Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Read-Along Week One

hundred-thousandAs The Republic of Thieves read-along came to a close, several of the participants involved decided to keep the spirit going.   But without a new entry in the Gentleman Bastards series coming from Scott Lynch any time soon, the big question was what should be read next.

Enter N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

I’ve had the novel on my to be read pile for quite a while now.  The read along seemed like a great chance to finally move it off the pile and maybe find out what the buzz surrounding the book is all about.

So, here’s my first entry in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Read-Along.   For the first week, the conversation covers the first nine chapters of the book.  This week’s questions were kindly provided by Dab of Darkness.   And if you want to know more, the read along is hosted by On Starships & DragonwingsLittle Red Reviewer, and Violin in a Void.  You can even find the schedule for reading HERE if you’d like to join the fun.

1) We’ve met our narrator, Yeine. What are your first impressions? Do you like the chosen form of story telling so far? 

My first impression of Yeine is that she’s not quite as innocent as she appears or wants us to believe.   While she’s a novice in coming to the world of her grandfather and doesn’t quite yet understand why he sent for her, I have a feeling she is far more ready and able to play the game of politics than she’s lead us to believe so far.  It’s nothing I can necessarily put my finger on yet, though Yeine has dropped a few hints that she knows more than she’s revealing to us just yet.  So far, I like her but I am not necessarily sure I entire trust her

Interestingly, I was able to download the audio version of the book and listened to a chapter or two this week.  Part of it was to get the recommended pronunciation of  names is this universe and part of it was that I was curious to see if the novel’s conversational style worked better as a spoken narrative.  I think it does work a bit better there — it certainly makes the short asides that Yeine gives us at several points in various chapters feel a bit less awkward.   I am hoping that as the novel moves forward and I become more accustomed to the style of the book, these will cease to  be as much of a distraction on the printed page as they were in this first section

2) Yeine essentially has two families – the Darre (her father’s people) and the Arameri (her mother’s people). What do you think of her two halves? Do you think one will win out over the other within Yeine?
I think we’re going to find that Yeine is the best and worst of both worlds.  I have a feeling that early on in her interactions at the court, that her mother’s influence is the largest on her. But I believe that as we continue to delve into her father’s world and just why her grandfather summoned her that some conflicts will begin to arise.  (And I say this not having read past chapter nine yet…so if you’ve read ahead, please don’t tell me if I am right or wrong).

3) We meet the Enefa, the enslaved gods. Which do you wish to know the backstory to the most? What do you think of their enslavement?
I’m remind of the old adage that history is written by the victors.  I’m curious to see what led to the Enefa becoming slaves, especially given that they’re gods within this universe. As for the backstory, I’m not sure who I’m most curious about just yet.  Lots of mysteries abound, so far.

4) Nahadoth finally catches up to Yeine and his first words and actions are mysteries to her. Gibbering or meaning?
I have a feeling that it’s a bit of both.

5) We’ve met the competition for the unspoken throne – Lady Scimina and Lord Relad. How do you think they will complicate Yeine’s life?
I get the feeling that Scimina and Relad are two ends of the spectrum in terms of how they act and that Yeine may be more of a “middle” person.  She is clearly a bit confused and overwhelmed by her new situation and status.  I get the feeling that Scimina or Relad could influence her over to their way of thinking or choices if Yeine is not careful.   Or that they could become an ally long enough to discredit her or betray her.

6) The Enefa obviously want something from Yeine. What do you think that is and how do you think Yeine will react to their wants?
It seems like everyone wants something from her at this point.  The question I find myself asking is should she give it to them and who is the right party to give her loyalty to.

I will admit that, so far,  I am intrigued by this novel and I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else thinks and discovering the secrets.

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Review: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3)

Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies ended on a heck of cliffhanger.

After years of anticipation and speculation, Lynch returns to the universe of his Gentlemen Bastards with the long-awaited third installment, The Republic of Thieves.

Wait it worth the wait?

Absolutely.

Lynch spends the first third of the novel writing Locke and Jean out of the corner he left them in at the end of the last novel. For those of you who may not recall, Locke was poisoned by a slow acting poison. And choices he made at the end of Red Seas Under Red Skies denied him the antidote. Now as Locke is dying in an inn of a room, Jean is desperately working to find someone who can cure him.

After exhausting all their possibilities and burning more than their usual share of bridges, Jean and Locke are approached by the Bondsmage. In return for curing Locke, the two must work to influence the Magi elections. Locke and Jean agree, but only after he’s cured do they find out that they’ll be going up against an old friend, Sabetha.

If you’re a fan of the series, you probably know that Sabetha is that one women in Locke’s life and has been the subject of hints in the first two novels. The good news is that Sabetha enters stage left and takes over the last two thirds of the novel. Lynch details the reunion of the trio as well as flashbacks to Locke and Sabetha’s growing up and romance.

Fans are likely to eat this up with a spoon. (I know I did). After two books of build-up, the story of Locke and Sabetha is about as close to perfect as it could be.

The one drawback to the novel is that the flashbacks to the our heros and the scheme Chains comes up with to send them out as a traveling drama group wears a bit thin as the novel progresses. This may have less to do with this plotline and more to do with the compelling plotlines taking place in the present and some of the cliffhangers Lynch puts at the end of each chapter.

The Republic of Thieves proves to be worth the wait. And hopefully this time, Lynch won’t make us wait as long for the next installment in his fantasy series.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this novel from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman

After I'm Gone

I’ve been a big fan of Laura Lippman ever since Stephen King recommended her works in his Entertainment Weekly column a few years ago. And so when I had the opportunity to grab Lippman’s latest novel early thanks to Amazon’s Vine program, I jumped at the chance and immediately re-ordered my entire to be read list.

After being disappointed by her previous novel And When She Was Good, I had high hopes that After I’m Gone would see Lippman returning to form. The good news is that not only does After I’m Gone see Lippman return to form, but the novel is one of her best.

As with many of Lippman’s standalone novels, the story is less a whodunnit and more about the impact criminal acts can have on ordinary people. In this case, the ordinary people are the wife, daughters and mistress of Felix Brewer. The novel opens with Brewer slipping out of town in the middle of the night and then fills in (some of) the details leading up to his departure and then looks at the impact it has on his family. Among the central questions concerning many of those caught up in Felix’s web of lies and betrayal is was he planning to take his mistress with him when he fled and where did the money that he supposedly through various nefarious activities go?

Lippman adds in a murder mystery as well and as with all of her best novels, there are multiple suspects each with a solid motivation for committing the crime.

Lippman delves into the lives of the women who are in Felix’s sphere of influence, crafting chapters that examine each character and her decisions after Felix leaves. Each of these characters is compelling, interesting and Lippman dolls out clues and information in a way that keeps the pages turning. There were several times I kept saying, “Just one more chapter” and ended up reading two, three or four more to discover the next detail and the next beyond that.

If you’re not a fan of Lippman yet, this novel is a great jumping in point. And if you’re a long-time Lippman fan, After I’m Gone has an interesting Easter egg tie-in to her Tess Monahan series — one which could signal an interesting new direction for the series, whenever Lippman decides to return to it.

After I’m Gone is one of the best novels I’ve read this year. Add it to your must read list for 2014.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this novel from Amazon’s Vine Program in exchange for an honest review.

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Filed under Amazon Vine Program, ARC, mystery, review