rushthatspeaks: (Default)
I am starting to have some review brain back, but only very slowly, so I'm going to be hopping around chronologically a bit with my reviews from the last nearly-a-week. I will get to them all eventually, but some books take more time and thought to write about than others.

The Crystal Stair and The Starstone are the final two of the Grace Chetwin series beginning with Gom on Windy Mountain; I've read all four of them while visiting B., as they are books he liked very much when he was younger.

And I do indeed recommend this series for younger people, though I'm not really sure it holds up for an adult. As I said about the earlier two books, they're much better than they have to be. But the last two books have a problem that I can only describe as galloping madly off in all directions at once. One of the virtues of the first book was that after it, you can't tell where the series is going; and after the second book, you still can't tell where the series is going; and the reason for this turns out to be that it is going to throw everything possible in.

Which is fun, in some ways. The third and fourth books have an interesting fusion of science fiction in with the magic-- Gom's world is very classic fantasy pseudo-medieval with vaguely Earthsea-style magic, but the plot turns out to be tangled up with some people from another set of planets entirely, who are using his world as a jumpoff point for a stargate. I always enjoy seeing people do things that are not quite expected for the genre they appear to be writing in.

But there is so much plot and so many things that fifty pages from the end of the last book I was wondering whether there was actually yet another book afterward that no one had mentioned, because I simply could not see how it was all going to wrap up. And the answer to that is 'kind of satisfactorily, but very very abruptly'.

So I think these would be good for middle-grade fantasy-lovers, because they do stretch genre boundaries, they do have thought in them, they're not extruded trendy book-product. But, unless you are as tired and ill as I've been this last while, that's as far as my recommendation goes.
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
The second of Grace Chetwin's books with Gom as protagonist; you could start here.

The thing I found most interesting about the first book (day before yesterday) was the way that I couldn't tell where the series was going at all. I can kind of tell now, after the second book, but this is still a lot more open-ended than many things I can think of. It seems to be structured more around general life milestones than around specific worldbuilding hooks, so that the first book is 'protagonist's childhood' and the second is 'protagonist decides what to do with his life', and the worldbuilding, which does exist, turns up insofar as it interacts with these things.

I rather like this approach, because quite often you get the protagonist going out into the world and stumbling on The Plot, whereas these books do have a plot, but it comes up in the same way that story-arcs work in daily real life, so that the plot is a concretion of associations concerning the things and people who happen to be around. I mean, there are also things and people who have prior involvement with Gom out there, business of their own with him and so on. But you don't get the impression (and it's an impression I get too often with some books) that everyone was sitting about waiting for him to turn up so they could finally exist.

So, again, not Great Amazing Literature or anything, but gently enjoyable, perfectly pleasant, better than it had to be.
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
A book from B.'s childhood, which I read as a) I had never really heard of the series and b) he has all of them.

This is that interesting thing, the first book of a series from which the series could go in any direction. It is the protagonist's childhood and backstory prior to setting off into the world, and as it is limited in scope, there is no way to tell what kind of world he is going to set off into. There could be anything out there and it would not surprise me much.

At any rate, our protagonist is Gom, who is the son of a woodcutter and the strange woman who appeared in his house, married him, bore him ten children and then vanished. Gom, unlike anyone else in his family or surroundings, can talk to animals, the wind, and various other forces, but isn't aware that this is peculiar.

Mostly this is a quiet, domestic sort of book about living in a wild space, and the ways in which a person who lives on the outskirts of society can and can not afford to be different, and about the mountain itself and the turning of the seasons and the animals. It does nothing that I haven't seen before, but it does it very well, and in a kindly and pleasant tone, and the magic is well done. I could wish it were more different from everything else out there, but this is a book that achieves its goals perfectly; that they are modest goals does not detract from that.

And I really do find it impressive that after an entire book I have no idea of the overall direction or plot of the series. I know the protagonist, and a little bit of what he can do, and what the tiny place he grew up in was like. The rest is as conjectural to me as to him, and that is very rare.

So, a pleasant thing, although I would not go to great effort to seek this book out, necessarily; but if you find yourself alone with it for an hour or two, it will not go amiss.

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