fantasy · reading

On Reading Character Descriptions

So I was reading a book today – Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines. Good book. Funny. Odd. Has a type of magic that sounds ideal for a reader such as myself. LOL

Anyway. One of the characters, a sexy, hot dryad bodyguard, is vaguely described. I pictured her like a sexy female warrior, you know? Like Xena, the warrior princess. Buffy. Lara Croft. Catwoman. Other characters like that.

But when she was finally described, she was described as a fat woman. Well, so not what I was picturing! Okay, okay, so when someone tells the character is a sexy female warrior, I am really not picturing anyone overweight. That may not be PC, but it’s just not.

But that’s not the weird part. No. Jim Hines described this character like that – by size, I mean, not by hair or eyes or weapons or clothes or something else – maybe three times. Always at the perfect moments, of course, when the main character would most notice it (i. e. when he was out of his head with magic and didn’t remember who or what he was. Or wondering what he was doing with a woman in love with someone else.)

It’s just that each time Jim Hines described her, I was a little surprised because I had somehow forgotten it between descriptions and then when she was described again, it screwed with my mental image of her. It happened about three times. This forgetfulness might have been helped by large gaps between each reading. Even so.

It’s odd. That she is over weight isn’t important in the story – it doesn’t bother her, it doesn’t get in the way of anything, it isn’t important, it just enhances her own sex appeal. There is no drama, which is why Jim Hines doesn’t refer to it all that often. Plus, that probably helps the reader form their own mental picture of the character.

That’s why I was doing, twice in direct contrast to how she was actually described. That bothers me. Makes me wonder how many other characters I have done that to and never noticed.

Also, has anyone else done that? Someone please tell me they have and that I am not alone in this.


Have you ever reread a book and found that your opinion changed?


Today’s Musing Monday question over at Should Be Reading is: Have you ever reread a book and found that your opinion changed?

Yes, but mostly books that I loved in high school. Distance fogs the mind, I think. LOL

Plus, I think I have less patience now. Less time, too, which may translate into less patience. LOL

So, yeah. And my inner editor is a lot stronger than she used to be and sometimes makes reading a difficult experience on occasion. Note, only on occasion. Mostly, my editor leaves my reading activities alone and only comes out to play when it’s a book I’ve heard a lot about and really want to like.

Anyway. I think I have become a less patient, more critical reader since high school. I see awkwardness I didn’t before; I can’t ignore large, confusing tracts of prose anymore; plot holes are both more obvious and annoying than before; I can’t ignore words that drop in from no where, completely out of wack with the character and setting. It’s easier to see clichés, easier to predict where the story is going and what’s going to happen.

It probably helps me become a better writer, but a better reader? I am not sure.



Book Review: Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard


Blurb from GoodReads:

Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan the capital of the Aztecs. The end of the world is kept at bay only by the magic of human sacrifice. A Priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. Acatl, High Priest, must find her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead.

This book is pretty damn good. A lot better than I expected. I have to admit, I read the blurb and decided it couldn’t be interesting. I mean, the whole Aztec blood magic thing. I wasn’t into it.

But it’s really good. I stayed up too late to read this and I really like it. The end is perfect. I did not see it coming, but at the same time, it makes perfect sense. Really. Just the kind of ending I like best.

I have to admit, I wasn’t too crazy about the book when I first heard about it. The idea of an Aztec priest and a murder mystery. I mean, the Aztecs are known for blood sacrifice, human and otherwise. I figured there would be both in the book and I wasn’t crazy about the idea.

But it’s not bad. Yes, they sacrifice animals and the temple keeps a collection of animals to sacrifice. And there are mentions of a new king having to go and gather prisoners for sacrifice to prove himself fit to be king. It’s a little disturbing, but that’s not the focus.

The writer gives all the characters Aztec names. There is a lot about the gods, what sacrifices each like, what offends them, the other temples, about the government. How the king becomes king and the politics surrounding both (both meaning the temple and the government). I don’t know how much of it is real and how much is made up out of whole cloth, but I loved it. World building is one of the things I love most and this was pretty fantastic.

The main character has personal issues – issues with his brother, his father, his choice to become a priest instead of a warrior. Despite a lifetime as a priest, he’s still struggling with all of those issues. Due to someone else’s political muddling, he became the High Priest of his order. It’s a role he still needs to grow into. He’s not exactly leading it at the beginning.

I thought he was a woman at the beginning, too. LOL Well, it’s written in 1st POV and it has the feel of a lot of urban fantasy novels so . . . yeah. I thought he was a girl. Most urban fantasies are written from the female POV so I think I might be forgiven.

Despite the Aztec world, the lack of sex, it feels a lot like urban fantasy to. But if you associate urban fantasy with a paranormal version of our world, instead of the other elements, this one might feel more like traditional fantasy to you. IMO, it’s a most wonderful mix of the two.

The most memorable part for me was when our hero discovers the first villain of the piece (a pawn, more like, who allowed herself to be used unto death) gives herself to another temple rather face immediate death. The temple will prepare her and drown her as a sacrifice to their goddess. Their goddess likes her sacrifices to be drowned and not killed in some other way.

I do recommend Servant of the Underworld.


reading · Writing

On Lassitude and Not Writing

Writing is the one of those you need to keep doing or you lose the knack of it. Me, I just haven’t been feeling it this past week. It’s a long time for me to go without writing so much as a single line. It’s odd.

I am more interested in reading than writing. The rewrite is going well enough and I know what I want to change, I just haven’t been motivated to do it. I don’t know why.

Maybe I am just tired. I don’t feel flat-out exhausted. Just more of a continuous low level sort of tiredness. Which is not an excuse – if I have the energy to read three full length novels this week, shouldn’t I have the energy to write a couple pages?

Yeah, three novels. I’ve gotten more reading this week than the last few weeks. Which is good in one way, but not so good in others.

But I am starting again. I am going to take this week start from where I left off last time and get closer to the end point. I will find the energy. Somewhere. This feeling of lassitude will go away. I dislike lassitude.


Friday Flash: Today’s Project

This was inspired by a twitter conversation. 😉

He pondered the matted, insane hair of today’s project. His best project. Framed posters of bestsellers covered the walls, but today her screen was blank. The cursor blinked.

He poked a finger through her head. The inside of her skull felt like brushing dozens of thorns. He frowned and stirred with his finger.

Low mutters rose from her: “Come on, come on. Come on. I pay Muse, Inc good money and you had best come up with something.”

Nothing quickened in her. He sighed. He hated moments like this. There was no help for it. He needed to put more in her than just his finger.

He took a deep breath and dove for her head. Just like jumping off a high tree, through branches and brambles, to land inside her head.

No wonder nothing he couldn’t get through her head. It was a mess. Like a hurricane had come and gone. Nothing but debris and dirt here. He made a mental note to add additional charges for cleaning to her account this month.

Only one thing he could do now. He reached up and took control of her fingers.

“Yes. Yes! More.”

He snorted as her cries rose into the air. And the world thought she was a genius.