Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Door into Fire & Clerical Errors

Two books to review quickly today. I didn't have heaps of time to read last week, due to visitors, Easter etc. but these two were light, easy reads that I was able to pick up and put down as and when I had a spare moment.

First up, The Door into Fire by Diane Duane, a fantasy story which is my book four for Carl's Once Upon a Time V challenge.

Herewiss is a prince of the Brightwood, a small part of the Middle Kingdoms. He is the first male in centuries to have the power of the flame, that is, it's within him but he's unable to find a focus to channel the power through and thus, completely unable to use it. His closest friend is Freelorn, who should have taken the throne of Arlen when his father died but had it snatched from him. His life consists of trying to find ways to get his rightful throne back and getting into various scrapes that Herewiss has to rescue him from with the basic magic that he does possess.

Herewiss is en route to another such rescue when he discovers that out in the desert area known as The Waste is a place of immense power with possible doorways into other worlds or dimensions. Herewiss saves a Fire elemental from certain death and together with Freelorn and his companions sets off to investigate this source of power in the hope that it might hold the key to both Herewiss's and Freelorn's problems.

Great fun this one. A book very much in the traditional vein of epic fantasy with plenty of magic, journeying to far lands and war looming; not to mention - naturally - a map at the beginning. (Gotta have me a map!) It's book one of Diane Duane's Tale of the Five series, the author being well known, I believe, for her Star Trek and 'Young Wizard' series. I liked it a lot. The relationship between Herewiss and the elemental, Sunspark, was the most fun as the latter tries to understand the weirdness that is humankind. There is mixed sexuality in this book too, an acceptance of bi-sexuality that might not be to the taste of all - but nothing that's explicit. Overall, a fun read. I own book two as well and will read that as and when. Depending on how I find that one, I may or may not continue on to the end of the series (there are three books.)

Next up, Clerical Errors by D.M. Greenwood - a crime yarn.

A jobless young Australian, Julia Smith, gets a position as a secretary in the cathedral offices in Medewich in East Anglia. She's not terribly well qualified and is, quite frankly, daunted by most of the staff, expecially one Canon Wheeler who is arrogant and a bully. Her first day could hardly have a worse start when she is second on the scene after the decapitated head of a local vicar, Paul Gray, is found in the cathedral by a cleaner.

Julia is taken under the wing of Deaconess Theodora Braithwaite and administrator, Ian Caretaker and together they try to solve the mystery. It seems secrets are everywhere and the police have come up against the wall of silence that is the Anglican church protecting its own. Canon Wheeler is a constant bullying presence but what kind of mysterious shenanigans was Paul Gray mixed up in? What is the significance of the stolen church candles? When a second murder occurs things become very dangerous for the group of friends and it's a race against time to solve the crime before one of them is killed.

This is the first book in the Theodora Braithwaite series of books by D.M. Greenwood. She's a little known author from East Anglia who wrote nine books in this series between 1991 and 1999 and nothing else. Apparently she did actually work in the diocese of Rochester so knows her stuff and it shows. Attention to detail is very precise and I learnt a fair bit about the workings of the church. I liked the way in which she depicted the clergy as every bit as full of failings as the rest of us and intransigence a way of life for many of them. At first this book seems as though it might be a cosy mystery but in reality it's not at all. The setting is rather lovely but there are dark doings, nastiness and spite and it makes for quite compulsive reading.

I first read about this series on Geranium Cat's blog. I'm not churchy at all but I do enjoy the odd ecclesiastical mystery so reserved it from my library. Annoyingly they don't have book two in the series so I will probably download it onto my Kindle to read at some stage. A promising series.

~~~oOo~~~

11 comments:

Kay said...

Another British mystery series that I was unfamiliar with, but what's one more, right? LOL

Sounds good and I'll have to see if I can Kindle it or something. Thanks for sharing!!

Glad you had a good week!

Cath said...

Kay: Exactly! I have so many series on the go that one more makes hardly any difference at all... LOL.

I'll probably be Kindling book 2 as well. I haven't read anything on my Kindle for a week or two and I find myself missing it. Very strange...

Yes, thank you, last week was very nice but am now completely behind in everything 'online', including reading blogs. Hoping to catch up a bit over the next couple of days.

DesLily said...

humph..! there's a holiday and plenty of company and yet you manage to read 2 books and I am still reading the same book I was reading before holidays and such!

even when I am enjoying a book I seem to have slowed down to a snails pace anymore. :o(

oh so glad you found "yet another series" ..*covers mouth so I won't laugh out loud"..

animewookie said...

Ooooo, The Door Into Fire sounds like my kind of book :D I shall have to see if I can find this one. Two books over the holiday?? You're much better than I am. I didn't have time to read at all over the break...lol It's good to be back to my routine though...soooo missed it

Diane said...

Hey, thanks for the nice review. :)

One note: there are only three books in the "Tale of the Fve" series (of which FIRE is the first). The fourth hasn't yet been written.

BTW, links to relatively inexpensive Kindle and .ePub versions of all three books are here:

http://www.dianeduane.com/ebooks-by-Diane-Duane#middlekingdoms

Best! D.

Cath said...

Hey Pat! Not sure how I managed two books over the Easter hols... one of life's little mysteries. lol. My latest book is a real chunkster though, so this is where I slow down a bit.

Yep, one more new series... I've given up trying to restrict myself now. Too much hassle.

Kelly: The Door into Fire is well worth searching out - ideal for Carl's challenge. I didn't find them that easy to find here in the UK but it should be a lot easier in the US.

I know what you mean. It's nice to go away, love a change of scenery, but I always miss my home routine as well, especially being online and chatting to bookish friends via book blogs.

Diane: Thanks for visiting my blog. You're so welcome re: the review. Thanks for the heads-up about the number of books in the series, I'll alter that in a moment. I took a too quick a look at your FantasticFiction page and didn't note the years of publication properly.

Thanks also for the URL for Kindle downloads. I didn't think of getting the Kindle version of book 3. Perfect.

Susan said...

Gee, I see Clerical Errors on Geranium Cat's blog and come here and see it reviewed here too, and now I'm desperate to find it! lol you both loved it, and it sounds so good....as Kay says, what's another mystery series anyway??? :-D For going from not reading many mysteries to having so many series, I'd laugh hard if I weren't in the same boat - except i never stopped reading them, I just read more now than ever, thanks to certain bad bloggers! lol
It's fun, isn't it?

The Door Into Fire sounds fun too, so I may see if my library has it.

GeraniumCat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GeraniumCat said...

Oh that's great, another convert for Theodora Braithwaite! I'm going to have to read book two soon, I'm missing her.

Of course, I can make the same complaint as you did on Susan's blog - you two are really bad for my TBR pile! Now I've bookmarked Diane's site, but I think I'd better look to see how much I've spent on e-books this month before I download any more:-)

(Sorry about the deleted comment - the first attempt had too many typos).

fiction-books said...

Hi Cath,

As usual, the fantasy book is not up my street, it's just a genre that I don't think would hold my attention .. but then again, I have never seriously read anything from the genre, so who knows ...I really should give it a try before jumping to conclusions!

The D.M. Greenwood looks much more like my cup of tea, although it is an author and series that I haven't come across before. I see that this series of books was written back in the 1990's, so it will be great to take a small step back in time, when I get my hands on them, looking forwars to that.

Cath said...

Hi Susan! It seems the Theodora Braithwaite books are a bit obscure. No one much seems to have heard of them and it's a bit hit and miss as to whether or not libraries have them. Makes you wonder how many more obscure series there are out there and what we're missing.

Library-wise I suspect you should have more luck your side of the pond with Door into Fire.

GeraniumCat: Susan and I decided a long time ago that us bloggers are all as bad as each other when it comes to the pimping of books. We're insidious. ;-)

Yvonne: Yes, the Theodora Braithwaite books are not well known it seems but worth searching out. It was odd because the 1990s is not that far back but there were no mobile phones and so on, so it seemed further back than it actually was.