Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer reading without any sign of summer

Something like 18 of the past 22 days have been gray, rainy and gloomy. And oddly enough for someone who does not like to go out much, I get very cranky when spring and summer come by and I do not get enough sun. Maybe that's why my summer reading spree started with those Harry Dresden books; it was my way of demanding the weather fit my reading mood.

It hasn't worked.

However, having finished every book, (through Turn Coat (Book 11)I am now a certified fan of The Dresden Files, at least in written and comic book form (The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle.) The show, not so much. If you like your reading light-hearted with monsters and mayhem, not a lot of deep philosophical thought required, Jim Butcher can deliver. Good luck finding them on Paperback Swap though...maybe that should have indicated to me how much fun they were.

One of the reasons why I enjoyed them so much was the skill Butcher has in compacting maximum information in minimum of space - when he introduces a character, you can immediately get a feel for them. He is not above using the standard tropes of mysteries - the "one day I will tell you all about this matter you hadn't thought of until I mentioned it," sort of thing. But eventually, he does seem to get to that point, and without repeat visits to the tease. (A la that other Harry I enjoy, one Mr. Potter. How many times did someone promise to tell him everything he needed to know?)

Butcher had started out wanting to publish his swords, horses and magic books, but found the Dresden books were snapped up first. Now that he has established his name, he found publishers more willing to print up some fantasy novels for him. I'm somewhat gun shy of high fantasy - read far too many dreadful examples of it in my teens, and actually wrote some myself. (Shudder.) But like his publisher, I will take a chance on his fantasy - Furies of Calderon
- having read his horror.

While waiting to assemble my Dresden collection, I filled in some reading time with the final book in the Jaran series, The Law of Becoming. I almost wish I hadn't. It's huge, which I find encouraging. But the author had apparently decided her previous leading characters were no longer interesting, and this other guy, a third-string dude who made a pair of stupid choices in the previous books, was much more interesting. I obviously do not agree. But by shifting the focus from the small world where our romantic heroes struggled in low-tech battles into the larger universe and the incredibly complex alien society which holds humans in a rather benign pax-aliana, she threw her previous heroes into the dustbin of history, lost and forgotten, literally kidnapped in one case and nearly completely impotent in the other.

I felt like I had been baited and switched. By the end of the book, I was actually offended. It was like Elliot had simply written herself into a corner - how can a bunch of low-tech barbarians help topple an empire old enough to have seeded other planets with early humans?

Well, they can't. (Ewoks included.) So instead, the aliens, who have been so mysterious anyway, mysteriously elevate one of said barbarians to their ruling class, and who needs a coherent explanation for that? Did I mention they were mysterious aliens?

I am pondering whether I will keep these or pop them back on PBS. I liked the earlier books just fine.

1 comment:

Mad said...

You could join me in the lovely land of 'denial', and pretennd that there wasn't actually a final book. For example, did you know that there was only ever one Highlander movie made? *Ever*???

Then you could keep the initial books, stick the last one one swap, and live happily ever after!