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Locke Lamora Read-Along: WEEK 3

Gods, what a busy week it has been! I’ve had very little time to read, and although Locke has suffered very little from this, it has wreaked havoc on the other book I’m going through right now.

Anyway. This week I think I’ll do this the same way as last week, commenting on questions I have no “additional” information on and then just rambling about things that were brought to my mind while reading.

“Beer now, bitch later.”

Let’s start with the arsehole, the Falconer. He rubs me the wrong way, with his arrogant air and oh-I’m-so-cool-and-clever attitude. However, I find the magic interesting. One of the reasons I love Lynch is that there is very little magic going on, and even when there is, it’s very limited – even the Bondsmage can’t do just anything. We haven’t exactly seen many conditions for using it, although apparently the magic becomes more potent at least when you stitch the target’s name on a piece of cloth. (Would leather work better? Just wondering.)

“For the love the gods, madam, can you please pick one man and in your bedroom to cheer for and stick with him?”

Don’t get me started on the fun bits! Lynch just has me grinning and giggling like an idiot, and there’s no way the environment can stop that! In this section of the read-along, the Vine Highway is perhaps the best part. The scene in the woman’s room is so messy, in a very funny way.

For some very annoying reason (I suspect it has to do with the few hours at the bar last night) I can’t think of my favourite giggle bits. It could be the fact that I just generally grin through the whole book – well, maybe not in The Funeral Cask and the likes – and so it is hard to separate the individual bits.

I hate my brain right now. Just you wait, when I get to class on Monday I can summon at least fifteen hilarious lines and bits and write them down from memory…

“… We could buy titles in Lashain; make Bug a count and and set ourselves up as his household.”

“Or make ourselves counts and set Bug up as our household. Run him back and forth. It’d be good for his moral education.”

Question seven is about what Chains is aiming at, training his little Bastards in all sorts of arts. I don’t believe there is anything specific he wants them to do with their skills. He just wants them to be the best false-facers there are so they can pull off these marvellous scams that are so much more profitable than ordinary thieving. He wants them smart, well-rounded and circumspect.

I also refuse to believe Chains has any particular reason to break the Secret Peace and go against the Capa. They were friends, after all, and perhaps this is Chains’s personal little joke, having his gang go behind Barsavi’s back – they aren’t really doing any harm to the Peace, after all. What I believe to be his motive in these secret games, well, I think Bug said it in the Toast Scene: “I only steal because it’s heaps of fucking fun!”

All my love to Bug, by the way. He is great, with his youthful confidence, attempts at lifting the mood of the group and straightforward logic the adults around him sometimes seem to lack. He has true spirit.

“My name is Jean Tannen, and I’m the ambush.”

Last but never ever  the least – Jean Tannen. I absolutely adore Jean, particularly the little one. Hot-tempered little guy whom everyone overlooks just because he looks soft. Doing so is, as we have seen, a huge mistake, since Jean can take on pretty much anyone if necessary. I love the order in which the relationship between Locke and Jean is revealed: first we see them getting along and working together seamlessly, but only around middle of the book it turns out it was not instant chemistry. Of course, this was mostly Locke’s fault – and this is also one of the moments in most enjoy when reading child Locke, since this is, from my meagre experience, how kids often think: not one of us, don’t like him. Different. Jealousy. And so on.

“I’m well aware of who’s supposed to be strutting around wearing the Grey King’s clothes, thanks very much. I’m just debating whether or not I should hang an archery butt around my neck. Oh, and wondering if I can learn to split myself in two before the Duke’s Day.”

I want to apologise for the erratic quality of this post. Conditions, as I said in the beginning, have not been optimal. I’ve been to school, spent two days in training for my summer job, and the fact that this week’s section has been gloomy does not exactly lift my spirits.

“I can’t wait to have words with the Grey King when this shit is all finished. There’s a few things I want to ask him. Philosophical questions. Like, ‘How does it feel to be dangled out a window by a rope tied around your balls, motherfucker?’”

So to the next week!

EDIT:// I forgot to add an anecdote from the first time reading! You remember that mascara ad that was on TV a couple of years ago? Maybelline Lash Stiletto? With lost of disembodied legs wearing stiletto heels? Well, I was reading the bit where Locke is being dressed up as the Grey King during a commercial break, and said ad was on. I lifted my eyes from the book for a moment to see what was going on on screen, and then returned to the text only to have Locke say, “Galdo, hand me my stilettos, would you?” Needless to say I was confused for a long while as to why did miss it that the Grey King’s outfit required high heels. Then I felt really stupid and had to laugh at myself.

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Locke Lamora Read-Along: WEEK 2

Since this week’s questions are on the first-timer side of things I’m choosing to ignore them (well, not completely, but for the most part) and just chat about random things that I thought of while reading. I also recall some of the reactions from my first read.

“Second touch this afternoon was easy. But we wouldn’t have gotten so far, so fast, if not for Bug’s quick action yesterday. What a stupid, reckless, idiotic, ridiculous damn thing to do! I haven’t the words to express my admiration.”

The beginning of this week’s section contains my perhaps favourite bit in this whole 500+ -page affair: the “Toast Scene”. It is simply so marvellous. We see the fun side of the Bastards, as well as get a glimpse of their dark side, just so show us they are not always merry and bright. And these every-day moments are also the thing I like best in the book: the way they joke around, tease each other, do things like changing appearances with such detail yet confident casualty – and the immense warmth that they share. If they ever make a movie of this book (which I half hope they would not, because there is a great chance they’d completely ruin it) this scene should absolutely be included. In the DVD extras if nowhere else.

“Auffershallow?”

Question two was about the description of liquors. Now, I’m Finnish, and if there is something Finland is usually connected with, it’s liquor. Although I’m not a heavy drinker myself, I enjoy my drinks. It follows that I also like to hear about new drinks – the stranger the better – and I love it that this book offers me that as well as all the other entertainment. As I was reading a couple of days ago, I came to the decision I would prefer Camorri beer over Verrari. But then again, were both offered, I’d like to get a taste of both. And if I could get a cask of Austershalin, well…

“If your father says ‘Bark like a dog,’ I say ‘What breed, your honour?'”

Nazca Barsavi is the kind of woman I’d like to be friends with. She’s sharp and cautious, just as Locke says, and has a lot of style. She and Locke are too good friends to get married, I think, but she would make a splendid Gentleman Bastard were her father not who he is. First time reading Capa Barsavi give Locke permission to court Nazca I grinned like a maniac and probably said out loud, “Oh, you’re in trouble now!” It’s hilarious to see Locke’s reaction. I think he’s brain was very busy at that moment trying to figure out how to get out of the mess, the little oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit that we all hear when we’re screwed doing little to help him think.

Just a detail I picked up, and nothing very significant – but Chains called Barsavi “Ven” when he was introducing Locke. It makes sense, them being old friends, but Barsavi addresses him as “Chains”. I’m wondering whether it is a nickname from far back, whether Chains adopted the name after coming to Camorr and it was catchy enough to stick, or whether it is actually at least part of his real name? I find “Ven” more informal than “Chains”, but as I said, knowing what we know there is really no guessing.

To return to the idea of Locke Lamora the Movie, there is another thing besides the “Toast Scene” I would love to see: the hand signs. I’m so very enamoured by them. In the group of Bastards they must be so subtle, since they know each other so well that they can catch even the barest hint. And what a wonderful communication system! I used to play a card game with some friends, where the players were sitting opposite to their pair and communicating their cards through predetermined signs. They didn’t need to be hand signs, but those were popular – and it was sometimes hard to spot them, particularly when you had to be discreet about them so the other pairs would not learn what your sign was. It was great fun, although I was not very good at it.

The Midnighters! I almost panicked the first time the two turn up in Salvara’s study and give the game away. The relief when the secret behind this is revealed… It was great. It was awesome. And the preparations for this are so much fun to follow. The aftermath of the scene, and now the end of this post, gets a giggle out of me every time:

“By the Crooked Warden, I never heard such self-pity dripping from the mouth of a wealthy man! Cheer up! Richer and cleverer than everyone else, right?”

“Richer and cleverer and walking very funny, yes.”

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Locke Lamora Read-Along: WEEK 1

Locke Lamora’s rule of thumb was this – a good confidence game took three months to plan, three weeks to rehearse, and three seconds to win or lose the victim’s trust forever.

I’ve been beyond excited about this all week. It hasn’t helped that it has been a busy week – and things will be getting busier – but with the power of Gentleman Bastards everything is better!

So, on to the starters!

1. If this is your first time reading The Lies of Locke Lamora, what do you think of it so far?  If this is a re-read for you, how does the book stand up to rereading?

Oh, this book just keeps kicking your arse every time you read it. Seriously. It’s always a pleasure to slip back to Camorr and examine the little details you didn’t really notice the couple last times. I say this a lot, but reading Locke Lamora is like going home – although to my great displeasure I must admit I’m not sure I’d last a week there.

2. At last count, I found three time lines:  Locke as as a 20-something adult, Locke meeting Father Chains for the first time, and Locke as a younger child in Shades Hill. How are you doing with the Flashback within a flashback style of introducing characters and the world?

I’m in disagreement here. I see three time lines as well, but different ones: Locke as a child, the preparation and “backstage” of the Salvara Game and the game itself, and I don’t find this confusing at all. I’m actually very surprised it didn’t bother me the first time either, since my English back then wasn’t much good and a lot of effort went to understanding sentence structure. On the other hand, a friend of mine just recently tried reading the book and told me she had trouble following it, and now reading it with this in mind I can sort of see how that could happen.

But short answer would be that I like this way of introducing a world, bit by bit and often in practice.

3. Speaking of the world, what do you think of Camorr and Lynch’s world building?

I love Camorr. Simple as that. It might be because of the relation to Venice that it feels so familiar and utterly comfortable. I love it how different cultures are presented through things like clothing (one day I will have a Fehrwight coat for winter!) and social customs.

If anyone is familiar enough with liquors to come up with a Ginger Scald recipe, I want to know!


4. Father Chains and the death offering. . .  quite the code of honor for thieves, isn’t it? What kind of person do you think Chains is going to mold Locke into? 

I think the business with the death offering is supposed to teach Locke responsibility and that there are always consequences.

5. It’s been a while since I read this, and I’d forgotten how much of the beginning of the book is pure set up, for the characters, the plot, and the world. Generally speaking, do you prefer set up and world building done this way, or do you prefer to be thrown into the deep end with what’s happening?

I like the deep end. However, I think Lynch managed to balance on the line of explaining things in advance and just dropping colourful details in the midst of conversation. I think it’s also nice to have the longer descriptions in their own… subchapters? What are they called? But I’m sure you know what I mean. Too lengthy descriptions tend to bore me.

6. If you’ve already started attempting to pick the pockets of your family members (or even thought about it!) raise your hand.

I’m not cut out to be a pickpocket, but I just had a job interview in a big corporate building and had to sit in the waiting area for some time. Found myself thinking how it could be entered without anyone’s permission. (There were reception people, ID slips indicating a visitor’s host, lift cards etc.)

Now the book is started, and I’m getting more and more excited. I’ll finish with a quote from Father Chains that I had not paid proper attention to before but tickled my fancy.

Because, Locke Lamora, some day you’re going to dine with barons and counts and dukes. You’re going to dine with merchants and admirals and generals and ladies of every sort! And when you do… When you do, those poor idiots won’t have any idea that they’re really dining with a thief!

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Favourites: The Lies of Locke Lamora

Hello!

This year, I thought I could do this introductory bit to my favourite books, one book at a time, second to last Sunday of every other month. So, without further ado, here is the first one!

FAVOURITES

SCOTT LYNCH: THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA

Published: June 27th 2006 Gollancz (UK) / Bantam Doubleday Dell (US)

Pages: 537

Series: The Gentleman Bastard Sequence book 1

The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a friend to the poor, a ghost that walks through walls.

Slightly built and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny. All of Locke’s gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves: The Gentleman Bastards.

The capricious, colourful underworld of the ancient city of Camorr is the only home they’ve ever known. But now a clandestine war is threatening to tear it apart. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends are suddenly struggling just to stay alive…

In the summer of 2009 I decided it was time to broaden my fantasy horizon. SFX Magazine’s book special was a great help, and this is where I found Mr Lynch. He was number 88 on a list of 100 authors, and I’m not sure what set him apart from the others for me, but I have a feeling it was the use of the word “swashbuckling”. I got the book from the library, expecting very little, and then spent about a month reading it (my reading pace back then was not what it is today).

The beginning made me frown slightly:

At the height of the long wet summer of the Seventy-Seventh Year of Sendovani, the Thiefmaker of Camorr paid a sudden and unannounced visit to the Eyeless Priest at the Temple of Perelandro, desperately hoping to sell him the Lamora boy.

“Sendovani, Thiefmaker, Camorr, Perelandro… Too much new fantasy stuff to learn,” said my brain, but I kept on reading. At this point in time all my knowledge of Dickens’s Oliver Twist came from the Disney movie from the 90s, but the prologue – describing Locke’s time with the Thiefmaker – reminded me greatly of Fagin and his street urchins. “Hmph,” thought I, but still went on.

Then began “the book proper” as I like to think it as. Part one is furnished with an excellent quote from the Bard, and it is well in accordance with what will follow:

Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile

And cry ‘Content’ to that which grieves my heart,

And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,

And frame my face to all occasions.

(Henry IV, part 3)

And then we get the opening of the first chapter, which still makes me giddy every time I read it:

Locke Lamora’s rule of thumb was this – a good confidence game took three months to plan, three weeks to rehearse, and three seconds to win or lose the victim’s trust forever. This time around, he planned to spend those three seconds getting strangled.

From then on, the book is an absolute joy ride. Actual chapters tell us the main story, that of Locke and his gang of con artist thieves and the sudden obstacle that gets set in their way. In interludes, between chapters, tell us more about Locke’s childhood, mostly the training he and the other Gentleman Bastards receive under Father Chains. To the reader, the City of Camorr becomes a comfortable home, the thieves become friends, and the twelve (or thirteen, if you feel so inclined) gods become so familiar I find myself saying things like “Thirteen!” or “Perelandro’s balls!”

It is hard to describe Lynch’s style, and I have been trying to come up with suitable adjectives. It is flowing, fresh, crispy – there’s a wit, and a grittiness, and an edge to it that I enjoy. There is a lot of swearing, violence and sex, and while I understand most people might feel this not necessary and take offence, to me it is very refreshing. Besides, it is done with such flare and happy wordplay that it is hard not to laugh. And then there are the games the Bastards play – Lynch has said in an interview that he practices a strict policy of show, don’t tell, and that is more delightful than I can put to words. We see the thieves plan, and scheme, and use their “education” in accents, cultures, economy, religion and other things. Terminology and names are also easy to understand, as they are similar to familiar European languages, such as German, French, and, Camorr being based on Renaissance Venice, Italian.

For the fourth time in as many years the Gentleman Bastards were drawing a bead on one of the most powerful men in the city of Camorr. They were setting up a meeting that might eventually divest Don Lorenzo Salvara of nearly half his worldly wealth, and now it was up to the Don to be punctual.

But do not take Lynch for an entirely happy-go-lucky author. Oh no. As the book progresses, the darkness increases, and when we get to the end things get very nasty indeed. Let me describe my feelings when I finished the book for the first time on a warm, sunny summer’s day. I had been reading in our little garden, and came inside with eyes red from tears, clutching the book, agitated beyond belief. I kept walking in circles in the living room, ranting to my family about how horrid it was the book ended, how I needed to get more. I went into a slump, and the next book I read felt flat and boring in comparison to Lies.

The Gentleman Bastard Sequence will be seven books long. The second one, Red Seas Under Red Skies, was out in 2007, and all who have read the first two are eagerly awaiting the next one, Republic of Thieves (hopefully out this year, although it has been pushed back several times).

I bought the second book in the autumn of 2009 and read it in three days. For Christmas I got my own copy of The Lies of Locke Lamora. And since then I have acquired a second copy of both – a Gollancz 50 hardcover of Lies and a bigger paperback edition of Red Seas. I also have the 2010 anthology Swords and Dark Magic – the New Sword and Sorcery (edited by Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan), which includes Lynch’s short story “In the Stacks”.

So go to your bookstore, be it physical or virtual, or to your library, and get your hands on The Lies of Locke Lamora. It is worth it. It is entertaining, hilarious, exciting – and I for one can’t even look at said book without wanting to read it.

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Books in January

January was a good month for reading, what with half of it spent on vacation with little else to do. The fact that I’m taking yet another history of literature class helped as well.

The year got started with an Arsène Lupin book, this one called The Hollow Needle. It was entertaining enough, although my favourite gentleman thief got very little screen time. He was, more or less, replaced by the clever schoolboy detective Isidore Beautrelet, who turned out amusing enough. While this book was entertaining, I still maintain that Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Thief remains the best out of the four I have read.

Published for the first time: 1909 (original title L’Aiguille creuse)

Translation: V. Hämeen-Anttila 1909

Pages: 238

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch was a reread I could not resist any longer. It is the second part in the Gentleman Bastard sequence, and very close to as brilliant as the first part, The Lies of Locke Lamora. This book is mostly set at sea, on a pirate ship, and the main characters are in trouble, as usual.

Published: Gollancz 2007

Pages: 628

My library excursions lead me to the romance shelf, and I picked up yet another Julia Quinn book, this one called Ten Things I Love About You. A newer Quinn, this one was a much pleasanter read than the previous ones. The plot is more even, the characters are pleasant and relatable, and the language has improved. There are some clichés, of course, like the jilted, angry Earl, but those are a given in the genre. I felt Sebastian’s war trauma was not made the most of nor adequately solved, although it is nice to see an author trusting the reader enough to pick up the little pieces of information to see the answer for themselves. His writing career was a definite perk, and made me chuckle on several occasions. Annabel, the heroine, was believable, although I would have wished to see her keep her pragmatic streak up until the very end. There is no angst over her family though, for which I was glad.

Published: Avon Books 2010

Pages: 377

After this new romance, I felt the need to get back to Georgette Heyer, whose Frederica was an absolute treat to read. Heyer’s writing is amazingly subtle and refined. The opening of the book was slightly on the heavy side, reminding me of Austen’s Persuasion, but once one gets the hang of who is who the whole things becomes easy to follow. Those looking for the thrill of romance this book might not be the bull’s-eye, for the relationship between Frederica and the Marquis develops little by little – but when it finally gets to full kick towards the end of the book it is as sweet as anyone could wish.

Published for the firts time: 1965

Pages: 380

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment was required reading, and to my great astonishment I enjoyed it. It gauges the mental world of Raskolnikov, as he is about to commit a murder and after the act itself. Although very little actually happens, one keeps reading, just to see whether he goes mad or not. Not a world classic for nothing.

Published for the first time: 1866 (original title Преступление и наказание)

Translation: J. A. Hollo

Pages: 532

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is known to many, and I dare say many have also read this novella. As an insectophobe I found it slightly disconcerting – all the description of Gregor’s insect body forced me to have breaks during the reading – but it was also interesting. I admit the finer details of the text are still lost to me, but I hope I will gain better understanding when we discuss the work in class. Worth a read, everyone – and it’s very short, too!

Published for the first time: 1915 (original title Die Verwandlung)

Translation:

Pages: 64

My father read me Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita when I was little, and that is why I chose to read it for class also. I remembered very little. The whole book kept taking me by surprise, and I had a completely new appreciation for its numerous characters and stories that intertwine in the end. Bulgakov is an excellent writer, and has an impeccable sense of humour. If you enjoy a satire, I dare say this will be to your taste. It was to mine.

Published for the first time: 1966-1967 (original title Мастер и Маргарита)

Translation: Ulla-Liisa Heino 1969

Pages: 499

I saw Atonement as a movie not too many months ago, so I had a firm grip of the events of Ian McEwan’s novel. I’m almost sure I like the movie better: the book was unevenly balanced, had some rather pointless bits, and it was hard to feel sympathy towards the main character Briony. I also found myself unwilling to read at times, which reflected in the time it took me to read this short-ish book. I doubt I will return to McEwan.

Published: Jonathan Cape 2001

Pages: 372

The last read of the month was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. With the movie coming and my friend recommending it, I decided to finally give the series a shot, and I have to say I am pleasantly surprised. It was less gory, less intricate, and more about romance than I had expected, but it worked well. The writing flows very effortlessly, there is always something happening, and the reader feels for the characters, all of them. The cliffhanger ending, both in terms of political situation and the rapidly forming love triangle are currently bugging me. Getting the sequel, Catching Fire, from the library will take some time, but I’m hoping someone among my friends owns the books so I could borrow them.

Published: Scholastic 2008

Pages: 454

So that was January. I also read Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal, but it did not make the list as it contained poems with no plot, and I do not think I am any authority on poetry. (These seemed rather Romantic. More like Coleridge than Wordsworth.)

Currently I’m reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South and enjoying her style immensely.

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Books in December

Last day of the year. Feels a little festive – and then again, I never really liked the number 2011. 2012 has much nicer symmetry to it, don’t you think?

As ever, this month was about books. For the first part it was a lot of schoolbooks, but as soon as Christmas holidays started I was very much glued to the lovely blocks of paper. I managed quite a lot of them, compared to previous months, but I also had more leisure time.

So let’s start this thing off.

The latest book in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance with Dragons, came out earlier this year, and a friend was good enough to lend me her copy. To my disappointment I did not like this book as well as the previous ones. The various points of views were scattered and did not feel as controlled as before, and we only briefly visit some of the characters from the earlier books. This is, of course, to let the readers know what came of the maddening cliff hangers left in the last book, and my guess is if I had waited for five years to find out I would have been very happy indeed. However, I read the fourth book only a short while ago, so the little bits did nothing for me. I find this to be a doldrums in the series: stagnant and slow.

Published: Harper Voyager 2011 (I read Bantam Books 2011)

Pages: 959

Julia Quinn’s Everything and the Moon, the first book in the Lyndon Sisters series, was meant as a break from doorstopper-sized books, and as such it did its job. It is a Regency romance, and as I happen to be particular about the genre, I did not much like this one.

I will borrow the blurb from the author’s website (http://www.juliaquinn.com):

Seven years ago she broke his heart…

When Robert Kemble stumbles across Victoria Lyndon in hedgerow maze, he can’t believe his eyes. The girl who’d torn him in two, who let him plan on elopement and then left him standing by the side of the road, was suddenly within arm’s reach, and even though his fury still knew no bounds, she was impossible to resist…

Seven years ago he left her all but ruined…

Victoria’s father had told her an earl would never marry a vicar’s daughter, and he was right. Robert had promised her marriage, then danced off to London while she suffered the shame of a foiled elopement. But even though Victoria doesn’t particularly enjoy her new life as a governess, when Robert offers her a job of a different sort—his mistress—she refuses, unable to sacrifice her honor, even for him.

But Robert won’t take no for an answer, and he vows to make her his, through any means possible. Can these star-crossed lovers learn to trust again? And is love really sweeter the second time around?

My misgivings with this book are as follows:

  • Style is not what one expects from a Regency romance. Expressions are at times too modern, and nothing kills the mood like unresearched diction.
  • Victoria is intended as an independent woman, but she often lapses into pathetic pining and the traditional there-is-no-way-he-loves-me.
  • From the first page, the story is very mushy, and overly sweet. I think there were eyes like deep pools, which is unforgivable. (I regret not writing the description down.)
  • Despite the possibility I will be labelled a prude I have to say I do not like sex in my Regency romance, thank you very much. It simply does not fit.
  • The plot gets boring when the truth of what actually happened on the night of their elopement becomes known to Robert – and this happens around the middle of the book.

The only positive comment I have in my notes is that Robert is quite amusing when he cares to be. There was a conversation about hedgehogs living in sin that made me giggle.

I have read the second part of the series, Brighter Than the Sun, which I did like better. That one I can almost recommend.

Published: Avon Books 2007 (I read Piatkus 2009)

Pages: 372

The next books are not in the order I read them but in groups.

I had wanted to read Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin books for a long time and finally borrowed three from a friend: Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Thief, Arsène Lupin vs Sherlock Holmes , and 813.

I love thieves, and Arsène Lupin is the best of them. He is a conman, confident, clever, and uncatchable. He is always cheerful, always wins – and never resorts to killing. That is central in some of Leblanc’s work. If there is a murder, you know it was not Lupin, for he does not need to stoop to violence to get what he wants. (And make no mistake – he will get what he wants.)

All the books I have read so far were charming, and I am going to try and read all of them!

Published: 1907/1908/1910

Translation: Jalmari Finne 1967/ Jalmari Finne 1967/ V. Hämeen-Anttila 1990

Pages: 182/204/426

My holiday project was to read the whole Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. The project was success, and I enjoyed it.

I did not love the books with a passion, but I did like them. I will refrain from saying much about the plot for the fear of giving away too much – just know that there is rebelling against the governmental status quo and looking for the prophesied Hero of Ages. The plot is one of my favourite things about the series. There are clues you can pick up, ignore, or miss, and when you finally think you have things figured out your leads turn out to be red herrings. I prefer a more subtle kind of manipulation than Sanderson’s, the kind I cannot easily detect even after I know the truth. I am not saying that it bothered me much during reading: I went through the books fairly quickly in about ten days.

These books work as a mystery, and that is their charm. There is a lot of telling-not-showing with the minor characters, but I can forgive that simply because Sanderson is not afraid to kill off characters you grow to like.

So for anyone craving for a little brain exercise, I recommend this series.

Actually, read it anyway. It is a nice occupation. The order of books is the Final Empirethe Well of Ascensionthe Hero of Ages. There is also a standalone novel located in the same universe. It came out this year and is called the Alloy of Law. I have not read it yet myself, but I have a feeling it would be better to start with the trilogy.

Published: 2006/2007/2008 (Gollancz 2009)

Pages: 643/763/724

So that is all. I have two more weeks of vacation, and there will definitely be panic reading before school starts again. I’m about that start with Leblanc’s the Hollow Needle, which will b followed by the Countess of Cagliostro.

I also got some books for Christmas – our family agrees beforehand what to get each other so there will be no disappointments, although no surprises either. I got both of the books I had wished for:

Richard Hopton: Pistols at Dawn – A History of Duelling

William Gibson: Brief History of Britain – 1660-1851

I also bought a couple of books last week:

Georgette Heyer: Frederica

J. R. R. Tolkien: the Hobbit

Lots to read! I hope next year will be even fuller of books than this year was – for you all!

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