Entries in magic (54)

Thursday
Feb212019

No Man of Woman Born

As I understand it from what the author, Ana Mardoll, has tweeted about this collection, it was a response to/inspired by Eowyn from LotR and her slaying of the Witch King who no man could kill. This is a collection of short stories full of similar tales with trans and non-binary people as the main characters.

The stories overall are delightful and the characters are often precious cinnamon buns too pure for this world. Some of them fall pretty flat, but some of them are incredible and I love them (so par for the course with most short story collections).

I loved a lot of these stories, some of them original and some of them giving a fun, queer twist to classics like Sleeping Beauty and The Sword in the Stone. It was great to see such a queerly diverse array of characters out living their best lives and saving the day.

I especially liked seeing the gender fluid character and another questioning his gender and where he fits on the binary. The stories gave me a greater understanding of just what gender fluid means. And it was also nice to see someone going through the process of questioning gender, even if he didn't quite get to any decisions (most of us never do anyway).

My only real problem with this collection is the writing itself. There's often too much telling and too much backstory, often delivered in the form of lengthy flashbacks that honestly got distracting and killed the momentum of many of the stories. But they're also really short, so it wasn't that hard to push through and get to the end. And the end of each story was absolutely worth it.

This is a great collection for allies looking for a deeper understanding, people who like fantasy and aren't squicky about queer content, and for anyone trans, non-binary or questioning who are tired of the Bury Your Gays trope and just need to see someone like them be the hero.

Monday
Jan282019

Vultures

It's the final book in the Miriam Black series and it is a fantastic end to this series. Wendig totally nails the landing. If you're already a fan of the series, you won't be disappointed. If you've been waiting for the series to end before you start reading, now is the time and this series is worth it!

You can find my review of the first book, Blackbirds, and the previous one, The Raptor and the Wren. Chuck wraps up all the threads in a satisfying way that's true to the dark grit of this series. I have a 6-book hangover now.

The book is gritty, gory, hard-hitting and snarky. Everything you expect and love about the series.

Miriam doesn't have much time left to stop the Trespasser and save both Gabby and the baby. She meets a delightful ace/aro trans dude named Steve who is an absolute cinnamon bun and totally made the book. He's like that rug in The Big Lebowski. Ties the room together.

Steve and Gabby are Miriam's sidekicks while she tries to save them all, get rid of her powers, and stop a new serial killer.

And that's all I'm going to say spoiler free, because it's hard to talk about a book like this without spoilers. You don't like spoilers, stop reading now.

Anyway, at the end of the last book, Miriam is pregnant and sees that her baby is going to die. This book starts with her waddling miserably through the shitshow nightmare of pregnancy. It is a morbidly un-sentimental take on pregnancy and motherhood and is so much the way I felt through pregnancy that this book could have been written about me.

There are so many things to love in this book, but I love that pregnancy doesn't really slow Miriam down. That motherhood doesn't fundamentally change who she is. That, much like me, she ends up teaching her kid context (don't swear in school) rather than quit swearing. (haha, yes, there's a spoiler, the kid lives)

Wren's 5-second cameo was SO GOOD, though it did leave me a little baffled. I know there's a side novella about her out there somewhere that I'm probably going to need to read to be less baffled about how she ended up where she did and when she did. It felt a touch deus ex machina, but I also don't have all the info.

But anyway, as dark as this series is, the ending is a hopeful one. True to the series, but still full of hope. Get out there and read it!

Thursday
Jan102019

Echoes of Understorey

So at first, this book was a bit jarring because it wasn't about Unar, the MC of the first book in the trilogy. But it appears that the setting (and secondary characters) are the only real constant with these books. The final book looks like it will be about yet another character.

Which is fine, especially since the MC of this book, Imeris, who was just a baby in Crossroads of Canopy, is a much more compelling character than Unar ever was. Where Unar was arrogant and self-righteous, Imeris is a practical, humble badass.

Everything about this book is so much stronger than the first. And since it follows a new MC, you can read Echoes of Understorey without having read Crossroads of Canopy and probably not be confused at all. Unar makes an appearance, as do many of the side characters from her journey. The familiarity is nice. But Imeris is a much stronger character, not just in terms of her abilities, but in terms of the author's craft.

Anyway, Imeris is out with one goal in mind: to kill the body-snatching sorceress who was at the root of Unar's problems in book one. A lot of stuff gets in Imeris's way, most notably being swept up in a historic Hunt called by the rulers of Canopy.

Imeris is quite possibly the best warrior alive in her world, but she is humble about it and just wants to do her duty to rid her world of the sorceress and then maybe take up farming like Unar has. Unlike Unar, Imeris doesn't want to be a legend at all, though she doesn't shun her legendary status once she achieves it. She uses it for good.

Like with the first book ending with Unar on a new, vastly different adventure, Imeris finds herself on the cusp of something new and exciting. The next book will focus on her brother Leaper, but I hope to see some of Imeris in her new role.

Anyway, the setting is superb, the action is excellent and the characters are all wonderful and well-crafted. Highly recommend checking this out!

Thursday
Dec272018

Crossroads of Canopy

So this book has a society of people living in the tops of mountain-sized trees, so you know anything I have to say about it is going to be heavily skewed by my tree nerdiness.

The setting really is the best thing about the book, to be honest. It's richly imagined and described and I love the heck out of it. Of course I do! I want to live in Canopy forever and ever! Seriously though, trees that are MANY THOUSANDS OF FEET TALL!!!

*cough*

And that's about all that's good about this book. There's not much in the way of plot and the main character is awful. There are some side characters that I like all right, but the story is from the POV of Unar who is naive and deeply selfish. And whoadang arrogant.

This is also one of those books where most of the problems can be solved by people just sitting down and actually talking to each other. When books derive most of their conflict from this, it really truly annoys me.

The third act picks up significantly and Unar finally realizes what a steaming turd she is. And then she's driven not by arrogance but despair, except that she's kind of mopey, which is a touch annoying.

Anyway, anyone who loves trees as much as I do will probably like this book just fine, you'll find the setting is enough to buoy you through the dull bits. Otherwise, probably give this book a pass.

Wednesday
Oct032018

Furyborn

I really loved the concept of this book, and overall it was pretty cool, but a lot of things just fell flat for me so I didn't love it the way I hoped I would. I didn't hate it either, it was just kind of meh.

This is the story of two queens separated by 1000 years but with a surprising (not really) way that their lives intersect. In this story, angels are the enemy and humans are waiting for the Sun Queen to save them from utter destruction.

While this book does some fun things to invert tropes, I found it was a bit of a mess in how it did so. And I didn't care a whole lot for any of the characters. Both MCs were well portrayed, fully actualized characters, I just didn't connect with either of them. And Simon's character was just a hot mess. Nothing he did made a single lick of sense if I put any thought into it at all.

I just felt like the author was constantly trying to shoehorn in sexual tension with mixed results. And then there's the way the book just sort of... stops. I know that this is part of a trilogy and expected a lot of things to be left open, but there was no proper "end" all the same.

Anyway, having two lady MCs who kick a lot of ass plus some really cool world-building with a fun magic system makes this book worth reading despite the issues. I'll likely pick up the next book, Kingsbane, when it comes out.