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 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.