September 11th, 2012

Books

Book Report: Airplane Reading

One more bit of Enchanted, Inc. series news I forgot to mention yesterday: The Japanese edition of No Quest for the Wicked will be released this Friday, so there's less of a gap between the Japanese and US releases for this book.

I'm still working my way through that biography that was the basis for the movie The Duchess. In case you find it intriguing, the title is Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman, and I keep finding more cool stuff that wasn't in the movie. Seriously, this would make for an AWESOME miniseries because there's too much to put in one movie. The movie did include the fact that she got pregnant by her lover and her husband made her give the baby to the father's parents to raise (never mind that he was bringing up his children by his mistresses in his household with his wife and their kids). What it neglected to mention was that he sent her away to France to have the baby in secret -- during the Revolution. Even after she had the baby, he didn't want her to come home because not only was he upset about the baby, he was also upset about her astronomical gambling debts. But around this time, France started to get really dangerous, so she fled to Savoy (a separate kingdom at the time), having to go on horseback because being in a carriage would have made her a target. Then she worked her way through Switzerland into Italy, stopping for a while at various places. At one point, she was staying with friends who were avid amateur scientists, and she decided to replace gambling with science. She started studying, reading, going to lectures and talking with scientists and got interested in mineralogy and chemistry. Her husband finally decided she could come home when war broke out on the continent, and she had to make her way across the war-torn continent to catch a boat, but since everyone else was fleeing, that was a challenge, so she had to use her infamous persuasive skills to get her retinue a spot on a private ship and be one of the last to get out. Back home, she put together a mineral collection that's apparently still being studied and set up a chemistry lab in her house and started hanging out with and patronizing scientists the way she used to do actors. You can't make this kind of thing up, and I can't believe the movie totally skipped it all.

Other recent reading:
My airplane book for the WorldCon trip was The Spirit War by Rachel Aaron, the most recent Eli Monpress book, and I'm now glad I delayed reading it until this trip because it makes the wait for the next one (November 20) shorter. This is a really fun romp of a series about a wizard who's able to charm the spirits that embody all things and get them to do things for him. He uses this power to become the best thief ever, but he tends to get into a lot of scrapes where he's forced to play the hero. I finished this volume in the middle of the night when I couldn't really sleep but was still sort of having to prop my eyelids open, and I couldn't stop until it was done. We learn a lot about our main characters in this one and we also see a number of confrontations we've been waiting for. I thought the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger, but the book includes a preview of the next book, and that that makes the cliffhanger even bigger because it shows why what happened was such a big deal. It also changes the way you see everything else that's happened in the series. When I'm through reading about the Duchess of Devonshire, I may go re-read the previous books in the series.

But because I finished my book the night before the last day of the convention, I needed to find a new airplane book for the trip home. After wandering through the dealers room, I ended up chatting with one of the booksellers, and he recommended the Eddie LaCrosse series by Alex Bledsoe. I picked up the earliest in the series he had, Dark Jenny, and it was a good call. This is a hardboiled PI series set in a fantasy sword-and-sorcery kind of world. It has all the tone of a Raymond Chandler-style detective novel, but there are knights, swords, etc. It can sometimes be a little jarring and a touch anachronistic (would people in the Arthurian era talk about having a "girlfriend"?), but since it's a fantasy world I guess I can't compare it to our own history. In this particular book, our hero has to investigate a murder in the middle of what's essentially the King Arthur story. One of Queen Jennifer's knights has been murdered, and it looks like she's being framed for it, but since Eddie's a stranger in court, he makes a really good scapegoat. To save his own neck and save the Queen (and possibly the kingdom), he has to find the real killer. There are some fun twists and turns, and I read it in close to one sitting and had finished it before I caught the bus home from the airport. I'll be looking for more in the series because it really is the perfect blend of two of my favorite genres. It works as mystery and it kind of works as fantasy (it's published as fantasy, but to some extent I think the "fantasy" part is the weakest part of the book).