IR Sci-fi/Fantasy

Blaze of Glory by Michael Pryor

I think a lot of Harry Potter fans out there would really enjoy Blaze of Glory which is the first volume in a new series by Michael Pryor, The Laws of Magic. Actually, I’d like to amend that statement. Fans of Harry Potter will enjoy it, fans of the Bartimaeus trilogy will gobble it up like there’s no tomorrow. It’s got magic, it’s got politics complete with attempted assassinations, revolutionaries, and pamphlets, and it’s got a flawed and arrogant protagonist. Alas, there is no witty djinni (or whatever Bartimaeus calls himself – I can’t be bothered to find my copy and remind myself), but Aubrey makes up for it, I think, except when he’s around Caroline, who I’ll get to later on in the review (yes, I’m channeling Michael Cox, but it’s true).

Okay, basically here’s what’s going on: Aubrey, due to a backfiring magical incident, has to focus much of his magical and intellectual energies on keeping himself alive while solving an assassination attempt that has far-reaching political consequences. Well, really, need I say more? Sure, the plot slows at times while Pryor tries to subtly fill the reader in on the political background and situations of various countries and, sure, there are some clunky dialogues (mainly due to the amount of exposition Pryor tries to cram into this first volume), but overall, he’s created an intriguing world and very likable characters, for the most part. I refer here to Caroline aka Little Miss Perfect Ice Queen Adored By Aubrey. Mostly I probably dislike her because she’s a little obnoxious. And perfect.

But all that aside, this is definitely a promising start to a good series. At the very least, Aubrey will keep us company until Book Seven.

My rating: A-


The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox

I picked this up solely because of the cover. I know, I know, how superficial of me, but come on – it totally rocks! And this time, I lucked out. The Meaning of Night is a suitably complex Victorian murder mystery. Sort of. It tells the story of Edward Glyver, his childhood, his betrayal, and his revenge. There are books and prostitutes and bankers and misplaced parents and childhood friends turned enemies and shady figures and a cringing, clinging, Uriah Heap of a neighbour and fickle lovers and everything else that ever had a feature role in a Charles Dickens novel.

The plot suffers a tiny bit from its uneven pacing which is due to the jumps in the narrative – sometimes Glyver is narrating what is currently happening and other times he is narrating what happened a long time ago. He spends roughly the first two thirds of the book doing this, as he relates his story to his good friend Le Grice and sometimes it gets difficult to remember which time frame we are in. There are also lots of ‘but more about that later’ and ‘but that’s not important right now’ which does get rather tiresome. After a few of those, I started thinking ‘So don’t tell us about it now, tell us about it when we get there!’

Glyver makes for a very intriguing main character – I hesitate to call him the protagonist, but, to quote Cox ‘more about that later.’ He is a rather unsympathetic character and a highly unreliable narrator. He seems to take offense at the slightest…well, slight. I mean, okay, fair enough, his nemesis, the poet Phoebus Daunt, gets him thrown out of school which changes the path and goals of his life, but is that really a strong enough motivation to spend the next 20 or 30 years trying to get revenge? Hmm, when I put it like that, it actually kind of does. But still, at the time, his motivation and that of others seem to be a bit weak. And, actually, luck plays a large role in Daunt’s actions. For reasons I won’t go into at the moment for fear of ruining some surprises, I will simply say that the extent and depth of ramifications stemming from Daunt’s prank are all coincidences and depend on many other factors than just Daunt’s malevolence, which again makes Glyver’s reactions a bit over-the-top.

The other odd thing is the climax of the book. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything, but, frankly, the climax seems almost anti-climactic. I can’t really explain it and I have no idea why, but when I got there I was really engrossed and tearing through the pages right up until the high point and then I sort of sat back and thought ‘Wow, that was really unsatisfying.’ And I don’t mean to put anyone off reading this book because really, on the whole, I did enjoy it. Just maybe wait until it comes out in paperback, I guess.

My rating: B-

OMG holiday!

Hellooooo! I’m back from Australia! It was such an amazing trip…not only did I get to see three of my friends, L., C., and D., again after three years, C., who basically planned the whole thing for us did a fantastic job! Here is a short list of what we did, to be followed fairly soon with photos:

1. Went snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef!!! – omg, so surreal.
2. Held a koala!
3. Fed kangaroos!
4. Walked through a rainforest!
5. Went surfing in Brisbane!!! (until I saw a jellyfish halfway through our lesson and decided that that was enough nature for me…)
6. Flew to Ayer’s Rock/Uluru and saw a sunset and then a sunrise the next morning!
7. Went to an incredible U2 concert at Telstra Stadium (where the Sydney Olympics opening ceremonies were held!)!!!!!!
8. SAW KYLIE MINOGUE ON HER FIRST NIGHT BACK ON HER HOMECOMING TOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It. Was. Awesome.

So now I’m settling back in here in mid-America, getting ready to start a brand-new job on Monday – oh noes! Anyway, like I said, piccies to appear shortly, I’m sure.

If I missed anything major with RL, recs, book news, anything, PLEASE drop by and let me know about it… 🙂