Read Recently — Godzilla of Souls

Godzilla On My Mind: Fifty years of the King of Monsters by William Tsutsui

A fun little book that’s mostly a look at the author’s experience of Godzilla, though he does do a little (unscientific) research into finding out why people like the King of the Monsters. He examines the history of the films, and looks as well at some of the heirs to Godzilla, including the disastrous and stupid 1998 american version. I found that I disagreed with him regarding the relative value of the original “Showa series” of films versus the 80s/90s “Heisei series” and what it is that makes them better; my opinion was exactly the opposite of his on that matter.

Still, a light read and recommended for G-Fans both serious and casual.

Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold

There seems to be a conspiracy to drive me crazy by making me wait and wait for the mass market paperback edition of every book I want; some are even coming out in hardcover and then Trade paperback before finally, if ever, coming out in MMPB. I hate it.

Paladin of Souls is a sequel to Bujold’s earlier the Curse of Chalion. It tells the story of Ista, the mother of the Queen of the nation of Chalion, which is loosely based on medieval Spain (they use other words than Queen or King, but that’s what they mean, and why confuse you?). Ista has recently seen her country released from a terrible curse that only a few people knew about. Once a saint, she was taken for mad for a very long time, and not all of the people around her believe that she is fully recovered.

Seeking an escape from the smothering confines of her present life, Ista decides to go on a pilgrimage, visiting out-of-the-way shrines, not praying because she’s really had enough of the Gods for a while. But then, while they are travelling, one of her company is attacked by a demon-posessed bear, and the demon passes into his body when he kills the bear. This is bad, but then they are threatened by a band of raiders from Jokona, one of the countries to the north, where they hold slightly different religious beliefs from Chalion and are willing to kill over the difference. Ista and most of her party are taken hostage, because of the possibility of good ransom. Then a local lord rescues them, setting them free but bringing them to his castle, and that’s when the real problems start. Before it’s over, Ista will have to solve a mystery, confront sorcerors and demons, and come to terms with the Gods again–this time face-to-face.

Bujold is an excellent writer at the worst of times, and in this book she’s on top of her game. Highly recommended. You don’t even have to read the Curse of Chalion first, though you should cause you’ll enjoy that one, too.

Ghosts in the Snow by Tamara Siler Jones

I didn’t like this one. I spent a lot of time trying to work out why not, and I had a whole entry about this and Paladin of Souls, and I did something I wot not what, and it all went away. Screw it. It’s a mystery/otherworld fantasy, and it just didn’t work for me. I didn’t believe the characters, I didn’t believe the world (what we are shown of it, which isn’t much), and I don’t want to go back through it again to spell out why you should avoid it (and maybe you shouldn’t avoid it; maybe it will work for you though it didn’t for me).

Not recommended.

The Hob’s Bargain by Patricia Briggs

In the land around the village of Fallbrook, magic is forbidden by law. Those who are found to have magical abilities are given a choice: to be bound to a “bloodmage”, the only practitioners allowed, or be put to death. Aren’s family is stricken with such abilities; her grandmother could heal and her brother chose to commit suicide rather than become a bloodmage. So Aren hides the fact that she has visions, even from her new and much beloved husband.

I should mention that not all things the bloodmages do are evil; they made Fallbrook’s settlement possible by binding the wild magic and the creatures that come with it. And the only thing Aren knows about Hobs is that one of the mountains over the village is named Hob’s Mountain. No one now knows why.

Then one morning Aren has a vision while her husband is heading out to the fields to work, but she can’t tell what it means. Only when she is heading down to the cellar to get some meat does she learn: raiders. She is fortunate enough to be able to hide in the cellar while they ransack the house and barn, but that doesn’t prevent more visions: the deaths of her husband, father and brother (filling out the vision she’d had earlier). And she sees a bloodmage strip the magic from the land, freeing the wild magic again.

In the aftermath of the raiders, Aren’s whole life changes. Her whole family is dead. The village is isolated from the rest of the land and threatened by raiders and wild fay. Aren has come out in the open with her visions. A vision lets Aren find the Hob of the title, the last of his kind in this area, awakened from his sleep when the Wild came back. She has reason to believe that he is a capable fighter, as well as a trickster. Maybe he can help defend the village? But will he? What bargain will he want for his help?

Highly recommended.


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