Recent Reading: A TURN OF LIGHT by Julie Czerneda.
It’s not as well written as all that, and it’s not as catchy as it might be, and the protagonist has a certain Mary Sue specialness about her — I don’t really see the appeal, and yet people fall in love with her left and right. Love triangles are a bit tiresome these days, surely! Yet the story has a certain charm. I like the house toads. Actually, I rather like a lot of the details: the bone hills, and the way cows at Meadowdell just know to stay out of the grain, and, I don’t know, the atmosphere. I read about half of it and then took a break, but I expect I will probably finish it.
But I already know I will give this one away. I suspect a teen reader might fall into this story better than I have, though as far as I know it wasn’t marketed as YA, perhaps partly because of the length.
THE THOUSAND NAMES by Django Wexler.
I thought something grittier might make a nice break from A TURN OF LIGHT, and OMG did I pick a great one off the TBR pile!
I loved THE THOUSAND NAMES! The writing is excellent, the characterization is excellent, the plotting is edge-of-the-seat exciting, this book has it all. More than once, I literally felt my heart rate speed up while reading this book. (I do mean literally, not figuratively.) It’s a bit gritty, but not actually dark. I mean, obviously some violent stuff happens — it is military fantasy, after all. But this is less gritty than Scott Lynch’s LOCKE LAMORA series and less dark than Brent Weeks’ LIGHTBRINGER series and more fun than either (I like both of those, but I like this better).
Winter is a wonderful character: a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to enlist in the army, and who at the beginning of the story is rapidly promoted to lieutenant, but who is NOT a kickass heroine. It is such a pleasure to see a “strong female character” who is complex and wonderful but not actually physically strong. Winter suffers more than a bit from “imposter syndrome”, but she is a very! good! officer.
Marcus is a wonderful character: he’s the guy you can really identify with — not brilliant, but smart enough; not flashy, but dedicated and steady; sometimes cautious, but never wavering. Marcus is defined by his great integrity.
Janus is a wonderful character, the kind who is improved by Wexler’s decision to keep him opaque. We never get inside his head, and it’s a good thing, because it’s more fun when Janus pulls another rabbit out of his hat. Mind you, he is also a bit scary! What’s he got behind that imperturbable calm, anyway? We get that he’s ruthless; is there anything to him besides cold practicality and perhaps colder ambition? The uncertainty actually adds to the reading experience.
Lots of great secondary characters, too.
I was torn between ordering the sequel on Kindle (and thus getting it instantly) and ordering it in paper (to match the first book). I finally chose the latter, but it was a tough decision! Now I won’t get the sequel till Monday!
And in fact I may not read it right away. Does anybody know whether Wexler’s THE SHADOW THRONE stands alone? Because if it ends on a cliffhanger, it may be practical to put off reading it till the third book is out.
Especially because I have gotten my head’s-up about incoming editorial comments: Early next week I should get comments from my editor about
KERI ( THE WYVERN KING) (Actually still working on the title). There’s no help for it: when those comments arrive, I’ll just have to sigh, hide my TBR books, put my Kindle away, and see if I can briskly complete whatever revision Michelle wants and get that out of the way. Because the second half of November has been earmarked for other tasks, so I would like to get this turned around with reasonable speed.
Anyway! I’m thinking THE THOUSAND NAMES may be my second-favorite fantasy title of the year. If it stands alone, it may be something I would like to nominate for the Hugo and Nebula next year.