Dec. 28th, 2012

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A one-off collaboration between Steven Brust and Megan Lindholm. A mixture of police procedural in Lakota, Ohio and Gypsy/Celtic mythology. Written well before the modern trend for urban fantasy, though after De Lint’s Jack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon. An interesting set of authorial voices (a both Burst and Linholm tend to create) combine with a deep twisting of European folklore in a lovely little tale of murder, good, evil, temptation and redemption.


This is one of those books that’s sat on my shelf unread for many years and I’m glad I finally got round to it.


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Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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The umpteenth Harry Dresden novel by Jim Butcher follows up on the previous one titled “Changes” by exploring that changes made in the universe in the last installment. Harry’s back, but after being assassinated he’s back as a ghost, with the task of solving his own murder as well as helping his friends with the fallout from his previous apocalypse. Things have got darker in Chicago in his absence, and his friends are not faring so well in this not-so-brave new world. Meanwhile, most of them can’t see Harry and even if and when they can, they don’t all believe in his identity and/or good intentions. I’ve seen some criticism of this from people who feel the series has jumped the shark but I think he’s dealing well with the inevitable levelling up that Harry’s been going through n the previous books, setting new challenges, all tied in to earlier plot threads that he’s dropped along the way.


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Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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A collection of the various shorter pieces Jim Butcher has written in his urban fantasy series. These are quite a varied set of stories, a couple of which I’ve read before, but most of which were new to me. There are two stories written from the points of view of other characters (Thomas and Murphy) which is somewhat interesting, though I’m not sure they work as well as the Harry-viewpoint ones, probably because Butcher hasn’t had time to really develop their “voices” are narrators. There’s definitely more than a hint of unreliable narrator in the Thomas story.  It’s nice to see the background story that’s mentioned in one of the novels (what Maeve did to Billy and Georgia’s wedding). It’s also interesting to see his first story written about Harry, though as he acknowledges his writing skills at that point were much more limited. Some of these are clearly written (as he more or less admits in the introduction to them) on specific commission and not springing from his own imagination directly, so something of a mixed bag. Worthwhile for fans of the series, though. Better value than the standalone publication of Backup (the Thomas story) that was well overpriced.


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Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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Yet another Harry Dresden installment. Having recovered from being dead (hey, this is a fantasy novel after all) Harry is plunged into his role as the Winter Knight withhout much in the way or mercy (well, what did you expect from the Winter Court). He’s also thrust into a wider world of magic in which a bunch of the previous threads going all the way back to Book 1 are either explained, or even have their apparent original explanations yanked away and a deeper truth revealed. It’s pretty skillfully done, though, so I think quite a lot of the stuff here was in Butcher’s mind from way back (not necessarily all the gory details but the general thrust of things at least). There’s some nice twists in this tale and a brilliant sense of impending doom, only slightly averted by the denouement here. Lots of excretory intersections with air moving devices still to come from this and doubtless further threads to be explored. IMHO Butcher is doing a pretty good job with the levelling up issue and isn’t shying away from the character implications for both his hero and the supporting characters.


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