trude: (geoffrey)
The Orphans Tales: In the Night Garden (Catherynne M. Valente): Two long (slightly connected) fairytale-like (the non-sugary kind) stories made up of several short ones (plus a framing story which felt superfluous at times). I liked the ongoing mockery of Heroic Men on Heroic Quest, but could have lived without the cutting off of various limbs (I’m squemish about that). The loveliest thing though, spoiler )

Coraline (Neil Gaiman) – vintage Gaiman of the creepier kind. Liked it but did not love it.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (N.K. Jemisin) : It has some absolutely stunning mythic back-story, and a sympathetic and interesting protagonist/narrator. Some of the supporting cast are good, others a bit wooden – mostly the female ones, sadly enough. The story of how the protagonist discovers the truth about her dead mother (both about her personality and her actions) is brilliantly done, though, and I also liked the bit with her paternal grandmother.

Queen of Camelot (Nancy McKenzie) : Good points – it has an Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot triangle where everyone is portrayed as both sympathetic and flawed (to varying degrees), spoiler ) It also has a smart, sweet, snarky Mordred whom I love (this is a first) and some rather neat re-imagining of various pieces of Arthuriana.
Bad points – this is one of those books where the author tries to show how fabulous the heroine is by making every other woman either evil, boring or both. Thus we have the most wretched, annoying Elaine imaginable, an evil, but over-the-top hilarious Morgause, an evil and boring Morgan and a bunch of minor female characters who are evil and Jealous of Gwen because she’s prettier than they are. Other women are either victims of rape or other male violence, info-dumpers or there to be info-dumped on.

Grail Prince (Nancy McKenzie) : Sequel to the above, a rather free retelling of Galahad’s Grail Quest.
spoiler )
For both novels: not recommended reading if you want a book where not everyone is white and straight.

Filter House (Nisi Shawl): Short-story collection, more SF than fantasy – though there is an absolute adorable story about a princess from Al-Andalus and a dragon. Well-written, but I found the stories set in futuristic space colonies a bit hard to follow at times, and liked the more earth-bound, like the quiet little dystopia of “Momi Watu” better.

The Ruins of Ambrai (Melanie Rawn): Re-read, have planned to do a separate post on this since October, and has still not given up the idea. Short version: still like most of the bits I used to like, dislike the things I used to dislike (though my huge irrational hate for Taig Ostin has cooled down to indifference) and some of the things I never could make sense of probably ARE plot-holes.

Song of the Sparrow (Lisa Ann Sandell): YA-novel in free verse about Elaine of Astolat/Ascolat. Actually quite lovely. The world-building reminded me a bit of the movie King Arthur, though thankfully Sandell doesn’t start the book with a note about how Historians Agree that this is the True Story of the Lady of Shallot. (Actually, she does the complete opposite.) What I loved was spoiler )

The Silver Phoenix (Cindy Poon): YA-fantasy based on Chinese culture and folklore about a girl who hits the road when her father disappears and her mother gets bullied by a local evil businessman to let him marry her (the girl). Then weird stuff starts to happen, and she meets up with two brothers (one with a quest of his own, one without) and the rest is road trip fun and angst with some almost-sex thrown in at times. I really enjoyed reading it and would have loved it when I was thirteen. Could have done with some active, positive female characters besides the heroine, though.

Merlin Tie-ins: The Mark of Nimueh (Jason Loborik): Rather boring scene-by-scene retelling, though with bonus Geoffrey.
A Fighting Chance (Jaqueline Rayner): “Lancelot” and” A Remedy to Cure all Ills” in about 150 pages – first half is awesome Merlin/Lancelot/Gwen/Arthur-crack, second half is mostly Gaius angsting, though with one or two sentences of Gwen/Morgana thrown in.
Lancelot and Guinevere (Martin Day): Has one or three passages too many about Morgana’s alabaster beauty – hey, this is supposed to be the Gwen-centric story! Well, at least her glasses, buck teeth and annoying family are nowhere to be seen.(And she is indeed described as perfect and flawless at one point, when Lancelot-cam is on. And then they kiss and his heart "thumped with the gentle pulse of a butterfly's wings". Which I've decided is how Lancelot later described the event in his diary. Gwaine occasionally reads it to get a good laugh and nick some bad pick-up lines.)


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November 2016



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