They are my oldest and deadliest enemy. You cannot trust them.
If Hitler invaded Hell, I would give a favourable reference to the Devil.

Monday, October 12



The Cinder Spires, volume one: The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher

Not-Spain invades not-England with their flying armada and a band of assassins and arsonists,  not to mention lots and lots of spiders.  Our heroes are little miss rich girl joined the Marines, not so little miss not rich girl also joined the Marines, cousin in the Marines, dashing privateer captain done wrong by the Navy brass, crazy old wizard, and crazy young witch.  Oh, and cats.

Which sounds formulaic except that Jim Butcher is a good enough writer to make formula work, not-Spain and not-England are for some reason enormous smokestacks crammed full of people (hence the "cinder spires"), and there is an actual legitimate reason why the wizards are all crazy.*

Pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. The characters and setting were better than the plot, so bodes well for the next volume.

The Laundry Files, volume, what, six?: The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross

The previous volume, the last so far starring Bob - a computer programmer working for a faceless bureaucracy charged with protecting the Universe from things that make Cthulhu look like a beagle puppy - was dull and largely pointless, though at least everyone died at the end.**

This volume almost dies at the beginning as our heroine, Dominique - Mo, Bob's wife - spends the first third of the book complaining about, well, everything.  But that settles down eventually and is at least partly a head-fake for later events so I've mostly forgiven it.  Not as good as the brilliant first three, but better than the last one, so I'll give the series another go.

The Craft Sequence, volume four: Last First Snow by Max Gladstone

The Craft Sequence is a series of books about what I've called necromantic conveyancing - courtroom and boardroom thrillers set in a world of undying sorcerers and dead gods, where contracts are living and possibly sentient.  The first three books are terrific.

Last First Snow is just... Meh. Not awful, but meh.

The first problem is that it's an idiot plot. There are, if we are generous, three characters in the book who don't act like idiots throughout. Just one more person not acting like an idiot - anyone, Kopil, Temoc, the Major, Tay, Tan Batac, Mina, Zoh, Temoc's scheming former associate, the parents who thought a riot would make an educational day trip for their children, anyone - and the story would be: Things were tense there for a moment, but we worked it out. The end.

The second problem is that it's supposed to be balanced, sympathetic towards both sides. But the underdogs are a cult of human sacrifice seeking to subjugate humanity in an endless reign of slavery and terror - again - and the "man", so to speak, holding them down, is the leader of the plucky rebels who freed mankind from captivity within living memory.

Gladstone can and has done a lot better; I think the decision to write a prequel was unwise. Even here, parts of the story are captivating; I've certainly read worse. Still hoping for a return to form with the next book.

Also, the first two books involve magic that eats holes in your brain, and the latter two books are about the King in Yellow and the King in Red, respectively.

* Magic eats holes in your brain.  Literally.

** Not actually true.

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