Friday, November 16, 2007

Books I Want to Reread, Part 1

Emerald Eyes in the Continuing Time series (followed by the rest of the series) - Daniel Keys Moran

Since it was Daniel Keys Moran who started prompted this wild idea, let's start there. A certain friend who has lead me into bibliophilic ruin before today, introduced me to DKM. He started a science fiction series back in the late 1980s called The Continuing Time, which promised to be long, detailed and fascinating. However, only three books were published which quickly became very hard to find. I read the two of these my friend owned, Emerald Eyes and The Last Dancer and was quickly dragged into the story. Then DMK seemed to vanish from sight, there were never any more books and the novels that were already hard to find became scarce and collectible. I never got my hands on any of them - my friend did get hold of the third one, the hardest to track down, but she paid quite a lot for it and I never liked to ask to borrow it.

Now, DKM has reappeared, put up the books for download (I grabbed everything he has up last night) and is talking about producing at least the next book. Of course, all this says nothing about the books themselves, which are hard to describe, so I've borrowed a very, very short summary from a Daniel Keys Moran fan site.

Emerald Eyes, Bantam Books, 1987; (ISBN 0-553-27347-7).
The first Continuing Time novel. It covers the period from about 2030 through 2062, and focuses on the creation and destruction of the Castanaveras telepaths.

The Long Run, Bantam Books, 1989; (ISBN 0-553-28144-5).
The second Continuing Time novel. It follows the exploits of Trent Castanaveras, called the Uncatchable, whom we first met in Emerald Eyes. The time period is 2069 through 2070.

The Last Dancer, Bantam Books, 1993; (ISBN 0-553-56249-5).
The third Continuing Time novel. This book is probably the hardest to summarize - it describes the experiences of Denice Castanaveras (who also appeared in Emerald Eyes and The Long Run) from the years 2072-2076, and the Tricentennial Revolution, but there is a long flashback which takes place in the years 48,800 B.C. to 35,000 B.C., which is in some ways necessary to understand what is happening to Denice in the 2070's.

Blood Trail in the Vicki Nelson series (followed by the rest of the series) - Tanya Huff

When Blood Ties came on the TV, I was inspired to reread Blood Price, the first book in the series on which the show was based. I gave that reread a 9/10 grade and described it as:
A story that stands up beautifully even 15 years after it was written. I thoroughly enjoyed this reread and may have to go on with rereading the rest of the series now. My only problem was that I kept expecting the characters to pull out cell phones and they all didn't have them.
The series stars Vicki Nelson, an ex-homicide detective who is now a private investigator after night blindness forced her out of the police force. She remains in contact with her ex-partner, Detective Mike Celluci and in the course of the first book, meets Henry Fitzroy, the bastard son of Henry VIII and a vampire. (In the novels, Henry makes a living writing "bodice rippers"; in the TV show they've updated that to writing and illustrating graphic novels.)

Each book features a classic "monster" and tells a story around that premise - demons (and vampires) in Blood Price, werewolves in Blood Trail, mummies in Blood Lines, Frankenstein's monster in Blood Pact and I can't remember what it is in the last one, Blood Debt. There is also the issue of Vicki's attraction to both Mike and Henry, both of whom love/come to love her in return. It is neatly and well-resolved by the end of the series and I certainly can't complain about Huff's final conclusion to the triangle.

After Blood Price stood the test of time so nicely - and it takes me so long to fit in rereads that most of these books will indeed be facing the "how does it stand up over time" test - I am looking forward to fitting in the rest of the series somewhere, starting with Blood Trail.

Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls by Jane Lindskold

This is a book that I first read a long time ago (many of the books on the list will be). It was loaned to me by a friend and was the first Jane Lindskold I ever read - I've read more since then and another two will appear on this list later. In all honesty, I don't remember a lot of the details about it, just a sense of wonder and a kind of delightful weirdness that goes with the beautifully evocative title.

Sarah has grown up in a mental instution, but is released due to cutbacks and left to fend for herself. Unable to communicate normally, she falls in with a street gang and slowly finds a place for herself. Accompanied by her two-headed stuffed dragon, to whom she talks - and who may just talk back to her - she begins to make her way in the world and learn unexpected truths about herself and her abilities (or lack thereof).

At least, that's as best as I can remember it, helped along by the blurb on Fantastic Fiction (the link shows the nice new cover of the rerelease, although I have a soft spot for my cover). I read it a long time ago and want to find out if that sense of wonder I remember was real - and if I can recapture it.

The Gate of Ivory in the Ivory series by Doris Egan (followed by rest of the series)

Again, books I read a long time ago, this is the first of three books about Theodora of Pyrene and her adventures on the planet Ivory. There is a lovely blend of science fiction and fantasy in these books, something that I love when it is done well.

Theodora finds herself stranded on Ivory when (I think) her spaceship leaves without her and she is unable to get home. Also unable to get help from her consulate, she finds herself needing to find a way to feed herself. Ivory is a strange planet, especially from an off-world perspective, because magic works there. And Theodora finds herself with an unexpected talent at reading cards. She finds herself caught up in the fortunes of an Ivory native and things spiral out of control from there.

Doris Egan wrote three Ivory books (The Gate of Ivory, Two-Bit Heroes and Guilt-Edged Ivory)and would have been happy to write more about Theodora and Ran, but this wasn't what publishers were wanting to publish, leaving fans unhappy and Egan going on to write and do other things. That leaves me with books to reread since there aren't any new ones. The problem is that I'll probably eventually get to the end and find myself lamenting the lack of more books all over again.

I love the SF/fantasy blend and Theodora, who finds herself doing things she doesn't really even believe in, is a lovely character. There's a nice, light quirkiness to these books as I recall and they were a lot of fun with a good dose of culture-shock and a little bit of crazy thrown in to spice up the mix.

Song for the Basilisk by Patricia McKillip

This is my second-favourite book by Patricia McKillip (and yes, the first-favourite will show up on the list too, along with about three others). It was the first I bought in hardcover - I saw it on a bookseller's table at a convention actually, and it was so beautiful, with its small size and Kinuko Y. Craft cover that I snapped it up and went back to my room to caress it (okay, that didn't come out exactly as I intended).

I generally love McKillip. She writes strange, magical stories in strange and magical places. Her prose is generally beautiful, although sometimes it can be a bit too opaque and the reader is never sure if something is action, metaphor or dream. Some of her books I've never managed to finish because of that, but Song for the Basilisk is definitely not one of those.

It has all the requirements for a high fantasy, with a deposed line of princes, a villain who is partially sympathetic (and who has a daughter who is, while still being an adversary), a young boy grown into a man, music that can be magic, and a quest for restoration and revenge (not necessarily in that order).

I remember moments in this book more than lots of details, but they were imprinted on my mind, especially the images of dead ashes in a hearth that (if I recall correctly) are used at the beginning and end. I got lost in this book, and I'm hoping I'll be able to do so again.

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