ricardienne: (christine)
You guys. I am the worst. I was so disdainful of Troubled Waters when we read it for the Sheroes Bookclub. AND I have tons of work to do. So why am I reading the sequel? Here is a choice excerpt from the first few pages (I don't think there is anything remotely spoilerish in it):
"Trouble came with some regularity to this little bar, which was situated solidly inside the crowded, noisome slum district of the city of Chialto. But it was actually one of the more respectable establishments, given its location just south of the Cinque, the five-sided boulevard that made an inner loop around the city. Traders' sons and merchants' wives felt safe enough to come here for a night of excitement that might include high-stakes gambling, high-proof liquor, illegal drugs, and companionship that could be purchased." (p. 2)


This just strikes me as poorly expressed: first, we find out that this is dangerous bar in the middle of the slum district (OMTS: noisome and crowded); but then it turns out that it's actually pretty tame and attracts a bougie clientele! (Regular trouble is just all part of the thrills of high-proof liquor and ~companionship that can be purchased~, amirite? The closing euphemism is just perfect and really gives the line that pseudo-gritty Tamora Pierceian ring...) It took me a good couple minutes before I realized that the Cinque must be a boulevard that makes a five-sided loop and not a five-sided boulevard. I'm still trying to picture a street with five sides instead of two, though! (Similarly, "felt safe enough here to come" would get at the sense with less ambiguity than "felt safe enough to come here.")

ALso: "Zoe...could hardly bring herself to spend a quint-gold, remembering the long poverty-stricken days in exile." (p. 57) Hahaha -- did we read the same version of Troubled Waters?
ricardienne: (library)
I was browsing the YA section at my public library branch yesterday, and pulled out something called Night School, by C.J. Daugherty. It's your standard rebellious teen + mysterious gothic boarding school + supernatural + love-triangle + ancient evil drivel, but as I was flipping through, a sheet of paper fell out; clearly an elementary/middle schooler's start to a fantasy novel. It made my really happy, you guys -- this is exactly what I was doing in 6th-7th grade. Also, I kind of feel that there is a lot more that is potentially interesting in this novel than in a lot of recently published YA fantasy! So I've transcribed it (supplements the editor has deemed absolutely necessary to the sense are in square brackets; italics represent ornamented capitals in the ms; and obelisks mark uncertain readings).

The Chronciles of Se

"Chastity, the high commander want to see you in his office. ...Now!" and with that the loud speaker clicked off. It seem that I was in trouble again. Making my way the nearly empty corridor to were the High Commander of the Realm reside. But before I open the, it flung open and handed me letters with the seal of the Western Royals and the North. I opened the first one on the way back to my room. It was from my niece empress Mollyania Malkovich †Jamesandsun. Such a long name for a small five year old. All it said was "I miss u, see you on your birthday. The next was from Cecile, my sister in-law, "Dearest †Adilssandra [Allessandra?], I want to be the first to congratulate you turning 15. It's a time of Freedom, but do remember your duties. I know you know that aleast 1,000 gentlemen have asked for hand. But Daneil sent them all packing. Duth has required you to be we[d] before you turn seventeen, since His Majesties health is decliny. Remember your a Malkovich Princess before general in the war. Kayta say her regards so does Mayla. The last letter had been from Her Excellency Ariel. "Excited about turning fifteen, I pondered last two months what to got you, but Maria had the best idea I hope you enjoy, From your spilt personality clone Ariel." At the bottom were a set of keys to a limo maybe. But when I reached my room I saw my gift awaiting. A motorcycle. Tomorrow I would go back to Ruby palace in Flaya. I did not understand why all except the Southern would have three whole day off.

Come on: wouldn't you read this? Apart from the fact that our main character seems to have two names, we've got court and family politics, what with a child empress and also (?) a dying emperor? (Is this Daneil or Duth? I think it's Daneil. Duth is perhaps the chancellor -- either a helpful and loyal adviser or an evil power-behind-the-throne holding the imperial family of Flaya basically hostage). And so Chastity/Adilssandra has to marry to shore up the succession? But she is also a a general on the staff of the High Commander (or maybe she is at the military academy?) and there's a war on! AND SHE HAS A SPLIT PERSONALITY CLONE. (Maybe everyone has one in this universe.) I think I sound like I am making fun. And, obviously, I am, a little bit. But it did honestly give me lot of pleasure to see this anonymous girl working through fantasy tropes and making up a story the way I did. Also, I would genuinely read this novel, split-personality clones and all.

Dear Writer of Chastity's story, I'm sorry that you lost your manuscript, and I hope you keep reading and keep writing. And keep packing your stories with girls! Because that's awesome.
ricardienne: (christine)
I got out of the public library today something called Passion Play: merchants, arranged marriages, ancient magic, spunky and desperate heroine, etc.

One or two chapters in produced the following reactions:

1) I spend way too much energy mentally sourcing place and people-names by European language/cultural group in these kinds of novels. Though the Kievan/central European medieval setting is a nice change of pace, I suppose.

2) Banter must be really hard to write well. Because most of the book is tolerably competent, but the banter is really awful.

3) I can't decide whether having The Ancient Language Of The Old Ones turn out to be ye archaickly spellt GERMAN is ridiculous or a nice change of pace (at least it's not slightly altered Latin?) I'm leaning toward ridiculous.

4) I haven't read enough yet to make a recommendation or a disrecommendation.
ricardienne: (christine)
One of the first epic "adult" fantasy series I read was Katherine Kurtz's Deryni trilogies. I confess to owning a rather embarrassing number of the novels, and I have, in fact, read every novel and just about every short story she has written. Her last few have been mind-bogglingly bad, but I am sure I will read the next one when it comes out, just for old time's sake.

The point of the reminiscence is this: if anyone has read any Kurtz, you may remember that at least once or twice a book, one or another of the deryni heroes gets on his soapbox to announce that magic is just another talent that can be used for good or evil, not inherently a bad thing & certainly not deserving of persecution and witch-hunts, etc. etc.

I'm fairly certain that this is a common trope in fantasy novels. I should have made this connection before, naturally, but here's Isocrates defending rhetoric:
τοῦ μὲν γὰρ γενέσθαι προέχοντα τῶν ἄλλων ἢ περὶ τοὺς λόγους ἢ περὶ τὰς πράξεις εἰκότως ἄν τις τὴν τύχην αἰτιάσαιτο, τοῦ δὲ καλῶς καὶ μετρίως κεχρῆσθαι τῇ φύσει δικαίως ἂν ἅπαντες τὸν τρόπον τὸν ἐμὸν ἐπαινέσειαν.

For one might logically charge Fortune with making me superior to others either in words or deeds, but everyone would justly praise my character for having used my nature nobly and moderately.
Antipodosis 36
I'm thinking about fantasy novels here: plausible AU 5th century Athens where sophists are teaching the alluring but alarming art of harnessing the magical power of words? (Oh wait...) Cato the Elder on that dubious Greekish magic thing: "a wizard is a good man skilled in magic"?

So many fantasy authors take the "words of power" approach to magic that there must be someone who has taken the rhetoric = magic notion and run with it, right?
ricardienne: (library)
I was good and woke up early to call my adviser's friend on the east coast with whom to talk about graduate schools (it was useful). As a reward, I am going to write about probably the best thing that has happened this spring, namely, the fact that Megan Whalen Turner has published a new novel.

I will say, before cutting for spoilers, that I didn't like this one quite as much as I liked the others, perhaps because I found the main character less compelling than Eugenides or Costis. But it did all of the good things that MWTs books: intricate plotting (both kinds), meaningful issues of responsibility/government/personal desires, good characters, good stupid characters, wonderful intervention of religion, interesting narrative issues...and lots of fodder for classics geekery, of course!

Read more... )
ricardienne: (library)
l'échine, the spine
preconiser, to announce publicly; to boast (of)
le fléau, the flail

-And it seems that I can read Italian pretty easily (esp. with wordreference.com); guesses about conjugation have been mostly correct, too. It's good, but I think I need German more. And that will require effort. Argh.

-Lysias today was all about the long walls and Theramenes -- trying to damn Eratosthenes by association, I suppose? I can read the Greek, but I am often not sure exactly what is going on all the same. Probably not good.

-Through p. 56 in Bloodhound. I'm not thrilled with the dog. Or with the alcoholism ~ animal abuse implication. Or with the "yay lets go repress the unruly and foolish populace in the name of law and order" sensibility. (How is it that this attitude still manages to be uncomplicated when all Beka's friends are part of the Rogue?)
ricardienne: (heiro)
I have acquired a copy of Bloodhound, and I am planning to ration it out by sections of Lysias that I read (1 entry of Beka for 1 section of Against Eratosthenes). This works all around, since Lysias makes me gleefully happy, once I get over having to think and look things up and actually work; and Tamora Pierce makes me gleefully roll my eyes.

So far: I'm up to §58 or so in Lysias (I've been reading it for a while): Lysias is brilliantly turning backflips around any anticipated defenses of "I was just following orders," "I had to do it to save myself by proving my loyalty" "I was against it before I was for it" and such. Also, the political situation of Reconciliation after the 30 (and the 300 (not those 300), and the 10, and the 30000...) insofar as I understand it via the not-very-helpful notes is fascinating.

In Beka-land -- page 14 and I am already bored with counterfeit coins. And with Beka ("Wah: I'm such a dedicated cop that none of my partners on the beat can measure up to me."): I continue to be disturbed by how, um, status-quo-supporting and earnestly patriotic TP's heroes are getting. Have we come full circle back to Horatio Alger?

Random mythic legends: Jehane the Warrior = Joan of Arc, Tomore the Righteous = Sir Thomas More, Badika Blazing Ax = Badger Lady of Redwall Boudicca? am I not perceptive and brilliant?
ricardienne: (christine)
-I guess "presume" is the "correct" substitute for the evil "assume" because it acknowledges that the speaker's statement is 'presumptious'?

-Early Tamora Pierce is actually not nearly as bad either as I remember, or as her later stuff.

-Latin diplomas = win! (but don't bother congratulating me: I'm still in undergrad for one more semester, as I finish up my second major in spite of having graduated in the first one.)

-Why don't Naomi Novik's characters read any literature? All these scientific treatises don't actually seem to help at all, and Temeraire would probably learn more useful things, emotionally and socially, from things Aeschylus or Shakespeare or even Jane Austen. Also, it would be more fun if Laurence pulled out his Horace and Virgil to try to persuade his dragon that they need to sacrifice everything for king and country.

-Philosophers beating their slaves while maintaining perfect calm is a really weird and disturbing trope. But also rather fascinating.
ricardienne: (library)
So I have been thinking a lot about MammothFail (short version: Patricia Wrede writes a fantasy YA about settlers in the magical American West -- having eliminated the Native Americans altogether. People, naturally, find this problematic. Lois McMaster Bujold says some very stupid things on the internet...)

Anyway, having read lots of analysis and quotes from the link above, these are my two (quasi-original, or at least I haven't seen them completely put out this way) thoughts:

(1) Wrede's decision to write about a magical America sans indigenous people has nothing to do with how "hard" it would be to write Native Americans in a non-offensive way. It has everything to do with how impossible it would be to write the whites in a non-completely-unsympathetic way. We don't think about it, and our (or at least my) history books are all about the heroic and intrepid pioneers, (and I grew up on the Little House books too) but settling the West (or any of the Americas, really) was imperialism. It was moving onto land already occupied by a civilization, and is not separable from the displacement and extermination of that civilization.

I hadn't really thought about that until this internetsplosion. I think that it is generally recognized that one cannot talk about e.g. the antebellum South unproblematically. The hoopskirts and rolling hills and peach orchards may be very nice, but it is not possible to write a novel about the planter class and their lives with their slaves in the background and not have it be read either as racist or as a indictment of the society with a dark and ironic undercurrent or something.

The same should be true of the pioneer novel, really. And in this respect, Wrede's choice to eliminate the "problem" is trying to have your cake and eat it, too. Or more bluntly: to avoid white guilt while still having her settlers-in-the-west story.

(2) One of the things that has come up in many of the posts and discussions I've read the last few days is the prevalence of the pioneer narrative in, esp. science fiction. That may be the expression of the human desire for the frontier or whatever, but it's also the ideal, unmessy colonization narrative: wide-open spaces with no strings attached in the form of people already living there. (Ironic that LMB's first Vorkosigan novel is set on exactly such a planet: unpeopled and ready to be contested by "advanced" galactic civilizations?) It's certainly much more squicky when done an alternate-earth, where the peoples who are getting eliminated to make it easier for the Europeans are precisely those whom the Europeans really did try to eliminate in order to make it easier for themselves. But how much of this more general fantasy/sci-fi plot is essentially doing the same thing in a less obviously bad way?

Also, I really hate to bring this up, because LMB is one of my favorite authors, in spite of her rather unadvised comments recently, and because I particularly like her Chalion books, but her fantasy is a pretty obvious earth-analogue that also functions by removing the inconvenient and guilt-inducing parts of history: a transparently Reconquest Spain where the fake!Moors are conveniently barbarous and imperialist and the *fake!Jews are conveniently not there? There is something a little bit weird about fantasizing Isabella and Ferdinand and then removing the problematic aspects of their careers.
ricardienne: (Default)
From Tamora Pierce's website:
NUMAIR: THE EARLY YEARS 2, continuing the story of Numair's life as he comes to Tortall and is befriended by Alanna the Lioness and Baron George, and aids King Jonathan in creating a Tortallan university.


So... a YA fantasy novel about trying to get funding? About setting a syllabus? I am trying very hard to see the the place for a plot here, and nothing is coming to mind. (Besides isn't it canon that nothing much happened in Tortall during this period except happy things like public education, new egalitarian military branches, and increased prosperity?)
ricardienne: (heiro)
So the YA fantasy novel of my last post brings up a periodic issue for me: how exactly does Christianity (or any other actual religion, I suppose) work in a fantasy world? For Catherine Branner's "Malonia", like a few other made up places (Katherine Kurtz's Gwynnedd comes to mind, where there are also equally mysterious Muslims and Jews), is Christian. This doesn't bother me too much: that is to say, it doesn't come across as proselyizing. But I always wonder how the geography works. Because the Abrahamic religions are quite geographically and historically grounded. Their texts involve places that their believers know and historical figures and places and entities who are attested, and who have identities outside the religious texts. But what does Jerusalem have to do with fantasyland, so to speak? Where is it? What about the Babylonians, or Egypt, or the Romans?

I suppose, (I am thinking of Christianity in particular here) that from a religious point of view, the geography and history could be seen as accidental to the religion: the events of Jesus' life and the early church could have played out anywhere. The whole theology gets transported somewhere else, and instead of Jesus of Nazareth he's Jesus of Someplace Else. Probably, the reader is not supposed to take this so far, but am I supposed to imagine these characters reading a Bible in which Paul writes Epistles to the Gna'ashites?

wah

Jan. 15th, 2009 11:34 pm
ricardienne: (augustine)
-Can't find pattern pieces that I want to use. Also, it turns out we are out of sewing machine needles.

-Watching HBO's Rome with parents (~10/12 for season 1). Am expected to provide historical commentary, natch (mostly making it up: I really need to read Last Generation of the Roman Republic). It's way too pro-Caesar (way to de-enoble the optimates, HBO) and Cicero=Mr Collins=WTF NO!. And it makes me depressed: poor res publica!

-Practicing today = 3 hrs. Work on Other Senior Project = 0.

-Read The Eyes of a King (YA, fantasy, Catherine Banner). I'm not sure what the genre is called: fantasy in a pre-WWI generic-European setting, complete with military dictatorship and recently deposed and massacred royal family. Plus vague magic, plus dimension-hopping and a missing prince raised by a loyal magician in our world until he is able to regain his throne. But the fascinating thing is that the story is told by the magician's great-nephew, who has a much more mundane life trying to survive and be happy as he grows up with his younger brother and grandmother in obscure poverty. Leo (= MC) hate the military training he has to undergo (and for which chance he is supposed to be grateful), quarrels with his grandmother, discovers first love in Maria, the young woman who moves into the apartment above with her infant and parents, and tries to protect his younger brother, the innocent, too-good-for-this-world Stirling. Meanwhile, a mysterious book provides him (and us) with the concurrent story of palace intrigue, brave rescues, etc. Unfortunately, the dialogue is often just awful: Banner has clearly not figured out yet how to write speech that sounds natural. But overall: I really liked this book.

Books

Dec. 21st, 2008 11:43 pm
ricardienne: (Default)
So I got my usual beginning-of-vacation cold last night, and I spent all of today reading:

The Secret History (Donna Tart). So what is it with classics majors being creepy and cliquish? And why are they always studying Greek, but never Latin? I couldn't help but think of Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, except, with freakish and obliviously introverted undergrads committing murders instead of the Queen of Faery. Actually, it was more like a cross between Tam Lin and Special Topics in Calamity Physics. It was a book I admired very much, and thought was good, and meaningful and all that, but not terribly enjoyable.

Book of A Thousand Days (Shannon Hale): I liked this one so much: I think it's my favorite Hale that I've read (and sort of made me want to give River Secrets a second try). Being set in fake!Mongolia rather than Generic!Fake!Europe helped, and I always like stories told "from below" -- the maid's perspective rather than the princess's. But I was also impressed by how much development happened in the main character. The novel is in diary format, and it brought out little changes in Dashti and day to day variation in her attitude toward her place in life, her fate, her princess, etc. as well as the global "learning" that was obviously the point. Yay.

Montmorency and the Assassins (Eleanor Updale): I don't know why no one reads these books because they are SO good: severely injured pickpocket is saved by medical experimentation of brilliant doctor, proceeds to turn self into brilliant master thief, and thence into respectable upper-class type who enjoys the opera. And then has adventures spying and engaging in derring-do around late-Victorian Europe. What isn't to like? I love the characters, and the way they aren't able to resolve the big moral dilemmas, but instead try to smooth them over (the way people do), and how they are really good, decent, likable people even when/though they are sometimes doing highly questionable things. And in this book, the way all five or so principal male characters are each assuming that he is the father of Vi's son? Actually quite awesome.
ricardienne: (Default)
I've read two pseudo-historical-fantasy-teen-romances recently: Marissa Doyle's Betwitching Season (Regency/Fantasy Wrede-Sternmer knockoff) and Anne Osterlund's Aurelia (psuedo-18th-century, fairy-tale, empowerment romance). They both have those fashionable photographic covers: pretty girl in a pretty, frilly dress.

This is a silly and petty thing to get annoyed about I know, but it's so obvious, even at a glance, that the lace is cheap machine-done stuff, and that the embroidery was machined onto the fabric on the bolt, with the dress-maker not bothering to make it match along the seams at all. The fan is most clearly plastic, and its ribbon trim isn't even pasted on evenly. The lace of the sleeve is not only the flat and cheap Barbie's-Bride-Costume variety, but it isn't even sewn on well. I bet I could photo-shop something better.
ricardienne: (Default)
-rehearsing student pieces, including one by the conductor's hyperactive and unnaturally talented 8-year old son. Who has perfect pitch, and stopped the run-through to announce loudly to the flute player that "it's an a-sharp".

-Tam Lin (Pamela Dean): I feel like I should have enjoyed it more than I did. Which I think was because I wasn't convinced by the elfland business. Probably I should reread Fire and Hemlock, and then appreciate how coherent Dean is.

-Kathryn Reiss's lastest YA novel. It creeped me out a lot, but all of the things that were bothering me in the beginning (some weirdly flat/stereotyped characters, mainly) were fixed by the end.

-weird dreams involving fleeing across the desert and hiding under carpets, being a slave in a villa urbana and N. from Latin being indicted for murder.
ricardienne: (Default)
So I'm reading Lord of the Isles because it's free, it's a tfn, and I'm on spring break. It's clearly rip-off-ish of Robert Jordan (okay, I've only read one and it was a while ago) and David Eddings, and it provides new and previously-unexperienced (I think) Tough Guide exempla (e.g. Ancient Engineering Projects). On the other hand, the characters are sort of interesting/individual, even if they are all missing heirs, good-hearted farm boys, and tour mentors. On the third hand, I am ~ 200 pages in, and the plot as such is still not really existent. On the one hand, Female Protagonist (Missing Heir) and Guilt-Stricken Holy Man are enduring (natural) disaster after disaster as they are schlepped around by a government official (Imperious Female) and her incompetent wizard (Evil Adept) for a not terribly clear political purpose. On the other hand, Male Protagonist (Missing Heir (or maybe just ancient king reincarnated?)) Steadfast Friend, Best Friend's Sister (i.e. in love with protagonist), and Mysterious Wise Woman are traveling with Ulteriorly Motived Merchant and his Pretty Intelligent Daughter (i.e. protagonist in love with her) also for reasons that are vague and not known to any one of them. Mostly people just get attacked randomly by zombies, and moon over other people. Lots of fun.
ricardienne: (york)
Or not, I suppose. I've been home 2 days, and this is what I have accomplished: nothing, but I have been catching up on my "fun" reading.

Ptolomy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud. This is the third book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy, the first two of which I went on and on about here. Stroud really seems to have developed over the course of this series, and I do have a feeling that his ideas about where the books were going as far as plot and character changed quite a bit from the first to the third. However, this might be because I read them fairly far apart, and I don't think that it was necessarily a bad thing. I like(d) this series very much: I would reccomend it as a fill-in while waiting for the next Harry Potter book. I don't want to say too much, because I don't want to spoil it, but this third book made me rethink the possibilities of a thoroughly (or near-thoroughly) horrid character (the semi-main one is a sort of cross between Tom Riddle, Artemis Fowl, and Christopher Chant) in a children's book, which has quite a few implications for Snape. Stroud also did something that I was not at all sure could be pulled off in a children's book, and am still not sure at all JK Rowling would (will?) dare pull off, but that's all I'll say on that subject!

The Da Vinci Code. Admittedly, only about the first 1/5th of it, out loud on the way to bring my cello into the shop this morning. (A two-hour drive to get an instrument repaired is ridiculous, but there you are). Now, I can really mock/scorn it, having actually (started to) read the thing.* Because, oh my goodness it was awful! I don't know why the Catholic Church is so upset: if anything, it would tend to make me more favorable towards Opus Dei/the Vatican, because anything that someone as dumb as Dan Brown dislikes can't be all that bad, can it? I probably would have made it through a lot more if my father and I hadn't kept erupting with comments and objections. I don't think there's much point in cataloging them here. However, I am starting to develop a theory about Dan Brown. Clearly he has serious issues arising from the popularity of the Harry Potter books. Note the very clear references to Draco(nian), where no one has (yet) considered the possibility of the word as an adjective but insists on assuming it references the historical figure: this is certainly a coded reference to Draco Malfoy. And then the repeated mention of "dark arts" and the preoccupation with the possibility of a Satanic interpretation of what is in fact non-Satanic. I shall probably have to read the rest of the book before I can decipher the entire message, as my symbological skills are not incredibly great! On a slightly less flippant note, I am somewhat bothered by the assumption that this book makes that Europe is essentially in the Middle Ages. It's really weird, and kind of irritating, although not as irritating as the not always terrible accurate guidebook that he seems to have swallowed. No, I do not care to read about things such as, "Almost emanating sepulchral atmosphere of the nearly thousand-year-old catacombs in the Quartier Latin, the old University district of Paris, Robert Langdon scanned the entire length of the opulently carpeted corridor. It would have take 346,772,491 American pennies laid end to end to approximate it 767.8 foot length."**
*Isn't is cool that I can do that: use the same word as alternately past and present tense? Sometimes I think English is a pretty good language after all.
**Okay, so I made this "quote" up, misplaced modifier and all.


The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova. Counting Da Vinci Code, I have now read three of these pseudo-academic thrillers: that one, Codex, and now, The Historian. Da Vinci Code I talked about above, Codex was stupid in an astonishing number of ways*, but I rather liked The Historian. There are certainly personal reasons for this. I went through a vampire craze in 7th grade, but it quickly turned into a Vlad the Impaler interest, and I've always sort of been on the look-out for novels about him. This one was definitely better than the "Danish medical student finds Vlad's memoirs and falls in love with him because impaling people is teh hotness" one I read back in middle school. And now, with [livejournal.com profile] dracula1897 up, I am definitely in the mood for traditional vampires. (None of that mysterious and misunderstood children of the night business here. This book fulfills on that score; it is a sort of successor to Bram Stoker, except rather more ambitious in scope: the action spans three modern generations (presented all mixed together in letters and journals, however) and much of cold-war era Europe and Turkey. As far as "Academia thrillers" are concerned, this one also tops out the others I've read. The grad students and professors here actually tend to act like the scholars they're supposed to be, and much of the "action" is looking up documents in libraries, trying to find translations of the texts you need and to contact the other people in your field who might have the information you want. I nearly squeed when a crucial document was presented along with notes about the several surviving manuscripts and their possible departures from the lost original. Okay, so it isn't much, but we need more of this kind of thing in this kind of novel. Granted the premise that Dracula goes around trying to snare top academics is more than a little silly, and there were plenty of ridiculous/unbelievably outside the obviously supernatural premise moments. But the clearly made-up stuff, of which there was naturally a lot (a lost Shakspeare play about a vampire in the Ottoman empire, anyone?) worked much better than it did in say, Da Vinci Code. That is to say, I didn't feel that the author was trying to persuade me to believe that such a play actually existed, for example. Unfortunately, it's 600+ pages, which is why I didn't get anything else done today. I did find it fairly scaring/compelling, but then, I tend to get sucked into even pretty bad books, so that doesn't say very much.
*Such as people trying to destroy/find a medieval text because it contains the secret to a very localized 13th century mystery whose solution will have absolutely no effect on anything. Also, the entire plot was based on an early English text that included such things as pages of nonsense and a page entirely inked over as part of its post-modern artistic concept, which is well… no comment.

Tomorrow, I really will start to do all of the things I need to do. If I don't get distracted by the shiny new Richard III novel, To the Tower Born which purports a "new perspective" on the mystery of the Princes in the Tower -- Margaret Beaufort offed them* -- from the point of view of Caxton's daughter, conventiently the best friend of Elizabeth of York. Given that the last book I read about the Princes in the Tower and some random 15 c. girl was this really creepy picture book, it can't be that bad. No, that's not right: it can. I read the prologue, and it promises to be one of those pro-Richard books that makes me think that with "friends" like these, Richard doesn't need any enemies.
*This is not in fact a new idea: this is at least one iteration of it.

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