A new comic

So, I spent much of the last two evenings catching up on Dumbing of Age. I’m caught up now…

Also, tonight’s rush dinner proved awesome. It was: Thin sliced pork shoulder, cut into strips. Lightly floured with salt and pepper. Cook quickly on medium high in bacon fat, add sliced apples (and turnip), serve. Yum!

The Childe Morgan trilogy

This is a “bridge” trilogy, between Katherine Kurtz’s Camber and Heirs of St. Camber prequel trilogy and the “modern” Kelson books.

The trilogy begins with In the King’s Service. I read it some time ago and have more pointed feelings about it as a book, largely due to encountering the same misfire in The Princess and the Queen, or, the Blacks and the Greens by George RR Martin. (Its review is here.) The book starts with genealogy, and is a very slow start. As the book accelerates, it rotates among many POV–but not an intimate and limited POV as we see in the other books, but a less emotionally invested, less tied series of POVs.

The plot is interesting (but at least on reread) the lack of POV development for the primary characters feels like a missed opportunity. It felt a little like the author fell in love with the broad sweep instead of getting us to empathize with the main characters and meld with their viewpoints.

The second book, Childe Morgan, is told from much closer and does a better job of getting us to empathize with the main characters. It’s told more from Alyce’s point of view, with de Nore and the Camberian Council getting frequent response or partial chapter POVs. We even get some Alric focused discussions and POV, which is tricky, given that he’s four. But they largely work. Alyce’s end is sad and brought tears; her passing shifts the adult viewpoint near Alric over to Kenneth.

There’s another change; this book is far more “dashing” and “male”. A lot of In the King’s Service focused on women’s struggles–being marriage pawns, womanly competition, child birth and youth mortality issues. Even with so much of the book being Alyce’s POV, there’s more magic and action, a great deal more deliberation and rulership as issues.

The third book, The King’s Deryni, is mostly told from the now 8 year old Alric’s POV, with quite a bit of his Dad, Kenneth, for the second POV. He’s very interested in boy things (war, training to be a page) and his father is making sure that he’s also picking up estate management and similar skills. In many ways this is an even lighter book (so far), despite some grizzly anti Deyrni sentiment. It’s more like the Kelson books, in that there’s a women’s world, but we don’t inhabit it much.

The story continues; we see the hardening of anti-Deyrni sentiment, see Alric develop into a young adult, undergoing formative experiences (like a Deyrni priest being burned alive) and stumbling into magic. The last comes suddenly; he really is poorly trained for much of the book, which corresponds nicely to the council’s opinions in the Kelson books.

There’s some minor inconsistency in the late Alric/Brion experiences versus the Deryni series, but nothing that’s not easily dismissed as minor/nitpicking. The big difference comes from learning Jehena is Bregamani… which raises the question of her self-loathing. It doesn’t seem like she would develop the same deep questioning of herself–unless Bremagne has a similar history of Deyrni oppression. (Or, more precisely, I wonder how an order that teaches Deyrni self-loathing became popular enough that the royal family of Bremagne follows their dictates and keeps them as counselors.)

In the end, it’s a good novel with good POV characters. It’s rewarding to see Morgan come into his own. It’s essentially the first half of his life; the story ends before he turns 15, and he’s in his late 20s as Deyrni Rising begins. That transition–that 10+ year gap–is also interesting, but would be quite constraining to write in.

Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History

Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History edited by Rose Eox and Daniel Jose Older is an interesting collection of historical and fantasy short stories.

The stories vary in time and place, though most of them are set within the last 500 years. Some of the settings are quite familiar, such as Marigolds, set just prior to the French Revolution. A few of the stories are well outside of my traditional reading, such as Ogres of East Africa, There Will Be One Vacant Chair and The Dance of the White Demons. Many of the others are set since the renaissance, many in Europe or America.

I distracted myself, at times, with trying to identify or predict the element that would make something “marginal” enough to qualify for this collection. That’s a distraction; most of the stories are good, and most offer intriguing new viewpoints.

I’m looking forward to keeping this one in my collection and rereading it. I wonder which ones will stick?