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January 2017

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Martha Wells - Ile-Rien Series

So being that I've not had much to do recently after work, I've taken to trying to whittle down my rather long reading list. Of which one was the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy by Martha Wells. I started off with reading The Potter Girl in Year's Best Fantasy 7, since I needed to discover new authors - I'd pretty much read every Gaiman, Mccaffrey, Novik, Lackey, Stroud..etc etc etc. book in existence, and I was bored. I'd decided to start on Wells simply because her writing style seemed to be something I liked.

So imagine my surprise when I started on the Ile-Rien trilogy. Firstly it was intriguing, and the last time I'd gotten this obsessed over a trilogy (I read everything within two weeks), was with Naomi Novik's Temeraire series; and since that was read and done, this new discovery was more than welcome. The world was extremely addictive - take a mix of Victorian life, infuse that with science -and- magic, and then throw in gating and multiple dimensions, and I was sold.

Perhaps what really got me was her characterization - good authors have a knack for never saying the obvious, leaving the reader instead to infer everything from a loaded comment, a detailed description, a subtle twitch of a character's hand... The author had a background in anthropology, and it shows in the way she crafts cultures, personas, and worlds, not unlike what Ursula LeGuin did with her Ekumen series. And the detail she provides helps the reader create this extremely vivid world in the mind's eye, and at times I could almost picture the characters in what might be likened to HD-TV *lol*. Her pacing leaves you breathless, like watching a really good Sci-Fi/Mystery/Action/Romance kind of telemovie drama.

So having established that I think I'm in love with her writing, here's a quickie about the books themselves. ^_^ (click links to read excerpts from the author's page)

The world is Ile-Rien, and there are 5 books in total, all set in different points in the country's history. It's something like Victorian England, where there's the nobility/royalty, and frequent dealings with the fae and sorcery. Over the time of the books, you see the society evolve from medieval to modern, with the government also moving from a monarchy to something more akin to a parliament, and with the royalty taking a more ceremonial world. Wizards in this world are able to work all sorts of spells, and have inherent Talent, but they require magical tools such as powders, etheric glasses, and other cantrips to work their art.

Element of Fire starts at the beginning, and is completely separate from the other four, as a standalone (can't comment on this yet since I just started reading it). You can get the full, legal, html/ebook version here.

The next, chronologically 200 years later, is Death of the Necromancer, in which Nicholas Valiarde, a nobleman with a checkered past, and his motley band of thugs and two-faced politicians in high society, scheme to take down Count Montesq, the politician that framed Nicholas' adoptive father. Of note are the powerful sorcerer Arisilde Damal, who has an extreme opium addiction and is somewhat removed from reality; Reynard Morane, Nicholas' friend, noble, and disgraced dandy; and Madeline, an accomplished, spunky actress, and Nicholas' love interest. Perhaps my favorite book, since the conversation and mystery are so addictive. I especially like Arisilde, since he is such an unconventional 'most-powerful-sorcerer-in-so-and-so' type of character. Very flaky, eccentric, and hilariously out of touch with the world. He never fails to irritate the hell out of the protagonist, which is extremely hilarious. And Reynard is a dead ringer for Rupert Everett. I daresay if the book ever gets made into a movie (which it really should), he'd be first choice.

Having established those characters, they eventually appear in the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, set around twenty years later - Ile-Rien is being attacked by Gardier, a mysterious people from another world. Nicholas and Arisilde have disappeared for a few years, while tracking down the source of the Gardier, and the story is told from the POV of Nicholas' daughter, Tremaine, his sole heir. In the midst of the war, she stumbles on a sphere, mechanical tools infused with spells by Arisilde, to allow any bearer with the slightest hint of magical talent to perform magic. This takes her to a whole new adventure wherein they gate to another world, and come into contact with other civilizations, ultimately taking them closer to the secret of the Gardier. The three books are The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, The Gate of Gods.

I highly recommend this series, to anyone who appreciates good, original fantasy, well written mystery, and conflicted, morally ambiguous protagonists. 5.5 stars out of 5 ^____^
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From PL's blog. Because this sounded interesting =)

The Big Read Meme~

So is it true the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed?

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicise those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your own LJ so we can try and track down these people who’ve only read 6 and force books upon them

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible - God
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis --> why is this a separate book from the chronicles of narnia above O_o
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown --> horrible book though >.<
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton --> LOVED THIS!!!
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

16 books. Interesting. I don't agree that some of these books are the greatest every written, but ah well, to each his own... It's funny how, even though I've read more books than I can remember, I've only read 16% of this list. Such an ego breaker. *haha*
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