Bookish Heavenly Virtues

Buoyed by the success of our Deadly Bookish Sins tag we decided to even out the playfield – and created a corresponding Bookish Heavenly Virtues tag 😉 We had a lot of fun writing the questions and answering them, and now we hope you’ll enjoy reading them – and, if you do, we invite you to participate in the tag as well :).


CHASTITY: Which author/book/series you wish you had never read?


Ola: Aaand we start with a bang 😉 The two that most easily come to mind are Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind (DNFed around the junkie dragon mark and I only wish I threw it down sooner) and Justin Cronin trilogy (DNFed within first 100 pages of the third installment – what a waste of time). I’m usually pretty lenient when it comes to books, as they are in fact someone’s years of hard work and dreams. But I absolutely abhor waste of time on things I dislike, as the theory of alternative costs plays in my mind different scenarios of what I could have done with that precious resource, and the two examples above represent exactly that.

Piotrek: It’s a hard one. I usually only go for books I can be sure to enjoy at least a bit, and some of the really terrible ones I revenge-reviewed, so it was not a waste of time, was it?

One case where I could have saved the time and read something else, even at a cost of not having a vitriolic review to write, was the Iron Druid Chronicles. Details – in the linked review 😉 but I have to say, the more time passes, the more I’m convinced it’s a case of urban fantasy tropes tortured inhumanely for no good reason.

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Patricia Briggs, Silence Fallen (2017)


It’s a yearly event now, the coming out of a new book in Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series. Each March a new installment hits the shelves, and I am fairly sure , after reading the tenth book, that it won’t end too soon. Assigning only the ulterior, financial motivation to the author would be unfair. I’m absolutely sure that it would be incredibly difficult to part with characters as likeable, vibrant and alive as hers. There’s always another story to be told, another angle to explore… And yet, and yet, maybe it’s time to say goodbye.

Ten books is no mean thing. These are not doorstops in style of Czajkowski or Erikson, or let alone Martin who publishes each new installment of Game of Thrones in two parts, because otherwise the binding wouldn’t hold… These are urban fantasy books, three hundred odd pages long and no more. Still, ten books about essentially one character is a lot. And if you don’t have an overarching plot, spanning more than a couple of books, unfolding slowly in the background of the main action – like in Dresden books, to keep the example from the UF field – pretty soon you may find yourself without anything important to say.

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Patricia Briggs, Fire Touched (2016)

fire touched_front mech.indd

The newest installment in the Mercy Thompson series, Fire Touched, had hit the shelves mid-March. It’s the ninth book in a series that originally was supposed to have only eight installments, and currently is planned to end after ten, but seeing the popularity of Mercy’s adventures it’s rather probable that it will be longer. Much longer.

The series about Mercy Thompson is the most popular – and most beloved by fans – of Briggs’ works, and for a couple of reasons. One of them can be found here ;). The other is that Mercy Thompson series is a successful combination of very good worldbuilding, likeable, intriguing and psychologically believable characters, adventure, romance and a bit of politics. The creation of characters in Mercy’s world is indeed Briggs’ strong suit: from the main heroine, Mercy, a typical underdog, through the werewolves: Adam, Bran, Samuel and the rest (and I need to put Ben and Honey here ;)), to the fae and the vampires, and even to the local police or various federal agents. The same can be said for the convoluted, realistically drawn relationships which bind the lot of them together, setting them apart or against each other, forcing them to take a side. This is what I read those books for: to see how Mercy will get in trouble, and what will she do – and all the people (and non-people) around her – when she gets in there.

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On lists or lack thereof

Making lists is one of the favorite pastimes around the web – and probably not only there. Lists of best books in any given year or month, lists of worst zombie movies ever, etc… It’s as if structuring and prioritizing one’s experience or even group preferences became the best source of available information. Show me your list and I’ll tell you who you really are.

We’ve been mentioning our own lists on the blog at least several times already – the TBR lists, mainly. The problem is, my personal lists are few and far between, and they are not even proper lists with any discernible hierarchy. I have rather sets of items, where each item holds more or less similar position to any other. And even of those I have only two worth mentioning: TBR and TBB.

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Today no review – I’m on vacation :). Instead, I prepared a short list of recommended summer readings 😉

For when you have lots of time and still some inquisitiveness in you, after frying in the sun and drinking alcoholic beverages all day, or else taking care of overactive children (all in all, highly improbable, but whatever :P):

Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) – a classic sf tale, hard sf, with some landmark ideas of Heinlein and judged among his best works. An inexhaustible source of inspiration for literal hordes of writers and a must-read for every sf fan. Warning: demanding!

Heinlein_The Moon

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Patricia Briggs, Dead Heat (2015)

dead_heatDead Heat is the fourth, newest novel-length installment in the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs. Briggs is a solid name in the modern urban fantasy field. She can tell an engaging, compelling story, and she has created a really interesting, well planned world, full of politics (both magical and mundane), power plays and strong, likeable characters, which grow and change plausibly with every new installment. I really enjoy Mercy Thompson series, to the point of having all the books in the same ACE edition (hardcovers mostly) on my shelves. And that says a lot, considering the limited space I have there as well as my addiction to Kindle. I never got hooked on Alpha and Omega novels though – they are not enough action-packed and definitely too much introspectively romantic, wish-fulfilling and politically correct for my barbaric tastes. That said, let’s start from the beginning.

Those who read Briggs probably know that Alpha and Omega novels are set in the same world as Mercy Thompson series – they just follow a different set of characters, mainly Charles Cornick, the younger son of the Marrok, the head of all US werewolves, and Anna Cornick, Charles’ wife.

We have known Charles from Mercy’s point of view, as a person who scares even her, and this really does take some serious effort. He is tall, enigmatic bordering on unreadable, highly mysterious, has his own shaman magic and he takes care of all the dirty work the Marrok has. Which is, as you can expect, quite a lot.

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Nagroda Priapa

Nagroda Priapa Czyli dlaczego w fantastyce definicja kobiety wyzwolonej tak często zawiera komponent dzikiego seksu ze wszystkim, co się rusza.

Post Piotrka o Artesii był wprawdzie katalizatorem tego wpisu, ale powyższe pytanie zadaję sobie już od dawna. Fantastyka, jak zresztą i inne gatunki literackie, nie oszukujmy się, pełna jest przedmiotowych ujęć silnych kobiet. Jak to możliwe? Przecież to niemal oksymoron: „silna kobieta” jako przedmiot. Pewnie, jak zwykle, dużo zależy od przyjętej definicji. Kobieta silna wedle mojej definicji powinna mieć kilka bardzo konkretnych cech (kolejność nie ma znaczenia): inteligencję, wewnątrzsterowność, umiejętność podejmowania decyzji (nawet złych), samorządność, odpowiedzialność, zdolność do rozwoju i poznania samej siebie. Czasami do tego może skopać parę tyłków, ale nie jest to warunek konieczny ani tym bardziej wystarczający. Innymi słowy – na tak pojętą “siłę” składają się cechy nie mające absolutnie nic wspólnego z płcią. Płeć nie ma znaczenia – ważna jest osoba.

Tak czy inaczej, to wręcz zaprzeczenie przedmiotowego ujęcia kobiet, w którym traktowane są jako kukiełki rządzone instynktem, popędami i twardą ręką silnego mężczyzny. Problem w tym, że we współczesnej literaturze topos „silnej kobiety” stał się stereotypową formą, czy wręcz foremką, w którą wciska się wszystko: wystarczy, że kobieta jest np. silna fizycznie, była w wojsku, zna sztuki walki, uprawia „trash talk”, albo przynajmniej radośnie, bez zobowiązań i wielkiej wybredności uprawia nieokiełznany seks.  Żeby nie brzmieć jak stara babcia, wspominająca (lepsze) czasy swojej młodości – zdaję sobie sprawę, że przedmiotowe postrzeganie płci żeńskiej istniało w kulturze zapewne od tego samego momentu, w którym pojawił się topos „silnej kobiety”. Czyli od samego początku 🙂 No chyba, że przyjmiemy tę lekko spiskową teorię dziejów, mówiącą, że pierwotne ludy rolnicze jak jeden mąż wyznawały wiarę w Boginię Matkę, i dopiero potem hordy kapłanów monoteistycznych religii osiągnęły paternalistyczną hegemonię kulturową i z sukcesem wymazywały przez wieki wszystkie pozostałości tego kultu…

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