Another year of reading. Still not back to my glory days of 100 books in a year, but otherwise the second best I’ve done (beating out 91 in 2016!). A solid year. I’m going to see if I can purposely try to hit 100 again next year though. Should be doable.
And so it ends. I’ve had some issues with this series (mostly with some of the relationship drama present throughout), but I’m glad I finished it.
Characterwise, I’m not sure I liked what happened to either Tom or Hester. Tom is entirely too naive. Pennyroyal literally shot him–and this is likely to kill him one day. He enslaved Tom’s daughter. And he doesn’t seem to care. He’s good to a fault and it just doesn’t seem real. Hester… is crazy and violent and full of a desire for vengeance and it’s only worse this time around. This time it doesn’t feel unreal–what does that say about me?–but it’s still sad that she ended up this way. Wren and Theo I liked a lot more. I wish they would have spent less time separated nearly missing one another again and again, but it works out.
Apparently I last read Furies of Calderon before I started writing reviews. That was actually the second time I read it–the first time I didn’t even finish the book, putting it down. It’s something of a slow book and a bit strange. But the second time and especially once I got into the sequels, I loved it, it’s among my favorite series. This time around, I listened to it and it’s even better as an audiobook (since it just keeps right on going through the boring parts).
If you haven’t heard, the story is that Codex Alera arose out of a bar bet. Take some random topic and write a story about it. In this case, the Lost Roman Legion and Pokemon. Sounds crazy, but it kind of works. From the Roman half, you end up with essentially a Roman empire with holds and legions that have fought to tear out a land for themselves from a variety of enemies all around. From the Pokemon, you have Furies, elemental spirits of the land, sea, and air which all of the Alerans[^Tavi] have some ability to control for various tasks: the strength of an earth fury, healing with water furies, flying with air. Pretty cool.
On one hand, Predator’s Gold does a solid job of expanding on what was the best part of Mortal Engines: the world building all around mobile cities that eat one another. We get to see a few more cities–both predators and trading cities–along with more details on airships in this world. But the real worldbuilding gold1 is in the parasites that can attach themselves to cities and steal from them. It really makes the cities feel like gigantic living organisms as much as anything, which I’m sure is Reeve’s intention.
On the other hand, I very nearly put Predator’s Gold down several times during the first half of the book. There’s a rather blatant love triangle between Tom, Hester, and Freya (princess of Anchorage–roving city of the north nearly destroyed by a plague in the recent past). It really doesn’t make much sense given Tom and Hester’s relationship at the end of the first book and drags on way too long. Perhaps that’s what some people read the book for… but it’s really not for me.
It basically reads like Mira Grant thought: you know what’s kind of creepy but doesn’t really have that many books written about them? Mermaids. And just went with it. It works though. Creepy as heck at times and once things start happening around halfway through the book, they really don’t stop. The ending is a bit weak and leaves me wanting more answers, but not enough to ruin the entire book.
She came to a decision, pulled her feet out of the mire, and stepped carefully over the ring of bodies that were scattered around her. They were all motionless, and all of them were wearing latex gloves.
So far as openings go, that was certainly one to get my attention.
On one hand, the Apollo books are getting better. It’s mostly more of the same, bringing myths to life in the real world combined with a constant sense of the world ending, but if that’s what you’re looking for … power to you?
And then there’s a prophecy that either Pipe or Jason
is going to die. Of course you expect they’ll figure out a way around it… Apollo is a (former?) god of prophecy after all? But madman that Riordan is, he actually does it. Ow. That was not at all what I expected to see in one of these books. Given the Doors of Death etc we’ve seen in these series, it’s still possible they’ll figure out a work around… but still. Wow.
The Dark Prophecy is straight up a sequal to The Hidden Oracle. Pretty much all of my comments from apply here. Apollo is still a decent but not great main character, Meg is still odd and weirdly powerful. The world still feels like something we’ve seen done better in Riordan’s other series.
The main different of the Dark Prophecy and the part that amused me the most: it’s almost completely set in Indianapolis. You don’t get that overly often in fiction and it’s always amusing to see it done. For someone that lives within spitting distance of Indianapolis, close enough.
“When they must,” said Lirael. “The Library is very old, and deep, and contains many things that have been put away for good reason. Creatures, dangerous knowledge, artifacts made not wisely, but too well … books that should not be opened without proper preparation, some books that should never be opened at all.”
Compared to the original trilogy, both Clariel the book and Cariel the character have a rather different feel.
As a book, Clariel takes place centuries before Sabriel, well before the fall of the Old Kingdom. We’re in an entirely different political landscape and rather than the general feeling of things coming back together (other than the whole end of the world thing), there’s a feel of falling apart. We’re square in the height of decadence that comes before the fall, with a failing monarchy, an Abhorsen who’d rather hunt than deal in death, and Charter Magic fallen out of fasion. It’s an interesting time period to explore, don’t get me wrong. It’s just rather different.