Tuesday, November 13, 2007


…aka brief impressionist sketches of some recent (in the last year) book encounters. Still not reviewing them properly, I might add, and will likely be annoyingly nonspecific or focus on minutiae to the exclusion of all else.

The Privilege of the Sword - Ellen Kushner

I almost don't want to write anything about this book and why I love it with the unholy passion of thousand raging monkeys. Partly because I'd never heard of the writer or the book, and picked it up at random, unhyped, undusted and lonely off a "recent releases" bookshelf in a sci-fi/fantasy bookstore. Then I forgot about it completely for 6 months. So I started it with no expectations.

The course of true love went something along these lines: p.1, "ehh?" p.2, "er… not…so...su..." p.3 "re?...about thisoneohmygodmustkeepreadingohwowohwowAndAMadDuke!ooohwowohwowiloovveeyooouuboookyoulovelyboookdon'tennddmustn'tfinishnevereverenddddoohnnooopleeeaaassse! Swoon."

In other (real) words, it's the sort of YA fantasy novel that gets it somehow perfect. Perfect in that impossible, magical way that adult books simply cannot manage. I just want to hug it to myself and read it over and over. Talking might spoil it. The thought of breaking up the magic into digestible chunks of detail and peeling away at plot and character analysis makes me want to cry. That's how my Grade 5 English teacher killed My Family and Other Animals.

So I don't want to hype or vaunt or trumpet the praises of this book at all. I just want to leave it lying battered and well-loved in the corner of a bookcase at a friend's house so that you can pick it up at random on a rainy day. So that you can curl up with it in a warm, quiet corner at the top of the house. So that your flannel-clad and fuzzy-socked self can look out the window and see the rain-washed day outside when the world taking shape in your head becomes too bright to bear. So that you end up eating all the stale nuts and the squashed half-packet of digestives that were left out from yesterday's tea because absolutely the last thing you want to do is stop reading, get up, prepare and eat a proper meal. So that you can fall in love, too.

If you want to know what it's really about, there are proper reviews to read at Amazon, and also chez ames. As for me, I've managed to track down and acquire two other books by the same author. The only problem is that I can't yet bring myself to read them because I'm so worried that they won't have the same effect as this one.


ames said...

Oh yes! I read and absolutely loved this one too. And yeah, the library has Swordpoint, but I'm scared to read it as well.

EvilAuntiePeril said...

Hello ames, if you do read it, please post your thoughts, because otherwise I'm worried that I'll never open this book. I think she's good enough that I'll enjoy Swordpoint, but whether it has the magic or not will be another thing entirely...

Marianne McA said...

I've had Swordspoint about a month, read perhaps the first two chapters, enjoyed them, and put the book down, since when it's been following me round the house. Even came to Galway with me.

I think I'm scared it's going to be another The Lies of Locke Lamora, which was nearly a great book, except it was so unremittingly violent that I stopped enjoying it. (Though it almost redeemed itself by the end.)

Oddly enough, that's the second time I've read about The Privilege of the Sword this week. Neil Gaiman mentioned it in his blog. That some cosmic prompt to get on and read Swordspoint, right?

EvilAuntiePeril said...

Hi Marianne, it's a cosmic hint. Promise. Then come back and tell us about it, or link to where you do. Please? Promise?

Anonymous said...

Can't do reviews. I'm a... thing. Like mistletoe. Parasite?
Draw sustenance from everyone else's reviews, & contribute nothing.

I read it the day I posted - and I enjoyed it, and it wasn't as gruesome as Locke Lamora. Oddly enough, while the characters are vivid in my mind, I've forgotten what happens to them. So perhaps the charcterisation was more gripping than the plot. There are a couple of short stories at the end of the book which are good - allow you to see the characters in another light. Those I remember.

I'm buying Privilege for Christmas (and the Athenian murders, in my creeping parasitic way) - and I'm guessing Privilege will be the better book, just from the way Kushner talks about her writing in the introduction to Swordspoint.

EvilAuntiePeril said...

I can't do reviews either. That's why I Definitely Do Not Review. So it's interesting to hear what you thought of Swordspoint in any case, and thanks very much for doing so. (More sustenance for me)

I think I'll save Swordspoint for a "good-but-not-great" moment (ie. want something good, but also need to get to bed on time), and hopefully enjoy it then. And I also very much hope that you enjoy PrivilegeOTS and the Athenian Murders, or at least find them cracking good reads.