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Madeline E. Robins aka [ profile] madrobins has written a young adult book called Sold for Endless Rue. It's a very loose retelling of Rapunzel, set in medieval Salerno. It's mainly the story of two women--Laura and Bieta. Laura ran away from a raider and was adopted by an herbalist and midwife in the hills above Salerno. The town is the site of a famous medical school which admits women. The herbalist, Crescia, wants Laura to become a doctor (medica or magistra) and then teach Crescia or at least return to the hills and use her skills there. Laura is driven  and close to being examined when she falls in love and almost derails the entire thing. Her life does change radically. The second part of the book (I think it's actually the third part) focuses on Bieta, the adopted daughter of Laura. Laura keeps Bieta very close and has laid out her entire life--attend the medical school, become a doctor, and be even better than Laura as she will have had every advantage. Of course, that doesn't go quite right either.

I felt that it's main theme was of mothers trying to control their daughters. Forcing their own dreams onto their children whether the dreams are right for the children or not. It's a thought on my mind now that I have two of my own. My mother is a doctor, but I knew very young that I didn't want to be one. "Too much work!" I'd say when asked. About the most direction I got from them (never really stated that I remember) is that I end up in a STEM field (yep), and once from my mother that she wanted me to go to graduate school (yep, but just for a master's degree).
melita66: (ship)
These two books were eagerly awaited and another book that I'd just started got dropped to read these instead!

Tamora Pierce published the latest (and last, it looks like) book in the Beka Cooper series. The book is called Mastiff, to go along with the earlier Terrier and Bloodhound. Set in an early Tortall, Beka joins the Dogs, the street police, as an apprentice (Puppy). The books follow along as she learns her trade and moves up in the heirarchy to become a full Dog. A connection with her first series about Alanna is that Beka is an ancestor of George Cooper and there are framing pieces that make the connection.

Beka's a great heroine. She struggles with insecurity, making and keeping friends, and can barely bring herself to testify in court against the criminals she's caught. She never gives up though, and has accomplished great things in the earlier books. In Mastiff, she's roused at night and sent on a secret hunt with her partner and mage. The hunt is quite serious and connected to a possible coup attempt. There are some great twists and turns in the story, and I found myself teary at several points. You could probably start the series here, but there's a lot of background which adds to the story if you've read from the beginning.

Possible spoilers for Mastiff )

There are lots of authors, books, and series that I love. Sometimes, often when it's been a while since a new book in a series has been published, or I haven't read the series in a while, the feeling is amorphous. I remember that I love the series, but it's not an 'active' feeling, for want of a better description. That's how I felt about Madeleine Robins's The Sleeping Partner. It's the latest book in her Miss Sarah Tolerance series. Set in an alternate Regency-era England, Miss Tolerance eloped with her brother's fencing master as a teenager. They went to Holland, but never married. After his death, she returned to England, and helped by her aunt (also Fallen and now a brothel-keeper), she set up as an agent of inquiry.

Within a few pages, I thought, 'Yes! Now I remember why I love this series!' Miss Tolerance is a great character. She has the skills to keep herself out of trouble and an ability to extract and acquire information in a methodical manner. In this newest installment, she is asked to find a runaway sister. She is given a portrait, but no name--because they are trying to keep the elopement secret. No one seems to know of a particular friend that could have precipitated the elopement. Meanwhile, her aunt has been acting oddly and may remarry which is causing consternation in her staff and Miss Tolerance.

Miss Tolerance, although unusual, feels very much a product of her time. She is very aware of her status as a Fallen Woman but manages to survive and even prosper anyway.

I definitely hope we see more of Miss Tolerance in the future.
melita66: (Default)

Another long delay. I was traveling again, but this time I managed to finish two books and a chunk of another one, all new. I have two more new books started and hope to finish both by next weekend.

Cold Fire by Kate Elliott is the sequel to Cold Magic. Catherine Bell Hassi Barahal is half-Phoenician and given up to the cold mages as part of a marriage alliance in Cold Magic. In her world, an ice age has continued into present day (maybe 18th or 19th century). Meanwhile a 'salt plague' has driven people out of Africa and into Europe.

She and her sister, Bea[trice], are on the run from the cold mages (who draw power from the glaciers) and are looking for allies. Cat ends up in the western hemisphere where there's an existing empire (possibly Aztec analogue) with a few European colonies tolerated on the coast. There, fire mages hold sway while cold mages are suppressed and weak. Other characters, including Bea, manage to make their way to Cat, including her estranged cold mage husband, Andevai.

I like this series quite a bit. Not as much as Elliott's Jaran or Crossroads series, but certainly better than the Crown of Stars series. I'm sure it's because of the characters. Elliott produces different and believable characters that are informed by their backgrounds and cultures. I don't find the main characters in Crown of Stars nearly as sympathetic as those in the other series.

Concurrently, I was also reading Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix. Set in a historic China-analogue, Ai Ling is the daughter of a disgraced scholar living far from the imperial capital. Her father heads to the capital after being summoned, but doesn't return. Ai Ling, under pressure to become the fourth wife of a smarmy merchant, decided to travel to the capital to find her father. On the way she becomes involved with Chen Yong, who is on his own quest to find out more about his heritage. I appreciated the strong Chinese influences including mythical creatures. I want to read the sequel, but plan to wait until it's out in tpb, probably next year.

Next I read Daniel Abraham's first book in this Long Price Quartet, A Shadow in Summer. It is strongly recommended by Jo Walton, a writer that I enjoy a lot and respect, so when I spotted an omnibus of the first two books in a used bookstore, I picked it up. The first book is complex with adult (not necessarily "mature") themes including ends-justify-the-means, enslavement, betrayal, friendship, etc. There are several viewpoint characters whose stories are interconnected. "Poets" can make a thought real with volition. The spirit is one of the andat and has a certain power depending on what the poet desired. Seedless, the main andat in this book, can pull the seeds from harvested cotton or remove a baby from a pregnant woman.

For some reason, I kept thinking of Cherryh, perhaps partially because of the concentration on politics and economics. The Khaiem reinforce speech with subtle poses and gestures. That and the andat made me think of CJC's Serpent Reach, but this could be a false echo. It's been years since I read Serpent's Reach.

The book's very well-written. The characters are interesting and I want to find out what happens to them. I'm definitely going to continue the series, but plan to read other books in between. 

On a side note, a new Sarah Tolerance novel, The Sleeping Partner, by Madeleine E. Robins, will be released later this month by Plus One Press.


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November 2016

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