Category Archives: Books

Eddings Reread: The Sapphire Rose (Elenium 3)

Because we just don’t have enough to do, Alex, Joanne and I have decided to re-read The Elenium and The Tamuli trilogies by David (and Leigh) Eddings, and – partly to justify that, partly because it’s fun to compare notes – we’re blogging a conversation about each book. We respond to each other in the post itself, but you can find Alex’s post over here and Jo’s post here if you’d like to read the conversation going on in the comments. Also, there are spoilers!

Our review of The Diamond Throne (Elenium 1) is here.

Our review of The Ruby Knight (Elenium 2) is here.

ALEX:

Almost the very first page of this book has an Author’s Note, which says that the wife wants to write the dedication. And “since she’s responsible for much of the work,” he’s going to let her. Why don’t you just acknowledge the co-authorship, DUDE?

JO:

I don’t see the ‘David Eddings’ on the covers any more. In my mind, it’s ‘David and Leigh’ :)

TEHANI:

Of course, when I first read these I had no idea, but since finding out, it’s been an annoyance every time I picked up one of the books.

Also, I think this is the first of the books where we see a really intrusive breaking of the fourth wall by the author/s? For example:

The appearance of the detachment at the gate was, in Preceptor – ah, shall we say instead Patriarch – Darellon’s words, disgraceful. (p. 155 of my version).

ALEX:

The descriptions of Ehlana, who gets cured of the poison in this book, are beyond horrid. There’s “overpowering femininity,” and women being “notoriously adept” at recognising things like a ring being an engagement ring (did I miss that seminar? How DO you tell that a ring is an engagement ring? How do I know whether I’ve been stooged?). Ehlana is unbearable smug about “netting” Sparhawk. I will admit that the point about wavering between wanting to flaunt her “womanly attributes” and wanting to hide them is fair – and even perceptive – but it’s surrounded by so much URGH. And I’d like to say that I, for one, am glad that Sparhawk tried to get out of their marriage. I know that 17 years’ difference doesn’t HAVE to be a barrier, but there is SUCH a difference between the two of them.

TEHANI:

By the end of this book, I was starting to get an uncomfortable feeling about the number of very young girls who become obsessed with older men. And Aphrael’s manipulation with kisses is most disturbing!

JO:

Oh yes that’s definitely a thing in these books.

ALEX:

Urgh.

 

JO:

And we meet Mirtai! Isn’t she an interesting character? Super-strong, super-warrior who is quite happy to be a slave. In fact, she insists on it.

TEHANI:

the_elenium__ehlana_and_mirtai_by_opheliawasmyname-d5vm3dt

Ehlana & Mirtai fan art by Deviant artist OpheliaWasMyName

Mirtai is such a contradiction! Not always deliberately on the author’s part, I think… This bit really got up my nose on this reread though:

Mirtai’s skin had a peculiarly exotic bronze tinge to it, and her braided hair was glossy black. In a woman of normal size, her features would have been considered beautiful, and her dark eyes, slightly upturned at the corners, ravishing. Mirtai, however, was not of normal size. (p. 324 of my version)

SO. MUCH. WRONG. To begin, what the heck is “normal size”? And the “exotic” bronze tinge of skin and “slightly upturned eyes”? ARGH!

JO:
I should probably leave this discussion for Domes of Fire, because there’s not much Mirtai in The Sapphire Rose.

ALEX:

Jo – indeed – but yes, that exoticising is repellant. And the whole ‘normal size’ thing makes me cross-eyed.

In the last book there was the issue of being ‘misshapen’. I couldn’t help but notice that in this one, when the Pandions are being domineering of the Elenian council, there’s the pederast Baron and Lenda and “the fat man”. Does the fat man ever get named? Fat isn’t entirely an evil thing like deformity is, in these books – Platime is fat but approaches genius-ness on the council, Patriarch Emban is very clever, and both of them are good – but it’s still always mentioned. There’s barely a reference to Emban without mention of his belly. And he uses that sometimes – to defuse tension, for instance – but I’m still not entirely comfortable with it.

TEHANI:

That’s interesting though, because both Platime and Emban are important, good characters – not presented as useless or bad people, and so I guess I read that as subverting the trope? Although there is Otha…

JO:

Even though Platime and Emban are good and important characters, their ‘fatness’ is mentioned a lot. Like it’s a personality trait.

TEHANI:

Very true.

ALEX:

Speaking of the council, I would like to declare my sympathy for Lycheas. He’s a dimwit and a pawn, but surely he deserves sympathy.

TEHANI:

Oh, I disagree! He’s not very bright and he’s been led astray I accept, but I think he knew he was doing wrong, and there were times he could have chosen another path. He was as hungry for power as the rest of them!

ALEX:

Hmm. Perhaps. How much choice did he have with a mother like that probably poisoning him from the start? (If we accept the premise of the story.) … oh wait, does that shoot my theory down, at least somewhat, given that is probably exactly the reason why he’s hungry for power? Dang.

JO:

I think the Eddings set him up to be disliked, and he simply has no say in the matter. He’s always portrayed as snivelling and pathetic and stupid. He may or may not be hungry for power, it doesn’t matter. He’s there to be a lesser baddy that everyone can look down on and routinely threaten to kill.

ALEX:

You’re saying he’s just a narrative device? SAY IT AINT SO.

A rather chilling part of this novel is the utter lack of regard for the civilians in Chyrellos, during the siege. It was really quite unpleasant reading.

JO:

I find the siege so boring I have to say that never really bothered me. The scene that does stick in my mind is when Sparhawk and an unnamed soldier witness a woman dragged into an alley and quite obviously raped (though thankfully off camera). The soldier, crying because she ‘could have been his sister’ shoots the rapist. But then the woman staggers out of the alley, sees her not-quite-dead rapist, takes his dagger and violently finishes the job and steals his loot. The soldier ‘retches’ and Sparhawk says “Nobody’s very civilised in those circumstances”.

This scene was always a WTF moment for me. When you consider Sparhawk’s career, what about her actions make them ‘uncivilised’, exactly? He does much worse things to people and is rewarded for them! Is it because she’s a woman? Or because she’s not a Church Knight and it’s okay when they do it. Or because she took the loot? I mean, seriously…?

ALEX:

Yes!! This!! I was so ANGRY at that reaction from the men – who are safe on so many levels from this sort of thing – getting all uppity about her taking revenge. I don’t like her doing it either, but I don’t like the initial rape even more.

I cried at Kurik’s funeral. Not at his death – that all happened too fast, I think – but when I got to the funeral…well, I was glad to be by myself. However, I am still suspicious of the idea of Aslade being quite so accommodating of Elys.

JO:

Kurik *sniff* :(

TEHANI:

And you know, none of that business really makes sense. Kurik is portrayed as steadfast, loyal, moral and really quite upright (even uptight?), so the fact he cheated on Aslade (and their four sons, essentially) is, well, just a bit weird. It was a useful way to have Talen important to the group, I guess, but the character path is very odd.

ALEX:

YES. Also it makes adultery completely fine, which… I know there are other ways of doing relationships than ‘conventional’ monogamy, etc etc, but not within THIS world’s framework – everyone else who does that is regarded severely. Whereas Sparhawk etc are all, “dude, no worries! Everyone sleeps around sometime, the wimmens is so attractive we can’t help it!”

JO:

YES from me too. Never felt right to me for exactly those reasons.

TEHANI:

I do like the way the Kurik’s sons talk about their “mothers” in the later books though. That said, remembering I read the Tamuli trilogy first, I was quite certain Aslade and Elys had been both married to Kurik, the way they are referred to there!

JO:

Heh yes. I can imagine. Although I was always proud of Aslade and Elys for being able to put aside their potential conflict and just get on with life. So often the relationships between women are portrayed as bitchy, jealous, spiteful things. And usually its over the attention of a man. So I appreciate that they went down the opposite path.

Actually, in the Tamuli there are a lot more examples of strong female friendship too.

TEHANI:

Some more perpetuation of stereotypes here, too. In this case, the temper of the red-head:

In Delada’s case all the cliches about red-haired people seemed to apply. (p. 282 of my version).

JO:

Yeah I thought they got a little carried away with that!

TEHANI:

And what the heck is this bit of elitism? Stragen says, Whores and thieves aren’t really very stimulating companions… (p. 410 of my version). Um, well Talen and Platime AND HIMSELF are thieves and all presented as quite stimulating! The whores get a poorer presentation, but still!

ALEX:

That bit also made me very cranky. Again with the superior attitude.

TEHANI:

And this awful bit of Ehlana characterisation:

“Would you all mind too terribly much?” Ehlana asked them in a little-girl sort of voice.

YUCK! The woman is a queen, and fully in command of herself and the power she wields, yet she resorts to that (for no reason, anyway!)?! No! We talked a bit about this in one of the earlier reviews, how the women themselves are supposed to be powerful, and there are quite a lot of them, which is nice, but the actual presentation of them really undermines this at times.

JO:

Yes! This is what’s been irritating me the whole time, and it only gets worse as the series goes on. Doesn’t matter how strong a woman is, she still resorts to hissy fits and theatrics or childishness to either get what she wants, or basically keep control of the ‘relationship’. Even Sephrenia does it in the later books! It just feels to me like the books believe that deep down, women are irrational children. OR that they will resort to acting like them as a way of keeping their men in line.

JO:

Am I the only one who finds Ehlana’s speech to the council a little…difficult to believe. All these supposedly hardened politicians/Patriarchs completely suckered in by her ‘divinely inspired’ speech? Just because she’s pretty, or something? And because she ‘fainted’?

TEHANI:

I have such a different view of the Patriarchs to you! I always read ANY of those political gatherings as being a bunch of little boys just grabbing for power, none of the “hardened” politicians at all! In fact, Eddings seems to have very little respect for political systems at all. They’re all corrupt or useless!

ALEX:

I don’t think they’re MEANT to look like that, but they sometimes do – and it’s another thing that annoys me about the Eddings portrayal of religion, because it’s JUST another instance of politics and again there’s so much uselessness and cunning and unpleasantness. Also, Ehlana manipulates them, and I think it manages to make her look silly – conniving and dangerous with the using feminine things in dangerous ways – AND it makes the Patriarchs look silly for falling for such obvious, feminine strategies. Way to go for insulting two groups there!

JO:

Last time I said that I found The Ruby Knight a lot faster-paced and more enjoyable than I remembered. I have to say the opposite for The Sapphire Rose. Oh god I was so sick of the siege by the time it ended, and it seemed to take forever to get to Zemoch. It felt like so much padding. Just destroy Azash already!

TEHANI:

Some excellent examples of Faran the human horse again:

Faran made a special point of grinding his steel-shod hooves into a number of very sensitive places on the officer’s body.

“Feel better now?” Sparhawk asked his horse.

Faran nickered wickedly. (p. 155 my version)

JO:

I could summarise the plot again but you probably don’t want me to do that this time!

They cure Ehlana. She’s all grown up now and in love with Sparhawk. They ‘accidently’ get engaged. Off to Chyrellos to stop Annias being elected Archprelate. There’s a siege which goes on forever. Then Wargun and Ehlana turn up and the siege is over. Ehlana and Sparhawk get married. They go to Zemoch with Bhelloim to kill Azash. It takes forever. They get to Zemoch. Kurik dies. Martel dies. Otha and Annias die. Azash dies. Lycheas dies. Arissa kills herself. They return to Cimmura. Everything’s peaceful, but kinda crappy, because the gods are shell-shocked by Azash’s death. Danae happens. Eventually, Aphrael and everyone go on holidays and spring returns.

ALEX:

Nice work there, Jo. I would add: Sparhawk and Ehlana get married in the same way that a person might buy a horse; Martel dies but everyone’s real sad, because actually he was decent and just led astray, y’know? And “Danae happens” means that a goddess is incarnate in a different racial family and that’s really kinda cool.

JO:

Heh, that’s awesome.

Image by Deviant artist Bowie-Spawan

Fan art of young Martel & Sparhawk by Deviant artist Bowie-Spawan

TEHANI:

Well, we’ve picked a lot of nits in the Elenium books, but final verdict on the first three? For me, I have to admit I still thoroughly enjoyed reading them, with grins and tears throughout, and the comfy blanket feeling of an old favourite that still (mostly) holds up. Although there were definitely a lot more grimaces at the rough patches than when I was younger!

ALEX:

I think I feel basically the same as you, Tehani. It really is a warm comfy blanket… with moth holes and a few scratchy bits… but a lot of love and memories holding it together.

JO:

Couldn’t agree more! I might snipe at them, but I still love these books and rereading them has been thoroughly comforting. It also reminds me what I love about reading and writing in the first place. It’s just so much fun!

 

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Eddings Reread: The Ruby Knight (Elenium 2)

Because we just don’t have enough to do, Alex, Joanne and I have decided to re-read The Elenium and The Tamuli trilogies by David (and Leigh) Eddings, and – partly to justify that, partly because it’s fun to compare notes – we’re blogging a conversation about each book. We respond to each other in the post itself, but you can find Alex’s post over here and Jo’s post here if you’d like to read the conversation going on in the comments. Also, there are spoilers!

Our review of The Diamond Throne (Elenium 1) is here.

Ruby_KnightALEX:

Sparhawk starts this book a) immediately after the end of the first one, and b) wanting someone to jump him, so that he can get all violent on some unsuspecting footpad. I don’t think I was really paying attention to that sort of thing when I was a teen. He’s actually not a very nice man a lot of the time, and that makes me sad.

JO:

It is a bit sad isn’t it :( Sparhawk’s most common reaction seems to be violence, and the narrative and tone celebrates that part of him.

TEHANI:

Alex, you say “not a very nice man” but I never read it that way (and still don’t, I guess!) – he’s a product of his culture and his time. They seem to quite happily wreak havoc on people at the drop of a hat, and he IS a knight, trained to battle!

ALEX:

OK, maybe I don’t have to be quite so sad about him – that he’s a product of his time – but still his active desire for violence does act, for me now, against my lionising of him as a teenager. He is flawed, and I’m troubled because Jo is exactly right – the narrative celebrates him and his anger/violent tendencies.

TEHANI:

You’re both completely right. I still choose to read it in the context of the book, AND STICK MY HEAD IN THE SAND. Damn. That’s the problem with rereading with a few more brains behind us, isn’t it?! Continue reading

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Eddings Reread: The Diamond Throne (Elenium 1)

Because we just don’t have enough to do, Alex, Joanne and I have decided to re-read The Elenium and The Tamuli trilogies by David (and Leigh) Eddings, and – partly to justify that, partly because it’s fun to compare notes – we’re blogging a conversation about each book. We respond to each other in the post itself, but you can find Alex’s post over here and Jo’s post here if you’d like to read the conversation going on in the comments. Also, there are spoilers!

Diamond_ThroneTEHANI:

I was feeling a little book-weary yesterday so thought I might as well start my reading for this conversational review series, given it’s usually a soothing experience. Within a single PAGE, I was reaching for Twitter, because SO MUCH of the book cried out to be tweeted! Great one-liners, the introduction of favourite characters, and, sadly, some of the not so awesome bits as well. I was having a grand time pulling out 140 character lines (#EddingsReread if you’re interested), but the response from the ether was amazing! So many people hold these books firmly in their reading history, and it was just lovely to hear their instant nostalgia.

ALEX:

And I read those tweets and everything was SO FAMILIAR that I immediately started reading as well. And finished a day later.

JO:

Ok. A) You people read too quickly! B) Tehani those tweets were enough to start me feeling all nostalgic. I was in the middle of cooking dinner and had to put everything down, run upstairs and dig the books out of their box hidden in the back of the wardrobe. Continue reading

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Cranky Ladies of History

Cranky Ladies logoSo other than my new job, the project keeping me most busy over the past month has been Cranky Ladies of History. This book began last year, when Liz Barr posted a fantastic piece on Tsaritsa Sophia Alekseyevna of Russia, terming her a “cranky lady” – this completely tickled my fancy, and I immediately thought of a bunch of brilliant writers I would love to see write about other cranky ladies of history – and the book was born. With Tansy Rayner Roberts as my co-editor, we have had stories pitched at us from all over the world, and we invited many wonderful writers to be part of the project. We decided we wanted to pay pro rates to the contributors, and to that end, we decided to try a crowd-funding campaign.

Over the course of the process, we realised that March, when we plan to run the campaign, is Women’s History Month, which is just marvellous! During the month we hope to see loads of people talking about THEIR favourite cranky ladies of history, which we will link to over on the FableCroft Blog Tour page. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun! I can’t wait to see the cranky ladies people write about – it’s going to be great!

If you would like to host, post or guest blog about one (or more!) of YOUR favourite Cranky Ladies as part of the official blog tour, please let me know! We want to plaster the internet with cranky women, and the more the merrier!

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2014 Book Cull

The rules are:

1. Every book is $2 plus postage.

2. Books will be posted in Australia Post prepaid satchels (within Australia only, sorry): up to 500g = $8; up to 3kg = $13; up to 5kg = $16

3. First to email me at editormum75@gmail.com that they want a title gets it – I will strike them out here as they are spoken for, but my apologies in advance if you miss out on any you want because of timing.

4. Once you email me your list, I will figure out the weight and give you the total including postage.

5. Payment to be made by Paypal to editormum75@gmail.com within 24 hours or the books will be relisted.

6. I need to get these out of the house ASAP, so looking for super quick sales!

7. Books range from ex-library to well-read to good to excellent condition to completely unread, and are a mixture of paperbacks, trades and hardcovers. All are perfectly readable, no pages missing or the like. Most were collected to sate a completist urge I’m trying to get rid of… :)

And, GO!

DEAN KOONTZ

The Bad Place

From the corner of his eye

photo 3 (2)

Dragon Tears

Whispers

Phantoms

Intensity

The Mask

Cold Fire

Winter Moon

The Door to December

The Voice of the Night

The Key to Midnight

Life Expectancy

Velocity

Seize the Night

The Taking 

Odd Thomas

False Memory

One Door Away from Heaven

By the Light of the Moon

Dark Rivers of the Heart

photo 2 (2)

Watchers

The Vision

The Funhouse

Forever Odd

Night Chills

Darkness Comes

Twilight Eyes

Icebound

Strangers

Sole Survivor

Strange Highways

Hideaway

Chase

Ticktock

The Eyes of Darkness

Shattered

Demon Seed

Mr Murder

Fear Nothing

Shadowfires

photo 1 (3)

The Dean Koontz Companion

photo 4

STEPHEN KING

The Dead Zone

Pet Sematary

Omnibus: The Shining, Carrie, Misery

Bag of Bones

Nightmares and Dreamscapes

Everything’s Eventual

Night Shift

Gerald’s Game

The Green Mile (set of six – original publication method)

‘Salem’s Lot

photo 1 (4)

RAYMOND FEIST

Shadow of a Dark Queen (The Serpentwar Saga 1)

Rise of a Merchant Prince (The Serpentwar Saga 2)

Rage of a Demon King (The Serpentwar Saga 3)

Shards of a Broken Crown (The Serpentwar Saga 4)

A Kingdom Besieged 

MISCELLANEOUS

A Girl Like You by Maureen Lindley

Isaac Asimov’s Camelot

Isaac Asimov’s Vampires

Dogtales! edited by Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois

Bestiary! edited by Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois

Unicorns! edited by Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois

Robots!  edited by Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois

photo 2 (3)

Death of an Empire by MK Hume

The short second life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer

The Lord of Lies by Sam Bowring

The Child of Hope by Gary Stowe

The Outcast Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

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White Cat by Holly Black

A hunger like no other by Kresley Cole

Prom Nights from Hell

Hotter than Hell by Jackie Kessler

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

A touch of dead by Charlaine Harris

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

Om Shanti Babe by Helen Limon

photo (22)

Hags, Sirens and Other Bad Girls of Fantasy edited by Denise Little

Familiars edited by Denise Little

Merlin’s Bones by Fred Saberhagen

Maiden, Matron, Crone edited by Kerrie Hughes & Martin H Greenberg

Crime Spells edited by Martin H Greenberg & Loren L Coleman

Other Earths edited by Nick Gevers & Jay Lake

Children of Magic edited by Martin H Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes

Dragon’s Eye edited by Christopher Stasheff

Swordplay edited by Denise Little

Ages of Wonder edited by Julie Czerneda & Rob St Martin

Hotel Andromeda edited by Jack L Chalker

Novel Ideas: Fantasy edited by Brian M Thomson

Magic Tales edited by Martin H Greenberg & Janet Pack

photo 1 (5)

The Orbit Science Fiction Yearbook 2 edited by David S. Garnett

The Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy edited by Mike Ashley

Dragons of Light edited by Orson Scott Card

photo 2 (4)

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