Monthly Archives: May 2012

Books in May

May was warm and nice, although it has also seemed long. It was also very busy, hence the astounding amount of romance – easy and quick to read. Let’s get to business, then.

Mary Balogh: Seducing An Angel

He is to be wealthy, wellborn, and want her more than he wants any other woman. Those are the conditions that must be met by the man Cassandra Belmont will choose as her lover. Marriage is out of the question for the scandalous widow who must now barter her beauty in order to survive. With seduction in mind, she sets her sights on Stephen Huxtable, the irresistibly attractive Earl of Merton and London’s most eligible bachelor. But a single night of passion alters all the rules. Cassandra, whose reputation is already in tatters, is now in danger of losing the one thing she vowed never to give. And Stephen won’t rest until Cassandra has surrendered everything – not as his mistress, but as his lover and his wife.

(Back cover of the Dell 2009 paperback edition)

Yes, the month kicked off with a romance again. Seducing An Angel is the fourth part in the Huxtable quartet – well, quintet, as there is one more book to go – and I found it delightfully different from the pervious three. The most glaring difference is the fact that the story does not start with a marriage, but with a seduction. The progress is nice and smooth, although I had some scruples with Cassandra’s stubbornness when it came to distrusting men. It’s logical, of course, since she has been betrayed by every single man in her life, but there is some sort of imbalance here that bothers me: on the one hand it’s hard to see how anyone could ever distrust Stephen, and on the other hand everything in my head is saying she should just keep away from men and keep living with her formers employees – who, by the way, are a factor that make the story so enjoyable. The former governess Alice and the cook/maid Mary both get their own stories, and no lose threads are left hanging for Cassandra’s small family. All the Huxtables are wonderfully kept in character throughout the series, as are their husbands and other recurring characters. The only one who remains mysterious now is their cousin Constantine, who will be the hero of the last book of the series.

There are some things in the language and etiquette that I would very much like to check. What peeves me most is the ball etiquette (yes, I did a class talk on it, so there was Research), and I’m fairly convinced unmarried siblings don’t dance with each other. (Cf. Austen’s Emma – “…You have shewn that you can dance, and you know we are not really so much brother and sister as to make it at all improper.”) Not sure how that changes upon marriage, but it rings wrong to have siblings dancing. Ever. Because it’s the frickin’ marriage mart.

Please pardon the rant. Regency is important to me.

Published: Dell 2009

Pages: 388

Paul Torday: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Why does Dr Alfred Jones feel as though something is missing in his life? He has many reasons to be content. His job as a fisheries scientist is satisfactory, and he has just celebrated his twentieth wedding anniversary.

When he is asked to help create a salmon river in the highlands of the Yemen, Fred rejects the idea as absurd. But the proposal catches the eye of several senior British politicians. And so Fred finds himself forced to figure out how to fly ten thousand salmon to a desert country – and persuade them to swim there…

As he embarks on an extraordinary journey of faith the diffident Dr Jones will discover a sense of belief and a capacity for love that surprise himself and all who know him.

(Back cover of the Phoenix 2007 paperback edition)

I would never have picked this book up had there not been a movie based on it coming out. It’s also more than likely that I would not have had any interest in said movie if Ewan McGregor didn’t star in it. In general, there are a couple of things on the back cover that usually put me off: a person not happy with his pedestrian life, and the phrase extraordinary journey of faith, of which the first two are enough for me to make a face and put the book down.

That would have been a mistake. For a book that is concentrated on fishing it is very entertaining. Torday doesn’t bore the reader with infodumps, and even if you’re not familiar with fish or the Arabic culture it really doesn’t matter. There is a small glossary at the end where you can check most of the terminology. (My absolute favourite, the one I giggled over several times, was “salmonid”, particularly in the phrase “migratory salmonids”. I don’t know how funny that is to a fisheries specialist or even a native English speaker, but I think it sounds hilarious. Salmonids.)

A thing one might want to know before picking this book up is that it is not just straightforward prose. The story is told through several kinds of text, like entries from Dr. Jones’s journal, Miss Chetwode-Talbot’s correspondence with her fiancé, memos inside the NCFE, and – I kid you not – intercepted Al-Qaeda e-mail traffic. Don’t be daunted! Torday really pulls it off well, and there’s no fear of confusion once you learn who is who and who does what and so on. I was thoroughly pleased with this book, much to my own surprise. Not the read of the year, but a good piece of literary fiction. I’d heard it was very funny, but I wouldn’t say it was all that funny, although when you learn more about Dr. Jones in the beginning you can’t help but feel that he is a silly old dear and have to smile at the poor man. It gets slightly deeper towards the end, but not enough to be ridiculously soul-searching.

I’m getting rambly. In short: it is well worth a read. And a nice book for summer, too, methinks. What with all the fish and desert and stuff.

I went to see the movie (premiered in Finland May 25th) and it’s WAY different. Very funny and very sweet, too, but the ending was not as good as in the book. I was supposed to write a review, but that never happened… But I recommend it. Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt both do a wonderful job!

Published: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2007

Pages: 317 (Phoenix Paperback 2007 edition – this one also has reading group notes and discussion topics)

Loretta Chase: Lord Perfect

Ideal
The heir to the Earl of Hargate, Benedict Carsington, Viscount Rathbourne, is the perfect aristocrat. Tall, dark, and handsome, he is known for his impeccable manners and good breeding. Benedict knows all the rules and has no trouble following them—until she enters his life.

Infamous
Bathsheba Wingate belongs to the rotten branch of the DeLucey family: a notorious lot of liars, frauds, and swindlers. Small wonder her husband’s high-born family disowned him. Now widowed, she’s determined to give her daughter a stable life and a proper upbringing. Nothing and no one will disrupt Bathsheba’s plans—until he enters her life…

Scandalous
Then Bathsheba’s hoyden daughter lures Benedict’s precocious nephew into a quest for a legendary treasure. To recover the would-be knights errant, Benedict and Bathsheba must embark on a rescue mission that puts them in dangerous, intimate proximity—a situation virtually guaranteed to end in mayhem—even scandal!—if anyone else were involved. But Benedict is in perfect control of events. Perfect control, despite his mad desire to break all the rules. Perfect control. Really.

(lorettachase.com)

Like usual, I can’t seem to start a series from the beginning. Fortunately, that is not necessary with Regency Romances, and even though this is the third instalment of the Carsington Brothers series it was easy to get into it.

Chase is good. Really good. Anyone who reads historical literature knows how horrid it is when one can’t trust the author to know what they are talking about. With Chase, this is not a problem. I have no idea whether she really knows her details – although she has said in an interview she loves doing research, a relieving comment, that – but the reader can feel secure and concentrate on the book itself instead of details. Her writing is witty and fun, and as bored as I am of this attraction-even-before-introduction thing I’m fond of the characters.

However, the story feels a little flat, and the only thing really driving it are the characters. My notes also accuse the book of corny sex.

Published: Berkeley Sensation 2006

Pages: 280 (I’m terribly sorry, I messed up and didn’t check which edition I had…)

Mary Balogh: Dark Angel/Lord Carew’s Bride

Dark Angel

Jennifer Winwood has been engaged for five years to a man she hardly knows but believes to be honorable and good: Lord Lionel Kersey. Suddenly, she becomes the quarry of London’s most notorious womanizer, Gabriel Fisher, the Earl of Thornhill. Jennifer has no idea that she is just a pawn in the long-simmering feud between these two headstrong, irresistible men – or that she will become a prize more valuable than revenge.

Lord Carew’s Bride

Love has not been kind to Samantha Newman, but friendship has. When her emotions are rubbed raw by the reappearance in her life of a villain who had broken her heart some years before, she turns with gratitude to the kindly Hartley Wade, with whom she had developed a warm friendship when she mistook him for a gardener during a visit to the country. She accepts his proposal, expecting a quiet, safe, undemanding marriage. She does not know that Hartley is the Marquess of Carew and that he loves her passionately–and believes she returns his feelings.

(Back cover of Dell omnibus edition 2010/marybalogh.com)

I really enjoyed both of these books. They are so dramatic I could barely stop reading. They are not completely believable when it comes to historical details, but that doesn’t seem to be necessary in the modern historical romance. Balogh has a way of writing compelling prose, however, and to a romance junkie I would say these two are a must. The heroes are lovable, although Thornhill is a mite conventional and I find myself partial to the crippled, insecure and oh-so-deeply-in-love Lord Carew. Of the heroines I prefer Jennifer from Dark Angel: she is more determined than her cousin Samantha, the heroine of Lord Carew’s Bride. If you’re looking for a little light summer reading, these are the books to take to the beach with you – or this book, rather, as they have recently published as an omnibus edition and I doubt they are unavailable separately.

Published: Signer Regency 1995

Pages: 308/285

So that’s it for May. I’m slightly disappointed in myself, having read so slowly and little, but let’s face it: May is the end of school, and that means a whole lot of work you technically could have done or at least started weeks earlier but never do. Let’s hope there’s more time in June, despite work! (I’ve just found out that the ice cream stall I’ll be working will be located less than ten minutes from my house. Yay!)

Currently reading:

Charles Dickens: Great Expectations

Happy summer everyone! Hope the weather’s good wherever you are, although I guess on the southern hemisphere that’s at the moment less likely than on the northern.

EDIT:// I have been so very careless with this update. I apologise. Here are the books I got this month – you can see a clear trend. 😛 The other are from the Bookdepository, but The Famous Heroine/The Plumed Bonnet is from my usual bookstore.

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Red Seas Under Red Skies Read-Along: WEEK 5

Shamefully late! I do beg your pardon!

“Now, if you find yourself in trouble wherever you go, you can hold up that little bag to whoever’s bothering you, and you san say, ‘You have no idea who you’re fucking with. I’m under the protection of the lady who gave me this object of her favour.’”

“And that’s supposed to make them stop?”

“Shit, no, that’s just to confuse them. Then you kill them while they’re standing there looking at you funny.”

I sob like a baby at the end of the battle. Like in Lies, Jean’s emotional reaction is so heartfelt and honest that it just breaks my heart. Even though I don’t like the kamikaze mode his grief seems to activate in him, it’s understandable. I don’t yet know whether he will recover, although of course I hope he will, eventually. He’s a down-to-earth guy, he will soon enough admit to himself that he can’t just keep living in grief and continue with his life (particularly now that Locke has forced him into it).

“What? How dare I contemplate doing what you’re now planning to do to me? You self’righteous strutting cock, I’ll – “

“What?”

“ – I’ll throw myself at you, and you’ll beat the shit out of me. And then you’ll feel awful! How about that, huh?”

Merrain! Oh, she’s just so very interesting! I’ve marked all the bits that give some sort of a clue about her identity. She might (hopefully) turn up in Republic of Thieves? I certainly want her to, because I want to know. Why is it so important no one knows she’s actually working for someone else than Stragos? Maybe she works for the bondsmagi, and the tattoo marks him as their foot soldier or something? A sword and a vine. That could be just about anything. I’m fairly certain she works on orders, and the way she wants to stick to them could mean she’s very dedicated to her master. Her calm and skill seem to denote experience.

Locke mimed shoving a dagger into an invisible Archon of Tal Verrar. It was so satisfying he mimed it again.

Now that I looked carefully and knew what Locke and Jean were up to with Requin, you could actually spot some hints. They are pretty casual, like Locke looking out of the window in Requin’s study, and Selendri leaning against the wall between two paintings etc. Very sneaky, Mr Lynch, very sneaky! I think it’s a wonderful game. It would, of course, have been wonderfully clever of Locke to get someone to tell him whether the paintings were fake or not (was there any mention of it being common knowledge that they would be real?), but he’s not an expert in art fraud or anything like that so he probably didn’t think about it that way. Requin’s not an idiot, although he’s rich, and I guess the Bastards are used to rich people who are stupid and trusting.

Requin seemed to derive a perverse pleasure in seating the seven Priori on fine chairs in the midst of the chaos and pretending that all was perfectly normal.

I’m just really fond of Requin. Particularly in the end. I think he’s quite amused by the fact that he got robbed and still got the upper hand. He’s my favourite of the sort of background characters. Him and Merrain, the latter for the mystery. Yes. Of course, Requin and Selendri and Jean and Ezri as couples, but if concentrated on just single characters… Requin and Merrain.

“Zamira, enough. Enough Ravelle this, Kosta that. Around the crew, sure. But my friends call me Locke.”

It feels so wrong to say this, but I guess I like The Lies of Locke Lamora more. The time structure is clearer, and we stay in one city. It just feels more comfortable. However, Red Seas offers a new depth to Locke and Jean.

Oh Lynn, do you even need to ask? The moment Republic of Thieves hits the stores I’ll be there. I’m sort of hoping it would be published in time for Christmas holidays, because then I could just read it and go nuts and it would interfere with schoolwork. On the other hand, it can’t be out soon enough. Fingers crossed it really happens this year!

Emerging from a long spell of false-facing could be like coming up for air after nearly drowning, Locke thought. Now all the baggage of their multi-tiered lies and identities was peeling away, sloughing off behind them as they pounded up the stairs to the Golden Steps one last time. Now that they knew the source of their mystery assassins, they had no need to sham as priests and skulk about; they could run like simple thieves with the powers of the city close on their heels.

Which was exactly what they were.

All good things must end, it would seem. I want to thank all of you lovely people who participated, and naturally the wonderful hosts of the read-alongs! It’s been a blast! We’ll see how long it takes to go back to not reading a dose of Lynch every week…

Almost forgot! I haven’t referred you people to Camorr, a website + forum dedicated to our favourite Bastards! It’s been quiet there for a while now, but things are very likely to spice up one Republic of Thieves comes out.

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Red Seas Under Red Skies Read-Along: WEEK 4

“All bullshit. I’m a bullshit artist, Zamira. A false-facer. An actor, an impersonator. I didn’t have any noble motives when I made that request. My life just wasn’t worth much if I didn’t do something utterly crazy to win back some respect. I faked every second of composure anyone glimpsed this morning.”

It feels a bit weird to see Locke lay himself bare like that, but it’s also very moving. That’s one of the reasons I like this chapter so much. He has to decide whether to trust or not, as he says himself, and he knows Jean is right in the matter. I dare say it would have been easier to go on lying if he’d not been part of the crew at any point and thus didn’t know anyone personally, but in now… Well, I would have been disappointed in him if he could have just given them to Stragos after all that scrub-watching.

“Gods, whatever’s out there knows my real name.”

“Mine as well.”

“I mean, it’s not calling me Locke. It knows my real name.”

“Oh. Shit.”

Took the words straight out of my mouth, Jean. That mist is creepy. It could be that the mist is some sort of chemical that affects the brains, and so it’s Locke’s own head talking to him, and naturally he knows his own real name. But it’s not just random mist, it comes from somewhere or is emitted by someone or something and that something/one uses the mist to lure its victims. It’s mentioned that Jean sees a dark shape, but that’s not really too much to go on.

It’s frightening in general, to think that something might know Locke’s real name. Jean would never tell anyone, but if the Bondsmagi got it… *shudder*

Also, if you have ever watched the 90s TV series Moomins, there’s an episode with a ghost ship that creeps the hell out of me even to this day. The ship glides out from the mists with ripped-up sails and passes through the bow of the boat the Moomins are in. The music is scary, and I hear parts of it reading the Parlour Passage bit.

“Legs are open, old man. Can you really get it up?”

I love the selling of the Red Messenger. I think Locke enjoys himself enormously, pulling off something he’s sure about. It’s a pretty simple trick, as he points out, but he was posing as a captain for a rather long time without a clue about what to do, and now he gets to be in total control of the situation. Must feel good, be doing something he has in hand the whole time for a change.

All the names, then. I don’t know whether Lynch does it on purpose, but I doubt Locke has the identities muddled up any more than the reader does. Of course, this is kind of reminiscent of what Arsène Lupin says in The Escape of Arsène Lupin: “… there comes a time when you cease to know yourself amid all these changes, and that is very sad. I feel at present as the man must have felt who lost his shadow…” (I’m shamelessly quoting from The Quantum Thief – that quote is at the beginning. But looking it up on Gutenberg would have taken forever.) We’ll see if this happens to Locke. Maybe one day there’ll be a game so elaborate he needs a dozen names and then slips with a character, and has to either think very quickly or run like hell.

“Look, we almost got killed today. Fuck these games. Do you want to have a drink with me?”

Ngh. Jean and Ezri. Damn them for being so infuriatingly adorable! Gods. I just squeal every time they are talking together. Or just mentioned in the same sentence. OTP? I think so!

Then something that bothered me in the last chapter. When Locke and Jean go to Sinspire, Selendri says, “Stay here in the service area, Valora.” Now, have I missed something? Shouldn’t Selendri be calling Jerome “de Ferra”? Did Locke at some point tell Requin what their names on board would be? If someone whose brain is working better would tell me what I’ve missed I’d be grateful. Almost lost sleep over it last night – I’ve never noticed it before.

“Tonight is delicate business. Misstepping in Port Prodigal after midnight is like pissing on an angry snake. I need – “

“Ahem. Originally, we’re from Camorr.”

“Oh. Be on the boat in five minutes.”

Teehee. That amuses me greatly. Go Camorr!

Ahem. Yes, that’s it for this week. Last section to go. One week. We’ll see what happens!

“Crooked Warden, I will fear no darkness, for the night is yours. Your night is my cloak, my shield, my escape from those who hunt to feed the noose. I will fear no evil, for you have made the night my friend.”

 

EDIT:// I found that episode of Moomins in English! It loses some of the creepiness in the English dub, unfortunately, and the music I associate with the ship is for the most part not in here but in a later part (apparently – it’s been long since I’ve watched these!) – but it’s still scary. The scene with the ship starts somewhere around 11 minutes, but feel free to watch the whole episode! 😀 Moomins are very entertaining.

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Red Seas Under Red Skies Read-Along WEEK 3

Okay. This is going to be a very, very random post. I wrote it Friday night, just after the questions arrived, and if I touch it too much now it will become very dull and short. (Vocabulary marvellously expands during the night, I find.)

Some of the set questions will be discussed, some not, and nothing is likely to be in any kind of order. Bear with me.

 

“Well, splendid. Once again we’ve engineered a brilliant escape from immediate peril and stolen something of value to take with us. This boat must be worth two solari.”

 

Seeing as I learned the word “mutiny” from the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, my mental images come heavily from that movie. As indeed do a lot of my mental images on piracy, to be frank.

“What do you mean, you haven’t been turning the glasses?”

“Captain Ravelle, sir, beggin’ your double-fuckin’ pardon, but we ain’t had no time to turn the glasses nor mind the log since… hell, I suppose I can’t say. Awhile now.”

Did anyone go “Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh SHIT!” when Caldris died? ‘Cause I remember the first I read that. I’d been reading all evening, it was probably two thirty in the morning and I really really REALLY needed to get some sleep in and then Caldris goes and dies and Locke and Jean are in the middle of a storm and oh gods. It was horrible. Now at least I can take a deep breath and assure myself that it’s okay. It’s too bad about Caldris though, I like him.

“I’ll wager I would have screwed things up regardless. But… can you imagine those poor bastards grappling their prey, leaping over the rails, swords in hand, screaming, ‘Your cats! Give us all your gads-damned cats!’”

The practical reason for cats is probably the rat-catching, ‘cause that can naturally be a real problem. I’m sort of partial to rat-catching dogs, actually, but that’s because I’m a dog person. And maybe the cats are there partly because Mr Lynch has a cat (or cats?). But as for the symbolic reason for their necessity is what Caldris said about them: they are proud creatures, and they please Iono, so I suppose it’s the kind of religious thing you tend to get.

“Ah, that’s wonderful. Another fine chance to explain myself to someone. How I do so love explaining myself.”

Women! I forgot to say last week how much I love it that NOT having women on board is bad luck. Uh yeah, why wouldn’t it be? And we finally met Ezri! I like Ezri so much! She’s real fun and spunky, and a damned good officer it would seem. (This may be strange, but if anyone follows Team Starkid and their musicals, Ezri reminds me of Lauren Lopez. Not much, but… somehow.) She’s yet another detail I’d love to see on a big screen, and particularly in the All Souls In Peril chapter; first ordering the crew around, being all bad-ass, and then fighting on the Kingfisher, being even more bad-ass! She’s great. Any actress playing her would have to have a certain kind of voice though, at least to get my acceptance.

Locke responded with a two-handed gesture he’d learned as a boy, one guaranteed to start fights in any city-state of the Therin world. The crowd of pirates returned it, with many creative variations.

First we just kind of slipped to Jean’s perspective, and suddenly we find we’re in his head a lot. I like how sneaky that is, and it’s really nice to get a better picture of Jean. Particularly because he’s such a sweetheart. I hope the trend carries through the series, and I also think that it provides us with certain possibilities.

“Marvellously clever, Jabril! You’ve tracked me unerringly to the cabin in which I’ve been fast asleep and motionless all bloody night. Who tipped you off?”

I’m sort of uneasy about Paolo and Cosetta, but then again I’m always a little vary of children. Cosetta seems to have the makings of a pirate queen though (Moot nust!), and it would be very interesting how they turn up when they are older.

Locke Lamora was small, but the Thorn of Camorr was larger than any of this. The Thorn couldn’t be touched by blade or spell or scorn. Locke thought of the Falconer, bleeding at his feet. He thought of the Grey King, dead beneath his knife. He thought of the fortunes that had run through his fingers, and he smiled.

This was the first time that the appearance of the Thorn had such an impact on me. I reread that little bit several times, and afterwards it made me giddy to have all the present crew whisper about Locke. It’s just wonderful, to see him gain respect, although this is the kind of respect and reputation that might easily get him killed.

… Locke meant to hit it wearing the biggest lie of his life like a costume. He might be dead in a few seconds, but until then, by gods, he was the Thorn of Camorr. He was Captain Orrin fucking Ravelle.

Kills my heart, by the way, to have Jean and Locke argue like that.

Oh, and I really like the name Orrin Ravelle. Nice sound, it has.

“Hey, time comes to board her, I’ll row the boat naked and attack the bastards with my good fuckin’ looks. Just wait and see if she’s prey, is all I’m sayin’.”

Next week, some of my favourite bits coming up! More Ezri! More Drakasha! Cats! Ships! Pirates! Err… Yeah.

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Summer Reading List 2012

Last summer my reading list contained ten books, of which I read three. That does not mean I only read three books, but I was kind of amused by my inability to stick to a list. So this year I have a list as well, and we’ll see if making it public helps me finish it. (Doubt it.) Summer naturally starts when school ends, which in this case is around mid-May (last hand-in date is 21st or something) and reading time ends when classes start again in the beginning of September. If I start a new book from the list a couple of days before I have to immerse myself into the horrid amount of classes I need to take in the autumn it still counts.

This year’s list is longer than last years. I tried to put all kinds of different books there, although I left out Romance because they are mostly impulse reading. I haven’t counted books that are coming out during the summer either, because there’s no guarantee when I can get to them. (Cf. the sad case with Anne Rice’s Wolf Gift)

SUMMER READING LIST 2012

Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace

China Miéville: The City and the City

Brandon Sanderson: Alloy of Law + The Way of Kings

Charles Dickens: Great Expectations

Graham Greene: Brighton Rock

Lev Grossman: The Magicians

Brent Weeks: The Night Angel Trilogy (Way of Shadows/Shadow’s Edge/Beyond the Shadows)

Frank Abagnale: Catch Me If You Can

Robin McKinley: Sunshine

So that would be thirteen books, assuming the Way of Kings comes in two parts. Right now I feel confident I can do this, despite work and changing moods, but then so I always do when I’m compiling these lists. But last year I didn’t take into account the different genres, so we’ll see if that helps!

What are you planning to read this summer?

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Red Seas Under Red Skies Read-Along WEEK 2

This week’s first question is about Requin and Selendri. If you’ve even skimmed through my monthly books, it’s pretty obvious I’m a sucker for romance – and gaaaaaaah, Selendri and Requin! The story behind her arm is just magic for me. It doesn’t do for me to read it just once, oh no – I read it a couple of times every reread. I think they are both tough, and they trust each other completely, despite what Requin said. They clearly want to protect each other, which completely endears them to me. It’s almost a pity Locke’s planning on robbing them.

“Ow! Madam, please! Allow me to introduce myself!”

“You’re too fat and well dressed to be an apprentice after patronage so you must be here to beg a favour, and when your kind says hello, it tends to take a while. No, shut up.”

Salon Corbeau. Ugh. The thought just makes me want to break something. It’s really awful. And knowing Locke’s background, it must be absolutely disgusting for him. The Amusement War is just cruel, and nothing else. Lynch really makes you feel it when that girl loses her hair. Horrid. Horrid, horrid, horrid.

In the same category comes the scene at Sinspire, with the stiletto wasps. (To lighten things up, is the Pokémon Beedrill familiar? That’s how I imagine stiletto wasps. Every time.) Locke’s sympathy breaks my heart, and the poor boy in the cage… Even though I just said I like Requin, there are limits. The wasps are not acceptable.

“Crooked Warden, a glass poured on the ground for a stranger without friends. Lord of gallants and fools, ease this man’s passage to the Lady of the Long Silence. This was a hell of a way to die. Do this for me and I’ll try not to ask for anything for a while. I really do mean it this time.”

Locke’s soft side bothers me, just the slightest bit, although it would equally bother me if he didn’t care two shits about people suffering for nothing. Actually, that would be worse. So go on caring, Locke. That makes you human, and that’s good. (Well wasn’t that a pointless few sentences?)

The mysterious assassins! They bother me so much! Who the hell are they? Is this some sort of game the Bondsmagi play, hiring assassins and then make something happen that allow Locke and Jean to escape? So they can never relax?

And who is Merrain? She’s clearly not the Archon’s creature, at least not originally. So for whom does she work? Who sent her to the Archon, and why? Is she some sort of agent for the Bondsmagi? Does she anything at all to do with the pompous Karthani sons of bitches?

She gives me a headache, I’m telling you.

“Eh? Well, the ignorant need room in which to risk their lives without bothering anybody else for a while. This here’s our own private pissing-pond. Never mind the soldiers of the walls; they’ll ignore us. Unless we drown. Then they’ll probably laugh.”

Caldris is such a charmer. He’s not the kind of teacher I’d particularly like, but he sure as hell could make anyone learn. And he knows what he’s talking about. A soft spot for me he is, really.

For learning some nautical words, this book is excellent. Nothing too specific or hard, just stuff that a foreign-language landlubber like me has to check but won’t forget in a hurry. Very very simple stuff, but somewhat essential. Words that’ll come up in other books, too, like ‘doldrums’, ‘capstan’… And thanks to Scott Lynch I can now tell starboard from larboard! Rejoice!

“It is something like a madman’s private language, isn’t it? So intricate in its convolutions. Say you have a rope lying on the deck; after the third hour of the afternoon on Idler’s Day it’s a half-stroke babblegibbet, and then at midnight on Throne’s Day it becomes a rope again, unless it’s raining.”

“Unless it’s raining, yes, in which case you take your clothes off and dance naked round the mizzenmast. Gods, yes. I swear, Je… Jerome, the next person who tells me something like, ‘Squiggle-fuck the rightwise cock-swatter with the starboard jib,’ is going to get a knife in the throat. Even if it’s Caldris. … “

And oh, the quotability of this section! By Their Own Rope was the hardest bit to mark, because quite honestly it’s just a huge verbal explosion of fun. However, this time the winning quote came from a little before that:

“Maxilan, darling. I knew you were driven, but I had no idea you could smoulder. Come, take me now! Jean won’t mind; he’ll avert his eyes like a gentleman.”

Got some looks on the bus again for that. And again today.

One of the things that popped to mind while reading was how big a kick I got from the scene where Locke tries on the uniform. It’s always a pleasure to see him work the details and such, and I’m pretty certain the Archon was duly impressed, although his reaction was minimal. He has the file, so of course he knows Locke is good, but I don’t think he realised just how good.

Plus another thing I’m a sucker for is uniforms, and a blue uniform makes me think of the English naval officer’s uniform from the 19th century.

(That’s young Admiral Nelson, peeps. The uniform’s not the one he wore at Trafalgar, but I like this one better. Less glitter. You can read more about the portrait here, if you’re interested – and if you happen to find yourself in London, the National Maritime Museum is awesome!)

One more quote, then you’ll be free of me. For a week anyway.

“Master Fehrwight, who are you?”

“A man who’s dead serious about chairs.”

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