#14: February 2009

March 8, 2009 at 11:55 pm (Reviews)

Pratchett, Terry. The Wee Free Men (re-read). Read this to my son for a bedtime story. I have to wonder when he will realize how subversive this story (like most of Pratchett’s work) really is. This is the first volume of Pratchett’s young adult series starring Tiffany Aching, a young witch. Her first adventure involves an incursion from Fairie, and also the Nac Mac Feegle (the men of the title). I enjoy the fact that Tiffany is very smart and has to learn to really see things and think them through (which she has a knack for, of course). I think a lot of the social commentary went over my son’s head, but the story doesn’t slow down often. I enjoyed reading it to him (and the opportunity to read it again).

Francis, Dick. Banker (re-read). Yes, in this time of stress I’ve been in “old favorites” mode. This yarn of Francis’ involves an investment banker whose firm lends a horse breeder money to buy a stallion; there is also near-coincidence, villainy, and unattainable love. Plus an unexpected death that always, always makes me cry.

Francis, Dick. Rat Race (re-read). This one’s different – the narrator is a pilot, who’s working for an air taxi service that sometimes carries racing people. Matt Shore is stuck in a very depressing part of his life – nearly lost his license, divorced, and broke. It’s a bit of a downer, really, but the book lets him make new friends who will, clearly, make things better – but mostly after the book’s time period (I assume he only fainted at the end). The cast in this one seems unusually large, which displays Francis’ ability to draw a variety of characters much better, I think.

Pierce, Tamora. Terrier (re-read). I’ve reviewed this before. The sequel will be out in April!!!

Pierce, Tamora. The Immortals Quartet (re-read). Actually volumes 1, 2, and 4 – I thought we’d gotten a copy of #3, but couldn’t find it. Young Daine has a “knack” with animals that turns out to be a potent form of wild magic. It also turns out, as the events of the Immortals War in Tortall unfold, to be the key to the kingdom’s survival. Daine is a strong-willed heroine, free with her opinions, and it’s quite a trip to see her change from a nervous 13-year-old to a confident (and combat-experienced) 16-year-old over the course of the book. Her relationship with the mage Numair (allegedly due to get his own book some time!) is also fun. This series follows Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet in writing sequence, and definitely shows improvement in Pierce’s writing skills.

Arnold, Louise. Golden & Grey (An Unremarkable Boy and a Rather Remarkable Ghost). A juvenile and one of the Nutmeg Award books that my son recently read (that’s our state’s reading-promotion program) and recommended to me. And it is in fact a fun book. Tom Golden is having trouble fitting in at his new school, and matters are not helped when, after being hit by a car, he can see ghosts. But even before that, he’d unknowingly had a lot of contact with ghosts, because Grey Arthur had decided to be his Invisible Friend. Difficulties and hijinks ensue, though Arthur does a pretty good job at his task. And interesting feature of this alternate reality is that while ghosts are real, they’re definitely not the spirits of deceased humans. There’s a sequel, which should be out since this one was published in 2005, and I plan to look it up.

Pierce, Tamora. Protector of the Small Quartet (re-read). I’ve reviewed the first of this series before (First Test). It’s the story of Keladry of Mindelan (resident of Tortall), the first girl to go through a knight’s training openly in a hundred years or more: her training, troubles, and the important quest she goes on as a newly-minted knight. Keladry is a nice mix of pragmatism and idealism, and the range of reactions to her ambitions are believable. On re-reads, I’m always particularly interested by the training master’s behavior and reactions. How much do I like this series? Two of the volumes are signed by the author (my mom took them to a librarians’ conference for me). More YA fantasy, of course, and a fine story with engaging characters.

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