Review: The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft (The Books of Babel #3)

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Reviewing sequels isn’t easy. Especially not when they have been as anticipated as this one. Will it live up to the hype? Will it suffer from middle book syndrome? In the end, The Hod King left me mostly satisfied, eager for the sequel, but not without complaints.

You act as if she’s a fancy, an errand. She is not!  She is a woman whose life I ruined! Ruined with my pride, my inability, my selfishness. I will find her. I will offer my help if she needs it, my heart if she wants it,  my head, even if she would see it on a stake!

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Review: City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer (Ambergris #1)

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I delight in books that piss on convention and pull it off. The plotless, the strange, the experimental. City of Saints and Madmen makes all that I read so far sound perfectly ordinary and reasonable. Of all the books I’ve ever read it is, by far, the oddest and the most experimental of them all. It very slightly resembles The Gray House in the sense of slowly discovering a world while reading (and that was the recommendation that made me pick it up), its use of unreliable narrator, and surrealism, but only a bit, in the most general of senses. The structure and the setting itself are entirely different.

Either way, I fucking loved it.

The window looked down on the city proper, which lay inside the cupped hands of a valley veined with tributaries of the Moth. It was there that ordinary people slept and dreamt not of jungles and humidity and the lust that fed and starved men’s hearts, but of quiet walks under the stars and milk-fat kittens and the gentle hum of wind on wooden porches.

The best words to describe it would be “delightfully insane.” Because it is. Utterly batshit and utterly fascinating.

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Review: Everfair by Nisi Shawl

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Everfair is yet another book I could call brilliant but flawed.

The settlers of Everfair had come here naïvely at best, arrogantly at worst. Due to the orders of the king they had found the country seemingly empty. In the fight against Leopold, their assistance had been most valuable, and they had also brought to the cause the help of Europeans and Americans who would never otherwise have cared for any African’s plight. 

But by their very presence they poisoned what they sought to save. How could they not? Assuming they knew the best about so many things—not even realizing they had made such assumptions—they acted without considering other viewpoints and remained in ignorance in spite of the broadest hints.

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Review: Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft (The Books of Babel #2)

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I grabbed a paperback of this book as soon as I heard that the series got picked up by a publisher, just for the sake of having a matching pair. Suffice to say, it’s been sitting on my shelf unread for a while, for no real reason. Well, two days ago I finally picked it up. And read it. Partially in a tree.

“Books are traps.“ But how are they so, and whom do they trap: the author or the reader? Perhaps they are just the boasts of vainglorious minds, and what we hold up as literature is in fact a cult of unlikable characters. I hate to think they are like a fishing weir to the swimming mind, a trap easily swum into but rarely escaped: a neurosis, a dogma, a dream.

No, no, I must no be so cynical!  If books are traps, then let them be like terrariums: sealed up and still living miniatures of the world.

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