When I read the description of A Book of Tongues at the store, I knew I had to get it. Gay cowboy wizards involved with ancient Mesoamerican gods? What’s not to like!
Unfortunately, I just could not get into it. All the elements of a book I’d really like are there, and I found it full of great ideas, but the execution just fell flat. The narrative style was inconsistent, slipping back and forth between modern and Cowboyese. I also noticed several errors – wrong grammatical use, wrong diction, etc – that made the book a hard slog. And while it’s clear that a lot of research was done in the writing of the book, there were a few anachronisms that I found rather jarring (such as one character’s use of the term “glory hole,” which was not used in its present sexual context until much later).
The feverish quality of the narrative meant that I could never get a grasp on the characters – something that’s necessary for me to care what happens next. The entire book read like the weird dream/trance sequences that I always skim through.
All in all, I find myself very disappointed. I love creative magic systems and I just can’t get enough of books that incorporate mythology into their narrative, but A Book of Tongues just did not do it for me.
This helpful little guide provides young apprentice with all the instructions they need to get started as wizards – from how to make your own wizard robe, to choosing the right owl, to throwing the best wizard party.
I found the artwork, layout, and writing to be fun and engaging. Remove the dust-cover, and the book even looks like it might be found in a wizard’s tower.
This would make a great gift for kids who are into crafts, especially if they are into fantasy or Harry Potter. In particular, I think it would be great leading up to Halloween, or if a child would like to redecorate their bedroom (a wizard tower-themed bedroom!).
As he explains in his Author’s Note, Boos is an artist, not a historian. It’s easy to tell since the book, while heavily (and beautifully) illustrated, contains very little written information. It really is “an artist’s devotion.”
There is some text accompanying the images. Mostly, it serves to label the different types of swords and to explain a little bit about them. For the most part, it seems uncontroversial (he does explain that blood grooves have nothing to do with blood), though I did scratch my head a bit when he talks about Medieval European footsoldiers being in “large, disciplined groups.” If there’s one word that I never thought I’d see associated with Medieval European armies it’s “disciplined.”
I quite liked that there was coverage of women warriors as well, though the historicity of Maeve of Connacht is debatable. The fact that women warriors are mentioned at all is fantastic!
The illustrations are incredible, and very detailed. They give a good idea of what these swords may have looked like in real life. They were a real pleasure to thumb through.
Given how ubiquitous the ‘First Thanksgiving’ story is in the United States, I imagine that many parents are interested in giving their children a better perspective on the impact of contact and colonization. Indian Country has put up a list of children’s books that no only counter the “feel-good” story, they also help children understand that native peoples are not just for history books, but are still existing and vibrant cultures today.
I was recommended this book and started reading it without any idea of its contents. It made the rather surreal descriptions at the beginning, taking place at the Novanglian College of Lucidity, all the more intriguing.
The story follows Octavian, slave son of an African princess, as he is raised by rationalist philosophers. He is the subject of an experiment investigating whether other races have as much intellectual potential as whites. The potential for social commentary should be obvious.
Anderson uses a number of different narrative styles, depending mostly on the “memoirs” of Octavian, but also collecting some aspects of the story from letters and other media. It added to the aura of “authenticity” of the narrative and, handled well, was quite neat. Though I did much prefer Octavian’s memoirs to the rather lengthy section made up of Goring’s letters.
I really enjoyed Octavian Nothing. It was intriguing, and the commentary was great. Anderson also managed a really good job of replicating the style of writing of the period (barring a few very reasonable deviations for the sake of clarity).
I found it funny, sad, horrifying, edifying, and thoroughly enjoyable. I placed my order for the second volume at the library as soon as I’d finished and am eagerly waiting for it to come in!
So this is pretty neat – it’s a list of 3 books that you should read from every major genre. Go read the full article, as it provides the reasoning behind each choice. But if you want to cheat and just see the choices, here they are:
I had been warned that the Dresden Files series took a little while to warm up, and that’s certainly proving to be true. The difference in quality between Summer Knight and Storm Front is quite noticeable. The story is much tighter, the writing is more straightforward, and the characters are more “in character.”
I’ve noticed other differences, too. The “Noir” shtick has relaxed a bit, so Summer Knight relies more on its own atmosphere rather than simply borrowing conventions. The sexism is also much more subtle – Dresden is still powerless not to help a “damsel in distress” and women’s appearance is still described in far more fetishistic terms that men’s (when men’s appearance is described at all), but the women are getting more agency as the series progresses. Murphy, in particular, is changing quite drastically. Though she’s mostly just a convenient side-plot in this novel, her presence is no longer marked by her erratic behaviour.
The plot for Summer Knight returns to the fairies. After finding out about Dresden’s fairy godmother in the last book, and his debt to her, we find out that the debt has been sold to the queen of the winter fairies. Worse yet, Dresden must complete a task for her if he’s ever to get out of his obligation to her and save the wizards from the war he started with the vampire Red Court. Yeah, it’s starting to get a little complicated.
The only complaint I have is one I nearly always have when dealing with the fae – there’s an emphasis on how alien they are, and how incomprehensible their thinking from a human vantage point. And yet, for the purposes of solving a mystery involving them, and for the purposes of interacting with them, they are written in a way that makes their thinking seem perfectly rational and ordinary (albeit their concerns are shifted towards things and territories and matters that are more relevant to them). This leads to a disconnect between the way that they are described and the way that we see them behave. It’s a minor quibble, but I do wish that Butcher would either spend less time going on and on about how alien they are, or spend a little more time actually making them so.