Browsing Tag

elodie tirel

Other People's Books

Book review: Luna: La cité maudite, by Élodie Tirel

Luna: La cité mauditeLuna: La cité maudite by Elodie Tirel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s a challenge to properly review this on the grounds that I’m very new to the French language–and this was the first book I tried to read in order to practice my reading comprehension with Quebecois French! So I have to comment on this book with the caveat that my understanding of it is therefore decidedly imperfect.

But that said, I was very pleased to be able to follow the broad strokes of the plot even though I missed a lot of the detail. Right out of the gate we start with a prologue in which the elf Ambrethil, a slave of the drow, is giving birth to a child. She’s scared out of her wits that her child will be born half-drow and a girl, which will run a huge risk of the baby being raised in the evil cult of the spider goddess Lloth. Ambrethil will have exactly NONE of this, so she arranges to have her baby smuggled out of the drow city, Rhasgarrok.

Commence the A plot, fast-forwarding twelve years, to when our young heroine Luna is being raised by wolves. Like ya DO. Her only bipedal family figure is a solitary mage, Le Marécageux, who taught her how to speak, read, and write. When her adoptive wolf pack is attacked and apparently wiped out by a drow attacker, Luna learns the truth of her origins from Le Marécageux, and resolves to venture into Rhasgarrok in search of her mother.

Meanwhile, over in plot B, the warrior Darkhan is also infiltrating Rhasgarrok on a mission of his own. He’s promptly captured by the sorceress Oloraé, who forces him to become a gladiator. Again, like ya DO.

I was entirely unsurprised that plot A and plot B eventually intersected, but was pleasantly surprised by what transpired then. Luna, despite her initial introduction being quite cliched (because of course she’s unbelievably beautiful and looks exactly like her mother, yadda yadda yadda), was quite a bit more mature and clever than Darkhan was willing to give her initial credit for. Sure, the whole “oh this sweet innocent young thing I must protect from the awful things in this city” thing is another heavily used trope, but Luna and Darkhan both carried it out in a surprisingly likeable fashion. Which is the overall thing about this book; it uses a lot of heavily used tropes, but it does it surprisingly charmingly.

And, despite how my ability to follow the French was rough at best, I was able to pick up on how there’s some surprisingly grim bits with Darkhan in the gladiatorial bouts. My rough impression of the interactions between Darkhan and Oloraé suggested there was probably innueundo there, too. But overall this certainly seemed appropriately written for a YA audience.

So if you’re an Anglophone looking to practice your French, this would be a fun way to do it. I’ll be checking out more books in the series, since they’re digitally available to US customers on a few different sites. I’ll give this one four stars, mostly out of pleasure for the language practice, but also for finding it generally charming.

View all my reviews

Other People's Books

More on reading La cite maudite by Elodie Tirel

I’m into chapter two now on Luna: La cité maudite by Élodie Tirel, and so far I’m having great fun with it. Not only because of the language geekery, which was part of why I wanted to try this in the first place, either!

Some of it turned out to be the surprise glee of reading a book where the language is mostly beyond me, but where I have just enough to get the general idea of what’s going on. This feels very much like when I was a child and grabbing any book around me to read, especially Stephen King or The Amityville Horror off my dad’s tables, just because OH HEY BOOK. And being all “ooh hey what’s this word? How about this one? And this one over here?” And looking stuff up if I don’t understand it.

And reading a thing in French without an English translation–and also without resorting to Google Translate or the dictionary if I can help it!–feels like riding a bike without the training wheels for the first time. Sure, I’m wobbly, and maybe I’ll only make it a block or two down the street before I go skidding into a neighbor’s driveway and wind up skinning my knees on the asphalt. But that’s okay, because holy crap omg I was on the bike go me!

Language-geek!me is, however, still noting interesting words to look up. One was the verb songer, which is not to be confused with singing–it’s apparently a synonym of penser and means “to think about/consider/daydream”. And I also noted both forms of the word for “prowler”, rôdeur and rôdeuse, used to describe the drow that are the bad guys of this story.

And writer!me is amused by what I’m able to get out of the story, too–particularly things that I’ve seen industry professionals in the US markets advise against using, in no uncertain terms. For example, a prologue! Because there is one, setting up the backstory for how our heroine, Luna, is born. And for example, having our young heroine described to the reader by way of her admiring her own reflection in the water. (Complete with the obligatory description of how, of course, she is totally beautiful above and beyond the standards of her tender age, even for elves.)

But mostly, this is about amusing reader!me, and reader!me is finding this delightful so far. It’s making me have to slow down my reading speed considerably, because I need to be able to try to understand the words. And while I’m finding a lot of them still beyond me, a lot of them aren’t, and I’m getting the very basic gist of the action, just enough to let me build an idea of the plot. It will be amusing to read this again as my comprehension of French improves, just to see how my understanding of the plot changes!

Also, since I’ve been asked about this–the copy of this book I’m reading is a physical print copy, which I bought in Quebec in 2012. I will not be loaning this out, because it would be difficult to replace if anything happened to it.

But that said, if anyone else wants to try to tackle these books, they are available electronically for US readers from a couple of places. Barnes and Noble has a bunch of Tirel’s books for the Nook. Kobo has them as well. Interestingly, they are not available for the Kindle in the US, although Amazon seems perfectly willing to let you order the paperbacks. DOES have Kindle editions as well as paperbacks, though.

If you want the paperbacks, though, I’d recommend either ordering them from, or else getting a Canadian friend to scarf you copies and send them to you. Chances are good that I myself will be continuing this series electronically, though I may continue to purchase the print copies on general principles of ‘gosh this cover art is pretty’.

More as I continue through the book!

Other People's Books

Reading Luna: La Cite Maudite by Elodie Tirel

Luna: La cité maudite

Luna: La cité maudite

I haven’t quite finished off the Trilingual Hobbit Reread yet, but I’ve been itching to progress with my French reading. And so as of today I’ve started reading a book called Luna: La Cité Maudite, by Élodie Tirel. This is a Quebecois YA-level fantasy novel, which I’d heard about via userinfocow and which I picked up in paperback when Dara and I visited Montréal in 2012.

This is also the book which, when I bought it in Renaud-Bray, got me the amused commentary from the clerk about how “you know this is for children, right?” And I told him that was absolutely fine, because I was trying to learn French and I thought it’d be a good way to practice. He told me he did the same for English.

And as you can see by the cover, there’s a silver-haired elf girl riding a wolf here. In addition to this art just being lovely, it amuses me by reminding me of Clearbrook from Elfquest.

This will be the first I’ve tried to read anything in another language without having an English translation handy, so yeah, this is going to be fun. I started reading it slowly today, and was pleased to discover in the prologue that while I couldn’t pick up on all the language, I did get enough to realize that the character being described was a young elf who’d been enslaved by the drow along with her loyal servant, that she was forced to live underground and sorely missed living on the surface, and that ohnoez!, she’s about to have a baby.

Which tells me that while I have a long way to go yet with French reading comprehension, I can at least pick up on the basic details of a story. Which is very promising indeed.

Bonus too that this series is actually available electronically for the Nook. We’ll have to see if I like this one well enough to buy the rest!

ETA: Oh hey the series is also available for digital purchase via Kobo. This will require looking into, given that I do have a Kobo account set up to support Third Place!

Also: looks like the series has an official Facebook page here, and an official site here. Though be warned that the official site does launch music, before you click!

And wow, this series is up to twelve books!