BLOOD OF DRAGONS – Robin Hobb, more slut-shaming

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Dragon blood and scales, dragon liver and eyes and teeth.

All required ingredients for medicines with near-miraculous healing powers. The legendary blue dragon Tintaglia is dying of wounds inflicted by hunters sent by the Duke of Chalced, who meanwhile preserves his dwindling life by consuming the blood of the dragon’s poet Selden Vestrit.

If Tintaglia perishes, her ancestral memories will die with her. And the dragons in the ancient city of Kelsingra will lose the secret knowledge they need to survive. Their keepers immerse themselves in the dangerously addictive memory-stone records of the city in the hope of recovering the Elderling magic that once allowed humans and dragons to co-exist. In doing so they risk losing their own identities, even their lives.

And danger threatens from beyond the city, too. For war is coming: war between dragonkind and those who would destroy them.

Robin Hobb is kind of like Robert Jordan in a way. Not the braid-tugging and skirt-smoothing shit, but the whole–you know how there are a lot of words in her books? Lots and lots and lots of fucking words, things happen in them (sort of) but the plot is advancing fuck-all? The pace so glacial sometimes it reads like it’s going backward? Yeah, that.

Fuck, I’ve no idea why I read this. Why did I read four books of this. Why? It’s got “dragons” in the title, for fuck’s sake. Trigger warning for rape by the way, since Robin Hobb from Liveship onwards hopped on the grimdark bandwagon.

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THE UNLIKELY HERO – Beau Schemery’s Aryan teenage unicorn fetish

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Despite the suspicions Mother Dragon shared with Celestrian before her death, he may be the last surviving unicorn of Vrelenden—though most may simply think him some crazy person with a horn attached to his forehead. Nevertheless, Trian has nothing to hold on to but hope, and he’s about to hang that hope on an unlikely hero named Renwald Mallorian. Ren may have been born an accountant’s son, but he’s longed to be a professional hero for as long as he can remember, and he’s read every book on the subject he could get his hands on. When Trian arrives and hires him to find the last remaining unicorns, Ren jumps at the offer and their quest begins.

But the evil Father Denkham is intent on obtaining the last unicorn and sets a deadly assassin on their trail. If that isn’t bad enough, they’ll face a Vampire, Dragon, bandits, and zombies. Their only hope now is for Ren to prove he’s the hero he always dreamed of becoming—but no book in the world could have prepared him for what’s in store.

Yes, that’s a unicorn furry wearing a thong. This, as you will soon gather, is a book about copious teenage unicorn sex. Rejoice, for we’re about to embark on the beautiful and magical journey of someone’s D&D campaign involving a shitload of erotic roleplay turned into a novel.

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THE ALCHEMY OF STONE – Ekaterina Sedia

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Mattie, an intelligent automaton skilled in the use of alchemy, finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict between gargoyles, the Mechanics, and the Alchemists. With the old order quickly giving way to the new, Mattie discovers powerful and dangerous secrets – secrets that can completely alter the balance of power in the city of Ayona. This doesn’t sit well with Loharri, the Mechanic who created Mattie and still has the key to her heart – literally.

I was surprised that this was captivating from the first pages on, seeing that Sedia’s other steampunk novel–Heart of Iron–was a bit hit-and-miss with me. This is a stronger book than that by far, if not quite a match for The House of Discarded Dreams

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GRACELING and comfy “feminism” for men

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Yes, yes I know I’m picking on an article from fucking 2009, and I will give that Daniel Hemmens may or may not still hold these views strongly, whatever. But let’s pick on a white dude anyway! Nothing personal, Dan. You were just the springboard.

Around the time Kristin Cashore’s book was still new and shit (didn’t get less shit since, though) Daniel Hemmens of Ferretbrain wrote about it in glowing terms.

On the other hand part of the reason for this is that Cashore spends no time whatsoever trying to make Katsa attractive to straight men. There’s little or no description of her naked body glistening in the moonlight, or of her bending over to present her buttocks for chastisement.

[...]

Katsa is a sublimely realised female character. So sublimely realised that I can’t really relate to her. The experiences that shape her are not my experiences. The issues that concern her are not my concerns. The qualities I look for in a female fantasy figure are not qualities the text shows any interest in. My fantasies are not what the book cares about fulfilling. Katsa is not for me and the fact that I even expected that she should be is evidence of how profoundly important this book actually is.

The thrust of Hemmens’ argument is that the book is Awesome Feminist Literature because it doesn’t concern him, a man, or the male gaze, or care about him as the reader, therefore it is alien and new and stupefying to him.

To which I can only ask, Dan: in 2009 had you never read a single book by a feminist, ever? Hell, let’s be charitable: maybe he meant this was the first ever fantasy or SF book he read that didn’t pander to him as a man?

So not Butler? Not Hopkinson? Hell, I’ll make this easier on him: not even big-name white women? Not le Guin, Russ, Valente, Vinge?

Not a single one?

Really? Those aren’t obscure authors, you know.

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HOUNDED – Kevin Hearne is a rancid neckbeard ape

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Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

People’ve been asking me to have a go at this for a while, and what do you know, it turns out to be exactly the same type of excrement as Jim Butcher! Misogyny? Check. Wish-fulfillment bullshit? Oh yes. Juvenile Gary Stu material, aka Rothfuss? You fucking bet.

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THE FOLDED WORLD – Catherynne Valente

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When the mysterious daughter of Prester John appears on the doorstep of her father’s palace, she brings with her news of war in the West–the Crusades have begun, and the bodies of the faithful are washing up on the shores of Pentexore. Three narratives intertwine to tell the tale of the beginning of the end of the world: a younger, angrier Hagia, the blemmye-wife of John and Queen of Pentexore, who takes up arms with the rest of her nation to fight a war they barely understand, Vyala, a lion-philosopher entrusted with the care of the deformed and prophetic royal princess, and another John, John Mandeville, who in his many travels discovers the land of Pentexore–on the other side of the diamond wall meant to keep demons and monsters at bay.

These three voices weave a story of death, faith, beauty, and power, dancing in the margins of true history, illuminating a place that never was.

Well, damn.

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THE FRIDAY SOCIETY – Adrienne Kress is an illiterate fuck

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An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns –and the heroines who use them all

Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.

Shallow characters. Shallow understanding of racism. Shit plot. Shit prose. Weeaboo maggotry. This book is the epitome of what YA is really about: mass-produced illiterate fiction for illiterate people, encouraging them to read more of the same and to think that their consumption of illiterate media stands in for intelligence.

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CHAOS TRYST – Shirin Dubbin

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Ariana Golde may be known for breaking and entering but she’s no thief, she’ s a returner. She retrieves stolen objects and gives them back to their rightful owners. Her latest job: retrieving a statue from the Medveds. But Ari is having an off night, and she’s caught red-handed by the three brothers, who don’t just get mad—they turn into bears.
Maksim Medved is outraged—the statue belongs to his parents. But Ari’s returner magick doesn’t lie: the heirloom has a new rightful owner. Ari is drawn to the surly, handsome Maks—maybe because he possesses the same chaos magick she does. But while Ariana enjoys a touch of chaos, Maks hates its destructive power.

When Ari and Maks team up to find her mystery client, their chaos magicks ignite even faster than their attraction. Can Maks learn to love a little chaos, or will the havoc they cause among the faebled creatures drive him away for good?

Does Carina ever publish anything good? No, of course not. It’s all dreck in there, isn’t it. Romance presses, there you go. At least this book doesn’t contain gross rapist logic presented as loving kindness from your one true love–we just get racial exotification instead!

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MOSCOW BUT DREAMING – Ekaterina Sedia

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The first short story collection by award-winning author Ekaterina Sedia! One of the more resonant voices to emerge in recent years, this Russian-born author explores the edge between the mundane and fantastical in tales inspired by her homeland as well as worldwide folkloric traditions. With foreword by World Fantasy Award-winner Jeffrey Ford, Moscow But Dreaming showcases singular and lyrical writing that will appeal to fans of slipstream and magical realism, as well as those interested in the uncanny and Russian history.

More magical realism than fantasy, melancholy across the board, and if Sedia’s House of Discarded Dreams was your cup of thing then this should be too.
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