Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Butcher and Pierce

This would be filed under notes that may not be of any interest to anyone other than me, where I'm just jotting things down. I got to thinking about similarities between Tamora Pierce and Jim Butcher, bearing in mind that I've only read Butcher's Dresden Files.

Obviously, they both write fantasy. They both take characters who are figuring things out, still learning (at least, at first...but then, they never really stop learning) and follow their stories.

(Of course, Pierce follows different characters over various quartets, whereas Butcher has Harry plus a few side characters who we see grow over a longer period of time, but same sort of thing.)

Both of their characters get knocked down a few times, but that's just part of growing. They face bullies and outright enemies, and sometimes lose a few fights. Or at the very least, they go up against someone who would have killed them if help hadn't arrived in the (ta da!) nick of time. But they learn from these experiences, and ultimately wind up strong enough to win a fight with those who had just knocked them down. Which means, of course, that a bigger badder bad guy will come along.

Butcher and Pierce both write characters who are funny and likable, who the reader can really care about. The main characters tend to be idealists in an imperfect world, trying to be the white knights to set things right when that isn't really possible. And they might know that they can't set everything right, but they'll still try their best, even when others point out the harsh realities of the world to them.

Last, one thing that Pierce's Beka Cooper books have in common with Dresden Files in particular is that they're mysteries solved by magical people. They even both have a cat, though Pierce's Pounce is a bit more vocal and involved than Butcher's Mister.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Book Signing: Jim Butcher

The latest Dresden Files book by Jim Butcher was released last week. Much to my delight he did a book signing in my very own Portland Oregon, so I got to meet him. And of course, he signed my copy of the new Skin Game.

The signed book! :)

No, I haven't finished it yet, despite having had it for about a week. Why not? Because I've had a migraine for about a month, which reading aggravates, and since this is finals week at school I sort of have to decide where to spend my energy. *frustrated sigh* Strangely enough the computer screen currently doesn't bother me as much as books do, hence this blog post.

I did learn one very interesting thing during the Q and A at the signing. It turns out that Butcher actually doesn't like torturing his characters. Or, so he claims. Apparently what he really enjoys is tormenting his readers, and his books are the best way to do that without him winding up in jail. All I can say is that after reading chapter fourteen of Skin Games I've got to agree that yes, he loves to torment us.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Summer Prince: Questions

Even before I finished reading The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson I realized that I had some questions, or points that I wanted to study. I hope to explore a few of them during my next reading of the book (whenever that will be) so I wanted to put them down here.

If you're sensitive to spoilers and haven't read the book, you might want to skip this post. There are a few questions that are definitely spoilers, including one that will spoil the ending.

1) What's the symbolism of the tree(s)? (Tree of life?)

2) Matriarchy vs. patriarchy. Both are shown as being problematic. What are the differences (if any) between the two? Are either shown as having any actual good points in the novel?

3) Patriotism. What is it?

4) What makes a traitor?

5) What is art?

6) Compare to Gilgamesh.
a. How does June fit into the picture?
b. Enkidu is a wild man to be tamed. Enki is wild, but remains untamed. Why?
c. Gil doesn't seem to be a king of any sort. What's up with that?
d. Themes of death/immortality in epic vs. novel.
e. Or is there really anything to compare here? It's easier to list differences than similarities. I may have just gotten focused on this since it's what first got my attention about the book.

7) What changes June's relationship with her mother (and step-mother)? What is the turning point of that?

8) Why does Enki want to be king? I'm not sure if that was never said, or if I just missed it when I was busy blinking in surprise at how much is packed into this novel.

9) Why is the step-mother different from the other Aunties? Or is she?

10) Exile theme -- Enki, his mother.

11) Why do the aunties start calling Enki prince? Why does that fail to diminish his power? And why is the novel titled The Summer Prince instead of The Summer King?

12) Was it Enki's plan from the beginning to choose a different queen? If not, when/why did he come up with that idea?

I'm sort of wanting to compare this book to The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, and I can't quite put my finger on why. Some of the questions are the same, such as questions about patriotism, what makes a traitor, and exile. And yes they're both science fiction, but they're also very different books. Why am I wanting to say they're somehow similar?


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