Daily Archives: July 31, 2009
|July 31, 2009||Posted by annathepiper under Book Log||
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.
|July 31, 2009||Posted by annathepiper under Book Log||
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.
|July 31, 2009||Posted by annathepiper under Faerie Blood||
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.