A mixed bag for the month of May…
Dragon Fire by Charles Ashton
(Bind up of Jet Smoke & Dragon fire, Into the Spiral and The Shining Bridge)
I’m going to be totally honest. This was one of the most confusing books I have ever read! I found that absolutely nothing made sense, but I also have a strong feeling that was precisely the author’s intention. Fair enough, but it didn’t really work for the kind of reader I am – I really like to understand a world, the characters and their motivations. A bit of mystery is all well and good, but this just appeared to be a random collection of ideas and thoughts which went right over my head! It tells the story of Sparrow and his friends who encounter magic in their lives as they try to work out if they are there because the dragon dreamed them, or did the dragon dream them because they are there… no idea how else to sum up the plot!
Another major issue was that the characters never managed to work out anything for themselves, they were always doing the wrong thing, doing something by accident or doing what they were told with no understanding. I found this seriously annoying as it didn’t allow the characters any depth or development. I started to feel like the didn’t deserve to succeed. It’s fair to say, this surreal journey just wasn’t for me!
Half a King by Joe Amercrombie
I’ve already gone into this book a bit in another post. So I won’t say too much here. It tells the story of a young Prince, unexpectedly propelled to the thrown and betrayed before he’s even had time to make himself comfortable. This is a young adult fantasy novel which touches on some darker topics and contains its fair share of violence. I like this book more the more I think about it actually. It was a fast paced, dramatic read (if a little predictable) with great layered characters. If you’re new to fantasy this could be a great place to start, but also if you’re already a fan I think you’d enjoy the speedy nature of the writing, witty banter and dark themes.
Worst Fears by Fay Weldon
Weldon is one of the authors I want to read everything by. I’m doing OK so far! Worst Fears focuses on a small community, where one woman’s perception of her life unravels after the death of her husband and the secrets that unfold afterwards. Weldon’s words cut like a knife in her sharp portrayal of what it means to realise that your life was a lie, which you unwittingly colluded in maintaining. The widow of the narrative is never a totally sympathetic character, but i certainly found myself willing for her to come through OK and to move her life forward. The title it apt and ties in nicely with the character’s journey – where we see her worst fears unfold around her.
It’s got a mystery feel, as we wait to unfold each little twist and turn of the saga of a marriage and I found myself powering through it to find out the outcome. Like Margaret Atwood, Weldon has this way of tapping into lives, particularly those of women, in a way that really speaks to me.
The Book of Dave by Will Self
Imagine a post-apocalyptic London where hundreds of years after a great flood the survivors believe that a misogynistic and slightly racist London cabby called Dave is God, and his word is law. Yep. It’s a bit of a head trip this one. We follow Dave in his life time, flipping back and forth through time to follow his story. And we follow Carl in the future, also flipping back and forth through time as we see what this new world looks like. There are some great twists and turns in this book. And once you get used to the language, the future sections are written in ‘mockney’, it becomes much easier to read. If you’ve ever lived in London there are some nice little asides for you in this, but the best bits come from the satirical mirror up to nature which is basically the concept of this book.
I’d never read anything by Self before, so this was a bit of an eye opener. I really enjoyed it though, and recommended it for an intense but interesting read.
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch
**spoiler alert, I loved it**