Round Peg in a Square Hole

A repository of reference material on a variety of subjects

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Book recommendation

Being several sigma off the norm on many scales has it's down-sides: I end up exposed to a lot of advertising which is not designed with my interests in mind, and I often have a need for things that don't exsist, not because no one has thought of them, but because there is no market for them. But, when someone does decide to aim for me AND hits the nail squarely on the head, it's golden.

Recently started reading a fantasy series that I was exposed to at WorldCon, when they included the first chapter or so of the first book as part of the freebies given out to each con attendee. I was intrigued enough to buy the first two books of the series, but hadn't gotten around to reading them until recently. The author is Naomi Novik, and the books are His Majesty's Dragon, Throne of Jade, and Black Powder War, and I am really enjoying them.

It's not often that a fantasy book is set in any other period than a bastardized version of the Renaissance or Middle Ages, but these are set in Napoleonic times and Ms. Novik has done her research, at least to my half-trained eye. I've listened to most of the Patrick O'Brian novels, re-read Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer incessantly, and what is in these novels rings true to both. The mind-set of the characters, the social interactions, even the sea scenes show a deep understanding of the period. It's such an unusual combination of interests; I keep wanting to recommend them to people, but can't think of many people who would be interested in both aspects of the book, and the combination of the the two is what delights me so about them.

And the writing ain't bad, either. The characters are sympathetic and admirable, though definitely not perfect, and even the villians are believable and consistent, both with themselves and with the time and place. I don't know whether these are her first efforts (there is some sense of the novice writer in the books) but they are quite good, and I will be looking forward to more in the future from Ms. Novik. Oh, and going on Amazon later today to get the third book.....