Hippoi Athanatoi

Thieves, Dragons and More

With just a day left of our vacation, the large pile of books I brought along to read has been significantly reduced. That is, the books are still there, of course, but the amount of reading material remaining is barely enough to last me through the trip tomorrow. Clearly, there is no such thing as too many books to have along for a vacation, regardless of what the weather is like. Both the beach and the comfy couch are great places for hours upon hours of reading.

To start with, I got back to and finished Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora. It did improve from my initial impression of the book, and I found the last third or so (that’s when the plot really kicks into high gear) quite entertaining, but on the whole it wasn’t quite to my tastes. It is well-written (with lots of sharp and funny dialogue) and fairly well paced, but I prefer a book to be predominantly character-driven as opposed to plot-driven. This one is definitely the latter rather than the former, which kept me from forming any strong attachments to any of the characters.

The next book I tackled was Katherine Kurtz’s In the King’s Service, her latest Deryni novel and the first in the trilogy focusing on Alaric Morgan. This one, though, actually deals with his parents and how it is they end up getting married. Its a pretty entertaining book, which in contrast to previous Deryni books focuses heavily on the life of women in Gwynedd as we follow a couple of young girls from childhood to marriage. Its not a strong as some of the earlier books, such as those focusing on Camber and his direct descendants, but I liked it better than some of the books focusing on Kelson.

After that one, I moved on to reading bits and pieces from the three anthologies I brought along; First Heroes, Crossroads and Other Tales of Valdemar and Hags, Sirens, and Other Bad Girls of Fantasy. First Heroes has some really well-written and well-researched stories about the Bronze Age, with contributions from Judith Tarr, Katherine Kerr, Poul Anderson and many others. Crossroads is the third collection of stories in Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar, written by various authors. I found this one weaker than previous such collections, however. Finally, the last anthology contained quite a few interesting takes on the dangerous women of mythology and fantasy. It was a spur-of-the-moment purchase, but a pretty good one.

Thanks to Elio, I was then unable to keep to my plan of saving Naomi Novik’s three novels about Temeraire (the premise for these being alternative history Napoleonic Wars with intelligent dragons as part of the forces) for the trip home, as he started reading them and couldn’t keep from telling me bits and pieces all the time. The first one, His Majesty’s Dragon, read very quickly and was very entertaining. The second, Throne of Jade, has some slow spots during the trip to China, but overall its also quite entertaining. The third, Black Powder War, also has a few slow spots (well, depending on whether military campaigns interest you a lot or not), but overall its on par with the second one but not quite as good as the first. The overall impression of the series so far (the third one ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, and the chapter from the so far untitled fourth book shows that the next one is likely to provide some fresh challenges for Temeraire and his Captain) is very positive. In particular, the dragons—and Temeraire most of all—are such wonderfully realized and delightful characters.

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