April 16th, 2001

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"The Dragon-Charmer" by Jan Siegal

This is the sequel to "Prospero's Children", although I'm not sure that you'd need to read the first book to understand this one. It is set 12 years after the events in "Prospero's Children" and Faith and Will have grown up, and moved on. Faith is now about to get married, although her choice of fiance confuses her friends and family - he is considerably older than her. They are getting married in the house in Yorkshire where the events of "Prospero's Children" took place. She is in denial about the existence of magic, and would rather pretend that none of that existed. As the reader we are aware that it does exist in this world, and we see Will still interacts with the house-goblin etc despite his lack of the gift of magic. Faith's denial of both the magic she has and the magic of the universe in general lead to her invocation of an old spirit that really should have been left alone.

I like the fact that this book (and the previous one) blend magic seamlessly into a more 'real' world story. It draws heavily on old folklore, with house goblins, werewolves and witches. The characters are believable and at the end of the book there is a sense of their lives continuing. Even though the story is over the loose ends are not tied up, and not just in a way that makes you think there's another book - there might be more, but the episode is complete in itself and it feels more like the people continue to live the rest of their lives.
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More books - the proper review I just did and the first two here are from the library. The next one is from Baen Free Library, and the last 4 are from Webscriptions.

"The Cause" by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
This is the 23rd book in the Morland dynasty series. They are historical novels and follow the Morland family from the time of the War of the Roses, and the plan is to bring it up to the present day. So far we're in Victorian times, and this isn't a bit of history that I'm particularly interested in - but clearly it's either the author's favourite, or she's slowing down to prevent the series coming to an end. This book is primarily about the suffragette cause, and how it impacts the lives of the town and country nobility.

"Year of the Griffin" by Diana Wynne Jones
I get new books by Diana Wynne Jones out the library whenever I see them, and about 10 years ago she was one of my favourite authors. Her books tend to be quite 'fun', they're generally quite light-hearted fantasy and this is not an exception. The central character is a griffin, daughter (magically) of one of the most powerful wizards in the land. She is off to the university to learn about magic, somewhat against her father's wishes as he has quite reasonable doubts about the abilities of the university staff to teach magic. The university is short of money so the head decides to send begging letters to the parents off all the new pupils - but it all goes horribly wrong as none of them are there with permission. A fun book.

"Doc Sidhe" by Aaron Allston
This is another fantasy book - there are two worlds, the fair world (where the sidhe live) and the grim world (ours). And both think the other is a myth, but our hero's girlfriend is the subject of an attempted kidnapping into the fair world. This turns out to be part of a plot to take over both worlds, and somewhat reluctantly he is drawn into saving the worlds! Another fun book, but not one I really want to buy - somehow it felt a little cliched.

"March Upcountry" by David Weber and John Ringo
This is a good book - it was the one of this month's webscription books that I was really looking forward to finishing coz I wanted to know what happened next. Prince Roger is your typical arrogant spoilt royal brat. His mother, the Empress, doesn't seem to like him and he has reacted by becoming as much of a fop as possible as all the rest of his illustrious family are known for their practicality etc etc. An assassination attempt is narrowly averted and the spaceship he and his marine guard are travelling in is forced to crash land on a little backwater planet with only one space port. (Yes this is science-fiction, not fantasy). The troops and the Prince set out to trek from their crash to the space port, dealing with the native aliens on the way. Apparently it is a based on a story by Kipling, but I know very little Kipling so I don't know which one. During the trek Prince Roger eventually begins to grow up - and we (and he) find out what the problems between him and his mother are by the end. This is very clearly the first of a series, and I wanna read the next one NOW!

"The Philosophical Strangler" by Eric Flint
This is in here for completeness sake - I read about 2 chapters before decided I didn't like it. It's humourous fantasy, and I very rarely like that sort of thing - only Pratchett that I can think of. It's a shame coz I like other Eric Flint books.

"Soldiers" by John Dalmas
Alien invasion story - the human race has a huge empire and has settled many planets. There hasn't been a war for centuries so when the aliens are and arrive intent on taking over the empire soldiers have to be trained up. Somehow I wasn't that keen on this. It was ok, and a good idea, I guess I just didn't like the style. For instance at the end there's a chapter which just lists the characters of the story and says what happens to them now the story is over. It's one thing to tie up the loose ends and quite another to be so blatant about it.

"Quincy Morris: Vampire" by P. N. Elrod
Why do modern vampire stories always descend into erotica at points? Just once it'd be nice to read a modern vampire story that didn't, just for variety. Quincy Morris was one of the characters in the Bram Stoker Dracula story - and he was killed at the end of it (I think that's not a invention of this book - it's been a while since I read the original). This story makes Quincy a vampire - although of a different lineage to Dracula - and details the problems he has convincing his friends that he's not a nasty evil creature like Dracula. Oh and he starts a relationship with Lord Godalming's sister, the excuse for erotica in this book.

"Starmind" by Spider and Jeanne Robinson
This begins as a story about the difficulties a couple face as he wants to work in space but she wants to live in Provincetown like she always has. Once you've spent a certain number of months on a space station you've adapted, and cannot cope with the return to gravity so they have to make a decision about staying together, and about where they want to live. By the end of the book there's other more mystical stuff that I didn't think was as interesting as the original story.