Escape from Hell
by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. The second part in a modern retelling of Dante's Inferno, about how a science fiction author ends up in hell. In the previous book, he was given a guided tour through hell by Benito Mussolini, who in the end shows him how to escape. Now, in this book, the author returns the favour to some other people and tries to show all
the lost souls that it's possible to get out.
It starts off very interesting, he meets a lot of famous people (Sylvia Plath, for instance, is another main character) but the second half of the story felt incredibly cheesy and preachy to me. Not the message, that everybode can be saved if they strive for forgiveness, but in the way that it was conveyed. Very "sing hallelujah, praise the lord" and then you're simply forgiven and that's
that. I dunno, maybe I read it wrong, but the more complex morals of the first half of
the book seem to be swept away in the end.
Anyway, official RPS, and not too shabbily written. Maybe I'd have enjoyed it more if I'd read part one?Oath of Fealty
by Elizabeth Moon. After many years, Moon returns to Paksenarrions world. This is a direct sequel to Oath of Gold, but it focuses on Kieri Phelan (commander to Paks, the main character of the first books) and his captains Dorrin and Arcolin instead of Paks.
I will start off with three things about this book:
1) You really, really should read the Paksenarrion trilogy first.
I have read it, multiple times, and I was still a bit confused trying to remember who was who. But the characters would lack too much depth without that entire story. Not to mention...
2) that you'll get incredibly
spoiled for the Paksenarrion trilogy if you
read this book first.
Moon also wrote a prequel, about Saint Gird, but it's not very good. Not so spoilery either. This book begins hours and days after the ending of Oath of Gold, and all the major characters appeared in the first trilogy. Don't even read the back cover, it basically spoils the big reveal for the third book in the series.
3) The Paksenarrion Trilogy is Really Very Good - and this book is almost as good.
It also contains a lot less marching and troop movement things, which people tend to critique the early trilogy for. Lots of politics and intrigue and a good set-up for another 2 books.
Highly recommended; the only thing I was a bit disappointed about is that it's less focused on Phelan than I was led to believe. Not that it matters that much, Dorrin Verrakai is a very interesting character and her story is fascinating. However, as both her and Arcolin's parts were minor in the first trilogy it took me a while to warm up to these new characters. But Elizabeth Moon likes to write thick trilogies with shifting POV's and she tends to give everyone enough attention.
Highly recommended if one enjoys classic fantasy. Also an interesting contrast to the Niven book - the Paksenarrion world is religious and the gods and saints play very obvious roles. Yet, the moral of the books never feels forced, nor too simple or preachy. This while St Gird shows many similarities with a Jesus figure and the paladins are among the most Lawful Good Paladins I have ever encountered in a serious story. But the world fits, actions have consequences and Moon is very good at building up how and why a character gains their faith. So, all in all, I strongly rec this book.
I also read some manga, like the latest part of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
by CLAMP. We've gotten to the end of the flashback, have an explanation for the link between Watanuki and Syaoran and things are really gearing up for the end. Which means one book goes by like snap and I'm left wondering when the rest'll arrive.
And I read Shugo Chara
1, will review for work later. Not bad, but not very exciting either. Nice character designs though and enough interesting ingredients to want me keep reading for at least a while more.Eyeshield 21
, part 31 of the American Footboll manga, was also released recently. This book contains the end to the Christmas Bowl match. They team's in the goal and I honestly don't know if I'll bother to buy the rest of the manga. It won't go severely downhill until after the national championship, but the upcoming game is the least exciting and most unrealistic of them all. Otoh, I
am a completist. We'll see...
Sena's really grown in this part though and I like the wrap-up of the Devil Bat's struggle for the Christmas Bowl.
And here's a little clip of me singing karaoke in cosplay
. I wish I owned a working camera, so I could have asked some other cosplayers for good posing pictures. Maybe I'll get the chance to at Meuwcon.