starlady: Galadriel in Caras Galadhon, with an ornate letter "G" (galadriel is a G)
What I'm Reading
A.S. King, Glory O'Brien's History of the Future - Still, yes. I'm increasingly annoyed that the horrible future Glory sees is just an update of The Handmaid's Tale for the 2010s, and increasingly irritated at people who write first person narratives that are horribly undescriptive of everything in the book including the characters. John Green, who blurbed this book, is clearly a pernicious idiot.

Natsume Soseki, Kokoro - "Everyone loves Kokoro," my advisor told me. "Except maybe you." My expectations are low.

What I've Read
C.S. Pacat, Captive Prince and Prince's Gambit - These books are so good, and Pacat subverts so many tropes, I love them so much, you should read them, the end.

Megan Whalen Turner, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings - Someone on tumblr remarked that these books are similar to Pacat's, and I devoured three of them on my plane back from Japan, and that tumblr person was right. I'm not sure I'll be able to take it if there's never a fifth one. If you haven't read them, you should read them, but start with the first one, The Thief, and don't read the backs of any of them. They are amazing.

Fran Wilde, Updraft - All the reviews say the worldbuilding is interesting but the plot and characters are predictable and paper-thin, respectively. All the reviews are right. I don't plan to read any of Wilde's future books; I for one didn't find the worldbuilding interesting so much as frustrating. They live in bone towers! Cool! BONE TOWERS OF WHAT?? NO ONE KNOWS OR CARES. ARGH.

Marie Rutkoski, The Winner's Kiss - Yes, this is the third book in a trilogy, no, I haven't read the first two. I liked Rutkoski's Cabinet of Wonders books quite a lot, and while this story seems more ambitious I'm not sure I was sold on it. On the other hand I stayed up til 2am and read it in four hours, so.

What I'll Read Next
Hopefully something I actually enjoy.
starlady: (compass)
Turner, Megan Whalen. A Conspiracy of Kings. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2010.

This is the fourth book in Turner's "Eugenideiad" as I like to call it. My non-spoilery review of the first three books (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia) is here. Verdict: They are awesome. Verdict on this book: Awesome.

These are books that benefit from knowing as little as possible about them before one reads them, because Turner constructs books that are so perfectly structured, I am not even sure of the proper metaphor for it, but they really must be experienced. So I will only say that A Conspiracy of Kings re-introduces Sophos, who had a supporting part in The Thief, and places him at center stage. And it is awesome.

Also, I'm finally beginning to be able to appreciate Turner's humor, or maybe this book just had more of it. And she is still concerned with what people do with power, and what it does to them, and with how people choose to use it. Excellent, excellent, excellent; more please, now.
starlady: (compass)
Turner, Megan Whalen. The Thief. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1996.
Turner, Megan Whalen. The Queen of Attolia. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2000.
Turner, Megan Whalen. The King of Attolia. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2006.
I love these books so much, and The Queen of Attolia in particular may be a perfect book; I want to find the right words to talk about them. In short, Megan Whalen Turner is an amazing writer. Each of these books is a miracle of structure, and her characters are absolutely indelible. Turner also writes incredibly dense prose that is as translucent as water--there's multitudes packed into her words, which only look simple. Oh, really, these books are a marvel.

Begin at the beginning, as Holmes would tell Watson, right? So, The Thief. It was a 1997 Newbery Honor book, and it introduces readers to Turner's Byzantine/early Renaissance alternate Near East, and to the three countries of Attolia, Eddis and Sounis whose fates are uneasily yoked together at the best of times. After taking a degree in classics, I can piece together what in Turner's world is based on what in ours, but she prefers to leave direct correspondences unexplored, and I'll respect her wishes. In any case, she thoroughly transforms her source materials (check out the feminist retelling of the myth of Persephone in The Queen of Attolia!).

Speaking of which, aside from the carefully constructed plots, another common thread in all three books is the importance of inset stories, which characters tell one another and which all connect in clever, thematic ways to the plots themselves.

The Thief contains a major twist ending which is unspeakably brilliant and which sets up the next two books in a foundational way, so I don't want to talk too much about the plots themselves. I would, however, like to talk about The Queen of Attolia, which has to be one of the most complex, wracking books I own. Though all these books are YA, there's more than a little of D/s dynamics in this particular book, as well as one of the most wrenching love stories I've read. I really do think that if I had to name one perfect book, I might pick that one, not least because of how the main character deals with having his hand cut off in the first 20 pages. Yes, despite being YA, the book is quite dark.

In some ways, actually, Turner reminds me a lot of Michelle West--both women write about power, and about fantasy realms in which characters not only believe in but talk to their gods (indeed, the introduction of the gods into the narrative is a minor marvel). Both women ask, to an extent, what people will and won't do for and with power, when they must, what roles people take and what are thrust upon them, and how and whether they'll grow to fill them. The next book, A Conspiracy of Kings, comes out on March 23, and I cannot wait.

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