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)

I've been on a spate of re-reading right now. I finished Trickster's Price by Tamora Pierce last weekend, and the sequel Trickster's Queen a few days ago. Alianne, or Aly, is the daughter of Alanna and George, of Tortall. Alanna is the King's Champion and a mage, while George is the King's behind-the-scenes spymaster. Aly is much more attracted to her father's vocation, but at 16, is not allowed to go out into the field. She has some magical skills like the Sight which reveals when someone is lying or has magical skills.

In a fit of rebellion, she decides to sail along the coast to visit relatives. She's captured by pirates and sold into slavery in the Copper Islands. The Copper Island natives are called raka but were overrun a hundred years or so earlier by luarin people. The Copper Islands appear to be a Malaysian or Indonesian analog with the luarin some white adventurers who took advantage of internal fighting.

The raka have been secretly building up to a revolution and waiting for their foretold twice-royal queen. They now have two possibilities: Saraiyu (Sarai) and Dovasary (Dove). Kyprioth, a trickster god, who wants to put his people back in power, makes a deal with Aly. Keep the two girls alive for a summer and he'll get her back home. The two books detail what becomes of that bargain and the possible revolution.

Tamora Pierce is good with details. She doesn't forget things like Aly needing to make herself unattractive to possible buyers as a bedmate, and I don't usually wonder, "when's the last time someone's been to the bathroom?" Aly is a delightful young woman, tricksy and thoughtful, and often looks at things with sardonic and amused outlook. To help the revolution, Kyprioth strikes a deal with the crows, who are cousins to the raka. One in particular, Nawat, takes a liking to Aly and provides a some comic relief at the beginning ("We should mob them!") and helping Aly to mature by the end of the second book.

I also appreciated getting a better look at the raka culture and it makes a great expansion of the world.

One problem I had is that Aly is so powerful and ends up with a lot of help. For not being able to actually cast spells, she gets a lot of information from her Sight. The crows help her, although they do branch out and help the raka guerrillas. In book 2, she ends up with a bunch of darkings, sent by her relatives in Tortall. They are cute, but were they really needed? I dunno. Still, I feel this is one of the stronger series from Pierce and was ecstatic to find a new story about Aly and Nawat in the new collection, Tortall and Other Lands. Pierce has a book out in the fall, Mastiff, in the Beka Cooper series. They are set around 200 years before the Alanna/Alianne series, and Beka is an ancestor of Aly's father, George.

I then finished Justice Hall by Laurie R. King. I'd started it on my phone on the flight back from Houston. This is one of my favorite Russell/Holmes stories. We get to see the Hazr brothers again (from O Jerusalem), but as fish out of water, back in their very English homes and families. I'm looking forward to the new book, Pirate King, that's coming out in September.

melita66: (japanese fruit)

I traveled to Houston this week. Traveling usually derails reading but there was an exception this time. I'd started a reread of Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce, but didn't want to carry the hb with me. Instead I took Aaronovitch's Moon over Soho and got about a third of the way through.

Sharon Lee posted that the e-arc of Ghost Ship was going to be available at this week. An e-arc is an electronic advanced reader's copy. Normally an arc (cheaply published) is sent out to reviewers a few months before the publication date. The text is a beta version--it may or may not have been through copy-editing and will often contains typos and other mistakes. Although they're not supposed to be sold or passed on, there's always been a market for them, and if the book is anticipated...Prices can get into the hundreds. I've bought several over the years, usually for around $10-$40 (usually $15-$20), but I always buy the hardcover as soon as it's out as well.

Jim Baen found that rabid fans were willing to pay for an electronic version, $15. It's also possible to buy a webscription for a particular month. It contains 6 or so books, 3-4 new ones, the rest already published. For the new ones, in the months coming up to publication, another portion of the books can be downloaded. For the July 2011 webscription, the first halves of the new books are now available.

Ghost Ship went live on Tuesday. Due to work commitments, I couldn't get access to it until that evening. I probably got about halfway before I collapsed, then finished it the next night. I'm not going to say much about it and definitely no spoilers. It joins the main I Dare storylines to Theo Waitley's (Fledgling, Saltation). It's closer in feel to Plan B or I Dare--a lot of plotlines and viewpoint characters--than to Conflict of Honors or Fledgling. My thoughts at the end consisted of--Argh! I have to wait for the next book! I want to read more of these people!

So I may be rereading some of the books. I particularly want to read Crystal Soldier and Crystal Dragon again.

On the plane ride home, I should have picked up Moon over Soho. I instead read a good chunk of Justice Hall by Laurie R. King on my android phone. Which kills the battery like crazy.

I've picked up Trickster's Choice again and should finish it today.

melita66: (Default)

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.


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