Mar. 12th, 2011

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Title: Silent on the Moor. (It's when you use the same naming convention to title your second book as your first than you start down the road to trouble. Silent in the Grave was a great title, Silent in the Sanctuary was okay. If anyone in this particular book had been silent, it would have been a relief! The author has apparently given up with the fourth book, called Dark Road to Darjeeling.)
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Lady Julia Grey, book three
Genre: Historical mystery
Setting: ... the moor. I actually don't really like books set on the moor most of the time. Too bleak.
Reason for Reading: I enjoyed the first two, and the fact that the next book in the series is set in India made me want to read this one.
Finished In: Weeks, perhaps two of them.
Pages: 465
Copyright Date: 2009
Cover: A woman leans back into a man's embrace before a beautiful sunset. If they really are on the moor, her outfit leaves her in severe danger of catching a chill. Does no one realize that corsets were UNDERGARMENTS in this time period??
First line: "Julia Gray, I would rather see you hanged than watch any sister of mine go haring off after a man who will not have her," my brother Bellmont raged.
Best part: Some movement in the love interest plotline.
Worst part: Oh, how to choose. The heroine's impassioned speech about how two people shouldn't be married because she doesn't think they'll make each other happy bugged me. It was very anachronistic - people didn't used to look to marriage for those things. There was also a plot twist, held in suspense for many chapters, that was totally obvious to me from almost the beginning.
Imaginary Theme Song: Something bleak and classical.
Grade: C-. The book's flaws detracted from my enjoyment of it.
Recommended for: I don't feel I can recommend it very strongly.
Related Reads: Silent In the Grave, the first book in the series. Cut to the Quick by Kate Ross.
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Title: All the Windwracked Stars
Author: Elizabeth Bear
Series: The Edda of Burdens, book 1
Genre: Postapocalyptic fantasy.
Setting: Eiledon, the last city of a dying world, in an age of technomancers.
Reason for Reading: I heard it was loosely based on a Norse edda, and that was very intriguing to me.
Finished In: Hours. I checked it out yesterday afternoon and finished it this morning.
Pages: 368
Copyright Date: 2008
Cover: A woman dressed as a Valkyrie (waelcyrge, in this book) stands with a two-headed winged antelope-looking thing (valraven, in this book). A desolate cityscape is behind them.
First line: "There was snow at the end of the world, and Kasimir was dying in it."
Best part: The worldbuilding was just as good as in Bear's other books, with the action being much more fast-paced.
Worst part: The ending was a little confusing.
Imaginary Theme Song: Heiemo og Nykkjen
Grade: A. It's been a long time since I saw someone write about myth and science tangled together in such a compelling way.
Recommended for: I think any fans of Norse mythology should give it a try.
Related Reads: Companion to Wolves, which Bear cowrote with Sarah Monette. Brisingr by Diana Paxson. Chimera by Will Shetterly (which does not have a Norse theme but does have a lot of genetically engineered and mutated people in an underclass, as this book has).

Favorite quote, with a bit of a spoiler. )

Muire is the last of the waelcyrge, warriors of the Light. She run when she should have fought.
Kasimir is the last of the valravens, winged steeds of the waelcyrge. He lived when he should have died.
Mingan is the Gray Wolf, devourer, betrayer. He has never done what he should - but now that an old love has come again in a new form, his desires may set in motion a chain of events that no one could have predicted.

I really enjoyed this book. I almost didn't give Bear another chance after Carnival, which I found incredibly slow despite its intriguing premise. This one is fast, funny, and unpredictable. Better yet, as a former student of Norse language and literature, it FEELS Norse. Though she doesn't seem to have based it on a particular Edda, there's definitely that sense of bleak beauty, "Come, my brothers, one last drink before we hack each other to pieces! The skalds will long sing of this day!" that I remember so well.

With that being said, I know she has a strong interest in Norse mythology (which we also saw in Companion to Wolves and that she was involved in a... debacle about race in the fandom community, and that makes me wonder a little about her overall ideas about race - my only reservation.

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