Friday, 1 July 2011


Again, it's been a stressful month, so mostly a lot of re-readers, but a couple of new books in there as well.

Finishing off the Temeraire series with Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, Victory of Eagles, and finally, Tongues of Serpents, which I'd tried a few times before, but never finished.
Like the rest of Novik's Oeuvre, the scenery is gorgeous, and the characters, new and old, lively and fascinating. The new dragons especially. But much like Empire of Ivory, Tongues of Serpents flags a little in the second half. The pacing never really varies much, and even the brief points of excitement - the bush fire, and the encounter(s) with the Bunyips - are lacking in energy. The denouement feels hurried and imperfectly weaved with the rest of the story - again, parallels could be drawn with Empire of Ivory. Overall, though, I think the book suffers from its disconnection from previously established characters and events. We really do feel, like our protagonists, lost on the other side of the world, very much out of things. Which is perhaps testament to the skill of the author, but coming hard on the heels of Victory of Eagles - the most action-packed of the books to date - it's a very sharp let-down.

I had a lot of fun with Jasper Fforde's latest; One of Our Thursdays is Missing, which, if you haven't read any of the other Thursday Next books, might be a bit difficult to get into, but if you have, is a fantastic addition to the cannon. The re-actualisation of the book world, and the (re-) introduction of the fictional Thursday-5 as our protagonist instead of Thursday herself is a fantastic way that Fforde has managed to inject fresh life into the series, keeping just enough of the older books to give us a sense of familiarity, but being able to introduce new plots, characters and a new momentum that had perhaps been lacking in First Among Sequels. It's a fantastic book, with energetic pacing, and host of new characters; I especially love Mrs Malaprop and her curious condition which gives Fforde the opportunity to engage in the kind of word-play that he so obviously relishes, and which last surfaced as the Mispelling Vyrus, and the fictional Pickwick (aka Lorina Peabody III). The villains suffer a little - our eventual antagonist doesn't quite have the same clout as some previous ones, but I loved the brief re-introduction of Jack Schitt (and the revelation surrounding him), which sort of made up for it. Overall, it's a new lease of life for the Thursday Next series... and sent me right back to re-reading The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book....

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