45. Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows
-- so I've been vaguely aware of this book and sort of avoiding it, until isis
started reading them, and I found myself intrigued by the description of a layering of backstories and caper plot, gritty and complex characters, and a writing style with a lot of tagless dialogue, sparse on adverbs and adjectives but still strong on flavor. All of this sounded fairly Vlad Taltos-y to me, so waiting for Vallista to drop seemed like the perfect time to try it. Ultimately, it ended up reminding me more of a different book (more on which below), but I ended up enjoying it anyway -- and it was gripping enough in the reading that I missed my return commute stop once, and nearly missed it a few more times, and then lay in bed until I finished the book, which doesn't happen to me very often. (Damn cliffhangerish ending, though!)
I've been aware of Bardugo's Grisha trilogy books for a while, and assiduously avoiding them since I checked out some very basic Goodreads reviews and discovered the fake-Russian was going to be AWFUL for me (pro tip: If you're going to play with Russian last names, the -ov ending is masculine, and the -ova ending is feminine. "Alina Starkov" and especially "Aleksander Morozova" (or "Ilya Morozova") is INCREDIBLY grating, and also REALLY EASY to avoid with a quick beta check. I mean, seriously, Russian speakers are not extinct and do use the internet -- imagine! And don't pick names randomly off the census lists, maybe? At least not in gendered languages. Like, maybe there's even an in-universe reason for this? but I'm never going to read it, because you've lost me at the blurb.) BUT ANYWAY, once I was reassured that Six of Crows
(which is a kickass title btw) was set not in !Russia but in !Amsterdam, I felt much more confident giving it a shot. There is a major !Russian character in this book, and some more minor ones, but fortunately she had a decently plausible name, and was also a pretty great character, although not noticeably Russian in any ways that were discernible to me (the way, say, Varvara Sidorovna in RoL is). There is still some fake-Russian mumbo-jumbo built into the fabric of the worldbuilding, but I could mostly ignore that. ( More, with spoilers )44. Steven Brust, Tiassa
(reread) -- part of my semi-accidental reread to lead up to the Vallista release. I ended up liking the first part (early Vlad), which was my favorite the first time around, less, and the ambigious-POV part 2 more, and still rather ground to a halt on the Paarfi section. I keep forgetting how little I actually enjoy reading Paarfi-prose, because I do enjoy a lot of the things that happen in the Paarfi books, but, gah, it was such a relief to go back to Vlad narration in the epilogue. Also, when I first heard about it, I didn't subscribe to the theory that ( spoilers )46. Steven Brust, Vallista
-- par for the course, I finished it in less than 24 hours (and what am I going to do now, until Taslmoth comes out?) Once I learned that Vallista
was going to be a gothic, that both felt very fitting (duh, of course the Vallista book would have a building-as-character at its center!) and also made me apprehensive, because I just don't care for gothics as such. I needn't have worried, because it's Vlad, and it was both very gothicy and not overwrought in the way that turns me off actual gothics. I liked it! And it's a really clever book, thematically, and there are probably also construction bits I'll notice on rereads. It didn't leave me wanting to know what happens next (because what happens next is Hawk
), and it didn't leave me wanting more of the same, which also happens a lot with Vlad books for me. It just felt... complete, which also seems fitting for the Vallista book. But I keep thinking about it and coming to new realizations as I do, which is really neat. I want to write my initial impressions down before I go looking to see what mailing list or chat people are saying (assuming anyone is saying anything anywhere :P), but I'm sure bits of this one will be dropping into place for me for a long time. ( SPOILERS from here! )
And a Vlad link: SKZB on Vlad reading order
. The interesting thing to me is the idea that, once complete, reading in Cycle order will be another possibility. Presumably starting with Dragon
) rather than Phoenix, but it would go Dragon, [Lyorn], Tiassa, Hawk, Dzur, Issola, [Tsalmoth], Vallista, Jhereg, Iorich, [Chreotha], Yendi, Orca, Teckla, Jhegaala, Athyra, Phoenix. This is an interesting idea. I can see how some successions would work -- Tiassa-Hawk is publication order, Hawk-Dzur could be fun, Vallista-Jhereg is a bit backwards but both have the reincarnation thing, Jhereg-Iorich is a very nice order, Yendi-Orca I can see, and Teckla-Jhegaala-Athyra makes for a super-depressing triad but actually make a fair bit of sense. The only thing I can't really wrap my brain around is reading Dzur and THEN Issola.
And two fic recs from Crossovering:
- Winterfell Tales
(Vorkosigan Saga/Game of Thrones crossover, 2.6k, T), Miles and Ekaterin find themselves in Westeros and meet Sansa and Tyrion. This is a crossover I've wanted to see for ages, and it was a lovely take on it.
- The Start of a Long Summer
(AtLA/Narnia, 1.7k, gen), a young Azula steps through the wardrobe. And this is a crossover I had no idea I wanted to see, but marvelously done!