squirelawrence: (three friends)
OK, it isn't really that I've only read 9 new books since New Year's. It's that I haven't bothered posting about it in a couple of weeks. And, since two of the books that I've read are also on [livejournal.com profile] accioayla's reading list, and are gonna be recced for [livejournal.com profile] tricksterquinn, I'm holding off on posting on those two. *grin* But it's Sunday, I'm at work, no one's on email and I'm bored. So here's a rambly post.

This one is also going on the recommended list for Quinn and accioayla, but I figured I could ramble about it a bit without giving the whole bag away. Moon Called, by Patricia Briggs. About, for anyone who just has no clue about my reading tastes, werewolves.

Is it just me, or are there a lot of women authors, more or less of late, writing about werewolves? Is this a post Laurell K. Hamilton/Anita Blake thing, or has it been going on for a while and I just haven't been paying attention? The latter is quite possible - I can't remember picking up any new authors during law school, and not a lot since then until this book challenge started. The fact that Patricia Briggs has a number of books to her credit seems to suggest that I've just been clueless about her writing - a lack I intend to rectify.

Moon Called reminds me, without trying to accuse Ms. Briggs of being derivative, of the Anita Blake books at the very beginning. Strong heroine, in a non-traditional career (in this case, a VW mechanic named Mercedes. Yup, good for a chuckle from the very beginning), with a family she isn't quite sure how to handle, and a strong desire and complete inability to avoid the supernatural politics of the were, the witches, and the vampires around her. Yup, in some ways, very familiar.

On the other hand, that's not completely a bad thing. There's a reason why many, if not most, of my fantasy reading friends are rather fond of the early Anita Blake books - they're good. Plot-wise, I'm not certain Moon Called is as strong as the early Blake stuff. On the other hand, it's not bad. And character-wise (and I confess, I will forgive a great many plot failings if the characters are interesting), it's very promising. A vampire with a sense of humor, werewolves without a sense of humor, Alpha werewolf's human teenage daughter, elves, and Native American skinwalkers - it's an interesting bunch o' folk.

Entertaining. I like it.
squirelawrence: Teal'c with hands clasped, looking smug. (Default)
Long, long ago, when the world was young and I was foolish, I got sucked into a roleplaying campaign run by [livejournal.com profile] artaxastra, under a system called Pendragon. The system was, to the surprise of absolutely no one, an Arthurian campaign. Young, innocent, and unused to the perfidy of gamemastering types that I was, I made the mistake of continuing to buy supplements with which to give the GM even more creative ways to kill us. I later learned that this was totally unncessary - she was more than capable of coming up with creative ways of killing us on her own.

But I digress. The point, with respect to the book challenge, is that Pendragon, like most RPG's, faced the problem of "What do you do when your player characters become so ridiculously powerful that nothing short of total apocalypse is remotely challenging?" (In Star Wars, this is known as the "Everybody wants to be a Jedi Master" problem, and artaxastra came up with a solution to that, too. But that is a story for another time). Pendragon solves the problem by being a generational game. You start out with a 14 year old squire, and by the time he works his way up to being a major fuedal lord, able to send armies to do his work at a whim, he also has children. And you play those wet behind the ears, low stats, no skills walking targets, and work your way up the ladder again.

Tom Clancy appears to have seized upon the same solution to his "Well, what the hell can I do with Jack Ryan now problem?" Sort of the opposite of the Vanyel problem - once you've taken your main character from a low-level, part-time, unpaid volunteer CIA analyst to President of the United States, there's really nowhere else to go. So, whaddya do?

You have him retire, kill off his best friend (off camera and with no real point - sorry, Robby) and start all over again with his newly graduated from college son and his two cousins. It is sort of entertaining, given that Jack Jr. is born at the very end of Patriot Games, the first Jack Ryan book, and now, 6 or 7 books later, he's finally old enough to be the hero of his own book.

And if you're wondering? Yeah, the book basically sucks. Even if you, like me, read the Jack Ryan novels as essentially escapist thriller crack, Teeth of the Tiger is pretty bad. (And no, I'm not going to explain the title, as it's pretty dumb. Find the dust jacket yourself). Even by these standards, the plot basically strains incredulity.

Spoiler alert - ah, who am I kidding? Other than Jason, no one on my friends' list is going to read this thing. Jason, read no further if you want to read this book.

Without going too far into it, Jack Ryan Jr. and his two cousins are hired onto America's new 00 branch, a private intelligence company with a license from the government to kill. (Only in America will the assassination branch be contracted out to the lowest bidder!) The means of assassination? You stab the bad guys in the ass with a disguised fountain pen, which injects a totally untraceable drug which causes heart failure. Why the ass? Because - and no lie, this is the rationale of the book - medical examiners hardly ever examine the backside of decedents who are undergoing autopsy.

OK, this is just where I leave the suspended disbelief train. I mean, in the course of this one book, the terrible trio ass-stick 4 guys in the early twenties to mid-forties. Uhm, children, the third or fourth young to middle aged terrorist that drops dead from a heart attack, with no prior symptoms? Is gonna raise some suspicions. Although I have to admit, running over one of the bad guys with a cable car? Relatively unprecedented, if not actually creative, yanno.

By Clancy standards? This is relatively mindless brain candy, with a heavier than normal dose of militaristic gung ho, the GOP are the Chosen People of the Lord philosophy of the Jack Ryan books. What can I say? I was in a curious mood. Next book is better, I promise!
squirelawrence: (Chariot)
Gotta admit, I'm fairly amused by this song. Willie Nelson do have a sense of humor.

Anyway, book challenge. Haven't stopped reading - just haven't been updating! First book is actually a trilogy, but I figured I'd treat it as one, given that I read it long, long ago. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, by Stephen Donaldson. This was an interesting re-read for me, in that I really can't stand the main character. I find Covenant extremely unpleasant. And while I vaguely understand the philosophical themes Donaldson is exploring with this anti-hero who refuses to engage, to feel, to believe, because he's afraid for his survival and sanity if he does, I don't agree with Covenant. I find his refusal to take the step of believing in the impossible terribly frustrating, given that, to borrow from another author, I like believing in seven impossible things before breakfast.

On the other hand, Donaldson does build some freaking amazing supporting characters. The Ranyhyn, the Lords, the Giants (omigod the Giants!)! They're all just amazing.

My favorites, though, are the Bloodguard. There's just something so. . . resonant about a bunch of guys so hardcore that they swear a fealty oath that binds them beyond death. As in, they don't sleep, they don't age, they don't die. Because that might interfere with their sworn duty, and we can't be having that. Man, and I thought the Chushingura were hardcore! I love these guys. Even though, in many ways, they are pretty unloveable.

So, First Chronicles - B, B- or so. I love the land, I love the people, I want to drop kick the main character off a cliff and then drop a train on his ass. *shrug* Win some, lose some.

Second book, unfortunately, is one that I really wanted to like, because I wanted to recommend it to a friend. Unfortunately, I didn't and I really can't. The Blood of the Heroes, by Steve White, is another one of this author's entries in the I Never Met a Myth that I Couldn't Screw Around Into Being About Aliens theme. Sorry, Quinn. I forgot he has this particular theme going. I won't go into the plot much more, but I'm reasonably certain it would infuriate you. Particularly since the destruction of Santorini takes place off camera, as it were. *shrug* I really love Steve White's stuff with David Weber. But his solo work generally irritates me a lot, which I keep forgetting, since I really love his stuff with Weber. Sorry, love. If [livejournal.com profile] accioayla happens to have a copy, or you run into it in the library, give it a go, but it's not worth you shelling out for the hardback.


squirelawrence: Teal'c with hands clasped, looking smug. (Default)

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