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Reviews from October 2019 (21)

Art to Enchant

Hild  (Light of the World, book 1)

By Nicola Griffith  

17 Oct, 2019

Special Requests

0 comments

2013’s Hild is the first volume in Nicola Griffith’s Light of the World historical series. 

Hild is the second daughter of Prince Hereric Yffing. Alas, Hereric was Hereric the Hapless. He was deposed, exiled, and poisoned, leaving his widow and children in an awkward position. Their existence makes them a potential threat to the ruler who deposed and exiled the former king: Edwin Snakebeard. Hild’s uncle. 

Flight would be a chancy strategy. Hild chooses to submit to the new king and make herself useful. Young Hild becomes the king’s seer. 


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Holding Out For a Hero

A Hero Born  (Legends of the Condor Heroes, book 1)

By Jin Yong  

16 Oct, 2019

Translation

2 comments

1957’s Shediao Yingxiong Zhuan is a wuxia novel by Jin Yong (Louis Cha). 2019’s A Hero Born is Anna Holmwood’s English translation of the first part of the work, collectively known in English as Legends of the Condor Heroes. 

Everything is going swimmingly in Southern Song era China, provided one is not a Southern Song era Han Chinese. In the north, Jin is slowly encroaching on the remnant of China left after the Jin crushed the Northern Song in the previous century. To the west, the Mongols, long divided into contending tribes, have a leader ready to unite his nation into one unparalleled force. 

In the South, the Han Chinese have to prevail against foreign raids and flamboyantly corrupt officials. It is up to heroes like Ironheart Yang and his best friend Skyfury Guo to defend the Chinese against the Jin, the Mongols and most importantly, the Chinese. 


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Yet In My Dreams I’d Be

Cults of Prax

By Steve Perrin & Greg Stafford  

13 Oct, 2019

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

3 comments

Steve Perrin and Greg Stafford’s 1979 booklet Cults of Prax is a source book for the venerable RuneQuest roleplaying game. It was, I believe, the second publication in the RuneQuest line. Cults of Prax outlines the religions found in Prax, a wasteland adjacent to the Dragon Pass region featured in the original rule set. This booklet fleshed out the backstory to the world of Glorantha, the setting used for most (but not all) editions of RuneQuest. 

The somewhat dry material was spiced up with comments from a wandering trader with long experience of the peoples of the Prax region. 

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All The Best

Gideon the Ninth

By Tamsyn Muir  

8 Oct, 2019

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

2 comments

Tamsyn Muir’s 2019 Gideon the Ninth is the first volume in a space opera series that may be as yet unnamed (a sequel, Harrow the Ninth, will be out in 2020). 

Gideon Nav, of poorly documented parentage, has been indentured to the Ninth House since she was an infant. 

The Ninth House is known by other names: the Keepers of the Locked Tomb, House of the Sewn Tongue, and the Black Vestals, for example. Nowhere are the houses of necromancy given any names that would suggest the they are fun places to live. No, they are not fun. Gideon has been scheming escape ever since she was old enough to form the thought of leaving. None of her efforts have succeeded … yet. Why let a 100% failure rate keep her from trying? 

As the story begins, Gideon is preparing another escape attempt, one that will surely succeed! 


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A Fly On Your Wall

Danny Dunn, Invisible Boy  (Danny Dunn, book 13)

By Raymond Abrashkin & Jay Williams  

6 Oct, 2019

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

7 comments


Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams’ 1974 Danny Dunn, Invisible Boy is a juvenile SF story. It is the thirteenth (and third last) novel in the Danny Dunn series. 

Scolded and humiliated when his paper airplane bounces off his English teacher mid-class, Danny Dunn wonders if his life would be better if he could be invisible at will. He discusses the matter with his chums Irene and Joe. Joe, who has been reading mysteries, suggests that misdirection is the best way to attain practical invisibility. Danny would prefer true invisibility, but is willing to give misdirection a try. The trio tries to use misdirection to steal cookies under the nose of Danny’s mom; they fail abjectly. 

But Mrs. Dunn’s scientist employer, Professor Bullfinch, uses the distraction provided by the trio’s attempt to actually steal some cookies. Crumbs on the professor’s shirt give the game away. 

This gives Danny to think. It reminds Danny that his mom’s boss is a brilliant if impractical genius. If anyone could figure out true invisibility, surely it would be Bullfinch 

Nope.


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Legend in My Living Room

Demons of Shanghai

By Hiromu Arakawa  

2 Oct, 2019

Translation

2 comments

Hiromu Arakawa’s 2000 Demons of Shanghai (Shanghai Yōmakikai) was a short-lived urban-fantasy manga. 

Shanghai in 2050 is a thoroughly modern city with thoroughly modern amenities. Alas, it is also home to more traditional beings: gods, demons, and other supernatural entities. Such creatures are more than the city officials, even the police, can manage. 

For those, the city has no choice but to reluctantly call on the Demon Taoists Corporation.


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