don’t go quite so well as that.
Overall this was highly enjoyable, as the Aubrey-Maturins generally are for me, and I’m ready to take on The Far Side of the World! Four stars.
I wanted to like this book. I really did. But I’ve got the same issue with it that I did with Jane Lindskold’s The Buried Pyramid: i.e., loved the concept, but the execution? Not so much.
And as with The Buried Pyramid, what pulled me in was the idea of an alternate history settings where the British Empire was pretty much like we expect, only there’s magic. And supernatural things. And lots of potential for the magic of Europe and the magic of Africa to clash and make things go very, very differently on the African continent than they did in real life.
But the biggest thing that stood in the way of me liking this book is this: it was a lot more “romance novel thinly disguised as alternate history fantasy” than it was “alternate history fantasy”. Now, I might not have minded that–if there also hadn’t been the problem that the biggest thing driving the conflict of the plot is one of the biggest things I hate about many romances, i.e., The Big Misunderstanding. In other words, we have characters here who start off making wildly unwarranted assumptions about each other, and they never once actually confront one another about them. Instead, they spend most of the book glowering silently at one another and continuing a chain of bad assumptions, each one more vexing to me than the last, because they’re all issues that could have been solved with one good fight to clear the air and let everybody get on with the actual plot.
And don’t get me wrong, there is plot here. Aside from The Big Misunderstanding that motivates the central characters, there’s halfway decent character development otherwise. It’s just marred for me as a reader because the maturation of the involved parties feels forced.
There’s also the bigger picture plot of why exactly our principle characters are searching through Africa for the fabled magical gem Heart of Light. Like the character arcs in play here, the bigger plot has a few interesting things going on, but they’re marred by a resolution that felt too predictable to me. Had the bigger picture plot gone in as unusual a direction as the characters’ various arcs did, I would have liked it more.
I can’t fault Ms. Hoyt’s worldbuilding; certainly the details she’s worked in of how the various nations of the world have handled magic are interesting. So’s the overall perception of dragons and other were-creatures. She does more than once throughout the book have some lovely turns of phrase. But overall this wasn’t enough to counteract the unsatisfying character portrayals for me. Two stars.
I now actually show up in the search results if you look for “Faerie Blood Angela Korra’ti” on Amazon. I have me an actual Amazon page right here. It says “not yet available” on it, though. Which is vexing, since neither my editor nor I know yet exactly when the book will be available!
Those of you who have read the book already, though, if you feel inclined, you can maybe start encouraging things along. Drop ratings up there, reviews, tags, whatever you feel is appropriate! Now that there’s an actual page there data can be added!
Meanwhile, over on Fictionwise, they think I’m on the way, too. Those of you who have accounts on that system, feel free to keep an eye there too!
More data on both of these when I have it.
It was so brutally hot here in Kenmore last night that it was impossible for me to comfortably use my laptop. Which meant that I had to try writing on my iPhone. Newly-christened Mnemosyne was game for the task, but unfortunately, I wasn’t; I was so worn out from the heat that I had barely enough brain to manage taking a nice cool shower and then falling into bed.
I did at least manage to get out about a hundred words, though. Hopefully now that it seems to be cooling off, I can get back in gear tomorrow. Tonight’s been shot due to power outages and a sick cat.
Written last night: 98
The Blood of the Land total: 1,769
The poll to name my iPhone officially closed last night, and the winner of the poll was Mnemosyne! This means is the winner.
The companion contest is also therefore officially closed, and wins that for the in-character Petalwing portayal.
Y’all please to send me email at annathepiper AT gmail DOT com and let me know whether you would like a free copy of Faerie Blood, or else a free copy of the book of your choice from the Drollerie Press bookshop.
If you’d like Faerie Blood, please let me know your preferred format. If you’d like a different book, please let me know which one you’re interested in from the shop and I’ll set you up with a Drollerie gift certificate for the correct amount!
Thanks all for participating, and I’ll do another contest some time soon!
I slept very poorly last night, which has meant that the words are not flowing like they should be tonight. But I was determined not to let this heat wave beat me–certainly not when it’s only just getting started–and so I wrenched out a couple hundred words anyway.
But now I desperately need sleep, and I’m off to get some.
Written tonight: 211
The Blood of the Land total: 1,671
If like me you’re enough of a romance fan that you enjoy a periodic romance novel, yet you like a hefty dose of snark with your lovin’, then you should absolutely pick up a copy of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels. This is the beloved child of Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan, better known as Smart Bitch Candy and Smart Bitch Sarah over at Smart Bitches Trashy Books.
What do you get if you look past the heaving bosoms? A fairly decent overview of the modern romance genre, actually. Sure, there’s plenty of poking fun at the standard romance tropes, but there’s also very up-front and straightforward looks at things like how rape used to be prevalent in the genre (and glossed over as “forced seduction”), and how the arising of the No Means No movement rolled out into the books being written. (Needless to say, I’m much more a fan of modern romance novels than I am of the ones y’all are probably thinking of every time you think “bodice-rippers”.) There’s a review as well of the massive firestorm that the Smart Bitch ladies kicked up when they revealed on their site that Cassie Edwards had plagarized material for her novels.
So yeah, there’s plenty enough serious material here to make the book worth a read if you have any interest in the genre at all. But really, what makes it worth the price of admission? Five words: “Choose Your Own Man Titty”. Four stars.