The saga continues (as does the in-story travelling, in spades). This is very much a Middle Book in which stuff is found out, additional civilizations feature to justify more worldbuilding and pieces are moved on (and off) the board in preparation for the grand finale.
This is traditional portal fantasy: two outsiders from our world are sucked into a conflict with an ancient, (literally) nebulous enemy in a parallel fantasy world. Darwath is losing the war, its King is dead, his heir a baby, and the political powers are at one another’s throats as they vie for control in spite of ongoing assaults. This first installment sets the scene and embeds the offworlders for (presumably) future glory.
This sadly turned out not to be for me – unexpectedly, I actually got more out of Francine Prose. Prose’s work may have felt snobby, but it was passionate and honest; I don’t share her taste in Chekhov, but I understand her love of books. Leto’s work reads (perhaps unsurprisingly, given her background) like a snarky collection of blog posts for a select audience in on some joke that I never quite grasped.
I’ve been reading The Time Traveler’s Almanac since February, and I’ve finally reached the end of the enormous time travel compendium. There’s a reason this is printed as 4 separate volumes – I don’t like to think how heavy the physical edition would have been. 65 stories and 5 essays by different authors old and new explore the concept of time travel, gathered around 4 themes. Following some excellent advice not to read from start to finish, I zipped from point to point like the various protagonists, reading a story from each theme and then putting the book down for a while so that it didn’t get stale.
Snowblind has several things going for it. Firstly, the central character, Ari Thor. Young, smart, impetuous, and deeply confused, he’s a convincing mid-20s bloke tackling his first job – all desire to prove himself and no common sense. Secondly, the location. I have developed a big soft spot for Iceland, and Siglufjordur is a perfect pot-boiler setting – a small settlement on the north coast, which is inaccessible in deep winter as the sea is wild, the mountain pass iced closed, and the single-lane tunnel through the mountain gets blocked by avalanches.
Okay, I admit it – there’s some long-term fuzzies for me in this reread, which may be skewing my star rating. You know what? I don’t care.
Young Sue stumbles across Mr R Dragon on her first day of a 2-week visit to Constantine Bay, and the two quickly forge a friendship based on a shared love of iced buns, stories, and genteel politeness (they meet when Sue buries a paper bag that the dragon has accidentally sneezed out of his cave).
I rarely read non-fiction and even more rarely autobiographies – I tend to be interested in themes, periods or cultures rather than people. That said, I’ve been curious about Ayaan Hirsi Ali for years and her autobiography successfully tackles issues of history, geography, culture and religion – so I was engrossed.
On our final day, @alice-mccoy and I chose to literally follow in the footsteps of @helpful_mammal, taking the coastal path from Lulworth Cove to Weymouth. Unlike @helpful_mammal, who is walking around the entire British coast (and blogging each walk as he goes – I highly recommend a read if you haven’t already), we had no qualms about cheating as it was just a day trip.
My second whole-hearted 5★ read of the year comes from the irrepressible Randall Munroe of XKCD (my favourite stick figure strip – sorry OOTS). This book applies almost serious science to daft questions, although Munroe reserves the right to adapt both the question and the answer for scientific and comedic effect. Also, better stick (wo)man diagrams.
Tesco are going to 'pull' Ribena, Capri-Sun and Rubicon from their shelves and the media would have us […]
Being British, a little bit of rain ground-hugging cloud wasn’t going to stop @alice-mccoy and I from our planned amble around Abbotsbury.
@alice-mccoy and I went on holiday last weekend. We try to do this every year (and we mostly manage), and we upset our menfolk by telling them they can’t come along. This is our weekend to catch up, get things off our chests, snuggle up with strange cats, and – over the years – push ourselves to do something unexpected like climb a mountain or follow in the steps of @helpful_mammal.
I’m going to take a minute to squee about more recent tv and movie outings. My inner child has been delighted recently and my outer adult traumatised.