Saturday, February 16, 2013

Wow, something good came out of Cincinnati!

I really shouldn't insult the Queen City like that, but it has it coming.

Ever After, Book 11 in Kim Harrison's The Hollows series, starts with the kidnapping of Rosewood Syndrome babies and ends with more evolution in the relationships between the series' central characters.

For those who've never delved into The Hollows before, the premise is fairly simple. Several years before the series starts, genetically modified tomatoes ended up killing off a large majority of the human population. As such, the "Interlander" species (These include, but aren't limited to: Witches, Vampires, Weres, fairies, pixies, and only recently, Elves.) came out of the closet to save society.

Rachel Morgan is a witch. Over the course of the series, we've learned that she was a baby born with the normally fatal Rosewood Syndrome, and that a local businessman named Trent Kalamack's father ended up curing her. (Rosewood Syndrome being a genetic disorder in witches that is something of a failsafe to keep witches from kindling demon magic. Yes, demons.) Trent himself is a rather shady character, although as the series has progressed, he's become a heck of a lot more complex, rather than playing an eel Rachel can't quite get stuff pinned on, and instead become a morally ambiguous supporting character in his own right, working for the greater good, even if it is against the law.

Anyway, the kidnapped babies that start this installment have been taken by Ku'Kox (I may have that spelled wrong, I had to return the book today, so I can't reference it), a demon created by the other demons many eons ago because the only female demon is nuts, making sexual reproduction a lot chancy. Ku' is not a nice demon. That he was imprisoned beneath the St. Louis arch should say something to his power level. His goal is to cure the Rosewood babies (by blackmailing Trent), destroy the Ever After (the parallel reality on the other sides of the ley lines that demons inhabit), then use the rosewood babies as his own personal meat puppets so he can exist of the Earth side of the lines. All while framing Rachel for the gradual but rapidly deflating Ever After.

Unfortunately, Ivy (the living vampire business partner) is out of town for most of the novel, appearing in a very limited role towards the end. Even then, she's mostly relegated to entertaining a minor character introduced only a few books ago.

It's a good addition to the series, and more interesting than the last installment. I'm kind of happy I didn't give up on the series after book 4, when I felt Rachel was jumping every shark she could. As things have progressed, so have the characters and the writing, and the journey has been fun to experience.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

This is a Thesaurus. Let me show you how it works...

This post is a bit of filler, because I'm just getting in to Kim Harrison's new Ever After, but not far enough in to really review it.

So, instead I'll discuss a specific author whose books I found yesterday while working on a project.


As I mentioned previously, my library has been mostly boxed up for a few years following my move from Missouri back to Ohio. Well, yesterday, I wound up buying a 5 shelf bookshelf, which also lead to the absolute joy of assembling it. Given I haven't taken an Industrial Arts class since 8th grade, this was a bit on an adventure. I did, however, manage to put it together and began the fun of unloading box after box of books onto its waiting shelves.

As you can tell, I need more bloody room. I still have another box or two, plus books floating around the house. Also, a few of the books I put out were ones I haven't read. (Those were mainly parts of lots I bought on EBay to get a specific title. Which means I now have 2 Zodiac Chillers, specifically Twisted Taurus by Ellen Steiber and Never Love a Libra by Vicki Kamida, [As a side note, the advice of the second title is sound, and the former is also true of the breed.] and a bunch of other YA horror titles.) Also, I found out I have two copies each of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, David Eddings' Castle of Wizardry, Dean R. Koontz's Lightning, and Catherine Adkins' When Jeff Comes Home.

Anyway, when I posted the pictures to FaceBook last night, a friend of mine in Ottawa noticed the David Eddings on the shelf (second shelf from the bottom, on the right hand side). Which brought up a discussion on Eddings.

Eddings wrote 2 pentads and two trilogies that I enjoyed. (The pentads being The Belgariad and The Mallorean. The Trilogies being The Elenium and The Tamuli.) Unfortunately, those are not all he's written.

Given both pentads center around the same characters and both trilogies also center around the same characters, it's fairly safe to discuss them as two series.

The Belgariad and The Mallorean center around Garion, his very great grandfather Begarath, and his very great Aunt Polgara. (The latter two get their own novels written after he finished the series.) Both center on folks wondering around fighting an evil prophecy.

The Elenium and The Tamuli mostly center on Sparhawk and his friends as they try to fight an evil God.

(Yes, I'm greatly simplifying things here. We're discussing 16 volumes of verbiage.)

While they're all generally fun reads, with lots of humor, I did find myself spending every book wanting to mail Eddings a Thesaurus. Because every character in ever novel says everything either "blandly" or "sardonically". By the time I reached the end, I was about to start scratching out every repetition and replacing it with a synonym.

He's also wrote Regina's Song, which involved identical twins, one of whom is murdered and the other who more or less goes catatonic afterwards. That one was fun. The ending was a bit off, but hey...

It still beat the pants off of The Dreamers. I tried reading the first book, put it down halfway through, and returned it, mainly because I believe book burning is evil. Although technically, in this case, it would have been euthanasia. Putting it out of my misery.

And then there was one of his early novels, The Losers. While I appreciate the allegorical nature of the novel (basically, a tale of fallen angels and redemption), it got really bogged down in an very vitriolic anti social worker screed that managed to eclipse everything else he was trying to say.

So, yes. I have Eddings on my shelf, and I have enjoyed much of his work. I would highly recommend some of his stuff. I just wish he'd retired before even trying to write The Dreamers.

Monday, February 4, 2013

It's a wonderful Maltese Falcon?

Slogging through The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams. This isn't to say that it's a bad book, it's just very dense in a few spots and my normal reading times keep getting curtailed by other pursuits that I can't seem to shake.

I've also been hesitant to start writing this, since I'm almost to the end and I'm still trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

The basic set up is this. When humans die, a demonic prosecutor and angelic defense advocate show up in a bubble of frozen space and hold a trial for the dead soul in front of a Principality. Bobby Dollar (nickname for the Angel Dolorial) works as an advocate, trying to save souls from being damned. (There are 3 options for sentence, since Purgatory is an option in this universe.)

To qualify, this is how it's supposed to work. After one case to give us an idea of how the system works, we follow Bobby to another incident where the soul doesn't show up for his own court date. Which really isn't supposed to happen. Which of course sets in motion a plot that's involved several layers of bureaucracy on both sides of the afterlife, a guy who got his family curse reversed in a unique way, dead sisters who set their parents on fire, a monster that predates the old testament, and a character I'm trying to figure out a trope for. Is she the Bond girl? A love interest? Or, given the hard boiled narrative, the femme fatale?

While I'm enjoying the story, the pacing could use a little work, and I would have appreciated more breadcrumbs earlier to grab the imagination more. (Because really, my mind was going full Buffy Season 5 plot twist with one character, although that seems to have been disproved now.)