I finally got my copy of Tortall and Other Tales
from Tamora Pierce
. Most stories take place in her existing world of Tortall, but there are one or two contemporary stories. I think my favorite was "Nawat" which occurs after Trickster's Queen
. Nawat is a crow who can turn into a man. He helped Aly (daughter of Alanna) restore the native people to the throne of the Copper Isles. Aly is now the spymaster to the crown and Nawat her husband and second in command (sort of).
"Lost" was my second favorite, probably because of the mathematics. A merchant's daughter has the true gift of mathematical reasoning. Although she's attending merchant's school, her current math teacher wants her to "show all work"--but she can't see why as she knows the answers are correct. Her father, who could hardly be convinced that she should attend school, plans to use this as an excuse to pull her out. Luckily, she meets a Tortallan architect who champions her. Adria does manage to rescue herself though, which was great.
I think many of the stories could be read by someone who hasn't read other Pierce books, but the stories will be more meaningful if you have.
My current favorite Pierce series are Trickster and Beka Cooper. Beka Cooper is ongoing (new book later this year!). It's set 200 years before the Alanna series and is about a young woman who becomes a Provost's Guard (like a police force).
Several blogs have been talking about Ben Aaronovitch
's Midnight Riot
(in the UK: Rivers of London
). Peter Grant is finishing his probationary period as a police constable and hopes to be moved to a detective unit. Instead he ends up in a dead-end group, until he witnesses a strange death and gets information from a ghost. He's seconded to Detective Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England. I enjoyed the book until about halfway through when I caught the flu for the first time in years. That pretty well drained my pleasure and energy. I think I had been losing interest in the book before the illness, but will give it the benefit of a doubt and probably pick up book 2, Moon over Soho
, at some point. I did enjoy Peter's scientific investigation of how magic affects technology and the long time it takes him to learn new techniques. Someone else pointed out that the book has time problems. You'll be reading along and suddenly realize that there's been a skip of months. I didn't feel the transitions were handled very well.
With the flu lingering, I headed straight to books that I'd already read. I decided to read Lois McMaster Bujold
's The Curse of Chalion
with the idea that I would also read Paladin of Souls
. This series has an interesting theological underpinning. The religion is Quintarian and worships five gods: Father, Mother, Daughter, Son/Brother, and the Bastard. Next door is the Quadrene religion who believes the Bastard is a demon and will torture and defile any devotees of the Bastard that they can get their hands on. The politics is loosely the princedoms of Spain (Quintarians) before the reconquista with the Quadrenes playing the Moors. The geography has been inverted--the Quadrenes are on the northern coast of the Ibran (Iberia) peninsula. Lupe dy Cazaril was a noble landowner's son who became a page, then a courier and spy, warrior, etc. He gets on the wrong side of the brother of the Chancellor and ends up sold to the Quadrenes as a galley slave. After a few years, he is miraculously released and, suffering from physical and mental issues, decides to make his way to Valenda where he was a page originally. He ends up tutor for the heir to the heir to the throne, Iselle, and finds out that the royal house of Chalion is under a curse. The worldbuilding is detailed and most characters are finely drawn. With Bujold's books I definitely feel that I am 'there.' It's very easy to loose yourself within the book.Paladin of Souls
takes place a few years after the end of The Curse of Chalion
. Ista was the 2nd wife of Ias and is the mother of Iselle. The gods tried to use her to lift the curse in the previous generation, but it was too strong. Because of her failure and the curse's effects, she ended up in Valenda under loving, but tight security and thought mad. She's never really been mad, but terrified of the curse's effect on her children and Chalion. In PoS, her grandmother has finally died and she's now wondering what to do. Ista is desperate to get out of Valenda; to get some sort of freedom. She decides to go on pilgrimage. CoC is the Daughter's book. Cazaril is a devotee of the son (many military men are). Ista turns out to be taken up by the Bastard who decides she's just who he's looking for.
I haven't decided yet whether to read The Hallowed Hunt
. I've only read it once, but thought it 'eh' at the time, but others have mentioned liking it more upon rereading. For now I'm reading Death Cloud
, the start of a young adult series about a young Sherlock Holmes.