Monday, November 21, 2016

The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Buried Giant is another nominee for the World Fantasy Award.  I would say it belongs more to the sad and introspective side of fantasy literature rather than horror or adventure.  I will say this, it's a completely different take on Arthurian fantasy than I have ever read before.

The protagonists are Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple living in what sounds like a connected hobbit warren in Britain, a few centuries after the Romans left.  They and their whole village live in an eternal present, unable to remember most of their lives.  But they do remember enough to leave their village and go looking for their son.

The book's message is on aging and what it takes away.  The fact that this elegiac book is set in Arthur's world is a powerful twist, for we see an elderly Sir Gawain conspiring on how to kill an aged dragon, both of them aging gracefully together.  The author's style readily conveys the message--the book moves slowly and gently like the protagonists do.

I'll give it three stars for literary effort.  One doesn't enjoy it as much as appreciate it.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Clockwork Crown, by Beth Cato

Continuing with my romance novel reading, I just finished Beth Cato's The Clockwork Crown, sequel to The Clockwork Dagger.  The action picks up directly after the first book, with Octavia and Alonzo having escaped the Wasters and fled south to Alonzo's native Tamarania.  Octavia's powers are growing and becoming uncomfortable.  She and Alonzo try to research the Lady's Tree in the libraries of Tamarania.  They discover that the Tree has become visible in the Waste.  Adventures ensue.

This is actually a better book than the first one.  The characters are still somewhat one-dimensional but Octavia in particular fills out to an extent.  This is shown particularly in her relationship to her growing powers and to the Lady, who just might not purely be a force for good.  She is challenged by physical changes as well as spiritual ones.

Cato also pushes harder to bring out the strangeness that being connected to the Lady entails.  We have people and creatures animated beyond normal endurance by the Lady's powers.  We have hardened characters overcome by her proximity.  It held my interest all the way through and indicates why the series might have progressed to the point of getting a story nominated for the Nebula.  Still coming to that.

I can reasonably recommend this if you like fantasy romance, and give it 3 stars.