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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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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MLN Hanover/Daniel Abraham – UNREADABLE SPIRITS

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Jayné Heller thinks of herself as a realist, until she discovers reality isn’t quite what she thought it was. When her uncle Eric is murdered, Jayné travels to Denver to settle his estate, only to learn that it’s all hers — and vaster than she ever imagined. And along with properties across the world and an inexhaustible fortune, Eric left her a legacy of a different kind: his unfinished business with a cabal of wizards known as the Invisible College.

Led by the ruthless Randolph Coin, the Invisible College harnesses demon spirits for their own ends of power and domination. Jayné finds it difficult to believe magic and demons can even exist, let alone be responsible for the death of her uncle. But Coin sees Eric’s heir as a threat to be eliminated by any means — magical or mundane — so Jayné had better start believing in something to save her own life.

Aided in her mission by a group of unlikely companions — Aubrey, Eric’s devastatingly attractive assistant; Ex, a former Jesuit with a lethal agenda; Midian, a two-hundred-year-old man who claims to be under a curse from Randolph Coin himself; and Chogyi Jake, a self-styled Buddhist with mystical abilities — Jayné finds that her new reality is not only unexpected, but often unexplainable. And if she hopes to survive, she’ll have to learn the new rules fast — or break them completely….

Oh fucking shit, even the synopsis is terrible. “A self-styled Buddhist with mystical abilities”?

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GOD’S WAR – in which Space Muslims are endlessly violent

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On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there’s one thing everybody agrees on–

There’s not a chance in hell of ending it.

Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx’s ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war–but at what price?

The world is about to find out.

It’s a shame. This book came so highly recommended I very nearly bought the first and second together. This, obviously, did not happen.

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FROM DEAD TO WORSE pt 4 – Charlaine Harris goes Gorean, the US is a disease

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Icky, rapey situations follow after the cut. No, the text of course doesn’t question or challenge them in any way. What did you expect? This is Planet Gor. I must say, by the way, that whoever designed these covers must’ve really Not Given a Shit. Just look at them: not a single shit is given. Less tacky than these, sure, but damn that’s a lot of ketchup spillage.

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FROM DEAD TO WORSE pt 2 – Charlaine Harris a shitbag of bigotry

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Spoilers: it’s still full of disgusting misogyny and racism. Hope you weren’t expecting anything else. Poor Johanna Parker, whoever she is: imagine having your voice associated with bigoted dreck. I find it telling that on this cover art they appear to have used a mannequin that’s made of some kind of fabric. Unintended implication: white people don’t look quite human.

Last time I forgot to include this little gem:

The chauffeur shook my hand gently, as if he didn’t want to break my bones, and then he nodded to Amelia. “Miss Amelia,” he said, and Amelia looked angry, as if she was going to tell him to cut the “Miss,” but then she reconsidered.

[...]

Tyrese Marley was a very, very light-skinned African-American. He was far from black; his skin was more the color of old ivory. His eyes were bright hazel. Though his hair was black, it wasn’t curly, and it had a red cast. Marley was a man you’d always look at twice.

We have a black character, and what is he? A white man’s chauffeur. He is a good-looking black man too, but a light-skinned one. “Red cast” on his straight hair. “Bright hazel” eyes. “Old ivory” is unhelpfully inexact, but aged ivory tends to be yellow. In short, the only way for a black man to be attractive to Sookie (and presumably to Charlaine Harris) is that he must be “far from black.” Marley takes care to be careful about shaking a white woman’s hand, “as if he didn’t want to break [her] bones.” A physically imposing black man who must take caution not to threaten a white woman. In the US south. Hmmmm.

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FROM DEAD TO WORSE pt 1 – Charlaine Harris still disgusting racist

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Let’s start off with this: while it’s possible to like things that are problematic, I genuinely don’t understand what there is to like about these books. Is it the shitty writing? Is it the misogyny? Is it the jingoism? Is it the rampant, raging, explicit and relentless racism?

I’m not talking about the show, which I understand is slightly less racist than the books. This isn’t some “reading too much into it” thing; this isn’t even social justice crusading stuff. The racism in these books is absolutely obvious, undeniable, and constant. There is nothing redeeming in these books. There’s nothing good about them. All they do is confirm that barely-literate fiction that affirms and endorses popular bigotries will enjoy great popularity and commercial success. Well done, America.

Trigger warning: rape and rape apologia.

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