fantasy · General

M is for Magic

Magic is the thing I like best in books, especially in fantasy. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice with Micky Mouse and Sword in the Stone were probably the first fantasy I ever watched.

I loved Sword in the Stone and watched it over and over again.

These movies have no rules – not that I remember! – not like the rules of magic I countered in later books. But I love them anyway.

This is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on YouTube:

I think, despite how old they both are, these two movies are still as good as when they were first made. And The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was first made in 1940 and The Sword in the Stone in 1963.

Book Review · fantasy · General

Book Review: Tricks of the Trade by Laura Anne Gilman

Goodreads: WHEN MAGIC GOES WRONG, WHO ARE YOU GOING TO CALL?

The name’s Torres, Bonnie Torres, and I’m a paranormal scene investigator—rooting out the truth about crimes of magic. It’s dangerous and boring and scary and fascinating. Though not everyone in the Cosa Nostradamus is happy we’re around, which can make things…tricky.

Working two cases—looking into a murder for the NYPD, and a rich man’s break-in—should be well within our abilities. But when things start getting weird in the Electric Apple, Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations is stretched to the limits, trying to keep one step ahead and out of trouble. Add in rumors of a powerful creature gunning for us and it’s not just our rep on the line this time—if we don’t solve this case, everyone will suffer.

Fortunately, around here, when the going gets weird, the weird hire us.…

I enjoyed Tricks of the Trade. It’s doesn’t move at a breakneck speed, but it’s not slow. It just kind of advances at a very steady, moderate kind of pace.

Tricks of the Trade is the third in Paranormal Scene Investigations. It’s like a magic CSI: NY. Sometime between the last book and this one, the team got a new player and I really think Ms. Gilman ought to do a short story or two detailing her interview and subsequent disaster in the field (referred to by the characters, but not in any detail.)

This time they have two cases and Bonnie gets to investigate each in turn. One involves a robbery, the other a murder. The robbery is pretty interesting. 😉 It’s not quite what it seems.

Bonnie is more mature than in the last two books. She has seen so much, poor girl, it disturbs her. Her teammates have found out about her relationship with Ben, and yes, at the end of the book they even kissed! Nothing else, sadly. They have accepted their attraction to each other, and I think it had something to do with how the robbery case was resolved. 😉

An ending which, by the way, I didn’t see coming. (I didn’t see the ending in the last book coming, either). But it’s pretty much the only way it could have ended. You can’t really ask anything else of the perfect ending. 😉

There is no information on what this Merge thing between actually is. Bonnie hasn’t talked to her mentor/adopted father about it and I really think she should.

But the most hilarious thing in this book is that one of the bosses, Ian, apparently cannot parse evidence. He can’t keep his own magic from tainting the evidence. And really that is the whole premise of the book – to process evidence like magical CSI techs. I just found it funny he couldn’t do that. But his job is political schmoozing, so it works out.

Robin the Trickster also shows up in this story. My other favorite scene was when people are screaming because the train won’t come, the shuttle won’t come and people are screaming at the poor cops who telling them it will come, just be patient. The trickster is cackling to himself, and than some cabs show up to take the poor stranded strap-hangers to their destination. Robin the Trickster is baffled and decides to think up other ways to spread mischief in the city.

The weak point of this novel are the POV changes. It’s not that the happen a lot, they don’t, but sometimes the change in voice isn’t clear. Different POV characters sound the same. Especially when they don’t spend time talking to other people and the scene takes place mostly in their heads. I suspect that’s why some other people were confused by the POV changes.

Grade: B-

Book Review · fantasy · reading

Book Review: Scholar by L. E. Modesitt

From Goodreads: Hundreds of years before the time of Imager, the continent of Lydar is fragmented.  Years of war have consolidated five nations into three–Bovaria, Telaryn, and Antiago. Quaeryt is a scholar and a friend of Bhayar, the young ruler of Telaryn. Worried about his future and the escalating intrigues in Solis, the capital city, Quaeryt persuades Bhayar to send him to Tilbor, conquered ten years earlier by Bhayar’s father, in order to see if the number and extent of occupying troops can be reduced so that they can be re-deployed to the border with warlike Bovaria.

Quaeryt has managed to conceal the fact that he is an imager, since the life expectancies of imagers in Lydar is short. Just before Quaeryt departs, Bhayar’s youngest sister passes a letter to the scholar-imager, a letter that could well embroil Quaeryt in the welter of court politics he had hoped to leave behind. On top of that, on his voyage and journey to Tilbor he must face pirates, storms, poisonings, attempted murder, as well as discovering the fact that he is not quite who he thought he was. To make it all worse, the order of scholars to which he belongs is jeopardized in more ways than one.

Quaeryt supplements his income by imaging coins from whatever copper or silver is lying around. He tried to make gold coins once, but the effort nearly killed him. 😉

He is ship-wrecked, attacked, half-drowned and spends the second half of the book in a war zone. He is shot with a crossbow and hits people with a staff.

Despite all that Scholar contains very few fights, chases, slashing at the bad guys and things like that. That isn’t surprising; Quaeryt has a bad leg and doesn’t have any weapons training. All he has is his imaging abilities to protect him. And he can’t even acknowledge his imager abilities.

So the lack of fights is not surprising, but it is slightly disappointing. The last few imager novels had lots and lots of action, but the imager in question was a cop. Maybe I am spoiled. 😉

There are a lot of politics and a few philosophical discussions. Well, lectures – Quaeryt  gives homilies when the local priest is not available. He acts like a scholar; he spends lots of time reviewing records, interviewing people and things like that.

Scholar starts slow and that doesn’t sound interesting. But events move so you constantly wonder what’s going to happen next, where the book is going and so on. You want  (well, I want!) to turn the page. In fact, I got so into this book, I neglected Tricks of the Trade. (I have an ARC for Tricks of the Trade, and its back cover copy sounds a lot more interesting.)

Also, the book says Quaeryt has goals for imagers and scholars both. It never outlines them. But whatever they are, I suspect they are related to the position of imagers in the previous books.

The bad guy dies. There are questions, but no one can finger Quaeryt. That isn’t surprising; I pretty much expected Quaeryt to kill the bad guy like he did.

No, the surprise here is his engagement. This is only took me by surprise because I am so familiar with Modesitt’s other books. The hero always has a smart and beautiful SO. But marriage always takes more effort. You never get to the end and have the girl’s family announce the engagement without so much as a by-your-leave!

I expect the wedding will be in the next book and bring Quaeryt a whole host of new problems.

Scholar is stand-alone. You could read it without needing to read the other three books.

General · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Tricks of the Trade by Laura Anne Gilman, part 2

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read

* Open to a random page

* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

Still reading Tricks of the Trade. Haven’t finished yet because I got distracted by Scholar by L. E. Modesitt. (Scholar was excellent.)

My Teasers:

“I’m allll about the girl pants,” Nick said in a singsong falsetto, picking up the tail end of our conversation. I wasn’t looking at him, but from the solid whap-noise, I was guessing that someone – probably Sharon – had just slapped him upside the head to shut him up before my visitor to our table.

– Tricks of the Grade by Laura Anne Gilman

Related articles
General · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Scholar

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read

* Open to a random page

* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

A perfect two lines for my teasers this time!

Yet . . . by capitalizing our names and the names of others, we are declaring that we are special, that we have a greater identity or are of greater import to the world than do those objects or creatures who the share the same common name, such as trees, or rocks, or pebbles, or ants, or cattle. At times, people name animals, especially those that are loved or that have served faithfully, and those names accord them somehow a higher place than animals that bear no names.

– Scholar by L. E. Modesitt

General · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Tricks of the Grade by Laura Anne Gilman

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read

* Open to a random page

* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

My Teasers:

“Ok. Okay.” She wasn’t happy about heading all the way out there, but apparently so long as it didn’t involve having to the leave the City, she could deal with it. Shar was our only born-and-bred New Yorker – I didn’t count, having spent of my teens in Boston – and sometimes that just shone through.

– Tricks of the Grade by Laura Anne Gilman

I have to say, I sympathize with Shar. Not that I am a born-and-bred New Yorker. 😉

But who wants to go anywhere without decent public transportation, huh?

fantasy · Teaser Tuesdays · work in progress · Writing

Writerly Teaser Tuesday: fight

This is my truncated fight. It was supposed to be a complete fight scene, but when I got to it, I realized it wasn’t going to be. Instead I wrote this:

An outraged yell erupted from his throat and he ran forward. I called my magic to me, and when I did, the human-seeming glamour fell. The glamour that allowed me to pass for a normal mage stayed in place; it was too strong to break so easily. His eyes widened as he sensed my magic, than turned and tried to sprint to the back. Instead, he tripped on the woman he’d been leeching from and fell hard on his face.

I pushed my way past dazed leecher addicts. Mags tried to scramble away, but I grabbed his arms and shoved him back down. His head cracked on the floor. That must not have hurt enough, because green witch fire engulfed my boots. It was like a bonfire opened up under my booted feet. I kicked his ribs, hard, and he yelped. Cowardly leecher. The fire disappeared, but the smell of burned leather stayed in the air. Another spell slithered around his aura, scrolling bands of pale green, something bigger than witch fire to show up like that. I pinned his arms to the floor and forced them back. He screamed, high and shrill, the spell vanishing from his aura. Pain made it hard to focus enough to cast a spell.

Ropes of my own magic pooled in my hands and wrapped around my wrists; the normal-mage glamour made it look blue with the odd green splotch. I readied the binding spell in my head and –

Heat and sharp pieces of something hit my back. I dove sideways, hands covering my head, found myself on top of the woman Mags had been leeching from. She was curled in a fetal position, head pillowed in her arms and moaned softly. Her naked back was bloody and covered with splinters. Little hot balls of pain struck the back of my head. Small black beads littered the floor around me and spattered against the walls. Lines and circles of green whirled in the air, dark at first, lightening as the spell ran out of strength.