subway?

A City Dreaming

Daniel Polansky

M is a magician or as he would put in it “in with the management”.
This book is a series of rolling vignettes as we see what M gets up to after washing back up in New York after drifting all over the planet.
The main character is a charming rogue and the writing enjoyable.
The problem for me was that the story never coheres. Some vignettes are utterly trivial tales of life as a debauched New York who just happens to have magical abilities and others have a genuine sense of danger and high stakes.
The stories just feel random – there’s no sense of tension and release. It’s never building to something and certainly the war between magical queens promised in the blurb never materializes.
I don’t regret reading it – there was much to enjoy – but I just felt it could have been great if was a more conventional fantasy story.

Rating: B

pete?

The Unkindest Tide

Seanan McGuire

This is the very latest book in the October Daye series and another where the price of the audiobook just wasn’t justifiable (at least for now).
This the book where the long teased story of the Luidaeg calling in the debts of the Selkies is told.
It’s a cracking read but another one where things happen in the plot more to extend the length of the book than serve the story.
The accompanying novella is interesting but slight and only tangentially related the the main book.

Rating: B+

kale?

Night And Silence

Seanan McGuire

As my re-read of the October Daye series progressed I finally came to the first one I hadn’t read before. So I read this one while I had it’s audiobook on the go.
October is recovering from the trauma of events in The Brightest Fell when she’s called in to investigate a missing college student – her own daughter Gillian.
This was another very enjoyable installment in the series and contained quite a few cracking twists that impact on the long arc of the series.
The only issue really was that it felt less like a novel and more like a couple of novellas mashed together.
The accompanying novella is intimately tied in with the events of the book and are very illuminating in ways that I found tantalising about the direction of the series.
Lots of fun but not any kind of entry point.

Rating: B+

portland?

A Red-Rose Chain

Seanan McGuire

a red-rose chainThe latest instalment of the Toby Daye story finds her in Portland on a diplomatic mission to avert war between Faerie kingdoms. Obviously this being Toby nothing quite goes to plan.
I read this because I have been going through the series as audiobooks and this was the first I couldn’t find at a reasonable price. So old-fashioned physical reading was my only option.
Last time I read this I gave it a higher rating because I genuinely really enjoy the October Daye series but on a re-read in the context of the series it felt like a lesser work. Still good but not as good as the best books in the series

Rating: B

rommalb?

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld

Patricia A. McKillip

Winner of Best Novel at the inaugural World Fantasy Awards. It tells the story of Sybel, a daughter of wizards, who keeps a menagerie of magical creatures in her high mountain home.
She is removed from the world and knows little of other people and then one day a baby is left with her to keep safe from the King of Eldwold.
How she is changed by that event and the consequences that flow out from that point form a unique kind of fantasy tale.
The distinguishing thing about this book is the quality of the writing. It’s really unlike anything else I’ve ever read in the Fantasy genre. The words flow like a sing-song fairy tale. Somehow retaining the structure of prose but feel of the poetical.
I found it fairly difficult to get into but the last half of the book is incredible.
I really don’t know if it’s going to be everyone’s cup of tea but I suspect I’ll be thinking about it for a long time.

Rating: A-

trolleys?

Reaper Man

Terry Pratchett

The second book in the Death sequence.
This is a solid Pratchett – funny, clever and very enjoyable – but not quite as impactful or as perfect as his later masterpieces but quickly building from the more parodical early works.
The biggest surprise on this re-read is how many of the little details tie into overall Discworld canon in later books.
As always I encourage anyone to start reading the man’s books. Not only are they bloody great reads – they’ll also give you an insight into the human condition that we all sorely need.
On a personal note: I’m slightly stunned to realize that I’ve never reviewed this book for the blog in all 17 years of the blog’s existence. Like all the Pratchett books I’ve read it multiple times before but I guess since it came out in 1991 these were all pre-blog.
It’s also the case that I’ve been revisiting the Pratchett oeuvre via audiobook rather than from my battered old books these last couple of years thanks to Edinburgh City Libraries & Audible.
Also a note on my rating system and the wonky idiosyncratic beast it has become over the years…

Rating: B+

seashells?

The Tamuli

David Eddings

The Tamuli is the second of the Sparhawk trilogies. This time he solves a world-ending problem at the other end of the world. Like The Elenium books I’ve read these books a bunch of times before. Frankly it was a bit of a struggle this time. I think probably because I tried to read it straight after the first trilogy. It took a bit of a palate cleanser in the form of romance to get me through this thing.

Rating: C+

Continue reading “seashells?”

twisted?

Traveller in Black

John Brunner

This collection of novellas is a fantasy work by an author better known for his science fiction.
In each story a powerful and anomalous being (the eponymous traveller in black) makes a journey around the cities in his domain and attempts to tip the universe ever further away from chaos and towards order.
These are densely written tales that seem incredibly apt given out current insane political climate.
Not the easiest read but it is short and repays the bit of effort required handsomely. I loved that it’ll give you a different take on the phrase “As you wish”.

Rating: B+