Tanya Huff is one of my favourite SF/Fantasy writers. I loved her trope-twisting "Blood" series with Detective Vicki Nelson encountering everything from Werewolves to Mummies, her "Confederation / Peacekeeper" series where Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr delivers military SF that isn't just about winning and her "Gale Women" series where the world is saved on a regular basis by women who know how to unleash magic.
Two of the things I like most about her writing is the way she uses humour and the way she subverts patriarchal power models. Her women are powerful but they use their power in very different ways than their male counterparts and they love pricking pomposity.
I jumped at the opportunity to go back to a collection of stories written at the start of her career and see how far these two elements were already present. What I found were some light, fun stories that made me smile both because they are witty in a relaxed, slightly bawdy sort of way and because they disassemble traditional power models with a wink and a cocky smile.
Magdelene, the central character of the seven stories in "Third Time Lucky", is the most powerful wizard in the world. Fortunately for everyone concerned, she is also the laziest wizard in the world. She is more interested in living in a climate that requires little by way of clothing and is populated by well-muscled men who know how to sing than she is in world domination.
I read the stories in the order they're published in the book, which is the order that Tanya Huff wrote them in, rather than the chronological order of the stories. This, together with the notes from the author at the start of each tale, let me watch how Tanya Huff's idea of Magdelene developed between the first story in 1985 and the last in 2001.
They all made me smile and they all made me look again at power models - the one where Magdelene encounters a wizard bureaucracy I found to be particularly cutting.
If you're a Tany Huff fan, take the time to read this collection.
If you're not a Tanya Huff fan yet, read this collection for a gentle introduction to someone who sees the world differently and makes you glad to be in her company.
I really enjoy reading Tanya Huff's Quarters books. They're great fantasy fun, filled with engaging and diverse characters who go on adventures and end up saving countries and kingdoms. :) There are bards and assassins and nobles and the common man, someone for everyone. And there is romance woven into the adventures and scheming.
No Quarter is filled with all of those things. It's really very much of a continuation of book 2, Fifth Quarter, as opposed to just taking place in the same universe with the focus on different characters. We find out what happened to the twin assassins, Vree and Bannon, Karlene the bard, and Gyhard, the man who is looking for a body of his own. It's also the story of Magda and Garrett, children of the main characters of book 1, Sing the Four Quarters. We even spend some time with Prince Otavas (I may have that spelling wrong), another of the characters from #2. Their paths intertwine to give us a wonderful solution to the simple problem of a man without a body.
As I said to an author buddy of mine as I was reading, even though I enjoyed my read, I found myself wishing that maybe I had read these books when I was a teenager. I'm pretty sure all the sexual identity diversity and openness would have left a positive mark on an impressionable me. As it is now, at 60 years old, well, I sit and nod and think that these kids have the right idea. *LOL*
I'm looking forward to reading the 4th book, The Quartered Sea, at some point and seeing which of my friends from the first three books come along for the ride. :)
From the blurb:
It began with a ghost in his bedroom. A tormented soul hungry for vengeance, The sort of nocturnal visitation that even a five-hundred-year-old vampire like Henry Fitzroy found tiresome. It would lead Vicki Nelson, PI, into her most deadly investigation yet.
The wraith is determined that Henry and Vicki track down its killer - and is prepared to use a little persuasion by way of the innocent inhabitants of Toronto to ensure their support. Forced to investigate, Vicki discovers a host of souls in desperate torment and evidence to suggest that trailing the killer will only lead to further deaths - starting with her own.
An entertaining, nail-biting addition to the Vicki Nelson series. This book (and the series in general) is all about the characters, and not so much about the mystery that requires solving.