Butcher GhostStorySideJob 2

Aftermath (fromSide Jobs) by Jim Butcher (Orbit)

Aftermath is set after the ending of Changes and focuses on Karrin Murphy, who is dressed up but with no sign of Harry has to go home. And if you’ve read Changes you’ll know why.

With Harry predisposed it’s up to Murphy to help Will get his werewolf wife back if she can. Now Harry normally narrates his tales so it’s natural for Murphy to take up the mantel of hero as well as narrator for this novella.

What can I say without giving away too much? Murphy is more than a sidekick and that is illustrated perfectly here. She knows how the supernatural game is played around Chicago, which is lucky for her as otherwise she’d be dead.

Even though she has her own problems her natural instincts as protector of the city and investigator shines here. Her leads take to place that shows with Harry’s absence the game as changed and not for the better.

I’m not sure Murphy’s final destination. I’m hoping and guessing it’s got something to do with how she shined, literally, in Changes and how the fallout of those events, including this milestone as it’s part of the fallout that have altered balance of supernatural power around the globe. Harry Dresden doesn’t do things on a small scale.

If you’ve read Changes then Aftermath (and the whole of Side Jobs) is a must. I’m now prepared as I can be to start Ghost Story.

SPOILERS POSSIBLE

Changes Review

STARTS HERE

If you’ve read Changes that last moment of the book lived up the to title. Not that the rest of the book didn’t have lots of changes but being dead is as final as it gets. Or it should be. But if your name ist Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden that doesn’t seem to stop you.

Instead Harry is given a choice. Move on to the next place or haunt Chicago in order save the lives of three of your friends. And we all now that he’s a friends first kind of guy.

So Harry finds himself back in Chicago six months after he left not able to touch or affect the real world without the help of those who are sensitive to ghosts.

If you’re expecting not a lot to happen as Harry is powerless you’d be wrong. Quite cleverly Butcher manages to make this as action packed as the rest of the series. Partly this is down to the rules of the ghostly realm and partly is that the afterlife isn’t exactly empty. In fact mere moments after arriving back Dresden is helpless as a stranger fights for him. Harry isn’t used his newborn state at the start but boy does he learn quickly.

Now then the Dresden Files has been going for quite a few books and you’d think that this being 13th would be unlucky for the series and that surely a series couldn’t be going strong after this many books. You’d be totally wrong. It can and it does. If you’ve liked the series up to this point you’re in for a treat.

Butcher’s skill is reinvigorating his main cast. He doesn’t throw them aside as paper thin constructs. They hang around and grow, usually through supporting in with whatever Dresden has managed to get himself tangled up in.

And it’s a good job they do as the world is more dangerous place without Harry’s presence though it could be argued that it is only that way through Dresden’s actions especially after creating a massive power vacuum in Changes.

Murphy is most obviously affected, as touched on in Aftermath, her reliable role as policewomen has been taken away but she is still protecting the city of Chicago though now she is leading a band of Harry’s associates to defend it from the more darker and dangerous side.

Butcher focuses a lot on memories and consequences in Ghost Story, which can only be deliberate as shades (or ghosts) are just bundles of memories. We get to see a couple Harry’s key memories like the first time he used magic and when he left his adopted home and the first big bad he encountered and defeated. And rightly they are presented as life changing moments.

There is a strong theme of choices and consequences in Ghost Story especially when Harry discovers how Molly, and other close friends, have been distorted by his absence. But Molly is unique in his responsibilities as she’s his apprentice and soon become apparent he hasn’t been a good enough teacher. Especially when her new teacher uses pain as a necessary teaching tool something that is hard for Dresden to watch.

There is an interesting cannibalisation to the whole series as Butcher keeps reusing characters both good and bad guys but instead of wearing away his canon and his source material but he continues to mine depths of connections that keep giving back.

For example Mort, who has appeared in early early books as a bit of two bit crook, can talk to the dead of Chicago. But it appears he has been keeping the nature of his power under the radar as well as what he does to protect the city.

And this is what I admire about the story as a whole. As we only see things from Dresden’s perspective we get this biases and his hangups but in Ghost Story can’t mostly just say Fuego first and ask questions later so he has to see things differently.

Then there are minor actions in previous books like in Dead Beat asking Bob to lock away the part of himself that allowed him to go rogue but in Ghost Story we see exactly where that part of Bob went and it can only be described as a Nazi Officer.

None of this goes into the main purpose of Harry’s return to Earth. The need to find his killer before his friends end up hurt. But even their Dresden is friends first killer later. Not that they are really separate.

The Dresden File defines all odds by getting better and better. Apart from Sir Terry I really can’t think of another series that is as stronger now than when it started. And cruelly the ending of Ghost Story doesn’t let Harry off easy. Instead he’s dropped straight in a situation he can only spend the next book trying to get out of.

If you love Urban Fantasy drop everything to catch up now. There is no other UF series that comes close.

Full Circle by Pamela Freeman

I told you last month that you’d see a review of Full Circle sooner rather than later. And here it is.

The thing about good endings is that all that you’ve read up to now becomes clear. This is one of those endings. Not only does bring about the stand-off between Acton’s people with the ghosts of the Travellers raised by the stone-caster Saker.  But also twists the battle and shows the events in a new light.

In fact one of the main themes of The Castings Trilogy is to show that what see in people isn’t always the whole story. And in the case of the Domains the whole basis of their society is based on a lie as revealed in Deep Water.

With the ghost of Acton raised the gods have told Bramble to take him to Sanctuary and along the way he spreads the message of his return. But that is only a minor part of the resolution of this story. It comes mostly in decisions of other characters we’ve been following like Leof, Sorn and Martine and their timings make sure decisions they are surprising I found myself giving a little cheer in some cases.

Other themes here are blood and memory and it’s a refrain that’s echoed every time Saker raises his army. It fuels them with hate. The worrying niggle has always been how do you resolve a story with ghosts that can’t be killed? And as Bramble and crew point out if you kill Saker someone else will just take his place.

This is especially true when Thegan, the main warlord of the tale, decides to use the Travellers as hostages to protect his town against the ghosts and others follow his lead. There is a good use of conflicting ideologies as those towns that work in harmony with the Travellers get different response from the ghosts than Thegan does.

Going back to the resolution Freeman gives  another bigger picture above and beyond Acton’s people and the Travellers and shows why the gods are so interested in the outcome of these events and the importance that the conflict ends in the write way.

Without  that context the trilogy could have ended differently but less successfully. Freeman makes you question things as she’s done all along by filling out the lives of those minor incidental characters like the woman that will regret her beauty for ever more.

It’s not a happy ending in some sense but it is right and the different threads have been tied off though frayed and loose in some cases. I’d happily read it again from the beginning with fresh eyes to see all the clever twists and hints Freeman laid along the way.

Changes1

Review in a sentence:

I didn’t like Changes because I have to wait until July for the next one, Ghost Story.

If you’ve never read any of the Dresden Files novels before this might not be the right place to start. Even after eleven books it’s a great series and well worth the effort to start at the beginning and catch up. If you’ve read the series so far the opening line might shock you.

‘I answered the phone, and Susan Rodriguez said, ‘They’ve taken our daughter.’

Jim Butcher in that opening line instantly changes the dynamics of the series. Why?

Wizard Harry Dresden is a force of nature but even when he’s being a hero, doing what he believes is right, he’s not acting to save his child, so is moderately restrained. But this takes things to a completely different level; how are he is prepared to go to save her. The restraints are well and truly off.

But this isn’t the only alteration to the status quo and in that respect Changes lives up to its title. Some things are subtle like seeing Mouse in a different light (blue as it happens) to bigger things like the deals that Harry makes to get enough power in order to be tooled up when he faces up to what might as well be the entire Red Court of vampires.

What’s great about Jim Butcher is that not only does he move events along at a pace (I read Changes over three days, which is fast for me) but he’s also been setting up these events practically since the beginning either consciously or subconsciously. So in essence you get a double pay off. You get an immersive read and lots of payoffs for loyalty to the series.

Now I do have a few problems with parts of the motivations of characters in. Can you really be that selfless? There is also some interesting movie magic in Changes giving some scenes some physics defying timings. And I’m not completed blinkered by the enjoyment I got from the novel not to see them but they hardly registered when compared to other factors like the many ‘wow’ moments.

You have to ask yourself what could Butcher have done better? And apart from a few tweaks in some scenes to make them more balanced not a lot. He’s upping the stakes here in terms of who he’s dealing with and even Harry isn’t equipped for demigods. But somehow he manages to go up against them.

And that’s the strength of the series. You have an urban magician that has great power that feels real. The world he is in is real as are the enemies he faces. And when Butcher brings in other more powerful characters they don’t feel like caricatures.

In terms of character development we get to see different sides to a lot of the regulars and even though they aren’t slowly grown as they are fired out of a gun they have as much, if not more, impact that way. Murphy is now my hero.

There isn’t a lot more to say apart from I’m an idiot for not reading it earlier but on the bright side July brings the next one!

 

I posted two interrelated tweets today on e-books and both mark an interesting and exciting shift from two SFF stables Gollancz & Orbit (they are also intertwined in terms of owner). The first tweet of the day was:

Interesting @Gollancz news from @jberlyne zenoagency.com ebooks back cat acquired with best known pb rights – the future?

It’s easier to repost the announcement in full:

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Zeno Agency is delighted to announce that we now represent the estate of the lateAlgis Budrys. Furthermore, Darren Nash at Gollancz has recently acquired ebook rights to A.J.’s backlist and will be making these works available electronicaly for the first time. Publishing dates are still TBC.

In addition to this, A.J.’s best known work ROGUE MOON will be reissued in 2012 in the Gollancz SF Masterworks series and there are also plans afoot for an omnibus trade paperback edition of THE IRON THORN, MICHAELMAS and HARD LANDING – again dates TBC.

Did you spot it? The seperation between – ebook rights to A.J.’s backlist but only ROGUE MOON and an omnibus trade paperback edition of THE IRON THORN, MICHAELMAS and HARD LANDING. ‘What? They are not releasing the whole lot as physical books?‘, I hear you cry. Is it really? I’m going to make a couple of assumptions. I’ve never heard of him and I can’t be the only one. But after reading a lovely Obituary in the Independent I’m not sure he’s everyone’s first thought. Bringing back his whole backlist into print, convincing retailers to stock and then to keep convincing readers to pick them all up is time consuming, unfocused and expensive especially as he doesn’t have a new book to front list at the same time.

Instead promoting Rogue Moon as a Masterwork and giving those readers that want more the opportunity of reading and e-book of his other works is rather a smart idea. But this is the start of a slippery slope. Publishers will stop producing backlist titles! Just because they are old doesn’t mean they won’t sell. Vintage Classics proves that over and over again.  What it means is that readers that would otherwise not be able to read all Algis Budrys works will now be able to. Alright you might not like e-books but the opportunity is there. There will always be paperback books and shelves devoted to certain writers don’t panic just yet.

So that’s the possibility for more full e-book backlist and limited paperback releases covered (even if in this case they are all re-releases in some ways.

Weeks PerfectShadow

Oh and email from @orbitbooks detailing ebook of @brentweeks novella – the ‘old guard’ are innovating :)

This is due another press release this one:

Brent Weeks burst onto the fantasy scene in 2008 with the launch of his internationally bestselling Night Angel Trilogy, which has sold over 1 million copies worldwide.  Now, he’s returning to the world of The Night Angel Trilogy with Perfect Shadow, a novella that tells the origin story of the legendary assassin Durzo Blint.

The ebook edition of Perfect Shadow will be available in the US and the UK in June, 2011. It will be simultaneously released as an unabridged audiobook for digital download, online where books and music are sold.

What I missed as I was excited to see the release of some shorter length fiction is the mention of the audiobook too… but back to the novella. It’s not something the ‘old guard’ do… well didn’t until now. Yes they’ve done short story collections but I have feeling this could change the landscape for fiction in the long run.

A lot of readers (myself included) like to read more about the characters they love outside the ‘main story’ and writers write them quite a lot. This isn’t at all new. And neither is making them available online. Tor.com does it. But if publishers can encourage extras out of their writers and successfully sell them then everyone is a winner.

It could just be me being idealistic – the market place is changing and innovation is going to needed to keep form standing still

 

 

Movingtarget

When I finished reading Moving Target last night I tweeted:

Moon did it again. Loved it! Maybe I do like military sf after all…

The odd thing is that when I checked when I read the first in the series (Trading in Danger) I reviewed it way back in July 2008! Talk about being a bit slow with the follow through. Despite that I knew who Ky was and fell back into your life quite easily, which I think shows the power of a good writer. To be fair I’ve forgot a few details too but the emotional connection still was strong.

Moving Target follows on from the aftermath of Trading in Danger and I wasn’t expecting the explosive opening up of the world around Ky and what changes Moon introduces to her life. When a dramatic event takes place to the heart of the family Ky is left to fight alone, again. Though this time she’s learnt from her last adventure and makes some life saving and life altering decisions.

Because of the nature of the threat we again focus down on Ky on her crew but we also get to see another member of the Vatta clan, Stella, as her story weaves with Ky’s. Sometimes other POVs can be distracting or at least frustrating if they feel like asides but Stella’s character and how she compares to Ky is a strong addition to the plot.

The thing is that Stella is quite resourceful and entertaining in her own way. She also shows that Moon can handle two narrative threads giving both their own feel. If Stella had her own adventures I’d be inclined to follow along. As it is she’s integral to Ky’s (and her own) survival.

Again it’s the characterisation that Moon injects which keeps you reading along with the treacherous twists and turns that neither Ky or the reader can fully anticipate but Ky adapts well and quite scarily at more than one point.

As a way of opening up the story Moon gives a good steroid injection changing Ky’s journey by the end quite dramatically but without feeling that she’s been writing by numbers to get to that point all along.

I’ll admit that I felt that I was pushing the ‘suspend disbelief’ button quite hard a couple of times as she seems to take the Star Trek: The Next Generation approach to conflict and technology like Data verses Phasers. Any civilisation that can create AI can invent some amazing ways to kill people. But I enjoyed ST for its humanity rather than its portrayal of evils and I like Moon for the same feelings.

I’m not leaving it as long until I read Engaging the Enemy I swear!

New Feature: Judging a Book… by it’s cover. Say’s it all really. This may or maybe not come with tongue-in-cheek.

Surface_Detail_Hb_500x775.jpg

A review copy of Surface Detail landed in the house today and if you think that it looks exciting on screen the real thing is better! The detail on the space scene looks stunning and the burning eyes along with skin really draw you in and make you wonder who is looking at you. A lot of SF fans should pick it up for a closer look.

Now I have to admit that the only Banks I’ve read is Consider Phlebas and that I abandoned halfway through but after 22 years on what is Surface Detail about?

It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. It begins with a murder. And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself. Lededje Y’breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right she will need the help of the Culture. Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful – and arguably deranged – warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A war – brutal, far-reaching – is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it’s about to erupt into reality. It started in the realm of the Real and that is where it will end. It will touch countless lives and affect entire civilizations, but at the centre of it all is a young woman whose need for revenge masks another motive altogether.

I’m always up for a murder story with a twist so I’m gonna give Banks another go.

Any thoughts on the cover?

If you didn’t already know I’m a big fan of Charlie Stross’s Laundry Stories ( see The Atrocity Archives, The Jennifer Morgue and The Fuller Memorandum) so I was really chuffed to get to ask the very very busy man a few quick questions. And here they are:

Gav: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions on Bob and The Laundry. How much, if anything, of yourself is in Bob Howard?

Charlie: Nope, I am not Bob. Frankly, if you offered me Bob’s job I’d run a mile.

Gav: He gets a bit of harder time in The Fuller Memorandum, is it important that he’s a human hero?

Charlie: Bob is basically your everyman geek, who’s fallen into a work/life environment that really doesn’t work that way. Part of what makes the Laundry stories work is that Bob *isn’t* a traditional spook, and indeed is a poor fit for his workplace and his co-workers expectations. (Never heard *that* one before, right?)

Gav: Some of my best moments of The Laundry comes from the shorter stories, I know you’re not keen on mentioning work until it’s signed and sealed but is there any chance of some more mini-adventures for Bob and crew in a file somewhere?

Charlie: I’ve got plans for a couple of novellas. (There’s one in which Bob meets a unicorn — which is a lot nastier than you might think — and which also explains where H. P. Lovecraft himself fits in the Laundry mythos. And there’s another about… no, no spoilers.)

Gav: Bob has moved on since we last caught up with him – how important is it to you to have a ‘realistic’ timeframe or was it something that was needed to move everyone on in the story? Bob has come a long professional way from his appearance in The Atrocity Archive.

Charlie: Partly it’s because there was a gap of five years between each of the first three books. To avoid ending up with Bob receding into the past, I decided to reposition them so that he’s ageing, roughly in step with wall-clock time (at least for now). In “The Atrocity Archives” he was in his early-to-mid-twenties. By The Jennifer Morgue, he was late twenties. In The Fuller Memorandum he’s early thirties.

I’m aiming to get the fourth book out a lot faster (hopefully within just two years of the previous). Events are, of course, accelerating …

Gav: So do you think that there are nameless horrors coming into the world? Was Lovecraft on to something?

Charlie: Seriously? Nameless horrors lurking in the walls of the universe? Nope.

But Lovecraft was onto something different: namely, the numinous sense of dread that is the flip side of the sense of wonder that good SF aspires to create in the mind of the reader.

Gav: You’ve explored more traditional fantasy, science fiction and horror. If you could hit reset would you want to have less toys in your sandbox?

Charlie: I get bored easily; in fact, if I could hit reset, I’d have *ALL* the toys in my sandbox!

(Also: “fantasy” and “SF” are just labels to help the bookstore employees figure out where to file the produce, and to guide the customers to the right bit of the shop floor. I don’t see a firm dividing line between the two labels, or between them and “mainstream literature” for that matter.)

Gav: Your next scheduled novel in the UK is Rule 34 (though not until July 2011 ed.), again there has been a bit of a gap from Halting State, can you say a little bit about it and how they link together?

Charlie: It’s set five years later, and one of the minor characters from Halting State — detective inspector Liz Kavanaugh — plays a central role in Rule 34. Other than that, and being written in multi-viewpoint second person? They’re completely different books, about completely different subjects.

Thanks Charlie! Now I’m wondering what’s bad about unicorns…

Look for more quick questions soon!

The Fuller Memorandum
Charles Stross
Orbit Books
Out Now

We’re used to series having a regularity and rhythm to them. But The Laundry series is a little more erratic to say the least. Not that it’s anyones fault as such. We’ve had two almost full novels, 4 novella/shorts, this full novel and two more still to come (hopefully).

After finishing The Fuller Memorandum I hope Stross has chance to write both The Armageddon Agedna and The Nightmare Stacks and surprises us with a stack of more short stories.

You can take it from the above that I’m a fan of the series right? Just in case you’re in any doubt I love what

Stross has done with The Laundry. When I grow up I want to tell stories like this.

I’d better explain why it’s hitting my buttons then.

I do have this thing that’s been slow burning for Lovecraftian-esque horrors and it’s slowly creeping into my reading see:

as well as the first two book in this series:

In my review of The Jennifer Morgue I said:

In the next one I’d love to see the horrors a bit more horrific just to see how far Bob can cope and I want to know more about the origins of his boss Angleton. And if I’m being picky I’d like to have the pace toned down a little bit to have more time to digest stuff.

I think Stross must have read my review as he’s done all of that and more.

Time has shifted again. Bob is now married to Mo not surprising after the events of The Jennifer Morgue but their connection is forged by what they’ve seen and can’t share with the outside world more than love. They have a strange but understanding relationship. They both agents for The Laundry, a branch of the British secret service, tasked to prevent hideous alien gods from wiping out all life on Earth.

Stross always seems to come back with something different but retaining all the things you like about Bob and The Laundry. This starts with his unofficial boss giving him a little errand. All he needs to do is check out a disturbance in the Royal Airforce Museum and seeing as he’s all ready going it’s suggested that he checks out a white elephant in Hanger 12B. Unfortunately there is an accident and he doesn’t get chance to investigate the elephant, which is only the start of Bob’s problems.

All The Laundry stories are retold by Bob which gives them an emotional and personal edge that might be lost if they were told in third person. We do occasionally get to see some events retold by Bob from other people’s points of view so we’re not limited to Bob as there a few key moments that we need to see and couldn’t see them any other way.

I really can’t fault Stross for his characterisation. He manages to dish out Chuthu-lian horrors at the same time as making paperclips and the need for an autopsy like inspection of a violin mix in as if it’s normal.

And it is normal to them. Especially having an upgraded Jesus phone with magickal apps plus injecting geek humour by accusing it of a having a strong glamour that just pulls you in. You know what I’m almost convinced they do.

It’s this mix of supernatural and the mundane that makes Stross such a convincing writer. He can pull out the horror and when I said I wanted Bob to suffer I wasn’t sure that Stross could actually do what he did to Bob here. It’s not pleasant and it’s disturbing as it’s not carried out by anything alien but fanatics who believe in something enough that they see what they do as means to an end. And he can also pull out plot twists that have you seeing things completely differently.

You get to see the history of one of the more enigmatic characters in the series so far and what you learn is more ‘oh’ than ‘err’ but only just. I wonder what else Stross is hiding from us?

All the end of the world horror is mixed with Stross personal brand of geek humour and the character could be average-if-he-wasn’t-dealing-with-the-supernatural-Bob, not forgetting the rest of eclectic crew of The Laundry, shows what rich world Stross has created. I’m sad that we’ve only got to see glimpses of it so far. I hope this isn’t the last we see of them.

I’m not sure where we go from here. The Laundry is a hotel corridor of horrors just waiting to be walked down and any door could lead to a nightmare.

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This isn’t an ad for The Last Storm by Glenda Larke – well it is but I’m not getting paid for it.

I saw it last night on the relaunched SFX site  and thought it would be fun to share.

I don’t have to skill to reset it looping again so maybe refresh to see it? It should now loop thanks to and updated file from abitrich.co.uk :)

You can read an extract here.

And more about The Last Stormlord:

Shale knows of no other world than the desert. He knows that his life – and the lives of his family – depend on one thing and one thing only: water. Water is life for all the citizens of the Quartern and it is the Stormlord who brings the rains to the desert.

Shale’s entire civilization stands at the brink of disaster. Water is life and the wells are going dry . . .

But the magic is disappearing. The Stormlord’s heirs lack the talent to bring the water from the distant seas and young students with a certain promise tend to die, mysteriously, out in the wastes. Shale may be the saviour of every life in the Quartern. He can do what no mere Rainlord can, and may be the newest, and the last, Stormlord – if he can learn to control the waters of life and, of course, if he lives that long.

For some reason – it could be the lightening – I really want to read this book!

Any else fancy it?


Title: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Book One of the Inheritance Trilogy
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Pages: 448
Genre: Fantasy
Standalone/Series: Series but easily read as a stand-alone.
Release: Out Now in Paperbackk
Publisher: Orbit

Synopsis

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky – a palace above the clouds where gods’ and mortals’ lives are intertwined. There, to her shock, Yeine is named one of the potential heirs to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with a pair of cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history. But it’s not just mortals who have secrets worth hiding and Yeine will learn how perilous the world can be when love and hate – and gods and mortals – are bound inseparably.

Comments/Thoughts/Analysis

Where to start the world building, the myth, the main character, the voice? This has got to be one of the strongest debuts I’ve read for a while.

I tend to lower my expectations and criticisms when reading a debut. It’s generally unfair to pour those kind of things over a novice it only leads to disappointment and frustration but from the from page I was captivated.

Jemisin managed to keep me in the palm of her hand until the end. I’d have followed her anywhere. I had total confidence that she knew exactly what she was doing and the story was going to come to a proper and surprising conclusion.

Now there aren’t a lot of writers you can say that about.

I think the way the story is told will either captivate or infuriate readers. It’s full of asides. All relevant. All needed but they might be considered storytelling fluff by those who like their narratives and characters more straight forward.

I don’t. I like my characters to feel like they are thinking and feeling. I like to know that they are affecting events and that events are effecting them.

Yeine is a good character to introduce the reader to the city of Sky. She is an outsider but has to be treated as an insider because of her instant status. Though that is a double edged sword. I guess a complaint could be that she is so wrapped up in your own problems and the problems of her people in the North that she doesn’t explore the world of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms enough.

But that’s for another tale and another time.

That isn’t the focus here. The focus is about who rules this world and the gods that are imprisoned in Sky. Much bigger things are explored in Yeine’s story.

We do find out some interesting things though. Yeine’s own people are led by women and a woman’s status is above man who seem to only be asked to fight when brute strength is needed rather than for their brains.

Her people are thought of as Barbarians but the more you flashes of them it’s hard to not to see the ruling family in Sky as the barbaric race and they have had it right all long even if that does mean they had to brick up what could reflect harmony in this world.

Im Sky indulge themselves (sometimes perversely), they inbreed and rule with a cruel and iron fist. It’s hard to see how Yeine could change this world even if she ened up winning.

But the changes she needs to make have a long history. They start for her with her mother. Who is now dead and the reason that a contest is needed.

Though it starts earlier than that with three gods, one know rules, one is imprisoned and one is dead. And that balance is central to the struggles that take place.

Jemisin has an amazing world creation myth and a solid foundation for her world that it’s hard not to see it as real especially when you get to see how the ending and it’s consequences will play out in a very real way for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

It’s a self contained story but I defy you not to want to read the next one when you see what happens in the finale.

Summary

A confident, mature, powerful, feminist, and entertaining debut in fantasy. And in the running for The Reads Top Five  2010.