Books 2014: 34-45
34-36. Kate Elliott, Jaran
, An Earthly Crown
, and His Conquering Sword
. Ebooks, Open Road Media, first published 1992-1993.
Read to cover in a later SWM column. It's odd, sometimes, to come to a writer's earlier work after their more mature stuff, and see the outlines of similar thematic concerns: much here is familiar, if in very different form, from the Crossroads
trilogy. The through-line is more scattered, less developed, less well-defined - less, in all those respects that define a writer's craft, mature
- but these are still interesting novels, combining SFnal and fantastic scopes.
37. Ankaret Wells, Heavy Ice
. Ebook, 2014, copy courtesy of the author.
Will be mentioned in future SWM column. A lot of fun, set in the same universe (but many generations later) as The Maker's Mask
and The Hawkwood War
. As with my previous experience of Wells' books, the first half is very good and then the conclusion rather less good at pulling all the narrative threads together than one might wish.
But still, very fun. I want to read more like this.
38. Barbara Ann Wright, A Kingdom Lost
. Ebook, Bold Strokes Books, 2014. Copy courtesy of publisher.
Third in series, after Pyramid Waltz
and For Want of a Fiend
. Wright has not developed any further as a prose stylist, but her grasp of narrative and tension, already solid, has here improved. I am decidedly pro
Epic Fantasy With Lesbians, so I was already inclined to look favourably upon this novel - unfortunately, Wright and her publishers have chosen to hang a cliffhanger right in the middle of the climactic fight/chase sequence, which is a bit Bad Show, Chaps
in my books.
I'm still looking forward to the next installment, though.
39. Jeannie Lin, The Jade Temptress
. Ebook, Harlequin, 2014.
Romance set in Tang dynasty China. Rather weaker, I think, than Lin's previous books.
40-41. Deborah J. Ross, The Seven-Petaled Shield
. DAW, 2013. Copy courtesy of the publisher.
Will be mentioned in future SWM column. I am a bit "meh" on these: they're the first two novels in what seems like a not-particularly-imaginative epic fantasy series (trilogy?) but I can see how they might be more some other, less jaded reader's cup of tea. However, I read three separate series in short order that featured clearly Mongol-inspired steppe nomads, and of these Ross's are the least convincing/interesting.
42. Brian Staveley, The Emperor's Blades
. Tor, 2014. Copy courtesy Tor.com.
A review of this will go up elseweb tomorrow. Short version: I was not very impressed.
43. Elizabeth Bear, Steles of the Sky
. Tor, 2014. Copy courtesy of the publisher.
Will be mentioned in future SWM column. WOW. Masterpiece
conclusion to an amazing trilogy. Bear's books have only been in front of the public for about ten years: this may not mark the height of her potential powers. But wow
. If she improves on this, if fate spares her to us for long enough? Forty years down the line, we may be talking of her as we talk today of Ursula LeGuin.non-fiction
44. Peter Temin, The Roman Market Economy
. Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford, 2013.
I will confess that after I started reading this, it became the thing I read when I wanted something to help bore me to sleep. Temin is an economist, and despite his best efforts to make himself comprehensible to non-economists, the economist-specific jargon and calculations are impenetrable where they aren't tedious. In many respects it is a useful examination/elucidation of Roman markets and the operation of a Roman business economy: in other respects, Temin falls prey to the perennial problem of economists, and stops seeing people as people. His background as an economist of the 20th century obtrudes itself noticeably at times, when he makes certain statements about society in antiquity that feel rather strange to me. It feels as though he isn't using a wide enough variety of kinds of evidence to support his statements - the quantitative evidence is scanty, yes, but there is more contextual evidence that could be brought into play to illuminate his arguments.
But ultimately, for its discussion of trade, the Roman labour market, and of the constraints of Malthusian population theory versus economic growth, it is interesting and useful in sum, even if I decline to try to follow its mathematics.
45. David Constantine, In The Footsteps of the Gods: Travelers to Greece and the Quest for the Hellenic Ideal
. I.B. Tauris, London, 2011. First published 1984.
This is a book about the image of Greece in the writing of French, English and German travelers to the Ottoman lands during the 1700s. Constantine's background as a scholar of German literature is clear in his particular focuses. He deals with Winckelmann and Riedesel, Guys and Wood, Spon and Wheler, Chiseul and Tournefort, Robert Chandler, the reflection of Hellenism in the German literature of the late 18th century - but this is not the book I hoped to read. Its focus is literary, rather than technical and historical, and it does not ever give a Greek or even Ottoman perspective on all these interfering northern Europeans. Still an interesting book, but unsatisfying to the archaeologist.This entry was originally posted at http://hawkwing-lb.dreamwidth.org/597987.html. There are comments there. Comment where you like.