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  #221  
Old 09-16-2019, 12:29 AM
Pixelated Pixelated is offline
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Still re-reading my way through my collection. I just finished The Fire Kimono by Laura Joh Rowland, and am now on The Snow Empress, by the same author. They are two books in a mystery series set in 17th-century Japan.

The main character, Sano Ichiro, is (to nobody's surprise, I'm sure) a samurai, and the shogun to whom he owes allegiance is, unfortunately, a weak, indecisive and very inept ruler, easily swayed by other people's opinions, and one who can't cope with any kind of stress or intrigue -- of which there is more than enough in the court. Not least among these intrigues is the unspoken battle between Sano and another high-ranking courtier (Lord Matsudaira, who just happens to be related to the shogun) for control of the country.

In The Fire Kimono, the skeletal remains of the shogun's cousin are found, and Sano is ordered to find the killer -- never mind that the death occurred 40 years ago, during a massive fire that virtually levelled the city. As the investigation goes on, Sano learns to his horror that his own mother appears to be implicated in it ... and also that she does not appear to be the person he believed her to be.

In The Snow Empress, Sano is sent north to the northern land of Ezogashima to find out why the Japanese overlord of that domain (the indigenous peoples are called the Ezo and are regarded as uncivilized barbarians) has not make the required yearly visit to the shogun's court. But he has a second reason to go there: Lord Matsudaira has kidnapped his son, Sano Masahiro, at a local festival, and has sent the boy to Ezogashima, presumably to the court of that same Japanese overlord.
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  #222  
Old 09-16-2019, 02:20 PM
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Quoth greek_jester View Post
It was nice knowing you. That series (while excellent) is rather like War and Peace for fantasy; it goes on forever! I was reading it as it was still being written by the original author, and waiting for each book to come out was sheer torture.
I'm well aware it's a massive series. That's one reason I got into it. It'll keep my reading time filled for a while.
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  #223  
Old 09-19-2019, 06:49 PM
Pixelated Pixelated is offline
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Besides The Snow Empress, I'm also reading Double or Die, by Charlie Higson.

"You're all right, you know. What do they call you, kid?"

"Bond. James Bond," he said without thinking.



Yep, it's the James Bond, while he was still at Eton. Never been much of a Bond fan, but this book is actually pretty good. (Admittedly, I never read any of Fleming's novels; all I knew of the character was what I saw in movie trailers, and I was pretty unimpressed by them.)

-------------------
From the blurb on the inside of the back cover: "Several authors were approached by Ian Fleming Publications to write the Young Bond series. They gathered in a secret mountain hideaway inside a giant cave and sat around a huge marble-topped table. Charlie Higson pulled lever and the other authors disappeared into a shark-infested tank. So Charlie got the job ...."
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Last edited by Pixelated; 09-20-2019 at 02:19 AM.
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  #224  
Old 09-20-2019, 07:41 AM
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Quoth Pixelated View Post
Yep, it's the James Bond, while he was still at Eton. Never been much of a Bond fan, but this book is actually pretty good. (Admittedly, I never read any of Fleming's novels; all I knew of the character was what I saw in movie trailers, and I was pretty unimpressed by them.)
James Bond in the novels was more obviously a ruthless sociopath, but he was also more human; given that the readers when the books were first published had all fought in WW2 (or at least knew people who did) there was no way to shrug off bullet wounds or beatings as "just a flesh wound" the way writers/film makers do today without making the readers nope out.

That's actually one of the reasons Daniel Craig's Bond was so popular; if you've read the books, he's the most accurate version we've had yet; ruthless, lacking empathy, and actually looks hurt when he's shot/beaten/tortured.
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  #225  
Old 09-20-2019, 10:09 PM
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Interestingly, the young Bond here also gets his ass handed to him on more than one occasion and it obviously HURTS.

The only thing that might have been a little -- uh -- superhuman? -- is when one of the bad guys pours several quarts of gin down his throat and yet he recovers. Now, I know nothing about gin or how bad it is on the body, but could a large quantity of the stuff, all at once (especially to a non-drinker) really shut everything down in short order?

I should add that he does not simply doze off for half an hour and wake up full of vim and vigour. He is sick as hell for a while, and in fact wonders at one point if he might be dying.
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  #226  
Old Yesterday, 12:06 AM
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Just finished Gail Carringer's 'Etiquette and Espionage' set in a floating steampunk finishing school... where young ladies are taught not only to dance gracefully with a young man,but where to conceal a dagger about their person should lethal force be needed. Can't wait for the next instalment.
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  #227  
Old Today, 01:52 AM
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Reading an anthology of Gothic stories with a twist called Exquisite Aberrations (full disclosure: I have a story in it but wanted to read all the others) and just getting into Hero with a Thousand Faces. I love Joseph Campbell's PBS series but have never read his books! Time to rectify the one most closely associated with storytelling.
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