Summer Holiday Reading (spoilers for Hexwood)
kp027 at energex.com.au
Mon Jan 31 20:54:15 EST 2000
I had a month off work over the summer and managed to get through a lot of
books that had been in my enormous To Read pile for quite a while, and also
got my hands on some new books. Some thoughts on a few of the more
significant and relevant ones:
_The Perilous Gard_
I bought this one after high recommendations from the list. I did like the
story, but I didn't like it as much as I would have expected. I think it
was because the dialog didn't really give an authentic Elizabethan feeling.
I've read a few books set in that era, and earlier (by John and Patricia
Beatty, Barbara Willard, and Cynthia Harnett) and the way the characters
sounded in _The Perilous Gard_ was a lot more modern, which spoilt it for me
Also the picture on the cover (which has been discussed here before) was
written by someone who obviously hadn't read the book and that distorted the
mental picture that I went into the book with.
I'll definitely read this one again, and I'm sure I'll like it more the
second time around.
I read _Hexwood_ a few years ago, and I was really disappointed with it.
After quite a few DWJ fans told me that they really liked it I decided that
I had better have another read and see what I'd missed.
There was a lot that I'd missed. And that was because of the jumping around
all over the place in time. It left me completely confused as to what was
going on when I read it the first time, and even the second time around I
found myself leaving back to earlier points in the book to find out what was
happening. The first time around I didn't realise that everyone who went
into the Bannus field turned into characters in the Arthurian castle and I
was completely confused as to what that had to do with the main plot! And I
was completely thrown when Anne turned into Vierann. That was still a bit
of a shock the second time around. And I found the ending rather confusing
both times around when a lot of minor characters that I hadn't been paying
much attention to suddenly turned out to have a significant history and
became the new hand of Reigners.
Then there was the bit where Mordion and the other children were being
trained to be the Reigner's Servant. I found it rather disturbing. What
was done to the children was just so horrible, several orders of magnitude
more horrible than anything done by any of DWJ's other villains. It was a
shock. I think I prefer her less horrible villains.
_The Skiver's Guide_
This was really fun to read. I have discovered I am definitely a skiver.
If only I'd had this book when I was in school! It's sprinkled with great
one-liners that should definitely go into the quotation generator.
When I was on my way home from my last day at work last year, all ready to
finish packing and catch the plane for my holiday, I thought I'd just check
the SF bookshop on the way to the train station. What a bad move! They had
a hardback copy of _Believing is Seeing_ on the shelf! So I parted with
A$40 just so I could read "Enna Hittims", the only new story in there. And
it was quite good. Not one of her best short stories, but not one of her
worst either. There's really not much more to say about it.
"The Green Stone"
Another surprise find. Last week I was browsing the shelves of another
local bookshop that has a good SF collection, and the title and editor of a
book that I know I must have looked at a good half-a-dozen times in the last
year finally worked it's way into my brain. It was _Fantasy Stories_ edited
by Mike Ashley, which was a title I knew as I have had it on order at the
library for a few months. So I read "The Green Stone" there and then. Then
I bought it. I'm glad that unlike _Believing is Seeing_, it was a paperback
and on sale. Much more affordable :)
Quite a good short story. It pokes fun as a few standard fantasy
conventions, and I think it owes a bit to _The Tough Guide to Fantasyland_.
I found the DWJ poem in Neil Gaiman's _Now We Are Sick_. I can't for the
life of me remember what it was called! But it was good, quite funny.
I've also been reading Stephen Brust's Vlad the Assassin series, which I am
thoroughly enjoying. Due to a mixup by my Mum between my Christmas present
and my birthday present I won't get the last one until the end of April.
I've been tracking down Terry Pratchett's short stories, too. I'd highly
recommend most of them, and I've found I prefer some of them to his novels.
The ones I'd recommend most highly are "Turntables of the Night in DWJ's
_Hidden Turnings_, "Once and Future" in Jane Yolen's _Camelot_ and
"Incubust" in _The Drabble Project_.
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