June 2011

Booking Through Thursday

What’s the largest your personal library has ever been? What’s the greatest number of books you’ve ever owned at one time? (Estimates are fine.)

Is your collection NOW the biggest it’s ever been? Or have you down-sized?

What’s the fewest number of books you’ve ever owned (not counting your pre-reading years)?

I haven’t counted the books I’ve read. My TBR pile is still around 200 books and I’d guess that I’ll have at least 100-150 read books, so my library is biggest now. I’ve given away some books that I’ve read but that hasn’t made a much of a dent to my book shelves.

I’m also constantly buying many audio books and the occasional ebook so my library is definitely just growing. However, my collection of single issue comics, both in English and Finnish, is much larger.

Last Tuesday in the Top Ten Tuesdays the topic was Bookish Websites, Organizations, Apps. Etc.

In addition to blogs, I use:

1, Audible.com, since I listen a lot of audiobooks.

2, The Book Depository is the place where I usually buy my print books because the postage is already included in their pricing.

3, BookMooch for international book swapping.

4, Amazon.com for reviews and recommendations. Although after I added UF books into my read books, it has started to recommend paranormal romance and different editions of Buffy DVDs (I own one set already, thanks, and I can’t afford another) so it has become less convenient.

5, Wikipedia for bibliographies.

6, Fantasticfiction.co.uk usually have great covers.

7, my local library for translations and the occasional English or Finnish book, too.

And Google, of course, for finding reviews of interesting books.

The first in a four part SF series which can be read as a stand-alone. I got it used.

Publication year: 1975
Page count: 192
Format: print
Publisher: Daw

The setting is clearly science fiction with high-tech Gates which can transport matter not just from one place to another but from one time to another, too. Yet, the world and the main character are from a pre-industrial society which is common in (epic) fantasy.

The prologue is just a couple of pages and introduces to the reader the concept of the Gates and that the species which built them, the qhal, was apparently ruined by the time travel aspect. The time travel part also changed the cultures and people on other planets, too. The survivor want to destroy the Gates, There’s also a short historical account from the place where the story starts, Andur-Kursh. The history remembers only one woman, Morgaine, who is thought to be evil incarnate when she was alive about a hundred years ago.

Vanye is a bastard son of Lord Nhi Rijan. He has two elder half-brothers who have enjoyed tormenting him through his childhood. One day, they go too far and Vanye kills his eldest brother and wounds the other grievously. Their father gives Vanye a choice – to kill himself or become a clanless exile, an ilin. Vanye goes into exile.

He’s chased mercilessly for months and finally he’s forced to northern lands which as still considered evil. Accidentally, he triggers a Gate and a fair woman on a gray horse comes out of it, as if from thin air. Vanye is scared when he realizes that the woman is legendary Morgaine. Still, he’s in a wintry climate without proper clothes or food, and so he’s forced to accept Morgaine’s shelter. In exchange Morgaine claims Vanye as her underling, as is customary, although not usually for women. So, Vanye has to follow and protect the strange woman.

Morgaine has only one goal: to destroy the Gate of Ivrel, and Thiye Thyie’s-son who has some understanding of how the Gate works and is using it for his own benefit. However, for her no time has passed inside the Gate and some of her old allies have become enemies. Nobody trusts her but some want her knowledge and power for themselves.

Vanye is a quite bitter protagonist. He’s had a hard life and at the start of the story, he’s lost everything but his life. Still, he wants to live and he’s honorable after his own customs; once he’s Morgaine’s ilin he will do everything in his power to protect and aid her, even if he should die protecting her. However, he doesn’t trust her and he doesn’t even know what she is. At the start, he thinks that she’s a qhal which seems to be a demon-like creature to him. Still, he keeps his oath once he’s made it.

Morgaine is a far more distant character; we see her only through Vanye’s eyes. She’s a young woman with a single goal and she will do anything to achieve it. I thought she also worried about the choices she had to make and even regretted some of them. She carries weapons that seem magical to the pre-industrial characters but seem to be technological.

The rest of the cast all have their own agendas and seemed very human to me, perhaps appallingly human and illogical 🙂 at times. I especially enjoyed Roh and Eirj. Roh, the chief of Chya clan, for his stubbornness that ended not only him but lots of others in trouble. Erij is almost as single minded as Morgaine once he made up his mind. He’s another tortured character but he’s also vindictive which Vanye doesn’t seem to be. However, Erij is a maimed man in a culture where all men are supposed to be warriors – that has be hard.

Morgaine’s fair hair color is said to be remarkable, so I wonder if fair skin color is also remarkable; maybe all the other characters are non-white? It’s not said, though.

The culture reminded me first of Mongols or Tolkien’s Rohirrim with the way they relied on horses and took good care of them, and also for being very patriarchal (there are only two named women in the book and the other is Vanye’s dead mother). However, they also have a strict honor system more reminiscent of Japanese culture’s samurai and ronin. Even though the book is slim, it manages to bring to life the culture, even though some parts are by necessity left vague, such as religion.

There’s a lot of traveling in the book and it’s realistic; it rains or snows or is too hot, and all of that have an effect. Horses are also not just cars but living creatures that tire and need to be taken care of.

The plot is very fast-paced and full of uncertainty and betrayals. About the only thing I didn’t really care for was the very ending. Oh and the lack of female characters.

For some reason I didn’t like it as much as the Chanur books.

Oh, that cover is awful! Both Morgaine and Vanye are specifically mentioned wearing armor.

Jeff VanderMeer has another awesome book project! He’s going to write and edit a compendium of 30 Science Fiction and Fantasy worlds called If You Lived Here: The Top 30 All Time Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Worlds. It’s going to be published by Underland Press. It seems that the worlds are limited to books and that’s understandable; there are a lot of interesting secondary worlds in TV and movies, not to mention comics, which could make the book to a series.

People can nominate up to three worlds into the project. Just three. I’m going to nominate Zelazny’s Amber but the other two are really, really hard.

Today the topic of Top 5 Sundays at Larissa’s Bookish Life is Favorite Subgenres which aren’t Urban Fantasy.

I’m a latecomer to UF so I have a lot of these.

1, Fantasy
I love a lot of different kinds of fantasy books from epic to new weird to steampunk.
Some of the series I love are Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series, Anne Logston’s Shadow series, and Roger Zelazny’s Amber.

2, Space Opera
I tend to love SF more in TV and movies but some space operas are great, such as Lois McMaster Bujold’ Vorkosigan series, Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s the Disappeared, and C. J. Cherryh’s Chanur series.

3, Historical Mystery
I tend to like historicals which are set in ancient world such as Lynda S. Robinson’s Lord Meren series but I like some Victorian series too, such as Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series.

4, Historical Fantasy
I noticed that I’ve been reading a lot of these lately. I love series like Naomi Novik’s Temeraire, Dave Duncan’s Alchemist’s Apprentice, and Marie Brennan’s Onyx Court.

5, Science Fantasy
I read a lot of this when I was younger but not so much these days. Books like E. R. Burrough’s Barsoom series have technology but it works with magic, really.

I was going to include Alternate History but then I realized that a lot of the UF series can be put into this category. After all, in a lot of them there are secret histories which most of humanity don’t know about or some event changed the current world into a different world, such as the Turn in Harrison’s Hollows series.

The fourth book in the Hollows Urban Fantasy series. I bought this one first and didn’t know that it’s a part of a series. I really like the book titles which all allude to Westerns. The stories don’t resemble them, though.

Publication year: 2006
Page count: 528
Format: print
Publisher: HarperTorch

Rachel Morgan is again in trouble. She became part of David’s pack in order to get cheaper health care but right at the start another Werewolf alpha challenges her. Rachel has to fight her surprised and weaponless while six other alphas back up Rachel’s challenger. Rachel manages to win but only barely and she knows that she has pissed off several Werewolves. So, she searches for a way to defend herself in the future – and finds one in a demon curse. The curse allows her to change herself into a wolf but takes a toll on her soul. Rachel convinces herself that she will only do it once.

Jenks is still angry to Rachel and doesn’t want to talk to her. However, when Jenks’ wife Matalina tells Rachel that Rachel’s former boyfriend Nick has convinced Jenks’ oldest son Jax to leave with Nick and help him steal something, Rachel realizes that she has to help Jax – and at the same time Nick. Nick and Jax are out of town and as a small pixie Jenks can’t go after them. Rachel manages to convince Jenks to work with her again and together they go after the thieving duo. However, Nick is in a lot more trouble than Rachel could have imagined.

In order for Jenks to travel to another city, Rachel uses a demon curse (just this once!) to make him six foot tall. Jenks turns out to be a really handsome young man and Rachel drools over him several times. However, we also find out the real reason why Jenks has distanced himself from his previous partners. It turns out that he’s actually quite old and he’s worried that his skills are going to deteriorate soon.

Ivy and Rachel’s relationship seems to come to a turning point. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really change anything as they are both just as angsty about each other as before, if not more so. Poor Ivy has to also do a pretty bad thing to bail out Rachel and she seems to be more messed up than before. Rachel is now with the vampire Kisten but she still has feelings for Nick and Nick wants her back, so there’s also lots of angst about them. She’s also increasingly confused about Ivy and insists that she’s strictly hetero while wanting to ”filling in the emotional void” inside Ivy. So, the soap opera content is high. The unresolved plot thread is Kalamach doesn’t continue. Also, Ivy and Jenks call Nick “crap for brains” and constantly threaten to mutilate or kill him. I think he deserved it but it got old quickly.

After being angry with Rachel for a long time, Jenks starts to quickly trust her again and becomes extremely loyal to her. He’s also very effective fighter even though his size has changed drastically. We also get to see the more savage side of the pixie up close and personal. Even though we’ve been told about the bloody fights between pixies and fairies, it didn’t really feel real to me, or supposed wild fighting between four inch people felt even humorous, until Jenks kicks werewolf ass with just a lead pipe.

The main plot starts fast-paced but slows considerably once Ivy shows up. Unfortunately, there’s little character development. Rachel is still doing stupid mistakes; somehow she assumes that demon curses aren’t black magic and she still doesn’t know much about vampires even tough she lives with one and is dating another. She’s also again keeping secrets from her partner and walking around with a vampire bite.

The book has as much humor as the previous books; the people in the small town aren’t used to Interlanders and they are really racists towards Jenks and Rachel. However, the duo get their revenge. As pixie, Jenks has to constantly do something and that’s amplified when he’s so large. The local ladies are also very attracted to him. And of course, Rachel has her humorous lines.

Booking Through Thursday

What, if any, kind of music do you listen to when you’re reading? (Given a choice, of course!)

Nothing usually. When I read, I turn off the computer. I don’t have stereos.

I can’t listen to anything with lyrics when I read, so on the few occasions I listen to music it’s either classical or movie sound tracks.

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