And some books

A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY is the first in a young-adult fantasy trilogy by Libba Bray in which a Victorian girl raised in India is forced to attend British boarding school after her mother’s mysterious murder. There she copes with the usual problems of British school stories, plus discovering her mother was part of an order of witches and she’s inherited some of Mom’s talent, which a number of people want to exploit or repress. This suffers from having too much school story and not enough fantasy for my taste, and that the Otherworld turns out rather unimpressive (the early scenes of monsters manifesting were much more effective).
Following my rereading of the first three Barsoom books last year, I decided to continue with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ sequels: THUVIA, MAID OF MARS
has a scheming noble turn John Carter’s son Carthoris into the patsy blamed for kidnapping the title princess, thereby instigating a new outbreak of war (reminiscent of my Screen Enemies of the American Way in showing a vast network of infiltrators setting things up). This is entertaining, with a great Lost City in which the inhabitants are waited on by mental illusions, but it’s not up to the first three; for one thing, ending the romantic plotline but not tying up the war feels very awkward.
CONRAD’S FATE by Diana Wynn Jones has a young man learn the only way to escape his terrible Karma is to become a servant at the local castle and thereby identify the villain he failed to kill in a previous life. This becomes complicated by the presence of a young Chrestomanci at the castle on a mission of his own, plus the way in which reality constantly shifts around them. The family dynamics here are standard for Jones (her favorite villain is someone who sees their family as pawns rather than people—and she’s not that found of adults who are willfully clueless about what’s happening, either) but it’s a very good one with a plausible depiction of a teenage Chrestomanci (many of the manners of his adult self, but without the gravitas to pull them off).
ADAM: Legend of the Blue Marvel by Kevin Grevioux, Matt Broome and Robert Castro is a comics TPB I’m glad I bought but also glad it’s on sale. The concept is that in 1962, the Blue Marvel becomes America’s greatest super-hero until it turns out he’s black. Terrified by the public response (“Blacks keep wondering when he’s going to lead them in a race war—whites are afraid he’ll turn out to be another Malcolm X.”), the Kennedy administration convinces him to retire, but now, in the 21st century, he’s needed again … A great concept but it doesn’t work as well as it should have (the Blue Marvel’s white wife, for instance, should have much stronger feelings about getting involved with a black man, but they never delve into that) and the ending is stock; the American Way miniseries took similar ideas and did them better.

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One response to “And some books

  1. Pingback: More books | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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