June 26, 2007
Tris’s Book: Book 2 of the Circle of Magic quartet by Tamora Pierce
Tris’ Book takes place just a week or so after Sandry’s Book. The earthquake has weakened Winding Circle’s physical and magical defenses- and on the winds Tris can hear a few suspicious voices planning something. Their teachers- Lark, Rosethorn, Frostpine and Niko challenge the four to further stretch their abilities to assist with rebuilding the Temple’s defenses, while maintaining discipline and control over their powers. But the members of the Circle of Magic begin discovering things on their own and experimenting with their powers. While their elders are beginning to despair, the foursome are determined to save the only home where they’ve truly felt welcome. But stubborn and sensitive Tris wants to act alone- with her powerful and dangerous weather magic, she doesn’t think she needs the others. Can Daja, Sandry and Briar convince her to work together with them?
I think I liked this book better than the first- the characters developed further and it went more into the magic, and the conflict and adventure was more gripping.
This books are fun but quite easy for me to read- right now I’m half-way through Daja’s Book the third one, so before you know it I’ll be done with the quartet!
Sandry’s Book: Book 1 of the Circle of Magic quartet by Tamora Pierce
I have long enjoyed Tamora Pierce’s engaging and valiant heroines and rich, multilayered kingdom of Tortall and surrounding lands. So I was curious to see Tammy’s foray into another world- of Emelan and many other lands bordering the Pebbled Sea- a crossroads of cultures. In this world we meet not one, but four young protagonists from different social backgrounds who’s unique magical abilities are discovered by Niko Goldeye, a wandering mage.
Sandrilene fa Toren- or Sandry is great-niece of Duke Vedris, ruler of Emelan but her noble blood doesn’t save her from being orphaned or being seized by pirates- but her weaving magic does.
Briar Moss is a thief who lives by his wits on the streets- when he is captured on criminal charges he is given the chance at freedom by Niko on the condition that he come to Winding Circle Temple for training. And besides, of what use to a pickpocket is an odd knack for making plants grow?
Trisana Chandler has been shuffled from relative to the next of her merchant family- because somehow, storms and lightning seem to follow her wherever she goes, and that’s just not good for business. Even the priests and magicians of Broken Circle Temple don’t know what to do with her- but Niko does.
Daja Kisubo is perhaps the most unfortunate- as the sole survivor of a shipwreck, she is branded trangshi- outcast by her Trader people. Her connection to metal and the forge saves her- but she’s not sure if living as trangshi is worth it.
Most of the book is introducing the characters and showing their initial development and training of their magical abilities. With clashing personalities and cultures, the four don’t always get along, but slowly they find their place at the temple and as an earthquake looms, they combine their powers to become a Circle of Magic. So begins the quartet.
Today I took full advantage of Midway Books‘ annual summer anniversary sale (this year being their 42nd) 30% off already half-priced books. If you live in the Twin Cities area or want to order online I suggest you check it out.
I went there with the express purpose of getting Last of the Celts by Marcus Tanner, which I saw last time I was there. It’s about the decline of Celtic cultures in the modern era. Then I decided what the heck I’ll get some fiction too. So I added to my small but growing Pern collection with All the Weyrs of Pern and The Skies of Pern. With the addition of Winds of Darkover, my Darkover collection is almost complete. Finally I spied a copy of Midnight’s Choice by Kate Thompson- the 2nd of the Switchers trilogy about a young shapeshifter named Tess which I greated enjoyed reading from the library.
I also picked up $1 hardback discarded copy of Lion’s Blood by Stephen Barnes at my local branch library, to go along with it’s sequel, Zulu Heart (which I still need to read!) which I found a year or so ago in Barnes & Noble bargain table.
Two weeks ago while on a foray to Minneapolis I stopped in Dinkytown to check on Cummings‘ selection. For a used bookstore they tend to a very good selection of Pagan and metaphysical books (perhaps because they’re so close to Magus?) Sure enough I found Celtic Tree Mysteries by Steve Blamires and The Witch’s Sabbats- Mike Nichols classic essays on the 8 Neo-Pagan holidays in book form.
And a week before that I got Lammas by Anna Franklin used at Barnes & Nobles, and A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin and The Copper Crown by Patricia Kennealy (1st book of the Keltiad).
So, now you know where I shop!
The Amber Spyglass: Book 3 of His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
In a cave in the Himalayas, Lyra lies in an enchanted sleep, guarded by her mother, Mrs. Coulter who fears Lyra’s life is being threatened by the Church. Will Parry, accompanied by a pair of angels searches for the kidnapped Lyra. Meanwhile, physicist Mary Malone finds herself in a strange world inhabited by intelligent elephant-like creatures on wheels. These mulefa and their symbiotic relationship with a seed-pod bearing tree hold the secret to Dust- and the danger posed by the tearing of the barriers between worlds. As Will and Lyra travel between the worlds, the tension builds between the forces of tyranny represented by the Church and of intelligent consciousness led by Lord Asriel. But the conclusion surprisingly, was not the battle itself (though that is certainly in there) but a psychological and emotional coming-of-age drama. But you’ll have to read the book to discover the conclusion- as I have a no-spoilers policy on this blog. It’s more fun that way! Bwahaha!
Amber Spyglass was paradoxically, a fast-paced adventure that found time to beautifully describe features of the natural world, and to pontificate- without boring the reader- on questions of morality, philosophy, science and religion. Truly there are few authors that can manage to pull this off. Pullman mentioned in his interview that he is writing a sequel to the trilogy that ties up some of the loose ends. It will take place several years later when Lyra is 16, and she travels to her world’s equivalent of the Middle East. (Or was it Asia?) Anyways, stay tuned for any further announcements about this book. In addition there is already out Lyra’s Oxford- a shorter story about Lyra and Pantalaimon’s adventures and a companion book by another author called The Science of His Dark Materials. I’ve been wondering how based on science some of the concepts in the book are, so I will definitely be checking that out sometime. But for now, on to some other series that need to get finished!
June 4, 2007
The Subtle Knife: Book 2 of His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman,
The second book of His Dark Materials begins with Will Parry, a boy of 12 in our own world, who must flee from men who are searching for him. He finds himself in a crossroads between the worlds- a city called Citagazze. There he encounters Lyra, the heroine of the Golden Compass. Together they begin a search for Will’s father, who was lost many years ago exploring the different worlds. They learn more about the coming battle between Lord Asriel (Lyra’s father) and “the Authority”, and are exposed to danger at every turn. The amazing adventure of Golden Compass continues, as does the rich philosophical concepts explored and political intrigue. It’s not just a fun read- but a thought-provoking look at human nature, free will, cosmology and physics.