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books - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2008-02-20 21:51
Subject: books
Security: Public
Location:the utility room in the sky
Mood:calmcalm
Music:porcupine tree
Next up is White Night, by Jim Butcher. This is the latest in a series of novels about Harry Dresden, a Chicago private investigator who is also a wizard. Sort of a cross between Merlin, Han Solo and Philip Marlowe. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was very well-written, worked fine as a thriller, was full of good meaty characters and good dialogue, and Butcher has really thought about magic and how it works in Dresden's world - it has proper rules and conventions and isn't just a case of a character snapping their fingers and some miracle happening. Dresden himself - as you might expect nine books into the series - is a well-rounded character, mortal yet full of power. I think he and I will meet up again. I'll have to go back to the beginning of the series and start properly.

Then there's The Glass Books Of The Dream-Eaters by GW Dahlquist, which I bought partly because it has one of the more bonkers titles I've seen recently. It's hard to describe this one. It takes place in 19th Century Europe, and it's set in an imaginary city and country which appear to occupy roughly the same position as London and England, although with many differences - although the rest of the world seems unchanged. I'm not sure whether the right word for it is Ruritanian or Graustarkian, but anyway it has stuff in common with Conan Doyle and Rider Haggard and Sax Rohmer and Anthony Hope, bolted onto some worldbuilding that reminded me a little of Perdido Street Station. There is derring-do, breathless, unlikely escapes, mysterious trains, a dirigible. I don't know if anyone out there has seen The Assassination Bureau, with Diana Rigg and Oliver Reed, but that kind of catches the flavour of it.
At the centre of the book is a science-fictional device - the theft of personality - and the attempts of a mysterious Cabal to use it to their own nefarious ends, and three unlikely heroes who oppose them. My one quibble is the inclusion of some fin de siecle eroticism, which I didn't think suited the book.
It's a long book, but it does canter along, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There's apparently a sequel, whose title escapes me, but I think I'll track it down when it comes out in paperback.

And finally for this roundup, Simon Hoggart's The Hands Of History, which rounds up his Guardian Parliamentary sketches covering the Blair Years. We don't get 9/11 or the death of Diana, because they're in a previous book, but the rest is a joy to read. I've gone on about Hoggart before, so `nuff said. I can't see it being of any more interest to those of you on the other side of the village pond than a similar roundup of sketches about the House of Representatives would be over here, but I spent many a smiling moment with it.
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RealThog: sunset
User: realthog
Date: 2008-02-21 14:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:sunset

I must give The Glass Books of the Dream-Eaters a try!

I read one of the Butcher series a while back, and thought it was pretty good of its kind. Trouble is, I'm so fed up to the back teeth of its kind -- there are a lot of them around over here at the moment. The other series in the subsubsubgenre that I tried one of and liked was by Charlie Huston, beginning with Already Dead. But several books by competitors of Huston and Butcher have been thrown at the wall . . .
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-02-21 23:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I can see that Glass Books might not be to everyone's taste. To an extent, it's a massive juggling trick, and I thought that Dahlquist occasionally dropped the balls - it gets a bit confusing in places and there are just too many people in it. Also, Mark Frost covered much the same territory, at about a quarter of the length, in The List Of Seven. But I enjoyed it. It might not bear rereading, but it carried me along, and at least it had the spirit of ambition.

Butcher's my first encounter with this subsubsubgenre (which I hadn't even realised was a subsubsubgenre) but as I said, it did the job for me and I liked it enough to want to read the other Harry Dresden books.
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