Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fall Books 2008

Here are the books I've read this fall.

Rebel Fay by Barb & J.C. Hendee
fantasy, fifth in the Nobel Dead series
This entry continues following Leesil's history and the search for his mother. We also delve deeper into Chap and his situation. And we are kept updated on the efforts of Westiel and Chane, even though they can't enter the land where Leesil, Magiere and company are adventuring. Needless to say, this is not the place to start with this series, but I think it does well by the characters, playing true to their natures and filling in blanks in the history that we'll need later.

Thin Air by Rachel Caine
fantasy, book six in the Weather Warden series
I found this book a challenge. I was extremely irratated at the beginning because it opened with Joanne having lost her memories. She couldn't tell who meant her well and who meant her ill and even some of the former "good guys" weren't sure she was who she used to be. If that sounds confusing, I agree completely. I will say that the mysteries started to clear up and there will be more chapters in this story to come. Once again, don't start with this book in the series. Back up at least a few books before tackling this one.

The Children of the Company by Kage Baker
fantasy, 6th book (give or take) of the novels of The Company
I looked through my previous posts and can't believe I haven't written about any books by Kage Baker. I have been following Company novels for many years now, starting with The Garden of Iden. There have been many lulls, some due to when the new books were published, and some due to the fact that I preferred to wait until the paperbacks were out. The whole basis of these books is that someone figured out how to go back in time and change people into cyborgs. Not just any people - the right people had to be children with certain physical characteristics and they had to be children that would have died without the company rescuing them. That allowed them to disappear and become agents for The Company. They were sent to rescue artwork and about-to-be-extinct plants and animals and hide them away to be "miraculously" discovered generations later. These agents live forward through the ages, working for their unknown future bosses.

In The Children of the Company, Baker shows us that even amongst immortal cyborgs power can corrupt and Labienus is prime exampt of corruption. He schemes and plots and holds enough power to see those plots carried out. Much of this book is a series of stories told as a trip through his memories. Some stories were ones I had seen another side of in previous collections of short stories, but there were some additional twists exposed here. Even so, this book was a frustration in that the main thread of the whole series (the mystery of what happens in the year 2355) is not advanced. If you can't find the older books, then this might catch you up a bit, thought you night not care as much about some of the protagonists as if you started at the beginning.

The Machine's Child by Kage Baker
fantasy, continuing series of novels about The Company
In this installment, we find Mendoza reunited with Nicholas Harpole & Edward Bell-Fairfax & Alec Checkerfield, the men she fell in love with (each in turn). And they are all together in a story that requires a leap of faith to just "believe" and let the story move on. Joseph sees Checkerfield and company as enemies meaning harm to Mendoza and attempts a rescue, even as he uncovers old Budu. The thing they all have in common is the sure knowledge that the Company must be stopped, even if they have to wait until 2355 to see that it happens.

Gods and Pawns by Kage Baker
fantasy, short stories of The Company
Yes, I went on a Kage Baker spree. Unlike some of the previous short story collections of The Company, I felt these were really important. Some illuminated relationships between the cyborgs; another introduced Mr. Hearst - something that would be important later on. And they all seemed to expose more about the nature of The Company and its scheming.

The Sons of Heaven by Kage Baker
fantasy, what appears to be the final Company novel
This finally wrapped things up! With jaunts back and forth across the planet and across time, we see all the players taking sides, making unexpected allies and enemies. The plots are thick and devious and as 2355 approaches, it is not a sure thing that anyone will live to tell about it! You cannot start with this novel - seriously. But if you have been following the series you will need to read it. I was not entirely pleased with how the tangle of Mendoza and her three loves works out, but then they aren't my characters, are they? I did, however, find the conclusion to the whole saga satisfactory.

Music to my Sorrow by Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill
fantasy, in the Bedlam's Bard series
Eric Banyon continues his struggle to rescue his brother Magnus. And he again finds himself pitted against plots by evil Unseleighe elves. Fortunately he has a lot of friends to help him out, even when he is too stupid to avoid the obvious. Underneath the story here is a tale of children used or abused for their talents, as well as the tale of parents who can't handle high-spirited kids. There is no solution offered for those under-tales, except maybe the caution that the "easy way out" may have unforeseen consequences.

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
fantasy, book 2 about Kate Daniels
Like Magic Bites this story is set in and around an alternate Atlanta where waves of magic cause technology to fail, only to be offset by waves of technology that cause magic to fail. This time we find Kate in a "flare" when magic runs rampant with little technology reprieve. Even worse, someone may be trying to waken a diety or two. And if two dieties start battling for power then Atlanta and the humans living there may pay the price. These books are good, quick reads.

by Kristine Smith
fantasy, book 5 in the series about Captain Jani Kilian
I guess I have been deep in the series books all fall! This one is not a good place to start - too much to tell, too much to catch up with, too many politics to describe. But this is a good story. All the players are there, and the politics have caught up with every one of them. We start out in Thalassa, the community of human-idomeni hybrids, and as always, Jani keeps everyone guessing what she will do, to the frustration of those who care for her. Events cause her to return to the home of the idomeni, the place that still causes her nightmares.

His Dark Materials series:
The Golden Compass
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass
by Philip Pullman
I admit it. I first heard about The Golden Compass when it was about to be released as a movie. And I read a little about some controversy about it - that it was anti-church. So I went to see the movie when it was released and found it enjoyable and not too objectionable. Seemed to me that the fuss was overrated. So I read the books, all three in the series.

In The Golden Compass, the book, the church is definitely more evil than in the movie. Yet the world in which this is set is not our world and therefore the church of the book is not any real church in our world. In the book Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel seem to be out for themselves, not the sympathic characters that they might have seemed at the end of the movie. The end of the first book is heartwrenching and leaves us watching Lyra walk off into another world where it touchs her own. She decides to discover the mystery of Dust for herself.

The Subtle Knife opens in our own world with young Will caring for his confused mother and fleeing men who seem to be targeting him or his long-lost father's notes. He finds a hole into another world and meets Lyra. Will becomes the bearer of the Subtle Knife that allows them to move from one world to another as she searches for Dust and he searches for his father. There are forces out to find Lyra, some to help her, some who want to use her and her talent with the Golden Compass. And on one visit to this world they stumble across Dr. Mary Malone and set her on a quest that will ultimately intersect theirs again, though the foreshadowing leaves us doubting that it will be a good thing. This book is darker than the first, but still compelling.

The Amber Spyglass continues the dark tone. There are angels (some fighting for good, some for evil). Both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are here, each scheming for their own purposes. Will searches for the kidnapped Lyra. Mary finds a world of giant trees and creatures made to live in harmony with them. The bear king Iorek Byrnison is on the move, as are the witches. The churchmen in this story are bent on a path to separate people from nature on a most elemental level. THIS book, I believe, is the reason for the protests of the movie. It is not that it is a bad book or a bad story, but it does use caricatures to shock us into thinking along new paths. I'm glad I read the series, though I think that I would not necessarily recommend it for young readers, or at least not without wanting to discuss the concepts raised.

Hope you enjoyed my list, though it looks like I need to read something besides fantasy for a while!


Tony said...

Before reading this article, I was curious about a couple of these books. Thanks for the article, it has answered any questions I may have had about the books. Now I know that I have to read these books.

Tony Peters
Author of, Kids on a Case: The Case of the Ten Grand Kidnapping

sister AE said...

Hello, Tony,
Glad I could be of help.