Art it Up. This is a weekly meme hosted by Tabitha over at Not Yet Read. The idea being to see if you can come up with some inspiration for a little sketch or doodle from your last week’s reading or just anything else in general. So, this week my reading has still mostly been dreadful – still too much going on at the moment!! I have read Ancillary Justice and also The Slow Regard of Silent things.
Every week a whole bunch of us go trekking through the tropes of fantasy with Nathan over at the Fantasy Review Barn as part of Tough Travelling. This week the topic for discussion is MISSING HEIRS
MISSING HEIRS occur with great frequency. At any given time, half the countries in Fantasyland will have mislaid their crown princess/prince.
So, without further ado I’m going to jump right in – although, this week, I’m not actually naming the missing people – because that could just be considered a bit spoilery for those who haven’t read the stories below! I’m just going to name the books and you’ll have to trust me (Don’t forget to go and check out the others – there are always loads of great recommendations to be had)! Unfortunately this week the titles are all ones that I’ve picked before:
LotR – never miss an opportunity to get Tolkien on the list : the Heir of Isildur – okay I’ve named this particular heir but only because he’s known by a different name throughout most of the books. And anyway, who doesn’t know the Heir of Isildur!
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie – this one defo counts!
The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory – I’m not sure you could call this a missing heir – so much as a heir who goes travelling in cognito.
Age of Iron by Angus Watson – three companions and one of them with definitely a surprise in store for future readers out there.
Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene – just check out the start of the story – definitely a missing heir in the making.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman – I’m thinking of a female, sometimes who takes the shape of a bird, who wears a chain that keeps her enslaved to a witch.
This is going to be a slightly different and maybe somewhat unusual review but one that I think is perfectly fitting for a very unconventional little book.
I was very excited to pick up the Slow Regard of Silent Things. Firstly, it’s by Rothfuss. Secondly, it’s about one of the characters from the Kingkiller Chronicles that I thought I would enjoy reading about. And, thirdly, and very fickle of me, its an absolutely gorgeous little book, beautifully written and beautifully illustrated – which again seems perfectly fitting for a tale about Auri. Check it out:
I won’t elaborate on the plot – I say this quite often in my reviews but in this case I’m not going to elaborate further because, to be frank, there isn’t a plot. This is a snippet of time from Auri’s life. Not even a full week. Literally six days, during which we follow in the footsteps of Auri as she moves purposefully along the ancient passageways of Underthing, collecting, making and depositing things along the way.
In terms of characters – well, if you’re expecting a robust cast you’ll surely be disappointed. This is the Auri show. Nobody else makes an appearance and there is no dialogue or conversation, no witty repartee! Again though, I felt like this fitted with the story as the places that Auri takes us to almost have a reverential feel to them, or a scary one when seen through her eyes, so much so that lots of dialogue would feel a little like shouting through a megaphone whilst in a library! Auri is an unusual girl. Waiflike and alone. Not lonely though. She sees things differently. Some things frighten her and others make her unspeakably happy. To Auri, there’s a place for everything and everything has to be in it’s place. The inanimate objects around her seem to almost have feelings and personalities. It’s a very unusual world!
The setting is Underneath – a labyrinth of passages that run beneath the University where Auri was once a student. This is a very strange and fascinating place indeed and perhaps one of the only criticisms I have is that I would have quite liked, in fact I would have loved, an illustration of the layout, but that’s just a personal whim. I was fascinated with Auri’s world. It feels like an enormous place with twisting tunnels and secret rooms. I couldn’t help thinking of the Phantom of the Opera – don’t even ask my why, it’s just a strange fancy that I had when reading. I’d love to know what the dressing room was for example!
Anyway, to the crux of the review. The writing. The writing is beautiful. It’s lyrical and whimsical and a little bit sad and Rothfuss is undoubtedly a master of words. If Kvothe knows the name of the Wind then Rothfuss know the name of Prose! I can’t deny that I adore writing like this – it’s one of the reasons why I love writers such as Gaiman and Valente. The words are magical and the imagery they depict is captivating.
Okay, if you’re expecting a start, a middle and a conclusion to the story then get ready for disappointment. This isn’t that type of story. If you’re expecting to find out a little of Auri’s history or what happened to drive her into this strange and self imposed solitude – again this isn’t the right book – in fact, I think if we’re going to find out about Auri it’s more likely to be through others telling her tale. Other things you can forget about: this doesn’t take the Chronicles forward in any way whatsoever, we don’t meet up with Kvothe or any of the others, it’s not epic, dramatic or adventurous. It’s unconventional and Rothfuss is plainly aware of this as he states in the foreword ‘You might not want to buy this book’. Again, unusual to say the least and probably enough to give any publicist palpitations!
I really enjoyed it though. If you’re keen for a glimpse into the world of Auri then this is for you. It’s a bittersweet insight that leaves you frankly wanting more and also makes you feel strangely protective of this ethereal girl! I think the clue is in the title really – ‘the slow regard of silent things’ it’s basically what you’re doing here as a reader. You’re having a little peep into this unusual, slow paced and very silent world.
Recommended with the provisos pointed out by the good author himself!
This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and Bookish is :
‘Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get (my dirty mitts upon)’
This is a post that I’m not going to have any difficulty with at all!! Because I want ALL the books! However, I will restrict this to 10 (or so) because I’m good like that. So, in no particular order or any particular idea of when they’ll arrive on the scene:
- The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence – I’m in love with his books!!!
- The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch – hopefully early ’15 (fingers crossed) (ditto the above)
- Doors of Stone – Patrick Rothfuss – no idea when this is due so if anybody wants to chuck me a frickin bone… (
ditto the above- forget it – I love all the authors on this list!!!)
- Patricia Briggs – Mercy Thompson No.9 – not yet titled. Want.
- Clash of Iron by Angus Watson – Age of Iron was so good and not a long wait for No.2 – April ’15!
- No.3 of the Seven Forges by James a Moore
- Sword of the North by Luke Scull
- Whatever delights the lovely one known as Gillian Phillp decides to produce next
- Ditto the above for Lauren Beukes and Sarah Pinborough – see how I fit two in there!!!
- Skybreaker by Brandon Sanderson- did you really think I wouldn’t have the Stormlight Archives on here – go on now!!!
- Half the World by Joe Abercrombie
Yes, I know I have too many but sometimes rules are made for breaking. The end. (Oh, I’ve put a few covers – some of the above don’t have covers yet!)
Apart from all my lovelies, whatcha waiting for????
Just finished reading Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. It would be easy to say I had mixed feelings about this but to be honest I don’t have mixed feelings at all – it simply, and bluntly wasn’t for me! And, that’s in spite of having some very original (to me anyway) concepts and from having what I considered to be a very good ending.
Set far into the future Ancillary Justice is a space opera of epic proportions. At the start of the story we follow Breq, currently residing on an unfriendly and largely inhabitable ice planet Breq comes across a former colleague, Seivarden, who has been attacked and lies dying in the cold – that is, until Breq intercedes. This is a strange relationship between two characters who have no liking for each other. Now, jump back approximately 20 years and follow the story of One Esk Nineteen of the Justice of Toren warship. One Esk is an ancillary, an AI, linked to many other similar AIs all sharing their thoughts and actions. I’m not quite sure how to describe ancillaries other than that they are simply shells of people that have been used to create armies to be used by the Radch Empire in it’s quest to rule the stars. Bear in mind at this point that these are not the only avatars being used in the story.
What becomes fairly quickly apparent is that Breq and One Esk are in fact one and the same character – except all One Esk’s former counterparts were destroyed along with the Justice of Toren about 20 years ago. Breq, the only survivor now seeks revenge upon the person responsible – the Lord of the Radch – Anaander Mianaai.
So, what did I like about the story.
Well, without a doubt, there’s a lot to comprehend. This is a story of revenge. It’s fairly involved given all the characters and different systems plus becoming familiar with all the names, back story and the way the AIs function plus trying to get a feel for Breq and Seivarden. It’s a book of politics that takes a look at issues of class and inequality. The measures to which some societies will go to impose their will upon those that they deem ‘uncivilised’ and in the act of doing so commit all manner of atrocities themselves. It is, without doubt a thought provoking book and whether you like it or not it will definitely make you sit and consider things.
I actually liked that the author has come up with a system where sexual identity seems to be left undefined. The dominant culture seem to use a language that uses primarily the word ‘she’ although sometimes with a scattering of the word ‘he’. In their language and culture this is acceptable but does lead to difficulties when conversing with people from other cultures. What I actually really like about this concept is that whilst reading the book I didn’t have any defined ideas of how a person should be acting because of their gender. In fact this was really a breath of fresh air. I wasn’t thinking about the dynamics of possible relationships between characters or whether a character was acting in a way that I thought they would or should because of any predetermined ideas based on their gender. I was simply concentrating on the story. Such a great concept. But, that being said, I didn’t like the way it was executed. In other words everyone described using the female pronoun ‘she’. Why? I think it was a little confusing to be honest. If you’re going to have a genderless society or at least – not genderless because clearly there are males and females but a society where ‘he’ and ‘she’ have become irrelevant somehow in terms of the language then why still specify one of these? It just seemed odd to me and jarred a little plus it just felt a little confusing (although I admit that could just be me and the fact that I’m such a newbie to sci-fi). I mean, I just don’t get it. Why would you ever reach a point where you drop one of these descriptors but not the other? If you’re trying to reach some sort of equilibrium it clearly makes sense to drop both altogether doesn’t it?
The other slight negatives for me – in a universe this size, how likely was it that Breq would have come across Seivarden – seems a bit too convenient a plot point – and yet, did Seivarden really add anything? Other than getting Breq a foot in the door towards the end probably not – although I concede that both Breq and Seivarden were having identity issues and their journey together seemed to alter them both – which was actually one of the more enjoyable elements of the story for me. Plus, whilst I did like the ending it felt a little bit too easy in parts. I can’t say more because I don’t want to spoil it.
Anyway, I can’t deny that there are parts of this story that were really good and I did become quite gripped towards the end but to be honest this wasn’t really for me and put simply it didn’t hold my attention the way I thought it would. Can a good ending redeem the book – sometimes, but in this instance I don’t think so. This book took a lot longer than I would have expected because I kept putting it down and finding it hard to pick up again. I’m clearly in a minority as it seems to be very popular so I certainly wouldn’t try and dissuade anyone from reading but I doubt that I will continue with this series. I must confess that I feel a bit grumpy with myself for struggling with this one and feeling like somehow I’ve missed something fundamental or just been too plain dense to ‘get’ it – I really did want to love it but it just didn’t happen and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.
This is my first read for Sci Fi November 2014. Check out the details here.