May 12th, 2014


two additions

1. With the Reader: War for the Oaks Kickstarter closing at 4 Central Time, I hear that it now has a Pamela Dean essay included in the photo book. Very, very cool. Go, little Kickstarter, go!

2. You can add to the pool of dragons in my friend Marie Brennan’s Memoirs of Lady Trent series if you want to design your own. Write up a description of no more than two hundred words of your new dragon or draconic cousin sub-species, send it to with the subject line “DRAGON: [your dragon name here],” and if your dragon is among the chosen ones, you’ll get an ARC of the new book, which is full of sea serpents. I should totally do this, because I can easily be bought with sea serpents, but since I often get ARCs as a reviewer, I’m going to leave it to those of you who imagine draconic species but don’t usually get sent free sea-serpenty books. But think of your 12-year-old self (or if you are 12, think of yourself): “you just write a short description of a new kind of dragon, and if they like it, they send you a free fantasy novel.” That’s a pretty good deal.

(If you start noodling with dragons and writing it up and think, “Wait, this new kind of dragon is too awesome to give to Marie Brennan, I will go write my own dragon story,” I bet she would consider that a pretty nifty outcome too. More dragons for everybody! But no free book in that case.)

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux


Valour and Vanity, by Mary Robinette Kowal

Review copy provided by Tor.

This is the fourth in Mary Robinette Kowal’s series of Regency fantasies. Two of the things that I like about it may seem contradictory, but I don’t think that they are. I think that it stands alone better than the previous two volumes–that it is a better jumping-in point than any other volume since the first, basically, and that’s valuable in an ongoing series. And I also think that it follows up on a character/emotional situation from the end of the third volume that I felt ended abruptly. I don’t think these two things are at all contradictory: the particular situation is one that can be introduced very smoothly into the text at the beginning of this volume and ramify throughout, but it had nagged at me since the end of volume three, and I was very glad to see it addressed here.

Jane and Vincent remain the main characters, and in fact one of the things that makes this volume stand alone fairly well is that they are traveling to Venice, leaving their friends and relations behind as they develop ideas for linking their new glamour (magic) skills and the Venetian glass industry. Venice, however, does not welcome them with open arms. Venice, in fact, is full of swindlers and con artists, though there are also some decent people they can trust–the trick, of course, is sorting out who. There are police and noblemen, nuns and puppeteers, glassblowers and glamour pupils, and which of them are out to steal the obscuring glamours–and with what allies and for what purposes.

I love glassblowing, and I love consequences, and this has both. There are even non-metaphorical fires: the cover is not misleading as so many fantasy novels with fiery covers are. If you’ve been keeping up with the series, this is a worthy entry; if you haven’t, go ahead and start here if you like.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux