A Companion to Wolves: Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear

 

★★★

The Iskryne Saga: Book I

Ever since our joint reading of King Hereafter, Heloise and I have been keen to read another book together. We settled on this for several reasons, none of which had anything to do with the cover, I hasten to add. First, Heloise is a great admirer of both authors. Second, I loved The Goblin Emperorcautiously enjoyed the Doctrine of Labyrinths sequence, and was keen to explore more of Monette’s fantasy worlds. Third, but by no means least, The Iskryne Saga focuses on a fantasy culture rich with Viking and Anglo-Saxon influences, and I was intrigued.

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The Mirador: Sarah Monette

★★★

Doctrine of Labyrinths: Book III

We’re back in the Mirador, two years after the events of The Virtu, and things have settled into a routine for our characters, though to call it a ‘comfortable’ routine might be pushing things. Felix is thoroughly enjoying being back in the limelight, casually tormenting his old enemies and wallowing in the adoration of the more impressionable members of the court. Behind closed doors, however, he’s having a considerably less enjoyable time: his lover Gideon is unable to accept Felix’s constitutional inability to be faithful, and Felix himself continues to be haunted by thoughts of his thwarted former master Malkar, as well as tormented by needs that he can’t admit to anyone within the Mirador and which keep clawing him back to the Lower City.

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The Virtu: Sarah Monette

★★★½

Doctrine of Labyrinths: Book II

If you’re going to entrust your life and well-being to the care of another human being, would Felix Harrowgate really be your first choice?

Well, there’s no accounting for taste. Picking up from the end of Mélusine, we rejoin Mildmay and Felix in the Gardens of Nephele. Felix has been healed of his madness and Mildmay has been freed of his own death-curse, but is stuck with the pain of his lamed and twisted leg. Although Felix seems happy enough, studying dream-magic, working his way through the library, and winning admirers left, right and centre, Mildmay feels increasingly isolated and out of place. He’s perfectly aware that these elevated philosophers only tolerate him because he happens to be the half-brother of the new toast of the town. For once, Felix rises above his own selfishness just long enough to see Mildmay’s unhappiness; and he decides it’s time for them to go home.

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Mélusine: Sarah Monette

★★★ ½

Doctrine of Labyrinths: Book I

Having enjoyed The Goblin Emperor, I thought it would be fun to read some other books by the same author, and that meant going back to her popular Doctrine of Labyrinths series. Needless to say, I hadn’t read much of the first book, Mélusine, before realising that this was a very different kind of novel. So much for heart-warming cosiness! Something happens in the early chapters of Mélusine which very nearly made me decide not to carry on – those who’ve read the novel will know what I’m talking about. While I don’t mind reading about violence in battle situations, torture and sexual violation is another matter entirely. But I decided to give it a chance and ploughed on (things settle down a bit after that early, shocking scene); and, to my surprise, I was completely and utterly gripped. I still can’t decide whether or not I actually liked the book as a whole, but that’s immaterial in view of the fact that I was hooked.

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The Goblin Emperor: Katherine Addison

★★★★

Some weeks ago, Heloise told me about The Goblin Emperor, which she’d just finished reading (she posted a review earlier today). She knows that I’ve just finished a very intense period at work, and urged me to track down this book for some light relief. This friendly urging was repeated several times with increased insistence, to which I finally gave in; and I’m delighted I did. At the weekend, free at last, I curled up to read and was very quickly charmed. This is a delightfully heart-warming book: a feast of intrigue with a well-meaning, appealing and thoughtful protagonist at its core.

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