Marlon James, Moon Witch, Spider King (2022)

Author: Marlon James

Title: Moon Witch, Spider King

Format: e-book

Pages: 626

Series: The Dark Star Trilogy #2

First things first – I’M BAACK! 😉 My vacation in Poland proved to be more adventurous than expected, what with flights cancelled barely days before departure and getting covid right after we finally arrived in Poland after 72 hours of travel… But that might be a topic for a separate post, because today I’m going to write about James’s long-awaited sequel to Black Leopard, Red Wolf.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf was a singular book: dark with horrifying, intimate violence, propulsively emotional, full of fantastical monsters (some of which were still wearing human skin), crass and whimsically poetic, and, ultimately, abrasively addictive. The protagonist, Tracker, was bare against the world: his emotions were naked, extreme, and absolutely understandable for everyone who ever met a boy on a cusp of manhood.

But why do I write about the prequel in the review of the second installment? Well, because Moon Witch, Spider King is not similar to Black Leopard, Red Wolf in any recognizable manner – and yet it serves as a satisfactory juxtaposition of perspective to the first book. Moon Witch… tells the tale of Sogolon, the old witch we already know from Tracker’s tale, the witch we all rather despise even though we know of Tracker’s misogyny and his total lack of empathy to anyone so vastly different from him.

Continue reading “Marlon James, Moon Witch, Spider King (2022)”

R.J. Barker, The Bone Ship’s Wake (2021)

Author: R.J. Barker

Title: The Bone Ship’s Wake

Format: paperback

Pages: 493

Series: The Tide Child #3

First things first: I actually managed to finish a trilogy by R.J. Barker, so I feel very self-congratulatory. Yay me! Secondly, though, I only managed to finish it because, unlike The Wounded Kingdom trilogy, this one was interesting enough for me to follow it to the end ;). Although I might have made a strategic error in waiting with the review, as my initial enthusiasm waned somewhat. Still, it’s a pretty decent book, almost right to the end.

The two earlier installments, The Bone Ships and Call of the Bone Ships, were very enjoyable seafaring yarn: tall ships, pirates, remote islands, sea dragons, storms and adventure, and a dream of Libertalia thrown in the mix. The motif of changing the unfair status quo, of fighting for social justice for the outcasts and the unfit, of challenging the rule of the dominant caste – all this for me formed the backbone of the previous two books. While The Bone Ships focused mostly on character development, the broader intrigue and worldbuilding became more apparent in the Call of the Bone Ships. I expected The Bone Ship’s Wake to offer some resolution to the above quandary, to show us how the idealistic dream can be realized, at least in part, in the very strict, increasingly beleaguered societies of constant scarcity. Woe is me. I guess I expected too much.

Continue reading “R.J. Barker, The Bone Ship’s Wake (2021)”

Barry Hughart, Bridge of Birds (1985)

Author: Barry Hughart

Title: Bridge of Birds

Format: paperback

Pages: 278

Series: The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox #1

This story is advertised as “a novel of an Ancient China That Never Was.” It’s a very subtle claim, one that gives an insight into what type of novel Hughart wrote: wistful, whimsical, full of wonder, benevolently sarcastic, witty and self-aware, and most importantly, incredibly optimistic. I really didn’t know how much I needed such a book – until I read it.

“RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

IT IS THE PLAGUE OF

THE TEN THOUSAND

PESTILENTIAL PUTRESCENCES!”

Continue reading “Barry Hughart, Bridge of Birds (1985)”

Joe Abercrombie, The Wisdom of Crowds (2021)

Author: Joe Abercrombie

Title: The Wisdom of Crowds

Format: paperback

Pages: 520

Series: The Age of Madness #3

I know that times are tough. Pandemic, a looming economic crisis, people do what they can to make ends meet, churning out books like there’s no tomorrow, with less than usual regard for logic or excellence. It’s hard, and I understand, and Abercrombie is certainly not the first one to fall into this trap. But that knowledge doesn’t lessen the disappointment much. For this is the first First Law World book that unequivocally sucked for me. 

My disappointment is twofold, and I’ll try my best to separate the technical, rather more objective one from the bitterly personal ;). 

Continue reading “Joe Abercrombie, The Wisdom of Crowds (2021)”

Better late than never, or #Narniathon21 finally coming to Reenchantment

When Chris announced the great re-read of Lewis’s classic series for children back in 2020, I was a vocal supporter of the idea. I wanted to revisit Narnia for some time, having read all of the books at least twice over the period of some twenty years, and wanted to check if the ambivalent feelings of my former encounters would still dominate my reading.

But life intervened, and while other Narniathoners are already reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in preparation for the February 25th discussion, I’m here, discussing The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in conjunction with Prince Caspian. Well, better late than never 😉

Continue reading “Better late than never, or #Narniathon21 finally coming to Reenchantment”