November 6th, 2013

  • cat63

Books 99 & 100 for 2013

99. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. 666 pages.

Having read this book to the end, I'm still not entirely sure if I liked it or not….

The best way to describe is is that it's a bit like an episode of Leverage or Hustle, set in a fantasy world but with a lot of graphic violence, which last thing is the bit I wasn't entirely keen on.

The worldbuilding is excellent - a human society in a city they've inherited from some mysterious elder race which has vanished, leaving buildings and structures of "elderglass" that can't be reproduced by human efforts.

Locke Lamora is a thief in this society, raised in the temple of Perelandro by Father Chains, the Eyeless Priest. But things are not what they seem on many levels and Locke is drawn into a conflict that threatens to destroy not only his life and those of his friends, but possibly the entire ruling structure of the city….

I liked the characters and the background, and the violence is, I can see, an intrinsic part of that, but I found it a bit much at times. Lynch also has a Jim Butcherish tendency to beat the crap out of his lead characters until you're having trouble believing they can survive what he dishes out to them.

I think, on balance, I'll probably read the sequel - especially if, like this one, it comes up at a Kindle daily deal for 99p :)

100. The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde

Second outing for Jack Spratt and the Nursery Crimes Division, this time investigating the death of Goldilocks in the forest, complicated by cucumberistas, Dorian Gray the car salesman and Punch and Judy moving in next door.

Splendid stuff. A pity Fforde hasn't written a third book in this series yet. I hope he will one day.

Book 42: Farewell My Concubine

Originally posted by audrey_e at Book 42: Farewell My Concubine
42 FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE Lillian Lee (also known as Li Bihua) (China, 1985)


Two singers grow up together eternally playing the same parts in the opera Farewell My Concubine, one as the king, the other as the loving concubine who eventually commits suicide. When in real life "the king" falls in love with a prostitute, the other uses the rise of communism in China to express his jealousy and take his revenge.

Farewell My Concubine is filled with vivid descriptions of poverty and communism. Even after reading Jung Chang's thorough Wild Swans, I was still shocked by the crimes the author denounces in her novel. The horror was such that there'll always be more to learn.
Beyond the historical frame, this story of two singers who grow up together like brothers, with all its undertones of homosexuality, was very appealing. Unfortunately, I'm convinced quite a bit was lost in translation; some of the subtleties perhaps, that would have made the novel more memorable and vivid. The first half was even at times a little tedious, probably for the reasons stated above. The second, with the entrance of communism, was far more gripping and moving.
I wish I could read mandarin to get the full experience...