So this week Naomi Novik's Uprooted won the Nebula Award, and as a result a lot of people are reading it. And the reactions, as they have been pretty much ever since the book came out, are... mixed.

On one hand you have readers (myself among them) who wouldn't go so far as to call the book perfect, but who really loved it and thought it worth recommending to other fantasy lovers. On the other hand, you have people who were so horrified by the book's seemingly dismissive attitude to sexual assault and the hero's lack of respect for the female MC that they either DNF'd the book a few chapters in, or they found the whole experience of reading it to be irrevocably tainted.

Some of those people who disliked (or even hated) Uprooted are my friends, and I am not here to tell them they're wrong to feel that way, or to try and argue them into liking it. But there's a strain in current fictional discourse that's been really bugging me over the past few months, and some of the critiques of Uprooted suffer from it -- the difference between "I didn't love X, and this is why," which is perfectly legitimate and fine (and can even lead to interesting discussions) and "I didn't love X because it's gross and problematic, and if you like X anyway, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU." 

I don't mind hearing that not everybody likes the same things I like. I do very much mind being made to feel that I am a lesser person, indeed a morally inferior one in desperate need of enlightenment, for liking them.

I am not here to defend Novik's choice to have her heroine sexually threatened, because I don't think it was necessary to the plot nor do I think that it added anything to the story. I did notice it, it did bother me, and I would have enjoyed the book a great deal more without that aspect. Nevertheless, it wasn't the dealbreaker for me that it was for some of my friends, and I think I know why.

Because I'm over forty, and I grew up reading different fantasy novels than they did. 


That may sound flippant, but it goes deeper than you might think. In fact, I feel fairly confident in suggesting that the majority of people who loved Uprooted despite its faults are 40+ and/or grew up reading "classic" fantasy novels almost exclusively, while the majority of those who disliked the book enough to DNF or strongly criticize it are 35 or younger, and in their childhood and teens had a much wider, modern pool of fantasy to choose from.

In other words, the twenty and thirtysomething readers didn't grow up having to swallow the occasional bitter pill of sexism or casual racism in order to read books in their genre. They could afford to be picky, and that's why they find it baffling and even upsetting that older fantasy readers don't seem to hold books like Uprooted to the same high standard.

But for me, the habit of overlooking story elements I don't care for in order to enjoy the ones that I do was drilled into me decades ago. When I was a teen reading fantasy novels -- or any kind of novels, for that matter -- it was practically a given that the heroine would be sexually menaced at some point. How else would the villain reveal the true depths of his depravity? What other fate, barring death, could be serious enough to make our hearts flutter anxiously on the heroine's behalf, and make our satisfaction all the greater when the villain was thwarted? And how realistic would it be, really, if the possibility of the heroine being raped was never even acknowledged? You might be able to get away with that in juvenile fantasy, but come on, we're grown-ups here...

I'm not saying this is how it should be or that it's the only way to write a good story, I'm simply stating a fact: this is how it was in 1970's and 80's fantasy (and historical, and crime, and a lot of other genres). You had to be prepared for that, or resign yourself to not reading any fiction at all.

So those of us who grew up reading fantasy learned to adjust our expectations. To see sexual threats or assault as a warning sign (because the way it was handled could often tell you whether the author was indulging a fetish, or merely bowing to what s/he thought were the rules) but not necessarily a dealbreaker. For me, a dealbreaker was having the hero commit rape (I'm looking at you, Lord Foul's Bane) or having the villain rape the heroine on-screen (hello, The Fionavar Tapestry*), whereas having the heroine merely threatened or finding a way to fend off the assault seemed like a positive triumph.

None of this explains, or excuses, why Novik bowed to this particular old-fashioned convention in a decade where sexual assault in fiction can no longer go unquestioned or be easily overlooked. But it does explain why those of us who loved Uprooted were able to do so. Because we weren't surprised to find such an element in a classic-style folklore-inspired fantasy. We could sigh or grimace or roll our eyes as necessary, and then move on.

Furthermore, because Uprooted is so very clearly a tribute to the great female fantasists of the 70's and 80's -- authors like
 Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, and Ursula LeGuin, who made me think not only "I want to write these kinds of stories" the way Lewis and Tolkien and MacDonald had, but "I want to write like this" -- the overwhelming feeling that reading Uprooted produced in me was a deep nostalgic fondness, and a strong sense of faith in Novik's ability as a storyteller. Because if she'd read and loved the same books I loved as a teen, and her writing was giving me the same feeling as reading The Forgotten Beasts of Eld or Beauty or A Wizard of Earthsea, then I could trust her to tell the rest of her story in a way that would make up for the bits I didn't like so much.

And in the end, my belief was that she did.

So yes, my friends who didn't warm to the book immediately as I did, and felt that certain male characters' treatment of Agnieska was too offensive to ignore or forgive -- I understand, and I'm not trying to change your opinion. But I think it's important to understand how the generation gap between younger and older fantasy readers, and the books that most influenced us, play into this.

It's not that we don't see the flaws and the problematic elements, or that we don't care about them. It's that we can see virtues and delights in Novik's novel, many of them based on the older fantasies to which Uprooted is paying tribute, that make us love it anyway. Which is why Uprooted won the Nebula this year, because the people doing the voting are fondly remembering those older novels -- many of them also flawed, but nonetheless deeply resonant and influential -- as well.


--
Oh hey, both those "classic" epic fantasies were written by men! What a surprise! No wonder nearly all my favorite 80's fantasy authors were women.
Oh dear, has it really been that long since I updated my journal? Well, at least the time away has been well spent, as I was able to turn in the revised draft of Swift to my UK editor on Friday. So that is Happy-Making Thing #1 at the moment for me.

Here's a little taste of what's to come, from the beginning of Chapter 2:

[Ivy] took a step backward, feeling the dirt crumble beneath her bare feet. All at once she was acutely aware of the hairs standing up on her forearms and the nape of her neck, the boom-boom-boom of her heartbeat, the stench of her own cold sweat. “How--“ Her voice wavered. “How do you know my name?”

The spriggan moved closer, teeth gleaming in the shadows of his hood. “That’s good,” he said. “I didn’t even have to tell you not to scream. I think we’re going to get along very well.”


Hm, maybe that particular excerpt is not very happy-making. But you get the idea. Action! Excitement! Danger! That sort of thing.

***

Thing #2 that fills me with delight at the moment is this video, from singer Kina Grannis:


In Your Arms - Kina Grannis (on YouTube)

As an animation geek, I found the "Making Of" video even more interesting, but it's a sweet song and a lovely bit of stop-motion work.

***

And Thing #3 I've been enjoying of late are the books of Zoë Marriott, a UK-based author I met on Twitter who said some lovely things about my books, which caused me to check out her blog, which led me to the page of her website describing her books, where I found out that said books involved non-white female MCs, interracial romances, disability and mental health issues, high fantasy worlds based on non-Western history and culture, and other things Relevant To My Interests, which led me to leap to Book Depository and order all her books immediately.

And I was not disappointed. I enjoyed Ms. Marriott's most recent book Shadows on the Moon, a loose retelling of Cinderella in a fantasy world based on historical Japan (with a few bits of China and references to a quasi-African country), quite a bit -- she handled some thorny issues in a very interesting way, and created compelling characters that I came to care about a great deal over the course of the book.

But even then I was unprepared for how much I absolutely loved Daughter of the Flames, her second book (yes, I am reading them in reverse order). Seriously, it's like she had a checklist of tropes and ideas that I either adore unconditionally (swords! acrobatics! fire! amazing descriptions of food!), or would like to see handled in a new and interesting way (religion! disability! culture clashes!), and was ticking them off in every chapter. I actually squeaked out loud when I got to page 174 in the UK edition because [classic romance trope redacted] is one of My Favourite Things (right along with raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens) and she handled it so very well.

So now I just have The Swan Kingdom, Ms. Marriott's first novel, left to read, but part of me is almost afraid to start into it because once I've read it there will be no more left until her next book comes out...
I'm over at [livejournal.com profile] newport2newport's journal today, talking about The Intersection of Faith and Fantasy along with my good friend and fellow 2009 Deb Saundra Mitchell a.k.a. [livejournal.com profile] anywherebeyond.

If you're interested in how two YA authors choose to approach matters of faith and spirituality in their novels, or have some thoughts of your own to contribute about the subject, come on over and join us!
BOOKISH SHINY

If you like your secondary-world fantasy with a healthy dollop of intrigue, wit, danger, and understated but powerful romance, you should all go read Leah Cypess's Mistwood (HarperTeen, April 2010), which I just finished and enjoyed enormously. Steph Su has a very good review of the book here, though I'd disagree with Steph's comment about the secondary characters -- I had no trouble telling them apart, myself.

And Leah tells me she is working on revisions to the companion novel as we speak! Yay, companion novel!

***

TV SHINY

In the DO WANT category: J.J. Abrams' new show Undercover, about a married couple who are spies. From the guy who wrote Jack and Irina? This HAS to be good. Seriously, look at this picture. I am gleeful and optimistic.

Also, check out this lovely, exuberant, heart-warming Doctor Who S5 vid from [livejournal.com profile] humansrsuperior: Brand New Day. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] infiniteviking for the tip.

***

WRITING SHINY

I'm mostly preaching to the choir here, I'm sure, but still -- [livejournal.com profile] taraljc has reposted a terrific essay about the effort that goes into writing quality fan fiction, and how it isn't always easy -- or even desirable -- to just file off the serial numbers.

***

And that will be all, because I'm feeling curiously dizzy all of a sudden. *blinks*
[livejournal.com profile] flycon2009, the international online fantasy/SF writers' convention, has begun!

Here's the opening speech from Marty Young, president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association.

There will be a discussion on the topic of When is Young Adult not really for Young Adults? starting at 12 noon EST today (other time zones: 9 am US Pacific, 4 pm UK, 3 am AUS, 5 am NZ) which you can attend here at SFF.net -- no need to sign up or register for anything, just type in your name and go!

And at 3 pm EST today, as previously advertised, I'll be on the Crossing Over from Fanfic to Pro Writing panel at the same SFF.net location.

It's free! It's open to all! The discussions can go on as long as you want! Enjoy!

A month or so ago I reviewed Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet, the first book in what I'd assumed was a trilogy of fantasy novels. Though now that I've read the second book, Cyndere's Midnight, I'm starting to wonder if it might actually be a longer series.

In any case, the difficulties I had with the first book are much lessened or entirely absent in this one. Overstreet's style is still rich and lyrical in the tradition of Patricia A. McKillip's books or Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, but it flows easily here, seems less self-conscious and laboured. Exposition and backstory are woven gently throughout the narrative, rather than appearing in large and sometimes oddly timed chunks. And although the story continues to move from one part of Overstreet's inventive fantasy world to another and give us a range of perspectives along the way, there's no doubt who's at the heart of this story -- Cyndere, the young widow desperate for freedom from her ghosts and her despair and Jordam, the beast-man whose love of beauty was kindled by Auralia's colors and who is gradually discovering what it means to be human. They're both well drawn, compelling characters, and I readily identified with their struggles and emotions.

As the description of those two main characters would suggest, this is a sort of Beauty and the Beast tale -- but not in any predictable sense. What Jordam will become, or how his path may cross with Cyndere's in future, is not made fully clear. But even if (by necessity) many plot threads are left dangling for the next book in the series, there's a satisfyingly complex yet coherent story in this book with its own resolution, and I really enjoyed it.

Final verdict: I'd decided to give Cyndere a chance because I liked what Auralia was trying to achieve, even if I was less than confident about the execution. But now I feel that Overstreet's really hit his stride, and I'll be looking forward to the third book, Cal-Raven's Ladder, very eagerly indeed. Recommended.

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I was rather looking forward to finishing my revision of Wayfarer and having it sent off to my editor at HarperCollins (which I did yesterday evening), so that I could get back to blogging some of the thoughts and topics that have been on my mind these last couple of months but which I've really had no time or energy to talk about.

*looks up at that sentence* Wow, that was long. Anyway, back to the topic at hand: I was looking forward to it, as I said. However, for the last three days I have been battling some sort of coldy-fluey* thing and basically, my brain is fudge. So those thoughtful, intelligent blog posts that exist solely in my ambitions at the moment will have to wait.

In the meantime, I give you... book reviews!

Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress (fantasy/adventure, contemporary, MG): I loved this LIKE CHOCOLATE FUDGE PIE WITH WHIPPED CREAM AND CHOCOLATE SAUCE DRIZZLED OVER THE TOP. Well, maybe not that much. But I did adore it. I love a good kitchen-sink book** and this one fit the bill nicely.

Graceling by Kristen Cashore (fantasy/romance, secondary world, YA): Once I got over some initial suspension of disbelief issues related to worldbuilding, and once I had assured myself that the MC was not in fact going to be a Mary Sue (it was touch and go there for a few chapters), I quite enjoyed it. Certainly the UST is the smoulderingest*** I've read in a long time, though I was surprised that it was resolved so early in the book.

The Name of the Wind (fantasy, secondary world, adult) by Patrick Rothfuss: Definitely worth the fuss people are making of it. Lovely writing, a compelling and sympathetic protagonist, a world that feels like it really has been around for thousands and thousands of years (a trick not nearly as easy to pull off as you might think), and a clever framing device that allows the author to make good use of both third and first person without confusing the reader. I liked the clarity of this: I had no difficulty keeping track of the characters or following the basic plot, which is more than I can say for some other recent fantasy doorstops I've read. Next book, please?

There you are, some actual content for a change. Nothing earthshattering, but it's a start.

---
* It's like timey-wimey, only not nearly as much fun.

** Note to self: When brain is working again, do a post on what you mean by "kitchen-sink books", with examples and explanation of why you love them so very much. Surely you cannot be alone in this.

*** Yes, I know this is not a word, but it should be.

"Two Hearts"

May. 29th, 2008 06:32 pm
rj_anderson: (Narnia - Aslan - It Is Finished)
Why did I not know until now that Peter S. Beagle had written a sequel to The Last Unicorn? And it's lovely and heartbreaking and has a wonderful narrative voice, too.

*sighs wistfully*

It's a shame I haven't enjoyed anything else of Beagle's that I've read. TLU really grabbed me and still does, but I couldn't warm to A Fine and Private Place or The Innkeeper's Song at all.
I have just finished reading the ARC of [livejournal.com profile] sarah_prineas's MG fantasy The Magic Thief (the benefits of a classical education being a HarperCollins author).

I always hold my breath now when I pick up a book by someone I've come to know online, just in case I don't like it nearly as well as I like the person who wrote it. But in this case there was no need to fear -- this book made me absurdly and enormously happy, and it made me like [livejournal.com profile] sarah_prineas even better.

The Magic Thief has a number of familiar fantasy motifs and character types. But in Sarah Prineas's hands a story that could have been predictable instead has a wonderful freshness and vitality about it. The invented world in which Conn moves has a Dickensian flair without being merely alt-Victoriana, and its magical system is both well imagined and intriguing.

The characters in The Magic Thief are realistically flawed and fallible, yet they never lost my interest or (where appropriate) my sympathy; I particularly liked the way that Prineas developed a couple of the secondary characters, subverting my expectations of them in a surprising and satisfying way. And her hero -- well. I have a weakness for thieves to begin with, but by the end of the first chapter I was grinning idiotically (always a good sign) and I knew that I was going to like Conn very much indeed.

Also, on a somewhat random note -- one of her male characters knits. Between this and [livejournal.com profile] lainitaylor's Blackbringer I predict that men knitting is the next hot trend in fantasy, right on the heels of naming your lead male character Finn (seriously, I have read no less than six children's fantasy books in eight months with Finns in them. What gives?).

Anyway, The Magic Thief will be out this June, it's the first of a trilogy, and it's wonderful. If you enjoy quick-paced, engaging MG fantasy, you won't regret preordering this one.

Up Next: my review of [livejournal.com profile] elizabethbunce's A Curse Dark as Gold.

YES.

Aug. 29th, 2007 05:03 pm
rj_anderson: (Rupert - Thoughtful)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] thegameiam for linking to a splendid essay by Dave Wolverton that explains the difference between literary and genre fiction, and reveals the little-known origins of the modern literary novel. It also does a very good job of explaining why I read very little so-called literary fiction, and don't feel a bit embarrassed about not writing it either:

On Writing as a Fantasist.
I just finished reading Solstice Wood, and not only was I delighted to discover that it was a sequel to Winter Rose (the only post-Riddle Master McKillip book I currently own, and which I had to re-read about three times before I understood it, but it was worth it) but it just reminded me that I would give my eye teeth to write as beautifully as Patricia McKillip.

Yes, I know that her plots are nigh-on incomprehensible on first reading (and sometimes on the second as well) and her characters' passions always seem to be separated from the real world by a pane of beautifully etched glass. But the way she describes things, the way she turns the ordinary into poetry and evokes the numinous in a way that so many other fantasy writers don't or won't or can't -- the sheer beauty of the way she sees the world, whether it's our world or an imagined one, keeps me reading.

I have one more of hers to get through, Alphabet of Thorn. I have to concentrate fiercely when I'm reading McKillip, and it stretches my brain sometimes trying to make sense of what's going on. And I know a lot of people don't like that -- I wouldn't normally care for it myself. But she had me at Riddle Master and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, and she's had me pretty much ever since.

I will never plot like McKillip, to be sure, and I'm pretty sure that's a good thing. But to master the kind of sumptuous, evocative language she uses and make it part of my own authorial toolkit -- even if I only use that tool now and then -- yes. Yes, I would like that very much.
Needing something to cheer me up after the horrible train wreck of FBOFW these last few days (Lynn Johnson, you have two days to pull this storyline out of the toilet. I am not optimistic), I turned to my f-list. And [livejournal.com profile] superversive, bless him, came through:

I had already read (or watched) all the really seminal English-language fantasy works of [1977], except for The Sword of Shannara. I have therefore been plodding through that distinctive if not distinguished work. It is actually a very good sort of book to read while one is sick and depressed, because it reconciles one to the brevity of life and makes death a happier prospect than it seemed before. In Heaven there are no such books, and in Hell all books will burn.

He promises to write a more detailed review soon. I confess that after suffering through the first two Shannara books (otherwise known as Brooks Does Tolkien and Brooks Does Donaldson), I am rather looking forward to it.

***

Yesterday I got my brand-new glasses -- lovely pink metallic frames that suit me better than any pair of glasses I've worn in the past ten years. Unfortunately, there was a pinwheel-like smudge in the centre of both lenses, which no amount of rubbing could remove. After suffering through a couple of hours of frustration and eyestrain, I ended up turning around and driving back to the optometrist's to return them. They confessed that they had made a mistake and offered to replace them, but now I have to wait another week to wear my bootiful new eyeglasses with the updated prescription again. Alas.

***

Remember how a couple of weeks ago I mentioned getting migraine auras without the migraine? Well, on the weekend I got the migraine without the aura. My first migraine, and all I can say is OW. I really hope this is an isolated incident, because there's nothing like blinding pain and nausea to put the kibosh on your creative energies.

***

In other news, I watched "Words and Deeds" (House) yesterday and actually quite liked it -- not that it didn't have its logistical flaws, and not that the behavior of all the characters was perfectly consistent with their behavior in the past, but I didn't think it was the Worst Episode Ever, or even close to it.

This is why I have come to the conclusion that I am happier out of fandom than in it. Not that I mind hearing what my closest friends think of the shows and books I enjoy, or discussing our opinions even when we disagree; but on the whole I prefer to make up my own mind about whether I like something or not, and not have it spoiled for me by people insisting that it stinks. I offer a belated bow to [livejournal.com profile] yahtzee63, who has long been wiser than I in such matters.

***

Got an e-mail today from Agent #2, telling me she'd received my ms. Thanks to Canada Post's parcel tracking system I knew that already, but it was nice to get a personal note to that effect. She says she's hoping to get to the book by mid-March.

I have a feeling that March is going to be The Month for my writing career, in a lot of ways. Could be good, could be bad, but something is definitely going to happen around that time.

***

And finally, I have tagged all my old entries up to June 2005. Go me!
Where's Phil and the Amazing Bathmat when you need them? I want my million dollars!

Yes, that's right, I have finished Knife. And I am very happy about it.

*cries and hugs fellow authors*

Only a few last-minute edits, and this baby's off to New York. Then I'll start querying agents.

Phew! Thanks to everyone who's taken an interest.
But if you are looking for something new to read and get insanely hooked on enjoy, I highly recommend [livejournal.com profile] ursulav's delightful Elf vs. Orc. Which has an awful working title, especiallly as it really isn't "vs." at all, it's more an "and" sort of thing based on this picture and this picture among others, but... oh, never mind me, just go read it. Trust me.
I am not entirely sure how I got hooked on Inverloch, considering that the cute little kiddy elves at the beginning would ordinarily have put me right off, and the story's hero is a Person of Fur, which would ordinarily make me go *yawn*. However, I'm glad I stuck with it through the first chapter, because then things really started getting interesting. In fact, they got so interesting that before long I had caught up on the whole story -- all 630-something pages of it. Unfortunately, I am now forced to wait for it to update, but at least the author posts new pages on a regular basis and plans to have the whole thing done by January.

Anyway, iit really is a good story, with engaging characters and some unexpected twists. So check it out, unless you really hate elves. Or quest fantasy. Or both.

Speaking of elves (and fairies, and rock giants, and clueless university students) The Dreamland Chronicles is also entertaining, and it updates every day. The 3D modelling is sometimes a bit clunky-looking, but at other times it's really amazing. Certainly the characters' faces are very expressive, and the story seems to be well thought out.
So I was making up business cards for the SCBWI conference I'm attending next weekend, and somehow I ended up putting a URL for Knife on the card, in spite of the fact that I didn't actually have a page set up for it yet.

But now I do. And besides the Prologue it also includes a link to Chapter One, for anyone who might be interested.
Except my aim isn't nearly as good as Mary Russell's, so you may want to duck...

Anyway, further to my last entry, I've been trying to follow [livejournal.com profile] alg's suggested format in writing up a pitch for my manuscript. Here's what I've got:

Title, status, subgenre, word count, style, brief description of the plot including character motivation )

Why I wrote this book, what else I've written, and what I expect from my writing career )

Well, she did say it helps to have a sense of humor...

BTW, "Crowded House Radio" on Pandora is BEYOND AWESOME. I've listened to about twenty-five tracks now and only come across one that I didn't like.
Some recent discussions in [livejournal.com profile] superversive's journal, plus an essay by [livejournal.com profile] alg about how to successfully pitch a novel to an agent or editor, got me thinking about a problem I've been struggling with for some time. To wit, what is the proper answer to give when relatives, casual friends, and just-met acquaintances ask you, "So what is your book about?"

At present, I have two methods of responding to this question, and neither one is up to much.

The first is for people who don't actually read or care for fantasy: )

The second is for those who do: )

So as you can see, my explanatory technique could use some work.

Seriously, though, it is a problem. Here's why. )

[livejournal.com profile] jamesbow had a recent entry in his blog about the difficulty of writing catalogue copy for his second book, Fathom Five, and how he ultimately had to turn to his wife to help him boil down his 40,000 word story to its essence. Of course, in some cases the inability to summarize a book in one or two sentences is a warning sign: it means that the plot lacks coherence, that the themes are too diffuse. But that really wasn't James's problem, I don't believe, and although earlier drafts of Knife may have suffered from that malady, I don't think it's really the issue with my book either.

Ultimately, I think I'm just too close to the story, especially right now, to step back and look at it as a first-time reader would. But somehow, I need to figure out how to get the necessary distance -- and soon, as I'd like to have a pitch prepared for any contacts I might make at the SCBWI conference I'm attending next month.

Thoughts, anyone?
Can you tell I've been watching the "Valley Girl" extras from the HOUSE S2 DVDs?

Anyway, look at the shiny pretty thing that is Writely! I've been wanting something like this for ages!

Other super-nifty things include the very exciting news, kindly mailed to me by Hottt Cheryl (do I have the right number of t's? I've lost track of how many she's earned, now), that [livejournal.com profile] naominovik's wonderful (wonderful, wonderful, and did I say, WONDERFUL?) Temeraire books have been optioned by Peter Jackson. In spite of the fact that I hated PJ's LotR, I am enough of an optimist to think he might do a good job with the project.

I was going to write a whole separate entry, maybe over on my otherwise useless Vox blog, reviewing His Majesty's Dragon and [livejournal.com profile] papersky's delightful Tooth and Claw, as they are both fantasy novels about dragons and both strongly influenced by nineteenth-century literature, and much could be said about either of them. However, I would rather give both books my endorsement now, however briefly, than wait for an opportunity to wax eloquent about them that may well never come. So here is my review:

I didn't think books about dragons could get any better than Tooth and Claw, but Temeraire a.k.a. His Majesty's Dragon in particular is the most delightful thing to happen to me in a literary sense since I read The Beekeeper's Apprentice (and we all know what came of that). Anyway, both Walton's book and Novik's are superb. If you haven't read them, GO NOW.
Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] lizbee's recent adoption of a meter for her own novel project, I proudly present one for Knife:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
39,000 / 100,000
(39.0%)

This is assuming the book actually does end up at 100,000 words. Depending on how much more I cut and the length of the new stuff I put in, it may well be shorter.

Chapter Nine is going swimmingly so far, which is nice for a change.

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