Favorite Reads January 2019
Crawling out of my crypt for a bit. Here are the books that lit my wick last month.
Yes, this is late, but new job and all that.
Five-Twelfths of Heaven by Melissa Scott: Super fun Space Opera where FTL is achieved by alchemy, tarot cards, and harmonic engines that tap as close as possible to the literal music of the spheres. Plus group marriages of convenience, conniving relatives, space pirates, and an “evil empire”. Like I said, super fun.
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner: A fantasy novel without wars or big events or an entire cohort of characters to keep track of. Instead, it’s a story of a thief press-ganged into assisting a king’s “magus” in recovering a fabulous treasure that’s more valuable as a symbol than for any monetary value. The world building’s rich and deftly done, and the handful of characters fully realized. Recommended.
Outside the Gates by Molly Gloss: That 2019 will see all of Molly Gloss’s novels back in print is a great thing, and while I didn’t enjoy this early novel by her as much as her later work, it was still a treat to read – a bit like Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea. Vren is a young boy with strange powers exiled from his home and forced to live in the haunted woods outside the gates. There he finds friends, but also a rising threat he must confront.
The Zero Stone and Uncharted Stars by Andre Norton: I hadn’t read Andre Norton before now and I absolutely wish I had. Her stuff is absolutely delightful in a pulpy greasy kids stuff sort of way. Murdoc Jern is a galactic gem trader who inherits a magical ring from his murdered father. What secrets does the ring hold and why would people kill for it? Murdoc decides to find out, and ends up on a quest that sees him wandering the space ways with an assorted bunch of companions including Eet, a mutant space cat that bears more than a little resemblance to HR Giger’s Alien.
Plague Ship by Andre Norton: You can read about this one on my Patreon.
I read The Thief years ago, when my kids were young–that exact edition, with that cover–and really liked it. There are quite a few sequels that I haven’t read, but that have very enthusiastic fans in the circles I move in.
Yeah, I think there are seven books or the seventh is going to be published soonish. But like you I have a hard time staying up to date with a series. At least most of them are published, so that’s something I guess.
A few of these sound great, but what made me comment was surprise that you hadn’t read Norton before, and that you happen to be getting around to her now. (I am in the same boat: I managed to pick up the first bunch of Witchworld books from a shop in Vegas and hope to dig in sometime this month if I can manage it. I didn’t see some of the other big-name titles—Plague Ship and Cat’s Eye and Zero Stone—or I’d have grabbed them too.
I’m avoiding the Witchworld books because they seem to be kind of “rapey” for lack of a better word. Definitely recommend Plague Ship.
Huh, I have to admit I wasn’t aware of that—didn’t do a ton of homework, just figured, “spaceships and magic stuff, okay.” Hopefully it’s not all of them!
I’ll check out Plague Ship when I get the chance.