Wednesday 18 October 2017

A couple of titles

Not a lot of time to read or post here at the moment as my husband had his knee operation several weeks ago and has needed a fair bit of looking after. But I have been able to slowly read a couple of books and these are they:

Firstly, The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan:

This is book two in Marie Brennan's 'Lady Trent' series of fantasy books. In book one A Natural History of Dragons we saw how Isabella Trent grew up to love dragons, married, and then inveigled herself onto her first field trip to Vystrana (Russia?) to study dragons. In The Tropic of Serpents she's off again, this time to the country of Bayembe on the continent of Eriga, which I fancy is this alternate world's version of Africa. She's off to study swamp-wyrms in the company of Tom Wilker, who went with her before, and Natalie a runaway heiress. Bayembe is hot and humid, difficult, not only politics-wise, but also in the matter of femininity... things are very different for women here as opposed to Scirland where Isabella comes from. But most difficult of all will be living and surviving in The Green Hell, the swamp and forested area where she must go to study her dragons. This was a bit of a slow starter but picked up nicely as it went along. For me the most interesting aspect of these books is the travel. They read like Victorian travelogues quite honestly and as I love those, these books work for me. They might not work so well for people who don't like that kind of thing. I don't always find Isabella a particularly sympathetic character, perhaps I'm not meant to as she has to be tough in order to do what she wants with her life, ie. study dragons. The other thing I would say is that although these books are about the study of dragons, they don't actually feature dragons that much. Possibly this will come in later books. I liked these two books enough to order book three... after that, well, we'll see.

Next, Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny:

Armande Gamache is staying with a friend, Emile, in Quebec City, the old part, recooperating from a distastrous operation that went wrong. We're only told the whys and wherefores of this gradually as the book progresses. He's spending time doing some research in the Literary and History Society library, a place very few people know exist because it's run by the English of the city, not the French. When the body of Augustin Renard, a prominent French researcher into the whereabouts of the remains of Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec, is found in the basement of the library the city police ask Gamache for his help. Meanwhile, back in Three Pines, Gamache's last case (from the book The Brutal Telling and you do need to read that book before this one) is still festering. Olivier's partner, Gabri, does not believe Olivier murdered the hermit in the forest. Gamache asks his sidekick, Beauvoir, also injured in the operation that went wrong, to go to the village and quietly investigate. If this all sounds a bit complicted that's because it is... *but*... it's not at all difficult to keep track of. There are three cases going on here, that of the body in the library basement, that of Olivier - is he guilty or not? - and that of the operation that went wrong. It's brilliantly executed in my opinion, it all knits together perfectly and for me is one of the best Gamache books so far, if not the best. I loved the library and its English board of trustees. I loved learning about the antipathy between the English Quebecois and the French, sad though it seems to be from the point of view of an outsider. The details of the history of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham were fascinating - I learnt about it at school of course but it was nice to hear more. I loved the whole mystery surrounding the body of Champlain and where it is. And of course the settings are marvellous. Quebec city sounds wonderful and I love, love, love the Village of Three Pines deep in the Canadian forest and want to live there... along with thousands of other fans of this series I suspect. A fantastic series which gets better and better with each book.



DesLily said...

I think I only read 2 books on the Dragons.. hmmm maybe I should think on this.

I've never read Louise Penny.. do they run "consecutively"? or can you read them out of order???

Cath said...

Pat: The dragon books are not quite as dragony as I expected but I like the Victorian feel to the stories. I bought the third one so I must like something about them. LOL

They do run consecutively, but as with a lot of series the later books are better. The early books are not bad though and introduce the characters in the village. I know that you're probably reluctant to start yet another series though and I don't blame you. I think twice these days.

BooksPlease said...

I'm not that keen on reading books about dragons, but as they don't feature much in this book and as it reads like a Victorian travelogue set in a different world, it may be more interesting than I initially thought when I saw the title and book cover.

I'm reluctant to start another series, even though you obviously enjoy Louise Penny's books so much, especially as I guess it's a long series.

Glad you managed to squeeze in some books and hope your husband's knee is improving.

TracyK said...

I am a couple of books behind you on the Louise Penny books, and I will read them in order. May take me a long time though.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

I guess that I am never going to get to try the 'Armande Gamache' series, as playing catch-up will take me forever. Such a shame when you and just about everyone else who features the stories, have nothing but good things to say about them! Still, I always enjoy reading the reviews and premises of the books, it kind of makes me feel that I am keeping up with events.

I hope that hubbie continues to make good progress with the new knee. At least the weather has been reasonably kind to us, so that hopefully he has managed to take a few exercise walks.

My best to you both :)


Cath said...

Margaret: Yes, they hint on the covers that dragons are the thing, but to be honest, they're not. The series is more about her travels and the people she meets.

I'm pretty sure you would like the Gamache series but yes, they're working up to quite a number now and I too think twice these days before embarking on yet another long series.

Yes thank you, P's knee is coming along nicely. The first few weeks are always hard but he's turned the corner now and doing well. Thanks for asking.

Tracy: This is definitely a series which has matured nicely over the years. The recent ones have been *so* good.

Yvonne: Yes, the number of Gamache books is increasing by the year and I too would be reluctant to start at the beginning now. There are only so many series one person can cope with and I have quite a few on the go.

Yes thanks, Hubby is doing well. The first three or four weeks just had to be got through as they were unpleasant but he's getting quite mobile now and progressed to one stick instead of two, so things are going quite nicely. Thank you for asking.

Have a nice weekend.