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Kushiel's Scion - Jacqueline Carey

The first of the second trilogy of the Kushiel books, and this was sheer classical reception gold (although I'm never going to be able to write about it, because erotica, but never mind). In terms of narrative and plot, it took a while to get going because Carey had to get her protagonist grown up and developed - this was made a bit more difficult because we know Imriel's back story in considerable detail and she had to work him through the emotional turmoil of coming back from experiencing massive abuse and reconciling himself to a new status as a Prince of the Blood whose mother happens to be a massive traitor, coping with after effects of said emotional abuse, etc. etc. All of which is very good and wonderful and important, and shows a commitment to fully realised characters and making sure they have a consistent and realistic emotional internal life, but it does make the first third or so of the book a bit more - pedestrian? Earnest? A bit more difficult to get in to at any rate. It feels very dutiful, as if Carey knows she owes this to her character before she can get him on to do other things. Part of this may also be her writing herself into the new narrative voice, now that she's writing from Imriel's perspective rather than from his adoptive mother's.

Of course, once she does feel she's given the character what he needs to get on with it, he gets on with it by going to Tiberium to study at the university, and then going to celebrate a wedding in a small local Italian-esque town... only to get caught up in a fantastic bit of ancient Roman ancestor possession. Including guest appearances by Roman death masks and gateways to the underworlds and all sorts. It's lovely and really interesting, and I'm quite cross that I'll never be able to write anything serious about it given the whole ancestor cult/archive thing that the current research is doing. But never mind! For obvious reasons, I enjoyed this lots, and am looking forward to the next one because this level of well-written, interesting and properly researched cheesy fiction is apparently just what I'm in the market for at the moment.

The Second Foundation - Isaac Asimov

Yeeeees. Asimov's failure to do women continues - look, let's have a fantastically important and significant female protagonist, but let's also have all the men comment on what a dreadful wife she'd make! Because that's totally acceptable! So sort-of marks for effort but not really. Also, the final resolution of where the Second Foundation is was... oh, I don't know, a bit wobbly? Unimpressive? I guess at this point the general principle f the Seldon theory is starting to wear a bit thin for me, and while I can see the tension in the first Foundation trying to work out what to do about the Second, I didn't particularly care or feel strongly invested in the puzzle. It is not great, but again, I can see why it would have been so influential at the time.
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December 2016

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