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review 2017-06-10 01:35
The Thrall’s Tale by Judith Lindbergh
The Thrall's Tale - Judith Lindbergh

This took me longer than I expected. It wasn’t exactly a hard read, but there was this dreamy quality to the prose that I wasn’t entirely sure I liked. It almost feels languid. It’s told from three perspectives: Thorbjorg – a freewoman and witch, Katla – Thorbjorg’s unfortunate thrall, and Bibrau – Katla’s unwanted daughter. All three perspectives are told in the first person which I didn’t entirely like. It is very clear whose section is whose and none of them are very long, but I still wasn’t sure I liked the convention. This isn’t a happy story but it is an interesting one. We follow Thorbjorg and Katla as they travel from Iceland to Greenland in the 10th century and it’s the kind of historical fiction where the magic and spirits are real because the characters believe them to be. There isn’t a lot of magic; just the kind of stuff that’s mixed in with folk tales and rituals and believing in spirits. There’s a lot of Norse mythology mixed in with the threat of Christianity.

 

I did decide that I liked how everything tied together though, so I’m going with four stars.

 

I read this for booklikes-opoly square Tomorrowland 34 since it has a child on the cover. Well, a baby. I’m pretty sure that counts. At 450 pages, I get to add $5 to my bank, bringing my total to $114.

 

Previous update:

41/450 pages

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text 2017-06-05 16:30
Reading progress update: I've read 41 out of 450 pages.
The Thrall's Tale - Judith Lindbergh

I went with this book for Tomorrowland #34 (child on the cover) since it's been on my shelf so long.

 

I've been trying to figure out just how long it's been sitting there unread, and I have to admit that I'm not sure. I know I picked it up for $5 or so in the bargain section at Chapters (actually I think it was at one of the stores still under the Indigo name). The book was published in 2006 so it probably wasn't put in the bargain section until 2007...maybe 2008? Regardless of which year it was, it's kind of sad that it's been on my shelf close to a decade even if it hasn't quite reached that mark.

 

It's about time I read it, isn't it?

 

So far it's about a bunch of people emigrating from Iceland to Greenland, and the main point of view character is Katla, a thrall (read: slave) of one of the leaders. I don't think this is going to be a very happy story.

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review 2017-05-29 13:16
Fortune Like the Moon by Alys Clare
Fortune like the Moon - Alys Clare

Richard I is worried about the fallout from his mother’s decision to release all the prisoners to commemorate the start of his reign when a nun is found brutally murdered, so he sends Josse d’Acquin to investigate at Hawkenlye.

 

I quite liked this mystery, there were several clever reversals, and it was the Abbess Helewise who solved the murder! Don’t worry, that’s only a very mild spoiler. I won’t tell you who actually did it. I wasn’t sure about some of the historical details that the story relied on and I could have done without the very last chapter (it provided a resolution that I could have done without), so I’m going with 3.5 stars despite dithering about 4. I do plan on looking into the next one in the series, however.

 

I read this for booklikes-opoly square Frontierland 1 “Read a book with a title that starts with any letter in FRONTIER”.  At 256 pages, this nets me another $3 for my bank, bringing my balance to $98!

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review 2017-04-19 17:01
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
Under Heaven - Guy Gavriel Kay

Series: Under Heaven #1

 

Under Heaven is a standalone book that usually gets listed as coming before River of Stars because they both take place in Kitai (Kay’s version of China) and River of Stars takes place after Under Heaven (but at least a couple hundred years after).

 

Under Heaven follows the path of Shen Tai after a Kitan princess from a neighbouring country (she got married off) gives him a ridiculously extravagant and impractical gift because he’d taken it on himself to bury bodies from several battles in a remote mountainous area on the border during the mourning period for his father. So for two years he dug graves all day long while the ground was unfrozen and listened to the wails of ghosts of the unburied bodies at night. I think I mentioned in one of my updates that he’s a bit weird.

 

He basically has to stay alive long enough to try to claim the gift and figure out how to keep it long enough to make use of it without getting killed. Along the way we meet Wei Song, a female Kanlin warrior who serves as his bodyguard. I thought Wei Song was pretty cool. At one point it’s said that "She was small, and lethal." We also meet Tai’s sister Li-Mei who I thought stole the show, character-wise. She gets to exemplify that bravery is acting even when you’re afraid.

 

There are lots more characters and events at the Emperor’s court and a rebellion and so on, but I don’t want to give everything away (hopefully I haven’t spoiled anything as it is). I liked the novel but I didn’t rate it higher because honestly, Kay has done better, and the prose in this book isn’t as fluid or as lyrical as some of his other books. I’m used to Kay setting a rhythm and the text forcing you to follow it. There were also several asides to discuss the history as a whole because the later part of the book starts delving into macro-level events rather than following specific characters. Rather the narrative still follows the characters but the scope of the text broadens and I felt some human quality was lost in there.

 

At least I’m slowly catching up on my Kay reads?

 

I read this for square #24 of the booklikes-opoly board, “Read a book set in Africa or Asia” as I’m considering Kay’s alternate version of China to be set in Asia. Since this book has just over 600 pages, I get $5 to add to my bank.

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text 2017-04-18 23:49
Reading progress update: I've read 65%.
Under Heaven - Guy Gavriel Kay

I keep thinking of Rincewind kowtowing...

 

We're back to court shenanigans, although we keep cutting back to Li-Mei.

 

I'm not sure how I'm going to explain this book without getting into spoilers. I'll have to stick to early ones, I guess. I'm also not sure how I feel about it. I guess we'll see how well Kay nails the ending.

 

If I finished the book on the 19th, I can still roll, right?

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