by James Clavell
It's really fascinating. Blackthorn is an English man who navigates a Dutch ship that gets blown off course and winds up in Japan. Only the Spanish and Portuguese have found a rout to Japan before Blackthorn's ship shows up, so everyone is shocked. Things get interesting as Blackthorn tries to figure out who these people are and how to survive among them, the Japanese are trying to figure out what this new "barbarian" is like, and the Spanish and Portuguese together are afraid that they may not have a monopoly on Japan for much longer.
Also interesting is the religious aspect of things. The Catholic church has gotten a foot hold in Japan, despite some trouble. At the time when this book is set in there is a lot of tension between the Catholics and the Protestants, so so naturally the fact that Blackthorn is Protestant doesn't go over really well with the Catholic priests...who are frequently the people translating for Blackthorn, and who Blackthorn doesn't trust. He doesn't like them, and they worry that more Protestants might follow Blackthorn to Japan, and that they might lose converts to the Protestant version of Christianity.
Some of the Japanese are looking at the Catholics and the Protestant Blackthorn, and can't figure out what's wrong. They're both Christian, and the main tenant of Christianity is love. So why do they hate each other?
It's really fascinating. And it's not light reading, either. I think I might actually get bogged down in it if I weren't listening to it.
The Will of the Empress
by Tamora Pierce
Four young adults who had been really close when they were younger, but then went their separate ways when three of the four left to travel. The last time they met was when they were fourteen, and very close. (That was in Pierce's quartet Circle of Magic) Now they are eighteen, and they finally see each other again at long last. But they've changed, and they don't all get along the way they used to. They keep squabbling, and honestly it's getting tiresome.
I love Pierce's books about Tortall, but I'm finding that I just don't like her other books as much.
by Tamora Pierce
Another Pierce book that I AM enjoying. I've read it before, and I'm just listening to it as I go to sleep at night...and at other odd times.
It's about Beka Cooper, who is a law enforcement officer in training. The book is written in diary style, and it starts with Beka's first day on the streets, patrolling. On her very first evening (she's doing the evening shift) she is eager to prove how good she is, with embarrassing consequences that are actually rather amusing.
Beka is no stranger to the streets (her family used to live in poverty) but patrolling them with her trainers gives her a new perspective on life.
It's a really good book, and I've read it I don't know how many times. At least three times before, I'd say. I highly recommend it..after you've read Pierce's other Tortall books. :)