No guarantees of great verbal skills or entertainment, but I'm going to try to review more of the books that I read, because reasons.
Let's start with a few that I finished in the last week:
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
The Premise: There's a group of creatures called the Auditors, who are responsible for combating entropy in the universe. Think of a bunch of slightly blobbish extremely OCD types. Anyhow, they determine that the Hogfather (the Discworld version of Santa) is a force for entropy and disorder, and they hire the Assassin's Guild of Anhk-Morpork to eliminate him and decrease the power of the belief in the Hogfather on that world. The Assassin's Guild appoints the job to Teatime, a benign-seeming psychopath who forces people into doing various duties, slaying them when they either object or the instant they finish the task.
Susan Sto-Helit, the duchess granddaughter of Death, is currently is working as a no-nonsense governess to the children of a middle-class family when she realizes that Death is taking up the role of Hogfather, for unknown reasons.
We also have a side-story of the scholars at the The Unseen University fighting over whether or not to re-open a work by Bloody Stupid Johnson - the inventor of inadvertent inventions. The Chancellor of university being a bit of an idiot, you know this is only going to end one way. But the scholars ridiculous statements help set up a scenario that helps explain later why the Hogfather is such a pivotal character whose loss would alter the unverse so much.
This was good book, but there were a few points that dragged. The scenes with Teatime (who poncily pronounces his name Teh-a-tim-eh), kind of felt belaboured and repetitive. The scenes with the Chancellor were okay, but I felt like there was some kind of inside joke with some of the terms involved that I just didn't get - other than the "tunnel vision scholar" one.
What I really enjoyed in this book were the scenes with both Death and Susan, both separately and together. Death's interactions with the population of Ankh-Morpork in his Hogfather guise pokes gently at the commercial role of Santa Claus in our society, (Love the boars being boars aspect in the shopping mall winning over the children in the line up, much to the dismay of the mall manager).
Some of the philosophical discussion between Susan and Death about the nature of humanity, the role of belief and the idea of a sort of Newton's Third Law of Belief resulting in various demigods were also interesting to ponder.
I'd say 4.0 out of 5.0 stars.
The Sleeper and the Spindle
If the former book is all about the need for belief, this one is all about the need for choice. The main plot of the story is about loss of choice -- either through the movement of a spell sweeping across the continent over 80 years -- or as the result of following through on an expected social ritual. The action starts the day before the wedding of the main character -- who figures that as a result of wedding her prince tomorrow, she shall start on that long slow decline towards death, and will be locked into a series of expectations that will remove all her further choices about her destiny.When you are at that point of melancholia, any kind of delay has got to look good; when she hears about issues with the neighbouring territories losing their citizens to eternal slumber, she jumps at the chance to investigate.
The book is at times a little bit 'meta', what with bar patron characters pointing out that the sleeper must be awakened in "the usual way" according to the stories. There are plenty of scenes in this story that are pulled straight out of traditional fairy tales - but once all the characters have come together in the second half, the expectations of who the protagonist and antagonist really are is turned on its head. In the meantime, you have a slightly girl-power story, although not a lesbian fairy tale as some may have assumed from one of the pictures being bandied about on the internet.
Oh, and the pictures in this book I think add as much to the story as the text does in this book, if not more. Just gorgeous. If I ever need to hire an illustrator for a book I write, I will be paging Chris Riddell to the job.
3.5 out of 5.00