Bad Heir Day by Wendy Holden
Was this book so familiar because I'd read it before, or was it just that predictable? I really can't decide.
The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner
I picked this up under the assumption that I had read her first book, Swordspoint, already, and it had just been so long ago that I'd forgotten everything. Having finished this book, and picked up Swordspoint, I've decided that I was wrong about that, although I'm really not sure how I missed it, because I ate stuff like that up when I was in high school. Anyway, I enjoyed the new book very much, and I recommend it, even if you haven't read the first. Swashbuckling fun, good characters.
The Darkness that Comes Before by F. Scott Bakker
I can't decide how I feel about this book. I picked it up from the shelf in the bookstore because the recommendation card said "Fans of George R.R. Martin and Guy Gavriel Kay will love it!" Sold! And I certainly see where they're coming from with that; in many respects I should be the idea audience. Well-written, engaging characters, a fantasy world with enough differences from the norm that I felt like I was discovering something new and interesting. This is the first book in a (complete! hooray!) trilogy, and I'm sufficiently engaged that I want to know how it will all end.
But I can't get over how the book portrays women. There are two women in the main cast, and both are prostitutes (one is a concubine, the other is this world's version of a call girl). The "call girl" is clever and sympathetic but the other is a blithering idiot. They're set against a backdrop that is almost all men -- very few women are side characters, among a cast of literally thousands, and none are sympathetic. And the way the male characters talk about, think about, and observe women is almost universally demeaning. Any one of these things I could decide not to let bother me in a book I was otherwise enjoying; all of them together is getting a bit much. It's one thing to say "it's the characters' view, not necessarily the author", but when it's this pervasive I start to wonder.
Still not sure whether I will continue reading the series. Anyone out there read them? Does this pattern continue? Did it bother you?
New Naomi Novik out later this month! And there's a new Diana Gabaldon novel about Lord John, too. I'll never read every book ever written at this rate.
ps. The Prince of Nothing review is essentially copy-pasted from Goodreads, a newish book review/social networking site. Definitely worth checking out. I'm owlmoose over there, too.