Daily Archives: December 22nd, 2005

Holidays

What happens when a teacher gets to the holidays? She gets sick. Of course. I thought it was hayfever for a few days – we were moving furniture in our office and there was dust everwhere, and one of the others had a cold and so had eucalyptus oil on a cloth or something, which gave me a rotten headache – but it turns out it was a cold coming on. Thankfully it seems to have skipped the nose and gone to the chest; I think I prefer nasty coughs to wanting to remove my sinuses forever.

Anyway. Hopefully it will be better by Sunday, otherwise I will be really sad.

The Old Kingdom Trilogy

This trilogy is by Garth Nix, and was written before the Keys of the Kingdom series I have mentioned before. They’ve been sitting in the school library, waiting for me, all year.

I read Sabriel yesterday. Yes, the whole thing; it’s not that long. It was completely absorbing, obviously. It took me a little while to realise that the ‘real’ world, Ancelstierre, was not actually in our world (although as a word it does seem remarkably similar to England (terra=land)… which makes the Old Kingdom Scotland, I guess… heh, heh. Anyway, it was fantastic. Sabriel is a great character… it is always interesting when authors choose to write from the perspective of the other gender, I think. I can imagine why Nix chose to do it in this instance; I would guess he thought a girl is allowed to spend a bit more time being introspective, as well as being more emotional (in a good sense, here) than a boy might get away with. It also allows for a nice bit of gender-stereotype bending. But anyway. The Old Kingdom itself is, I think, incredibly well imagined. There are a couple of aspects that are a bit frustrating – some things have simply not been explained, but I have hopes that they will be eventually. Nix is definitely not afraid of making things difficult for his characters, or of forcing them and the reader to contend with serious issues like death. I like it.

I read Lirael today. Again, yes, the whole thing; this one is a bit longer, at nearly 600 pages, but again it is really aimed at a teenage audience, so it wasn’t that hard. Besides, I’m on holiday. This one did a couple of things that annoy me – the whole two-characters-eventually-meeting thing, and the jump-a-couple-of-years thing. But that aside, I liked this one a great deal. Nix certainly deals with the big issues – family, identity, destiny, death… He draws characters exceptionally well, in my opinion. He also hints at major revelations and then draws back. Interestingly, I’ve just realised that I don’t think he spends much time on setting – at least not in describing it – but that doesn’t detract at all. In fact too much detail too often gets in the way. These books move incredibly quickly much of the time, sucking the reader in.

I can’t wait to read the final book, Abhorsen. Stupidly, I don’t have it – didn’t think I would get through these two so quickly, nor that they would be so absorbing. Hopefully I can get it tomorrow.

Across the Nightingale Floor

I read this because the squister insisted. I had heard of it but thought it wasn’t really my thing. However, having read it, I thought it was excellent. In a strange way it reminded me of a Raynmond E Feist book I read ages ago… I think the series he wrote with Janny Wurts, about the other side of the Rift… it involved a stranger living in a very Japanese world and making his way there. The main similarity is the fact that it is a Japanese-type world; the author acknowledges this, saying at the same time that she (I think) has taken a lot of poetic licence.

It often really annoys me when books follow two – or more – different main characters and then they eventaully meet up and the story starts to cohese better. It is one of the few things that sometimes drives me stark mad with Lord of the Rings. This book does it. I totally understand why you would do it, but that doesn’t usually make it any easier to deal with.

I liked the characters here. Takeo was well-drawn; his emotional swings and warring loyalties were realistic, I thought. And the supranatural elements to him and others were introduced quite deviously, which I admired greatly. It may well class as a fantasy, but only just I think, and mainly because it is set in an obviously non-real place.

I don’t have the other two in the trilogy. I may have to find them.