The Tempering of Men by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
I really loved A Companion to Wolves, which sets out to deconstruct the trope of spirit animals and ends up exploring what it is to be female or female-coded in a patriarchy. Deep dark truths in speculative fiction: kind of my whole deal. It made my top ten list of last year, so when Memory told me there was a sequel, I was over the moon. Of course, my excitement was tempered (oh, come on, I get one pun, surely?) by the fact the only library copy I had access to was at my hometown library, so I couldn’t immediately capitalize on my delight. And hey, the last installment is expected this year, so perhaps the wait was more luck than delay…
Ha’penny by Jo Walton
Sometimes, life just comes at you, you know? I tend to do everything in my power to make my life uncomplicated—I’m using my words more, courtesy of Captain Awkward, I make time for sleep and exercise, and I try and do my work in a timely fashion. For the most part, it works, but sometimes life, the ornery thing it is, catches up with you, and I ended up spending a few days feeling utterly crushed by work. In such a fix, I needed a book and an author I could rely on for a quick but mindblowing read—who else could I turn to but Jo Walton?
Farthing by Jo Walton
I’ve really enjoyed the Jo Walton novels that I’ve read—Tooth and Claw and Among Others—but neither blew my world up. I’d heard really good things about her Small Change trilogy (so named because the novels in it are Farthing, Ha’Penny, and Half a Crown), but my past experience with her didn’t send me out to the library immediately to pick up Farthing. It sort of meandered across my currently hypothetical desk at the end of June, languishing until I needed something to break the good-but-average rut my reading was in. Said rut was absolutely shattered.
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen’s Sister Light, Sister Dark was one of the very first books from my reading list I highlighted on The Literary Horizon here at the blog, and I think it says a lot about my bookish turnaround that it’s taken me three years to get to one of her novels. Along with being praised by readers whose taste I trust, Briar Rose has been haunting my footsteps at school; it was very nearly a selection for that children’s and young adult literature class I never shut up about. I’m not sure what motivated me to pick it up, after three years of not being motivated to, but I found myself starting it at lunch and ending it a few hours later.
A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
While I don’t care for N. K. Jemisen’s fiction, her musings on speculative fiction as a genre are usually worth a look. So when she mentioned A Companion to Wolves in passing in a post on the possible feminization of epic fantasy, I investigated further. While the “companion animal” idea smacks too much of supermarket paranormal romance to me, the fact that Monette and Bear were brutally deconstructing it grabbed me. I love deconstruction, especially in speculative fiction. I was expecting something along the lines of The Magicians (but with spirit wolves!)—what I got was something much more.
I love it when that happens!
The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge
This is going to be interesting. You see, I won a prize pack from Tor.com that included A Fire Upon the Deep (a copy of which I already had) and The Children of the Sky. Naturally, I read them in order, but The Children of the Sky was an ARC, and I always try and put up reviews for ARCs the day before they’re released. So, yes, I’ve read A Fire Upon the Deep, but that review will go up at the beginning of November. Naturally, as this is a review for the sequel, there will be spoilers for A Fire Upon the Deep below. Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the actual review.
Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
As you may have gathered from the fact that I press The Sundering onto any fantasy fan I encounter, I love Jacqueline Carey. But while I started with her brilliant deconstruction of The Lord of the Rings, Carey is most known for the Kushiel’s Legacy series and its companion trilogy. Kushiel’s Dart (and then the rest of the series!) was the logical step from The Sundering, but a problem cropped up—you see, it is apparently so good people have stolen all the copies from my local library at school. I could only get it at my local library at home, and as the end of summer crept up on me, I made sure to pick it up and read it before I went back to school. And, of course, I devoured it.
Oh, Dragon*Con. As I’m writing this, I’m recovering from my farewell gift—a case of Con Crud. Hack hack, cough cough. But I had a blast, as I always do—it’s the only con I go to, and it’s always a unique and amazing experience. In no particular order, I met Mary Robinette Kowal, saw Stan Lee put a positive spin on everything Marvel has ever done (including Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark, bless him), debuted my Éowyn costume favorably, watched my roommate win Miss Star Trek Universe, danced my feet off at the Tolkien Track party to Emerald Rose, quaked in my gladiator sandals meeting Tor editor Claire Eddy, got told (alongside a whole panel, of course) a dirty joke by Sylvester McCoy, and discovered why the Supernatural fandom is the way it is. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But I’ll share in detail one particular panel I think y’all might be interested in—“Tor Upfront”, which previewed Tor’s line-up for the rest of the year.
Among Others by Jo Walton
I picked up Among Others on a whim at the library. I’d heard of it vaguely—the Tor blog, naturally, talked about it in the lead-up to its publication, I’d seen it reviewed here and there, and Walton posted a bibliography of every book mentioned in Among Others on her LiveJournal. But despite all that, the synopsis turned me off; I wasn’t quite sure how to reconcile the focus on books and community with the epic battles it promised. But I picked it up at the library nonetheless, and I’m quite glad—the front flap is very misleading.
Spellwright by Blake Charlton
I’ve been wanting to read Spellwright for quite some time because I found the premise—dyslexic wizard—to be fresh and unique. I eyed it in the new fiction shelf at my library for quite some time, until I had a free slot for a fantasy book in my reading schedule. After Zombie Spaceship Wasteland gave me such mixed feelings, I really wanted Spellwright to be something special… but, alas, it was not to be.