Friday, 2 August 2013

July books

I haven't done a monthly round-up since I can't remember when. Some of the month's books deserve more than just a couple of lines, but life is very busy at present (sigh), and this is better than nothing.

Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg: I haven't quite finished this yet. It's a first detective novel set in Toronto and was written by a criminal lawyer, so not surprisingly, court scenes play a large part. The two policeman involved are interesting characters (one is an ex-lawyer) and I'd be surprised if the author hasn't brought them back in his next book; some of the other characters, too, I should think. Judge Summers is too good for just one book.*

Deep Secret** by Diana Wynne-Jones: I do so love a DWJ story! In this one, Rupert Venables is looking for a new recruit to the select team of Magids who oversee parallel universes. The last Earth Magid to die has left a list of possible successors (and has quite a lot to say on the subject in his disembodied form!) - there are five people on the list but Rupert immediately loathes the only one he can actually find. He's also having tremendous trouble with the Koryfos Empire, a troubled world that is falling apart. Rupert suspects that the Magids actually want it to crash and burn, but he's met some of the people involved and he can't quite bring himself to leave them to their fate.

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett: this was a re-read; I'd just finished I Shall Wear Midnight and wanted to go back to the first book in which the witches appeared. It was a slightly odd sensation, because Granny Weatherwax is such a hugely powerful character in the Tiffany Aching series, but in Equal Rites she seems rather homely, if exceedingly shrewd. Really, she grows in stature throughout the Discworld canon, which is as it should be, I suppose. Great fun, anyway, and will bring on a Discworld binge, I suspect.

 Persephone by L.M. Boston: this deserves much more than a couple of lines so I'll try to come back to it later. It's a book ripe for reissue, I think, a coming-of-age novel set just after the war. No one who knows Boston's Green Knowe books will be surprised by its passages of lyricism, nor that it also features her own house at Hemingford Grey.

A Price for Everything by Mary Sheepshanks: I found this after hearing the author on Desert Island Discs, where she talked briefly about her writing. Her books sounded as though they might be rather like Rosamund Fitzroy's Mallamshire series - lots of county folk struggling to make ends meet. My surmise was pretty accurate, and I enjoyed it, but I must admit that I remember almost nothing about it. Good summer reading and certainly nothing to complain about!

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett: I think I might like the Tiffany Aching books best of all the Discworld novels, thought the minute I say that I remember how much I like Sam Vimes and the Night Watch, or the Unseen Academy, or...well, if you're a Pratchett fan you'll have your own favourites, I expect! This one takes Tiffany to Ankh-Morpork, so we get some of the best of all worlds. Pratchett is at his absolute peak when he's talking about the power of stories, so we're in very safe hands. Not quite as sublime as Wintersmith, but pretty damn good.

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey: if you like Kate Griffin's Matthew Swift books, Amazon told me, you should like this. And I did. Magic in London, and the first in a series.

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss: what can I say about Patrick Rothfuss? When I started reading The Name of the Wind, which precedes this book, it seemed a little over-familiar. Another nascent wizard dragged out of the gutter and unwillingly accepted for training, I thought, bits of this quest and that epic put together with the names changed. By the time I was a third of the way through I was completely under his spell, and beginning to appreciate just how much he subverts the tired old epic fantasy series. Waiting for the next one is a nails-down-the-blackboard experience, and there's no sign of it yet. Please keep writing, Mr Rothfuss, no time wasted going to cons or making public appearances.

Untying the Knot by Linda Gillard - re-read: My interview with Linda on the re-issue of this book can be found here. If you read the interview when it first appeared, you'll know I admire her writing immensely. You should definitely add her to your to-be-read list.

* Now finished it, and yes, the same characters - or at least, some of them - do reappear in the next book.

** Corrected, I was determined to rename it when I posted; thanks , Librarian!