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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-17 12:04
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: A Stitch in Time by Andrew J. Robinson
A Stitch in Time - Andrew J. Robinson

Stories about Cardassia and Garak have easily become my favourite part of TrekLit nowadays, so it was time to reread this excellent "autobiography".

 

Divided into 3 parts, A Stitch in Time sheds light on Garak's history, the way others always made decisions for him, the way loss and betrayal shaped his life more than loyalty and friendship. And it all starts at school where he meets life-long friends and equally life-long enemies, and the love of his life, Palandine, who indirectly causes his fall from power and exile on DS9.

 

This part is a fascinating glimpse into Garak's history with various characters (such as Dukat, the story behind "The Wire", Tain), Cardassian society as a whole, but also into the microverse of Garak and his family. Tolan Garak, the man he believed to be his father and who turned out to be his uncle, ultimately perhaps influenced his life more than Tain and his mother Mila. Because while Tolan only belonged to the frowned-upon service class he nevertheless was more independent from outside influence than upper-class men, including who Garak comes to be. It takes years for Garak to see that.

 

The second part are diary entries between "In the Pale Moonlight" and his departure for Cardassia which relay Garak's conflict (culminating in the panic attacks) between betraying Cardassia and ultimately saving it from the Dominion together with the Federation. It highlights the growing distance between Julian and him, and the anxiety just what Cardassia he'll be able to return to. What will be left? As a side story, he meets a friend of Ziyal's who turns out to be an agent of the Khon-Ma, assigned to kill him - a woman who survived the destruction of the shuttle back on Bajor that cost her family their lives and for which she holds Garak responsible (again see "The Wire").

 

Finally, the third part is set on post-war Cardassia. Garak has returned home, a world in perpetual twilight after the Dominion tried to exterminate the population, leaving over a billion dead, a world in ruins. He turns Tain's home into a memorial, a place where people can mourn and slowly move on. And for the first time in his life he finds himself able to choose his own path, meeting old friends and enemies and determining Cardassia's future.

 

In the end, Garak comes full circle, open to new ideas because he's learned to adapt due to his ever changing surroundings. And I think Tain would turn in his grave if he saw Tolan's influence prevail over his own, resulting in Garak's interest in the Oralian Way (even if also as a means to find his love Palandine after the war - BTW, curious how the later novels don't mention her but emphasize Garak's friendships with Bashir and Parmak)... but it's gratifying to see that all of Tain's machinations, his power and loyalty plays, his treating people like pawns on a giant chess board ultimately fail.

 

A highly recommendable book - and together with "The Never-Ending Sacrifice" maybe the key to understanding the Cardassian mindset.

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review 2017-08-11 17:13
Morning My Angel (Angel Enterprises, #1) by Sue Brown
Morning My Angel - Sue Brown

Loved the humor, it compensate nicely for a few negative things that I came across.

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review 2017-07-13 05:15
The Shadow Mark (Lords of Davenia, #2) by Mason Thomas
The Shadow Mark (Lords of Davenia Book 2) - Mason Thomas

Warning: 
NO sex. 
NO romantic relationship or indication thereof until the very end of the book.

Come to think of it, can't call it bromance either.

All of the above are perfect for me :p

***
Very good adventure/suspense. 
My only disappointment, I never felt much for Kane. The character was pretty flat and never came to shine. 


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-04-05 22:22
Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Mirror Dance - Lois McMaster Bujold

This is a novel that grows on you. When I first read it back in 2005, I reasonably liked it. Except for Cordelia's Honor it was the best part of the saga up till that point in the narrative, but I didn't love it. So I only reread parts of it, but never in its entirety - until now. And boy, this time I absolutely fell in love with it. It has a bit of a slow start (which costs it the half star-reduction), but once the shit hits the fan it's one tour de force of psychology and emotion that keeps you biting your finger nails.

 

After 2 years, Mark turns up and basically kidnaps the Dendarii posing as Miles for a raid of House Baraputhra's cloning facilities on Jackson's Whole (where he was created as well). Miles races after him and arrives just as the mission fails spectacularly. He ends up shot in the chest and put in a cryotube which then gets lost in the following chaotic retreat. Mark and Elena have the unenviable task of relaying the news to the Vorkosigan parents which means for Elena a return to a difficult past - and for Mark a step into an uncertain future. But the race to recover Miles (dead or alive) isn't over, and Mark won't stop until there's certainty of his clone-brother's fate.

 

This is Mark's story, who he was, who he is and who he ends up to be. The various roles he has to or chooses to play showcase this, from impersonation, to reluctant and unsure son, to brother and business man - dealing with doubt, guilt, and all the aftereffects that his upbringing with Galen (which is elaborated on here) left him with. Add to that the torture he's put through here, and you get a young man who's somehow toeing the line towards insanity, but nevertheless has never felt more sane and true to himself. It's a veritable tour de force to come to that point, and some chapters are incredibly difficult to read (the black gang's emergence) and make no mistake, Bujold doesn't pull any punches here. This might be the most explicit book in terms of violence and torture against one of her main characters in this saga so far (and overall), and even immoral acts perpetrated by a main character, but it's so rewarding nonethess. Honestly, up till now I've never liked Mark, but in a way Bujold managed to bring him to life in just one (albeit very long) book just as much as she did with Miles. And the Vorkosigan-universe is richer for it.

 

Miles himself takes the backseat here, but of course he gains a new perspective in life - having an brother, not just a clone, for once not being in the heart of things... and a glimpse of mortality. But his resurrection doesn't come without a price as we'll see. Among all the psychology and character-drama the plot surrounding the Duronas and the despicable machinations on Jackson's Whole get a bit sidelined. But I guess we'll revisit both. Overall, I love the image of reciprocity in this novel: every action has a reaction, just like in the Mirror Dance, a popular dance on Barrayar, and that's transferred to practically everything that's going on here.

 

Other than Mark himself, the parts that most fascinated me (and the ones that I kept coming back to) are set on Barrayar: the effects Miles' not-quite death has on the Vorkosigans, Mark's introduction into this family, Aral's health crisis which suddenly turns an academic question of succession into a very real one, Cordelia going toe to toe with Simon Illyan, even the small glimpses and huge nudges of Gregor and Kareen Koudelka who both accept Mark for who he is from the start - not just as Miles's clone, but as an individual.

 

Overall, a stunning novel.

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review 2017-01-22 22:09
Mélusine (Doctrine of Labyrinths #1) by Sarah Monette
Melusine - Sarah Monette

I am reviewing a DTB version.

Wow! That was the longest prologue I've ever read!
Now I can go back to page 1 and start enjoying the book.
Many reviews that mention re-reads make sense now.

*****

Few thoughts on the book, the writing, the characters, the shenanigans. No spoilers, just want to keep my outrage contained in the spoiler tags.

 

Tho I like it when authors dump you right in the middle of things and you have to start running the moment you hit the ground, this was not the case. I sure did do some legwork, but it was mostly bouncing up and down on the same spot, trying to get hold on my bearings. What? Who? Where? How? but most often than not WTF? were the questions popping into my head every other paragraph.

 

None of the places, politics, history and even characters, including one of the MCs, are explored enough for readers to fully comprehend the magnitude of events that the author is bestowing upon us until it's almost into the second half.

* Felix doesn't get to shine in the beginning of the book; hell, Felix doesn't get to be or do anything before all hell brakes loose. He doesn't get. to. be. Although SM keeps showering us with "Felix is This" and "Felix is That", all we see is a mad, wounded, bleeding dog instead of a shiny pretty thing, and its running, whimpering, to his abuser after being called "a whore". That one word and an unsubstantiated implication to go along does not justify Felix's violent overreaction. I am sure it's all perfect in MS's head, but she clearly prefers not to share any additional bits with us (and there are more to come).
Where is this person who thinks quick on his legs? SM's shiny version of Felix should handle it in no time flat, instead he is seeking out his uber abusive master he hasn't seen in years and loading on drugs like there is no tomorrow.

.........................................

Felix the magnificent, "whose deadly wit is the terror of the court” my ass. Whiny little pup!

* The book is packed with too many elaborate names that mean nothing, people who never show up and have no impact on the events, places we never go to.

Not sure why French rev. calendar was used. To give an instant historical setting? Sorry, it didn't work. You can't use a calendar and a bunch of French sounding names to instantly set the stage, unless its real France and the time is set roughly during the very end of 18th/beginning of 19th centuries. Same goes for Troia/Greece. These tricks confuse, not clarify events or describe places or historical periods in fantasy fiction.

I jam fond of French history and literature, but even then it took me a few minutes to zoom in on Pluviôse, I simply did not expect it. It was one of my first in the long line of WTF moments. I am sure many of us remember the calendar, but then there are many who do not.

(spoiler show)



To SM:
*Please, translate for the overwhelming majority of your non-russian speaking audience, what the hell Morskaiakrov means. Would it kill you to make a footnote: *Morskayakrov (russian) - Sea Blood. In current setting it implies that the family who operates the boat has sea in their blood. They were born into the trade and sea is their home and their life.
Please, quit making people feel inadequate and leaving them tongue-twisted and cross-eyed.


* Too many side stories. For what purpose? Ah.... of course. Page count. But they slow down the flow of the main story and leave loose ends all over the place.
What was the deal with the hidden attic at St. Crellifer's? Great escape route. Great way in. But was it utilized? I really hope it will come handy later, because as of right now it's an opportunity and reader's time wasted.

*POV switching. Two paragraphs here. Half a page there. Past Tense, Present Tense... I am looking forward (not!) to colons in The Virtu, that's on top of Italics and Mildmay's bad and inconstant speech antics.

*Would it greatly burden you to have a glossary of terms and names in the beginning of the book? If anything it will expand your page count.

*Please, mention your septads in the glossary of your quirks. Two septads and six is an amusing take on 20 questions, but - really? Really? Invent your own question game and leave decimals out.

OK, shutting up now. There is more in my updates if anyone cares.

(spoiler show)



This book made me angry. Felix, too, at the very end, with his lack of gratitude and common sense made me angry. BUT. The story held my interest. I am starting The Virtue today. That counts for something, I guess.

3 stars.

PS Shannon. I feel bad for him. Felix is one ungrateful piece of ...work.

 

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