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Jovah’s Angel, Sharon Shinn

Jovah’s Angel, Sharon Shinn published on

Shinn has this problem where occasionally she doesn’t seem to buy her own romances. Summers at Castle Auburn was like that. There’s not really anything there to indicate that the heroine and the hero are in love. The book worked because of the heroine’s relationships with other characters, which were much more compelling. The romance existed independently of the plot – everything would have played out pretty much the same way if the hero and heroine hadn’t known each other. There’s no real reason for the romance to be there, but because it doesn’t clog up the workings of the plot, it doesn’t hurt anything.

Jovah’s Angel, unfortunately, has a clog in its system.

The book is the second in Shinn’s Samaria series, which can be categorized as Sci-Fi Where There’s Magic That Is Actually Bad Science (as opposed to Magic That Is Actually Believable Science, like I can’t say the title of this series because it’s actually a spoiler ack). Genetically engineered angels rule the planet Samaria, a human colony that has forgotten the advanced technology that brought them there, and is just on the verge of an industrial revolution. The world is inhospitable due to extreme weather, so the angels were created to keep the weather in check, which they do by singing weather-related “prayers” to the god Jovah – who is obviously an AI.

But something has gone wrong, and the only angel whose voice Jovah still hears is shy, insecure Alleya. When the previous archangel, the brilliant and charismatic Delilah, loses the use of her wings in an accident, Alleya is forced to step into her shoes. She must work together with Caleb, the world’s most brilliant engineer and an atheist, to solve the problem, while searching for the husband Jovah has chosen for her. Meanwhile, Caleb’s best friend Noah, another engineer, has become obsessed with the idea of repairing the despairing Delilah’s wings.

Cut for spoilers.

Continue reading Jovah’s Angel, Sharon Shinn

Havemercy, by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett

Havemercy, by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett published on 1 Comment on Havemercy, by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett

I feel slightly uncomfortable about making this post, but it’s been sitting in my drafts since April and I’m just going to do it.

This book is really similar to Sarah Monette’s Melusine. Really similar, I mean. The narrative structure’s similar, the protagonists are similar, the setting’s similar, the MacGuffins are similar. And though they do refer to different things, two proper names are duplicated.

This is not easy for me to ignore.

Beyond that: I don’t recommend this book, because everything that sounds promising about it it screws up. I don’t buy one of the central relationships, I only half-way buy the other, the denouement is kind of a mess, and the Chinese are sneaky.

Details (containing spoilers for Havemercy and both Melusine and The Virtu) under the cut: Continue reading Havemercy, by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett

Angels’ Blood, Singh; Powers That Be, McCaffrey + Scarborough; Crystal Singer, McCaffrey

Angels’ Blood, Singh; Powers That Be, McCaffrey + Scarborough; Crystal Singer, McCaffrey published on

Cut for length.

(Edited to add summaries, which I forgot before.)

Continue reading Angels’ Blood, Singh; Powers That Be, McCaffrey + Scarborough; Crystal Singer, McCaffrey

And not appreciating Mercedes Lackey

And not appreciating Mercedes Lackey published on

I cannot now find it, but james_nicoll at one point made a post saying something like:

“Dear fantasy writer,

The word “gypsy” refers to an actual, reality-based ethnic group. Having gypsies appear on your imaginary world without explanation is roughly equivalent to having the 1982 cast of The Mikado appear on your imaginary world without explanation.”

I think he was talking about a recent book, so I guess this has happened more than once.

Arrow’s Flight page 258:

“The gypsy family who died of snow-sickness two months ago—the ones in the Domesday Book report; wasn’t there a child left living?” she asked, her eyes still a little glazed.

Talia gives the baby to a woman who went mad after her own baby died, and it cures her and they live happily ever after, and it turns out the baby is her son reincarnated. I don’t think these apparent gypsies ever show up again, so I guess they just popped into Valdemar to have the baby and die. That was thoughtful of them.

I don’t know what the Domesday Book was doing in Valdemar, either – it’s not mentioned again after this page, so I guess it went home.

Appreciating Mercedes Lackey

Appreciating Mercedes Lackey published on

I’m rereading the Dragonriders books. Yes, I am perfectly aware of the foolishness of this course of action.

They’ve actually aged worse than Mercedes Lackey. I don’t know if it’s that Lackey’s big fetishes (the H/C and the angsty slash and the didactic liberalism) have actually retained their cultural relevance more than McCaffrey’s (the bodice-ripper alpha-male rape-romances and benevolent fascism); or if they’ve just retained their me-relevance better; or if it’s just a matter of the politics.

Because you know something about Lackey? She really does try.

(Assume spoilers for pretty much every single Mercedes Lackey book under here, if that bothers you.)

Continue reading Appreciating Mercedes Lackey

Re-reading Sharon Shinn stuff.

Re-reading Sharon Shinn stuff. published on

Today was Archangel. This book creeps me out a little bit more every time I re-read it.

The first time, I remember being very impressed by Josiah. He’s clearly a very cynical person, if not an actually evil one – the power behind the throne, he manipulates Gabriel and Rachel and Raphael, relatively simple-minded people, into doing what he wants. When he says that God has no emotional attachment to human beings, he’s talking about himself. And while it’s obvious to the reader that he condescends to and lies to everyone he meets, none of the characters ever realizes it.

Rachel never quite catches on that Josiah dismisses her faith as a cargo cult (though he says it pretty clearly), and Gabriel never realizes that Josiah, reassuring him of God’s existence, is just telling him what he wants to hear. Our heroes all sort of absent-mindedly think of him as the story’s non-threatening mentor figure who exists only to set up their own stories. And then they all live happily ever after within Josiah’s plot, without ever noticing there was a plot to begin with.

But this time through, I’m developing the sneaking suspicion that Shinn doesn’t realize it, either. I liked the book so much better when I thought she was in on it. My meta-book is so much more awesome than the real one.

Also, the book suffers from What These People Need Is A Honky syndrome. Why couldn’t Rachel herself have been ethnically one of the pseudo-Romani, exactly? Why did she have to be adopted? Was her blondness in some manner integral to her function within the narrative?

Precious Dragon, by Liz Williams

Precious Dragon, by Liz Williams published on 1 Comment on Precious Dragon, by Liz Williams

This book had all the pacing problems of the last one and then some, plus some extra bonus gender issues. I think Williams had a checklist rather than a plot in mind when she wrote it. This is her checklist:

* ghost wedding

* warrior woman

* dragons

* opera

* penis building

* and Zhu Irzh should TOTALLY have a sister named “Daisy.”

The warrior woman got kidnapped.

Unless someone says something really compelling about book four, I think this is where I drop the series.

(The ghost wedding scene was really great, though.)

This is important information.

This is important information. published on

My orcish hunter has had a pig for a pet since the beginning of the game, but I never named it because I could never think of anything I liked enough. I was in the Hinterlands today, and this obviously led me to think about Song for the Basilisk (and how Luna Pellior is the most McKillip-y name McKillip’s ever done), which obviously made me think about the Riddlemaster books (and how there is probably Morgon/Astrin fanfic), which led me to the realization that my level-53 pig’s name should be Hegdis-Noon, the Talking Pig of Hel.

Though that wouldn’t fit, so he’s just Hegdisnoon.

The Demon and the City, Liz Williams

The Demon and the City, Liz Williams published on 1 Comment on The Demon and the City, Liz Williams

I think I only post about books I’m annoyed at. This is why there was no post for the first book, but there is for this one.

The book has some structural problems, basically – the pacing is very jerky, and I think Williams kind of lost her balance a little before the halfway point, because all of a sudden things that needed build-up started happening without the build-up. Spoilery examples:

Continue reading The Demon and the City, Liz Williams

Oh, Seyonne. You redeemer, you.

Oh, Seyonne. You redeemer, you. published on

Self-destructively, I finished the second of Carol Berg’s Rai-kirah books and am working on the third. This is the basic plot progression of the series. I’m spoiling everything right here! Click on the cut only if you wish to bask in the brilliance of the best plot arc ever!

(The most recent Penny Arcade may be relevant to this post’s interests.)

Continue reading Oh, Seyonne. You redeemer, you.

When I am angry, I read things I find unpleasant.

When I am angry, I read things I find unpleasant. published on

Carol Berg, Transformation and the first half of Revelation. There is a basically nice guy named Seyonne who wants to save the world from demons. Why he wants to do this is unclear, because the world seems to be pretty awful. He tries to help people, and for his troubles he is enslaved and sexually assaulted and tortured in increasingly horrendous ways. His best friend and his wife and his wise mentor and everyone else in the world betray him horribly with regularity, and he forgives them because he is just that great.

I read the first book a while ago, and thought it was a little too mean for me. I read Barbara Hambly and Susan R. Matthews, so that’s pretty mean. The second one manages to be meaner. As of page 170-something (wherever I stopped), Seyonne is suspended in a magical dimension of pain being sexually abused by demons, and a human guy has shown up and told him that the worst is yet to come. Well, yip-pee.

(Seyonne ended up in a magical dimension of pain because he was trying to do a good deed that his friends thought was madness, which is the way he always ends up in a magical dimension of pain. Sometime I would like him to end up in a magical dimension of pain because he went to get a friggin’ danish or something. Just for variety’s sake.)

Basically it is something you should only read when you are in a very bad mood. Hopefully, today this will cease to describe me for long enough that I can put in the necessary effort to switch to another book.

T. A. Pratt, Blood Engines – I got about fifty pages into this. It’s a book about two cold-blooded powerful women fighting each other, so I wanted to like it. But it is so clunky. The protagonist and her amoral brain-eating servant and the evil Chinese wizard and the ex B-movie actor all talk exactly the same way. Characters wander in and out of the story at random like they are waiting for somebody to finish shoe-shopping. There is a scene with two guys flirting that reads like Pratt read on the internet that some women find that sort of thing interesting. It’s not even interestingly badly-written, it’s just badly-written. It sits there.

Anita Blake’s sex life is kind of boring.

Anita Blake’s sex life is kind of boring. published on 1 Comment on Anita Blake’s sex life is kind of boring.

So I have been reading Anita Blake (at work!), and I just started Obsidian Butterfly, and in the middle of the obligatory scene where she’s on a plane and talks about how much she hates being on planes, Anita Blake just all of a sudden says,

“I was reading Sharon Shinn. She was an author that I trusted to hold my attention even hundreds of feet above the ground with a thin metal sheet between me and eternity.”

Sharon Shinn? What with the sparkly kinda-chaste beta-male romances? Laurell K. Hamilton likes Sharon Shinn? …I mean, do they know each other? What do they talk about? Their cunning plans to progressively suck slightly more every new book they put out?

Actually, now that I think about it, they’re pretty similar. It’s just that while Hamilton’s descent into self-indulgent crap led to freaky sex, Shinn’s led to saccharine domesticity. Same basic impulse. Okay, world makes sense now, I’m good.

The previous book, Blue Moon, had some plot in it, but the Badass-Detective-Work-to-Fondling-Bisexual-Werecreatures ratio has gotten on the wrong side of 1:1. Is this the point where I should be stopping? I note that I am only one book away from Narcissus in Chains, which I have heard is the Crazy Horrible Bad One.

(The quality of these books seems to be directly proportional to the amount of Officer Zerbrowski in them. I think his presence enforces some sort of exercise of self-control on Hamilton’s part. It’s hard to fit that particular character type into sexual fantasies.)

I don’t know how I found this.

I don’t know how I found this. published on


Sam is a broken young man, whose job as a film critic is just starting to take off, even as his personal life is crashing down around him. His relationship with Marcus, God of Fear, turned out to be a horrible mistake.

(It has great cover art, too! It’s just so pleasant and domestic-looking. One of those objects is probably supposed to be a whip, but it’s so badly drawn it’s impossible to tell for sure.)