Log in

entries friends calendar user info Previous Previous
Home for Wayward Thoughts
I've just started reading Jason Denzel's Mystic; I'm only at chapter six, so these are just first impressions.

I do kind of wonder at the larger social structure of the world. We know that there are peasants/commoners, and a ruling set of nobility. Commoners don't own the land they work, and have no expectation of freedom of movement; beyond that, they are subject to what appears to be arbitrary rule by the resident nobility - a noble child's whim is backed by force of arms, and there is no suggestion that laws would restrain this, only reversal by her father's decision. No real discussion of taxation that I recall, or what other duties a village might owe to their controlling nobles, but they seem essentially owned by the nobility, and prosper by benign neglect. (There's also the threat of exile and 'Unclaimed' status to keep them in line.)

Interestingly, though, in addition to the Mystics (magic users given even greater social rank, but of which I know nothing yet) there is also apparently a class of Merchant-Scholars given a separate status between nobility and commoners. I also haven't seen anything of them yet, but the name and position itself is suggestive... Historically (as I understand it, anyway; not exactly a scholar here), a merchantile class doesn't come together and gain respect without at least some rule of law and power devolving from noble control. Otherwise, confiscitary taxes and distrust of strangers (especially strangers who want your money) tend to make trade of goods a fairly dubious proposition for someone who doesn't already have the protection of nobility, either by being noble themselves, or acting as an agent for one. Does this mean that there are Free Cities out there that control themselves and that Pomella just comes from a more rural, restricted background? Or does the 'Scholar' portion of their title suggest that they are more a secular order outside of the normal society, akin to nuns or monks, and their status comes from their apartness from the usual social structure? Would that mean they turned to merchantalism as a way to exercise power apart from the politics of the nobility? Or were they established by the Mystics as an indirect lever on society beyond the rare few trained in the magical arts? I'll have to wait and see when any turn up.
(Also, whose face is on the currency? Knowing who gets to mint money would say a good bit about how power is distributed in society...)

And finally, of course, Pomella has just met the other candidates, and they are all the expected nobility. I can't help but be reminded of N. K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and wonder if Pomella was really chosen because of her hinted abilities, or if the new High Mystic simply wants a spoiler to use in an internal power struggle. Okay, I don't think it's going to get quite that dark, but the idea still amuses me.

Tags: ,
Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Leave a thought
Book 112: Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie. This is an amazing conclusion to the trilogy, and despite the slightly abrupt nature of the 'solution' to their problems, it's great seeing the conclusions to everyone's stories. Although, I certainly wouldn't turn down a novella set ten years later as they deal with their new problems... *grins*

Book 113: The Art of Haiku, by Stephen Addiss. Very interesting and informative book about haiku and related Japanese poetry. Read for a project for class, but lots of other good information in here too.

Book 114: Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell. This was fun -- I wish more authors would do similar transformative works of their own stuff. Also, I did enjoy how real the friendships felt, and how some of them lasted and some fell apart; it certainly seemed like a very reasonable reaction to the hinted-at past the characters had together.

Book 115: City of Blades, by Robert Jackson Bennett. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book, and it was great! If you enjoyed the first book (City of Stairs), this doesn't disappoint, despite being about almost entirely new characters. Lots of concern for the politics of war and occupation, and a great struggle against problems that seem later than any one person can handle.

Book 116: Horimiya, vol 1, by HERO. Light romance manga, because I've been enjoying that lately. Two high-school students discovering hidden sides that they don't show to their classmates, and bonding over that. Also, I'm happy to see that there are apparently several more volumes coming for this.

Book 117: Kiss Him, Not Me, vol 1, by Junko. Romantic satire, about a young girl who suddenly becomes attractive to a harem of boys, when all she really wants to see is them embarking on a school-aged gay romance. Also probably some commentary on the shallowness of the boys who are suddenly falling over her once she loses some weight (and her glasses, oddly enough). Amusing enough that I'll definitely check out the next one at least.

Book 118: Golden Time, vol 1, by Yuyuko Takemiya. This didn't quite do it for me; I was hoping for more of the broken love triangle, and the story really wants to focus on the tragic amnesia of the main character.

Book 119: Shadows of Self, by Brandon Sanderson. I'm vaguely disappointed that this is the book in this group that I'm the least excited by; I think it's because it's competent adventure, but I just want a bit more, and I know Sanderson _can_ write that, but he just hasn't here. Maybe something that acknowledges the problem of vigilante allomantic justice, which gets kind of glossed over here. (Well, apart from a brief newspaper clipping complaining of damages from mistings bounding through the city... I wonder, does whatever insurance concerns the city has apply to the offenders for relief from claims? Especially when one is such a prominant Lord...) Also, the hook at the end seems to be more Cosmere stuff, and I'm still pretty cool towards that; I wish he'd just write that book, rather than just keep hinting at things.

Current Mood: awake awake

Leave a thought
Book 103: Serpentine, by Cindy Pon. Read this after hearing the author at DragonCon; really worth it as an interesting Teen novel. Chinese girl discovers that she's a serpent-demon. I'd like to see a sequel to this, just to see where she goes with it.

Book 104: Unholy War, by David Hair. Good continuation of the series; he made it very easy to get back into the story, and it's really starting to all come together now.

Book 105: Updraft, by Fran Wilde. This was really interesting -- lonely and atmospheric, and you could feel the struggle to survive in the sky that would lead to such a troubled society.

Book 106: The Aeronaut's Windlass, by Jim Butcher. Very much a popcorn read -- don't think too much about it, and just enjoy the airships.

Book 107: The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, by Kai Ashante Wilson. I kind of want to reread this again, now that I know how things end up, because there's really a lot of interesting things going on in this.

Book 108: The Alloy of Law, by Brandon Sanderson. Reread in preparation for the new novel.

Book 109: Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie. For all the SF, this is very much a political fantasy, and I'm quite looking forward to seeing how the third volume wraps this all up.

Book 110: Seven Forges, by James Moore. This was interesting, but also bog-standard fantasy; not sure what else to say about it.

Book 111: Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville. Still a very strange book, but I want to read the others set in this city.

Current Mood: quixotic quixotic

Leave a thought
Book 97: Lifeboats, by Diane Duane. An interstitial Young Wizards novella; I still absolutely love this series.

Book 98: Dreams of the Golden Age, by Carrie Vaughn. Interesting followup to her superhero story; not too much to say about this one.

Book 99: The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson. This is great, and everyone should read it. It's a dystopic fantasy, about a young woman fighting against the empire that engulfed her home, and trying to subvert it from the inside.

Book 100: The Parafaith War, by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Meh. It's not actually bad, and Modesitt is always readable... It's just very much the same thing he does in most of his books.

Book 101: Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho. This was really good, and not anywhere as dark as it seems to make itself out to be -- I'd compare it to Patricia Wrede and Mary Robinette Kowal for Victorian wit and charm.

Book 102: Love at Fourteen, vol 4, by Fuka Mizutani. A manga series that I'm happily collecting as soon as it comes out; really light and charming and wonderful.

Current Mood: amused amused

Leave a thought
Book 90: Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor. This was really different and amazing; alien first contact in Lago, Nigeria.

Book 91: End of All Things, by John Scalzi. Next part of Scalzi's series; not very deep, but interesting and a quick read. (Also, his aliens sounds exactly like his sarcastic human protagonists, which is odd in a novel that juxtaposes their viewpoints.)

Book 92: Court of Fives, by Kate Elliott. Great start to a new teen series; adventure, intrigue, and a driven young lady. Not dystopian, too, which is good for something different.

Book 93: Red-Rose Chain, by Seanan McGuire. It's great seeing things start to fall out from the new revelations; the series keeps being amazing.

Book 94: Gunnerkrigg Court, vol 5, by Thomas Siddell. Graphic novel collection of this amazing webcomic. Kat and Paz are so cute together in this one!

Book 95, 96: Murder of Crows, and Pack of Lies, by Annie Bellet. Picked up the next two volumes of this series to read at DragonCon, and enjoyed them quite a bit.

Current Mood: good good

Leave a thought
Book 85: The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin. This is an amazing start to a new trilogy, and really powerfully written, full of anger and social opression. It really made me care about the characters, and while it wrapped up nicely, it also left me very excited to see what will happen next.

Book 86: Streaming Dawn, by Steve Bein. A short, ninja-filled novella. It kind of makes me want to reread the last book, to see how this fits into it.

Book 87: Crooked, by Austin Grossman. Nixon vs. Lovecraftian horrors. This was quite interesting, and really had a feel of paranoia and self-doubt that made it feel very like Nixon's voice. I'd be interested to see the opinion of someone who actually lived through this era, though, because despite the unsympathetic portrayal, it still whitewashes a number of his offenses as being in the service of fighting extra-dimensional horrors.

Book 88: Sword Art Online: Girls' Ops, vol 1; by Reki Kawahara. This was fun -- I enjoyed it more than the original SAO too, I think because all the characters are playing the game not because they are trapped there, but because they are actually having fun with it.

Book 89: Thunderer, by Felix Gilman. Reread this and still quite enjoyed it. Was having fun teasing out themes of freedom and hidden flaws as I was reading it.

Current Mood: excited excited

Leave a thought
Book 78: Wild Magic, by Tamora Pierce. This was fun; was recommended it by a friend. Light fantasy, reminded me a lot of Mercedes Lackey in a good way. It makes me want to check out more of her stuff later.

Book 79: The Isolater, by Reki Kawahara. A translated Japanese light novel that didn't quite land for me; I really feel like the translation was a bit too choppy, which isn't necessarily their fault. The story (about a young student who gains an impenetrable shield) was interesting, but nothing very special -- I wish it was a bit more ambiguous about who the 'good guys' where, but that's probably not quite the market they were aiming for. In general, I think the manga/anime version would be more appealing -- it'd smooth out the choppiness, and emphasize the action sequences that they focus on.

Book 80: The Dinosaur Lords, by Victor Milan. This was an interesting new fantasy series; Renissance-era politics and battles with dinosaurs. Decently, mostly brought down by not actually wrapping things up in this volume -- there's a lot left hanging for the next book.

Book 81: Pandora in the Crimson Shell, vol 1; by Masamune Shirow. A new, pretty manga series that probably needs another two volumes to really hit its stride. I trust the creators enough to at least give them that, before giving up on it.

Book 82: Revolutionary Girl Utena, vol 1; by Chiho Saito. I can't possibly objectively judge this -- the anime was too impressive for me to do anything but love the manga. That said, it's still an excellent story, and while you don't see all of it in this first volume, even what we get here is still enough to recommend this highly.

Book 83-ish: K-On!, vol 1-4, High School, College, by Kakifly. 4-koma comics are a genre that really captures me; the only thing I miss here is that since it's about a school music club, I really want to hear them... Which means I probably need to find the anime to watch now, too.

Book 84: Heart of Veridon, by Tim Akers. This was a really interesting clockwork adventure. Nice pacing, building excitement, and and interesting gear-punk world.

Tags: ,
Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

Leave a thought
Book 73: The Dark Defiles, by Richard Morgan.

Book 74: Annihilation Score, by Charles Stross.

Book 75: Azumanga Diaoh, by Kiyohiko Azuma.

Book 76: Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Book 77: Citrus, vol 2, by Saburo Uta.

Current Mood: tired tired

Leave a thought
Book 65: The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins. An interesting dark fantasy about a magical library and the students who learned there, and the bloody struggle to claim its knowledge.

Book 66: Love at 14, vol 3, by Fuka Mizutani. I'm really enjoying this manga, and getting to see more sides of the characters as it continues.

Books 67, 68: Showa 1939-1944, and Showa 1944-1953, by Shigeru Mizuki. The middle volumes (because that's what was available) of a graphic novel history of Japan; it's interesting seeing another perspective on WWII, and the aftermath that I knew almost nothing about.

Book 69: Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind, by Hayao Miyazaki. Rereading an old favorite.

Book 70, 71: Rat Queens, vol 1 & 2, Kurtis Weibe. I'd heard good recommendations, and they were born out -- a fun adventure with sassy ladies.

Book 72: City of Stairs, by Robert Bennett. Rereading, and enjoying the politics interwoven with adventure once again.
Leave a thought
Book 59: Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. Reread before her 'Carry On' comes out. Still good, and a little less annoyed at the ending this time.

Book 60: Stories of the Raksura, vol 2, by Martha Wells. This was really quite good, as I'd expected. Her short stories are always especially elegant, and I loved the little glimpses of different sides of Raksuran life. (Especially watching Moon dealing with traders who expected to take advantage of them.)

Book 61: Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson. A fun graphic novel about an lawful 'evil' villain who attracts a cheerfully chaotic evil henchman, and has to deal with her excess of enthusiasm. The art style took a bit to get used to, but a few nice self-contained story with some twists and turns along the way.

Book 62: Is It Wrong To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon, vol 2, by Fujino Omori. Eh, this didn't work for me at all. It might have been a translation issue -- the writing felt very choppy, and there were some very abrupt viewpoint changes that might have been clearer in the original, but even setting that aside, the whole thing felt kind of lost. It mostly focused on a completely different set of side characters (and much less sympathetic ones) than the first volume, and the 'main character' seemed barely in it. Also, because it was a light novel, it didn't even have pretty pictures to look at when I didn't care about the story.

Books 63, 64: Throne of Glass, and Crown of Midnight, by Sarah Maas. A teen series about a girl recruited to be an assassin for a tyrant-king who conquered her country and killed her family. It came highly recommended, and I can definitely see why -- some interesting characters, and it starts out lightly before getting darker and darker as the story goes on. (Almost too lightly at first; hard to take her seriously as a prison camp survivor during the first book.) Also very monarchist -- 'if only we could overthrow this bad king so that a good king could come back, everything would be right with the world!' Worth checking out still, for people looking for teen books with adventure, romance, and political intrigue.


Leave a thought