November 23rd, 2011

faerie queen

Book 119: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Book 119: The Iron King (Iron Fey 01) .
Author: Julie Kagawa, 2010.
Genre: YA Fantasy. Faery. Coming of Age.
Other Details: Paperback. 365 pages.

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny - one she could never have imagined - back cover teaser The Iron King.

Meghan Chase has never really felt as though she's fit in, either at school or home. Her life has been over-shadowed by the mysterious disappearance of her father in front of her eyes when she was a child. Now as she approaches her sixteenth birthday, strange and inexplicable things are happening. It is not long before Meghan discovers that she is the daughter of a mythical fairy king and about to become a pawn in a deadly war.

I am a great lover of all things Faery, especially when well done, which on the basis of this first book this series certainly appears to be. Drawing on traditional Faerie lore of the Courts with a generous borrow from William Shakespeare, I found this a delightful novel with engaging central characters and beautifully imagined fantasy realms.

The discovery of a secret destiny when one comes of age is an ongoing theme in YA fantasy that can be traced from ancient myth and which speaks to a very deep level of the human psyche. Julie Kagawa handles this with grace, combining a gentle love story with action and adventure. As with the Percy Jackson novels by Rick Riordan, she works confidently with myth and legend allowing for modern interpretation without jettisoning tradition.

Also, in her depiction of the Iron Fey of the series title, I found some resonance to themes explored by Neil Gaiman in 'American Gods' in speculating on the changes that might be wrought by humankind's increasing emphasis upon technology and science and the resulting effects upon the traditional otherworldly realms populated by the Fae and other beings.

I will note that this series has some of the most beautiful artwork for its covers that I have seen for some time, including elegant raised front cover textures. I freely admit to having been seduced by this and had bought the first three on a whim without knowing anything about the writer or the series' reputation. Having loved this first one, I now look forward to settling down to read more of Meghan's story and am planning a Yuletide marathon.

The Iron King on Iron Fey site - includes first chapter and links to other pretties.

# 58 Richard III

Richard III

William Shakespeare

I think that almost everyone knows Shakespeare's verson of the story of the monstrous King Richard III, how he plotted the murder of anyone who stood in the way of his gaining the crown of England.

This was certainly not my first encounter with Shakespeare. I've read his work several times before. However, I seem to have missed the history plays, until now.

I'm embarrassed to admit, that this is also the first time that I've felt the magic of Shakespeare. It's the first time I've been held in the thrall of the power of his words.

I've always enjoyed his work, but I never understood what all the fuss was about. Now I get it.


# 57 Some Tame Gazelle

Some Tame Gazelle

Barbara Pym

This is a gentle comedy of manners which takes place in an English village sometime during the first half of the Twentieth Century. It features two spinster sisters, curates, a rather sour, dour archeacon, a bishop, tea, cakes, church bazaars, knitting, and many more of the trappings you'd expect in to find in a gentle comedy of manners.

This book has been compared to Jane Austen's work. I can see that on the surface, but in the end, I don't think it really lives up to that billing. To be fair, can anything really live up to an original?

I enjoyed this, and am glad I read it. There were many passages that made me smile. I wouldn't say, though, that I was terribly impressed.

der Mut
  • maribou

Half Bento Gifts; Steel Blood Discovery of Ant Crow

Half World, by Hiromi Goto, lightly illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Thoroughly, Japanesely weird, in that way which feels gentle but isn't really. I liked this very much, and would've liked it even better as a teenager.

Gifts, by Ursula K. LeGuin (reread)
Every time I reread a LeGuin book, I like it even better than the time before. All the things that struck me about this one this time are inexpressible without spoilers.

Bento Box in the Heartland, by Linda Furiya
This book wasn't really my thing stylistically, but the worth of the stories being told transcended that minor gripe.

Coronets and Steel, and Blood Spirits, by Sherwood Smith
I read the ~950 pages of this duology in less than 2 days (days in which I also did homework and worked and stuff like that). Perhaps understandably, when I osmose books like that, they get a bit blurry round the edges. It's a modern Ruritarian novel and it reminded me (in a good way) of Susanna Kearsley and it had the sensitivity and dry humor I expect from Sherwood's work, and yeah. Loved these.
(188/200, 108/100; 189/200, 109/100)

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness (nook)
I read this book on a library nook and I liked the interface so much I went and bought my own (marvelous) nook before I even finished it... Anyway, this falls into the "ripping good yarn" category for me. Flawed, but awesome. (Be warned, it's book 1 of ... at least 2. I hate that "oh, wait, I only just realized this isn't going to conclude" feeling at the end of really long books, so I thought I should save y'all from it.)

Ant, by Charlotte Sleigh
Artful synthesis is one of my favorite kinds of popcorn reading. GNOM NOM NOM.

Crow, by Boria Sax
This one was noticeably less artful, though still worth finishing. Too much literature and myth (even for me!), not enough science and history.
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