Reviews of the books I've read

A list of all the books I've read this year. For these reviews, this is my book review scale:

burn Burn any copy you find of this book, it is horrific.
mock This book is awful. Don't read this book and mock anyone you see reading this book.
don't Don't read this book.
desert If you're on a desert island and are bored out of your mind, this book is okay to read.
fan If you're a fan of this author / genre, this book is worth reading.
worth This book is interesting, fun, entertaining, and thus worth reading. I would hand this book to a friend who asked for a _____ type book.
strongly I strongly recommend this book
amazing OMG, this book is amazing and/or life-changing, let me buy you a copy.

Post date:

Miniatures

Book Review

This is a collection of short stories by Scalzi. Unsurprisingly, I will read most anything this man writes, and this book is no exception. The man, and the fact they are short stories, of which I have a fondness, means I will read it.

Most of the works have been published before. All are pure Scalzi.

A quick, fun read. Normally, I'd be more inclined to seek out the stories elsewhere than buy the book, but I really want him to keep writing, and that means buying the things he writes, so, yeah, bought. Read. Entertained. If Scalzi is your thing, recommended.

Unrelated, my book reviews have to be a minimum number of lines long to format nicely on my site. As a result, I find myself padding some reviews to get to the minimum lengths.

Really, I should fix the design so that this isn't required.

Also unrelated, this sentence brings this review to the minimum. Sigh.

Joyland

Book Review

I haven't read a Stephen King book in a long while. I really enjoyed King's Eyes of the Dragon when it was released in the late eighties (alas, my copy was in a box of my favorite books that I stored in student summer storage at Tech, and it disappeared, along with my childhood copy of Where The Red Fern Grows), and delight in King's non-horror fiction. While I don't recall where I picked up this book in paperback, I enjoyed it. In typical King fashion, the reading is fast and easy, the plot straight-forward, and the emotional parts appropriately hit you in the gut.

The book is about Devin Jones, who works at an amusement park for a summer. There was a murder at the park four years before. The ghost is said to still roam the park. Devin has a summer, makes friends, wears the mascot costume a lot, meets his neighbors, has an adventure, lives a life. The book is a quick read. I recommend it, yes.

Unsurprisingly, I nicked a number of pages while reading.

When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction.
p.47

"Son, do you know what history is?"

"Uh... stuff that happened in the past?"

"Nope," he said, tying on his canvas change-belt. "History is the collective and ancestral shit of the human race, a great big and ever-growin pile of crap. Right now we're standin at the top of it, but pretty soon we'll be buried under the doodoo of generations yet to come. That's why your folks' clothes look so funny in old photographs, to name but a single example. And, as someone who's destined to be buried beneath the shit of your children and grandchildren, I think you should just a leetle more forgiving."
p 70

"We do it the way they do in the navy -- see one, do one, teach one."
p. 73

But the mind defends itself as long as it can. After the first shock of such news dissipates, maybe you think, Okay, it's bad, I get that, but it's not the final word; there still might be a chance. Even if ninety-five percent of the people who draw this particular card go down, there's still that lucky five percent. Also, doctors misdiagnose shit all the time. Barring those things, there's the occasional miracle.
p. 93

You start to worry, then you start to get it, then you know. Maybe you don't want to, maybe you think that lovers as well as doctors misdiagnose shit all the time, but in your heart you know.
p. 95

"Maybe your parents are getting a divorce. Mine did, and it damn neared killed me..."
p. 104

I think so but can't say for sure, because passing time adds false memories and modifies real ones.
p. 110

We could see other fires -- great leaping bonfires as well as cooking fires -- all the way down the beach to the twinkling metropolis of Joyland. They made a lovely chain of burning jewelry. Such files are probably illegal in the twenty-first century; the powers that be have a way of outlawing many beautiful things made by ordinary people. I don't know what that should be, I only know it is.
p. 117

Money mattered to him. I never got the sense it completely owned him, but yes, it mattered to him a great deal.
p. 122

I would argue that -- fantasies aside -- the majority of men are monogamous from the chin up. Below the belt-buckle, however, there's a wahoo stampeder who just doesn't give a shit.
p. 127-128

It's hard to let go. Even when what you're holding onto is full of thorns, it's hard to let go. Maybe especially then.
p. 144

"I can't understand why people use religion to hurt each other when there's already so much pain in the world," Mrs. Shoplaw said. "Religion is supposed to comfort"
p. 183

On this, I would begin to argue that this statement isn't necessarily true for religions other than that of the mono-theistic Judeo-Christian-Islam type. Maybe not even for the Judeo and Islam part. Of note, see Hays' comment on Christian Atheism and the problems it's caused since its founding.

"Young women and young men grow up, but old women and old men just grow older and surer they've got the right on their side. Especially if they know scripture."

I remembered something my mother used to say. "The devil can quote scripture."

"And in a pleasing voice," Mrs. Shoplaw agreed moodily.
p. 183

Page 183 had a lot of quotes that struck true.

I remembered something Mike had said to her in the hospital parking lot: It doesn't have toe be the last good time. But sooner or later the last good time would come around. It does for all of us.
p. 266-267

"Some people hide their real faces, hon. Sometimes you can tell when they're wearing mask, but not always. Even people with powerful intuitions can get fooled."
p. 301

The last good time always comes, and when you see the darkness creeping toward you, you hold on to what is bright and good. You hold on for dear life.
p. 307-308

All page numbers are from the paperback. I'm looking now to see if a hardback was published.

The Skull Throne

Book Review

Why is this book called The Skull Throne? This isn't the Skull Throne, this book is the second half of The Daylight War, and okay, yes, this is the book of war. So many f'ing deaths. So much stupid male ego.

I suspect that Brett has been taking lessons from George R. R. Martin, including the detail of death on a commode.

This is the first book full of non-stop action. In Brett's style, we have backstories, multiple ones, filled in, but the bulk of the plot was in the "current" time frame.

Arlen and Jardir are pretty much non-existent in the story after a few philosophical conversations early in the book, pretty much discussing the merits of democracy (yay, Arlen) and authoritarianism (boo, Jardir, but we pretty much already hated him), so the next book should be interesting as we catch that plot in the current timeframe.

Yay for the introduction of the new characters, if only they were actually interesting.

Boo for the loss of the main characters we all cared about.

I mean COME ON.

Daylight War

Book Review

Yep, can confirm Brett's style of story plot is 80% back story fill-in and 20% plot advancement.

This is book three of the Demon Cycle, and Inevera's back story. Since we know Jardir and we know the story of Arlen, Brett fills in Inevera's history, and moves the plot of her world along. We have her history, her trials, her fights, her losses, and her victories. We have drama. We have death. We have victory. We have temporary defeat. We have spins and twists and loops.

And we have the f'ing ending. If I didn't have book four already handy, I would be mad. As it is, I'll have to wait for book five until August.

Anyway, Inevera's story. She makes a vow to stop senseless deaths by men's hubris, which she fulfills. She makes a vow that women can fight just as well as men and that they will be able to, which she fulfills. She plays her husband like a fiddle, which, well, one can learn from, even if from a fictional character.

Speaking of fiddles, wow, there wasn't really much plot advancement in this book, we hear little of Rojer, not much more of Leesha, with much of the story being backstory. Well, okay, wedding and sex and the like. Apparently in this world everyone has sex with everyone else even though everyone is a hypocrite about it. Fine.

Still, I found this book interesting, and enjoyed it more than the last one. I'll keep reading, I'm enjoying the series, and GAH THAT ENDING.

Desert Spear

Book Review

Book Two of the Demon Cycle, this book follows directly after The Warded Man, telling the story of Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer.

Except it isn't just their stories. Brett's style in this series appears to be continue the main story line of the three main characters, and also merge in the backstory of surrounding characters. I'll confirm when I read the next book, Daylight War. In this book's case, we follow Jardir's story, and I have to say, well, yawn.

Not a fan of the guy with delusions of power who attempted to murder Arlen. But, that's likely how it is supposed to be. Authors weave tales in specific ways so that the reader bonds with the "good guys" and jeers at the "bad guys." In this particular case, the bad guys believe that women are second class citizens, so, yeah, I really don't like the bad guys. We also meet Renna, whom I'm not a fan of either, so there's that.

Yeah, so, this book is about the Kaji side of the Thesan world, and moves the plot along a couple months while we learn Jardir's backstory. I'm not a fan of the first part of the book, but neither was Andy, so I'm okay with reading that part really fast to get to the parts I did enjoy. Even if, wtf, Leesha is with whom? Come on!

I'll keep reading.

The Warded Man

Book Review

The Warded Man, book one of the Demon Cycle, has been on my list for a while now, along with books two, three, and four. It was often mentioned in the same breath/suggestion as Name of the Wind, though different authors and different worlds. This book is where meet Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer. I can't say I was excited about three main characters and following along different story lines. When Jordan did it with the Wheel of Time, and Martin did it with the Song of Ice and Fire, well, I skipped over the perspectives that are just so boring. Didn't have that problem with this book.

I enjoyed this book. The big time gaps in the story didn't bother me as much as they did in, say, the Saga of the Seven Suns, which is odd, because there are big time gaps, a year spent warding a library, a lifetime (not really, but let's call it 7 years) learning to juggle and entertain a crowd. We skim the highlights of the lives, not seeing the tedium of a daily life.

One of the things I really like about the book is the practical application of both Stoicism and Buddhism. Neither is explained outright, but both are strongly present.

The world is engaging, and the story a fun ride. I'll keep reading the series.

Quotes from the book that caught my attention:

“We are what we choose to be, girl,” she said. “Let others determine your worth, and you’ve already lost, because no one wants people worth more than themselves...." - Bruna

“Welcome to adulthood,” Cob said. “Every child finds a day when they realize that adults can be weak and wrong just like anyone else. After that day, you’re an adult, like or not.” - Cob, page 192

“No one, no one, ever goes to the Creator with all their business complete. We all get a different length of time, but it needs to be enough, regardless.” page 364

“It doesn’t serve the dead to stop living yourself, out of guilt,” she said. page 364

Stories of Your Life and Others

Book Review

Jonathan was reading this book. I don't know why he was reading this book, or where he came by it, but he was reading this book, so I also picked up this book. Included in this collection of short stories is the story, "Stories of Your Life" upon which the movie The Arrival is based. I haven't seen the movie, but Jonathan said he was enjoying the short stories, so I picked up the book.

And read it nearly straight through.

I read a review that said something about how this was some of the best new-idea science fiction out there. I'd say yes, some of the best. The ideas are delightfully new, with a different twist on the why and how. And really, how can you not love the idea of the variational principle in physics?

I mean, come on, one must love an author who can make that an interesting topic in a short story.

(Yes, yes. you must.)

I enjoyed the stories. The author notes at the end of the book are worth reading, too. Several of the stories have lingered with me, which is always a good sign.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things

Book Review

Okay, this book starts out with a warning from Rothfuss about how you, the reader, shouldn't buy this book. In as much as I had already bought the book, the warning was a bit too late.

Amusingly enough, the last part of the book continues this trend, with an explanation of how the book came to be, and came to be published.

I enjoyed the book, even if I know that Andy hated the book. It's about Auri, and the perceived workings of an off-drummer, but-I'm-sane-from-my-perspective mind. It has nothing to do with Kvothe, which puts it in a weird place.

I wouldn't recommend the book.

The illustrations, however, are delightful, and could make really nice woodblock or letterpress prints.

Babylon's Ashes

Book Review

That this book took me a week to finish would have me concerned about my reading speed, except there are so many good parts, so many relevant parts, in it that I'm okay with my reading it slowly. The arc of the book is predictable, the character development is expected, the action is as imagined. What caught me in this book is the wording, the details, the smaller message, and the underlying lesson in the book.

That, and the relevancy of the book to today's politics. If I didn't know any better, I would swear that Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck KNEW how the election would turn out and published the book as a road map to dealing with the aftermath and provide comfort to rational, good people around. There were so many good quotes from the book, so many places where I had to stop reading and just think about what I had just read, that I highly recommend this book. Problem is, to read this book, you kinda need to read the previous five books in the Expanse series (including the one that just pissed me off).

I have been really enjoying the series (minus that one book), so yeah, have to say read it read it read it, but will temper it with, "If you can get through the previous five."

The Wise Man's Fear

Book Review

"It is the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die."

Okay, book two of the Kingkiller Chronicle, Rothfuss continues along right where The Name of The Wind left off. Like, I finished one book and picked up the next and boom, I was back in the same world.

And wow, was I happy to be back. All the characters I expected were back, a few were added, and dammit, I now have to wait for book three to come out sometime in the next... never.

Of the book, well, the last 80 pages or so are the denouement, which was somewhat amusing to me, to have so much of the story as a wrap-it-up-already part of the tale. I kept thinking, what, why. There were a couple of twists that I did not see coming, which is great. For the most part, I enjoyed the book highly, wish I had taken more notes, and will recommend the (yes, still unfinished) series.

Wait, I do have something to complain about. When Kvothe tells the Chronicler in the first book his story will take three days to tell, he was living on a planet with 58 hour days. How do I know this? Because the audiobook is 43 hours long. It tells of Kvothe's second day of telling, glossing over some of the auxiliary events and interactions of the day. If the telling took 43 hours, that wasn't a single-day telling. Rothfuss wrote a Jordan-worthy saga, and let us all have it for cheap.

Name of the WInd

Book Review

I have had this book on my shelf for a long time. I knew this was the first book of the series and that the series wasn't completely written and that the fans of the author are as frustrated with the author's not completing the series as much as George R.R. Martin's fans are at not finishing the Song of Ice and Fire already. So, I hadn't started the series, of which there are two books currently published.

Well, earlier this month, for reasons I don't quite recall, I picked up the book and started reading.

And immediately kicked myself for not having started reading the book when it was published, almost ten f'ing years ago.

The story is told in two timelines: present with Kote the innkeeper, and Kvothe, a young kid of eight as he grows up and into Kote. The first part of the book, described to me as "the slow start of the book, just get through it to the good stuff," was interesting. And I like how the present and past interweave. I like Rothfuss' story telling, and I like the world he has created.

Recommended if you like sci-fi fantasy books.

Along with the next book, The Wise Man's Fear, which I started reading about 5 minutes after I finished this one. That one is going to mean I've read only 73 books this year, since it'll likely take me until the end of the year to finish it. And then I'll be among the many, many fans wondering when book three will be out.

The Man With The Golden Torc

Book Review

Book 1 of the Secret Histories series.

I enjoyed the Nightshade series by Simon R Green, so when Amazon suggested this book, I figured it would be a fun read.

Of course, I didn't realize that the series was already like twelve books long.

Still.

This book is a fun read. It's about Eddie Drood, of the Drood family, the secret entity protecting the world. Each member of the Drood family wears a gold-colored torc, a rigid "neck ring" made of metal, designed to be worn permanently. Wikipedia has a better description of torcs. The torc has the magical abilities to give its wearer extraordinary strength, protection from injury, and near impenetrability.

The book starts out with Edwin being given a task by the Matriarch of the family, after Edwin describes just how much he hated growing up in the family. Family is family, so he accepts the task offered, and is subsequently attacked by legions of enemies. He spends the rest of the book figuring out WTH is going on. In the middle of it, he finds Molly, and together they continue to figure out what is going on.

Like all modern fairy tales, OF COURSE they figure out what's going on.

I enjoyed the book, even if I guessed wrong on the true purpose of the Matriarch's task. I thought it was to take out the Drood family's strong enemies. It wasn't. Still, a fun read.

Confederacy of Dunces

Book Review

I've had this book forever. This is one of those books that one is "supposed" to read because, hey, it has this tragic story around it: the author writes the book, the author can't find a publisher, the author commits suicide, the author's mother walks the book from publisher to publisher, the author's mother finds a publisher, the book is published, the book becomes a hit.

Okay, so this book has some reason for becoming a hit, right?

Right.

I did not like this book. I understand the whole story around the book. I laughed a number of times while reading the book. I can understand why the book was published, it's not a bad book, but, eh, I really did not like this book.

I didn't like it for one reason: the main character, Ignatius J. Reilly.

The basic plot is "Ignatius J. Reilly is an educated but slothful 30-year-old man living with his mother in the Uptown neighborhood of early-1960s New Orleans. Reilly, in his quest for employment, has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters." Yeah. And "Ignatius Jacques Reilly is something of a modern Don Quixote—eccentric, idealistic, and creative, sometimes to the point of delusion." WHICH IS COMPLETELY INACCURATE.

Ignatius J. Reilly is an ass, pure and simple. He's a jerk, He's lazy. He hides in his bedroom instead of working, forcing his mother to support him. He blames others for his actions. He denies responsibility for his own actions. He is a destructive force in a relatively normal world. He steals from his employers. He causes some seriously bad events to happen, letting an old lady take the blame for a relatively bad misdeed.

Even his mother knows the guy is an ass, eventually deciding to throw him head first into life by kicking him out of the house.

The chuckles from the book really don't overcome the annoyance I had with all the "woo!" and "babes" in it. Yeah, it's a classic of a sort. I don't recommend it.

Tilt-A-Whirl

Book Review

I have had this book in my to-read pile for-ev-var. And a day. I think it might have been one of the first books that Mom put on my list, actually.

The book is the first of a series of (currently) eight books about John Ceepak, a war veteran turned cop / detective in a small seaside town, and the murder of a local billionaire. I've had the book long enough that only the first two Ceepak books are listed in the book.

In this book, the local billionaire murder was witnessed by his thirteen year old daughter. The two of them were on the local amusement park Tilt-A-Whirl, hence the title, with the crazy, local, beach bum, stoned guy being the clear suspect.

Except this Ceepak guy has a code, and that's no lying and don't tolerate those who do lie. And so, as Ceepak works with Danny Boyle, the local just-out-of-school, part-time cop, he works through the clues and hints of the murder.

The book has enough twists to be interesting. The Ceepak Code means all of Ceepak's statements are the truth, but the truth has many viewpoints when you can't see all the details. I enjoyed the book. Unsure if I'm going to read the rest of the Ceepak books, but this one was cute.

Night School

Book Review

Reacha!

Okay, the latest in the Jack Reacher series, this one is a throw back to the mid-nineties, a filler story in the Reacher history. A great thing about this book is that we learn about Reacher, but we also learn about Neagley, which is also a great thing.

The basic plot of the book is that the various intelligence agencies hear about a $100,000,000 deal, want to know what it is, and, realistically, stop it as anything that big being done in secret is going to be bad news. Not knowing the item for sale makes tracking the deal difficult.

What I like about the book is that Reacher doesn't follow a straight path. He misses the bad guy left and right, walking right by, seeing and not seeing him. Of course, Reacher gets the girl. I know, shock.

What I didn't like about the book is this complete and utter bunk "science" that Child tries to pass off:

And best of all, the linear measurement between the bruises on the victim’s buttocks and on her elbows was self-evidently the precise distance between the sharp base of the assailant’s pelvic girdle and his kneecaps. Which after standard deductions for the joints in question gave the precise length of his femur. And the length of the femur was considered an infallible guide to a person’s height.

"And the length of the femur was considered an infallible guide to a person’s height." What a bunch of bullshit. I have a femur right here that you can't tell my height from. Hell, if you use that femur, I am 5' tall, and you'd be off by a lot.

Counter balancing this horrible "science" fiction was Child's commentary about patriotism:

“Do you love your country, Mr. Reacher?” “Major Reacher.” “Perhaps that answers my question.” “I prefer to think of it as healthy yet skeptical respect.” “Not very patriotic.” “Exactly patriotic. My country, right or wrong. Which means nothing, unless you admit your country is wrong sometimes. Loving a country that was right all the time would be common sense, not patriotism.”

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

The ending of the book was INCREDIBLY RELEVANT to the United States in a post 2016 election. The climax was, wow, yes. Reacher's choice. The right one. So relevant.

Again, recommend the Reacher series. Not all at once, but fun reads in pieces.

Oryx and Crake

Book Review

I have had this book for at least a decade. Said book has been unread by me for that said decade plus. Heather read it and liked it and recommended it. Kris read it and liked it and recommended it. So, it had two thumbs up from people who know my tastes in books. It would seem I should have read it, say, a decade ago. I hadn't.

I'm unsure why I picked it up, other than I'm in a "wrap everything up" place. That includes reading books that I want to read, but don't really want to cart around. This one falls into that category.

The book is about Snowman and his world. His world happens to be a post-apocalyptic world where he's taking care of these Crākers (the long A on there for the correct pronunciation), who seem to be simpletons. Turns out, well, because they are.

But it's more complicated than that. We also have Oryx, who is Snowman's love in his previous world as Jimmy. And Crake, well, there's a reason there are the Crākers.

Snowman's world is that of gene manipulation, and the apocalypse is, well, exactly what happens when markets no longer have products.

It's an interesting puzzle, Snowman's history, revealed unsurprisingly well by Atwood. The book is the first of three books, which I realized only after finishing the book. Of course, a decade ago when I bought the book, there was only one book, so maybe that I didn't realize it was part of a trilogy is also unsurprising. Unsure if I'll read the other two books in the series, but I'm glad I've finally read this one.

Grave Peril

Book Review

The Dresden Files, book 3

I remember when I first read this book being very surprised at the abrupt introduction of Michael Carpenter into the Dresden Files series. He shows up on the first page of this book, yet is already Harry's best friend. He's also a Knight of the Cross, having been one for the previous twenty years. The man had killed a dragon and knows a lot of lore that Harry doesn't know.

There are a number of other series characters introduced, what with Thomas showing up, Charity having incredibly stilted speaking patterns, and Lea revealing more of Harry's past.

I recall thinking while reading, that the book felt choppy. The plot rather goes along nominally linearly, but references a lot of events that had happened a couple months before. It also has a few jumps from location to location, and starts a lot of unfinished threads.

This is, however, the first book in the Dresden series where Butcher catches his stride. Harry is Harry, and starting to come into his own. The world is fleshed out a bit more, with the lore starting to solidify. If I could direct an author's hand (which I can't, and wouldn't even with the chance), I'd rework the first two books to be more like this one and later books: being Dresden and less Dresden-becoming.

That said, yep, Harry, love the series. Recommended.

The Terracotta Bride

Book Review

I don't recall where I picked up this book. Likely from Book Riot, since it isn't a Mom-book (I know, shock). It is a short and beautiful in a sad way.

The book blurb says:

A tale of first love, bad theology and robot reincarnation in the Chinese afterlife.

In the tenth court of hell, spirits wealthy enough to bribe the bureaucrats of the underworld can avoid both the torments of hell and the irreversible change of reincarnation. It's a comfortable undeath … even for Siew Tsin. She didn't choose to be married to the richest man in hell, but she's reconciled. Until her husband brings home a new bride.

Yonghua is an artificial woman crafted from terracotta. What she is may change hell for good. Who she is will transform Siew Tsin. And as they grow closer, the mystery of Yonghua's creation will draw Siew Tsin into a conspiracy where the stakes are eternal life – or a very final death.

Which is to say, it's the story of a died-too-young girl who doesn't have enough life experience to understand intrigue, but does have enough life experience to love. The good parts of the story are the parts not explicitly described, the parts where the reader understands through actions and moments.

It's a quick read, the book being 51 pages long and all. I enjoyed it.

Escape Clause

Book Review

Virgil Flowers, Book 9

Okay, book nine in the Virgil Flowers series. This one did not actually have beagles in it. It did, however have rare tigers in it. Does that count?

The two sentence summary is "Two rare Amur tigers are catnapped, and f---in' Flowers is assigned to the case. In true Virgil Flowers fashion, other things happen, though the case is resolved in a crazy mess." I crack me up.

Once again, the plot is shallow. In this one, however, Flowers seems more human: he doesn't have everything figured out in the first 43% of the book (unlike in the previous book). He catches a number of lucky breaks to move forward in the case, otherwise he's bored (though, Sandford doesn't do a great job at expressing the weight of boredom and waiting, summarizing them in a sentence here and there as "He was bored"). The bad guy is just plain weird. I have to admit not understanding said bad guy's mental state, but nothing's new about that.

The banter wasn't as quick in the book as in previous books. I laughed out loud only once in the book. And there were a lot of references to Prey books, which, hey, might sell more books for Sandford or develop the Flowers universe more. Maybe. In reality, it made me feel I was reading a filler book instead of its own stand-alone book.

Not one of Sandford's best Flowers books, it's also not bad enough to say this is book one of the two bad in a row that will cause me to stop reading a series. If you're reading the Flowers books, continue.

Children of Earth and Sky

Book Review

Recommended.

I'm tempted to leave the entire book review as that single word. Recommended. Clearly I didn't, because I'm still typing, but I'm definitely tempted.

I had "started" this book a few months ago, and by "started," I mean, "read the first page." The timing wasn't good, so I didn't keep going, because Kay's books aren't put-downable. Yes, a real word that, "put-downable." This book wasn't. And what better day to read the book than jet-lagged and sick, and in need of comfort? Said jet-lag may have enabled me to stay up until 6:30 am to read this book. Or maybe not. It's like a migraine that way, maybe the caffeine causes it, maybe the caffeine didn't.

So, this book. It's "historical fiction with a twist of fantasy," as Kay describes others describing his works. I would say that description was true of his earlier books, but not really this one. While there is an itty bitty part that requires suspension of disbelief, the rest of it is pretty much a fictionalized story of the fall of the Ottoman Empire from a merchant's, an artist's, and soldier's points of view. But, ssssssssh, it's not really called the Ottoman Empire.

Kay moves back to his earlier style of writing in this book, in that in his earlier books, he wasn't explicit about the thoughts behind the characters actions, leaving the reader to piece things together and fill in the gaps. Subsequent books, he drifted to explaining everything, which lost some of the magic of his writing style. He has it coming back here, which makes me like this book so much more.

If you like his style, this book is recommended. If you haven't read Kay's books before, read A Song for Arbonne or The Lions of Al-Rassan first instead.

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