[DWJ] FW: New BookCrossing journal entry for A Sudden Wild Magic!

Belben, Philip (Energy Wholesale) Philip.Belben at eon-uk.com
Thu Feb 1 03:57:59 EST 2007


I've had a very interesting review of SWM from a bookcrosser I sent it
to a couple of years ago.  I thought I'd post it here for discussion.

-----Original Message-----

Someone has made a new journal entry on one of your books at
BookCrossing.com! We've displayed the entry below, but you can read all
the entries at http://bookcrossing.com/journal/1347225 anytime.

Book Title: A Sudden Wild Magic
Author:     Dianna Wynne Jones
________________________________________________________________________
Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I've just finished reading A Sudden Wild Magic. I'm very sorry for
taking
so long to read it! I truly am! When I first started bookcrossing, I was
a
bit too excited to participate in RABCK's and the like, and got a load
of
books at once! (Later I learned this often happens with the newbies...)
I've been doing my best to read the books I've been given and pass them
on,
but sometimes I've taken quite a long time to do so. Again, I apologize!

Well, I was very happy to have a chance to read this sci-fi / fantasy
adventure story! It was a bit different from what expected, since I've
only
read Charmed Life before (from Diana Wynne Jones) and that one was
directed
at a decidedly younger audience. 

In the beginning I thought there was going to be a lot of sex in A
Sudden
Wild Magic, but actually there was none, all the sex parts were sort of
skimmed over. Instead there was lots of soppy romance bits. I was a bit
disappointed because of that! Not that I'm a sex maniac or anything, and
reading about sex usually only makes me bored. It was just this feeling
I
got in the beginning of the book, the style felt so very "adult" first,
and
then it was a strange sort of a let-down to realize the book was far
"nicer" that I thought in the beginning.

I guess I need to explain a little about this, since the paragraph above
seems so weird all by itself. It's just that I've been reading some
extremely sexist and conservative sci-fi books lately, where women are
portrayed as wifes and mothers only, and I sort of thought that A Sudden
Wild Magic was going to be more liberal somehow. And it was, I don't
deny
that, but still there was quite a bit of gender stereotyping thrown in. 

The sex thing had to do with the fact that the woman troops were sent
into
the citadel Arth to have sex with the men, and thereby disturb the
precarious balance of powers in that celibate community. Instead of just
getting down to business, the women all got very dreamy-eyed and
romantic
and started actually falling in love with the mages they were supposed
to
throw off power. I just thought it was such a stereotyped way to look at
women: they can't "use" their sexuality, not even to save their own
entire
universe (!), unless they're romantically in love. I also found the
romance
of Zillah and Mark a bit syrupy, and I wished it hadn't been so very
central to the whole story.

Some gender stereotypes are at play in the universe of Arth and
Pentarchy
as well. The male mages are leading this celibate, unhappy life and
training other males in an army-like fashion. Their home citadel has no
creativity, only bland food and joyless atmosphere, and is generally
devoid
of the warm female touch. When the women from Earth arrive, they bring
that
female touch by cooking better food, teaching the men to dance, and by
generally caring and sharing and being motherly over the men (instead of
just having the wild sex they were supposed to). Doesn't that sound
stereotyped, or what? 

At the same time the women mages down at the Pentarchy are depicted as a
decidedly worse bunch that the male ones up on Arth. We don't actually
learn much about what the women mages <i>do</i>, but they seem to be
cold
an uncaring bitches who dress too well and wear too much make-up and
perfume. In the end of the book the male mages are set to right and they
reform their world, but the readers don't ever get to know if the female
ones stay cold, uncaring bitches. Some more gender stereotyping there,
hmm? 

Now that I've had my say about this gender bias, I can concentrate on
what
I liked about A Sudden Wild Magic. I like the way Diana Wynne Jones
writes,
clearly and beautifully, and she can be funny and serious at the same
time.
Sometimes the text has a definite Terry Pratchett'ish feel to it,
especially the part where Gladys and the High Head unwillingly start
their
cooperation. (They remind me of Granny Weatherwax and the Archchancellor
of
the Unseen University in the Discworld novel Equal Rites. I'll bet Diana
Wynne Jones has read the book!)

All in all, A Sudden Wild magic was a nice read, and a lot better that
the
chauvinistic sci-fi books I've been reading lately. It didn't turn out
to
be my all-time favourite sci-fi novel, but very much worth the
acquintance!
I'm so happy that I got the book from PDB11 - thanks again! 

I'm thinking about setting the book free in my favourite sci-fi and
fantasy
releasing event: that is, at the national sci-fi convention called
Finncon.
The next one is going to be only next summer, so I'll have to wait a
bit. I
think it will be worth the wait, though, because I usually get really
nice
catches from that event and the bookcrossing books released there are
picked up at a great speed! So, unless I figure out something better,
I'm
releasing this book at the next Finncon!

    By harmaja from Espoo, Uusimaa  Finland
    Book Rating: 7 out of 10
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