Monday, September 17, 2007

On my booklist

Those books are currently on my mind and on my desk (and other surfaces - I almost drown in books sometimes):

The Temeraire-Triology by Naomi Nowik, consisting of "His Majesty's Dragon", "Throne of Jade" and "Back Powder War" (volume 4 is about to be published).

It's a great story about an alternate reality (I love those a lot, they're a very interesting type of fantasy stories) in which even during the Napoleonic Wars aerial warfare was possible - because every fraction had dragons.

The story starts in the first novel with Captain William Laurence, a captain of the Navy, taking a dragon egg as a price during battle. Unfortunately the dragon is about to hatch and cannot be transported to specialists immediately. As dragons need to be bound to a human immediately after hatching, Captain Laurence ends up with it. So he has to leave the Navy behind and become an aviator, a dragon handler who will have to keep away from most of society and lead a rather solitary and unusual life. Nevertheless he soon realizes that his dragon, whom he named Temeraire, is more important to him than all that.

At the end of the first novel it turns out that Temeraire is not just a Chinese dragon, but even a very special breed - a Celestial, only to be ridden by emperors. Bad for Captain Laurence who is a gentleman, but not an emperor. As both he and the dragon refuse to be parted, they travel to China together, to find out more about dragons and to stumble into a plot against the crown prince. (I have only read about half of this book, but I've cross-read a bit before buying it.)

Finally, when Captain Laurence travels home from China, he and Temeraire stumble in the middle of the Napoleonic War, only to find that their absence might have saved Temeraire's life. (This one I haven't read at all, but done a little cross-reading as well.)

Volume 4 will centre around saving the British dragons, but I can't say more about that, as it's not even out yet.

Another novel I went through at high speed over the last couple of weeks was "Bareback" by Kit Whitfeld. In another alternate reality most humans are werewolves. Only very few humans are not born that way and considered 'crippled' because of it. They all work for one organisation, taking care of the security during full moon, but being shunned, feared and belittled by the 'normal' citizens for the rest of the time. One of them finds herself in a problematic situation one day after one of her colleagues was first injured heavily and then killed by a werewolf.

The story is centred around the criminal case, of course, but it also does a terrifyingly correct picture of a society which shuns one minority just because of something they can't help (as those non-werewolves are born that way). The reader sees this world not through the eyes of a respectable citizen, but through the eyes of an outcast, fighting for herself as much as for her colleagues, balancing between justice and self-justice, between giving in to temptation to just act on her own behalf and keeping to the laws. Not an easy read, or a nice one, but an interesting and catching one, even if you're not into werewolves as a rule.

Then there's two "Trinity Blood"-novels I've bought around the same time as "Bareback". They are based on the same story as the manga I've started reading quite some time ago, but go deeper as the novel can also tell about the feelings and thoughts of the main characters.

"Trinity Blood" also kind of features an alternate reality - although in this case, the reality is a future one and rather dark. After the Armageddon - which in this case was an atomic war -, mankind came into contact with creatures that called themselves methusalems and are some kind of vampires. They have conquered quite some part of eastern Europe and Asia, while the Vatican (now not just open for men, but for women as well) holds against them with troops and special agents. One of them is a seemingly incapable priest called Abel Nightroad who really is another monster, dubbed 'Kresnik': a vampire who feeds on other vampires.

In former Budapest he meets with a young nun named Esther Blanchett who leads a rebellion against the local leader - a vampire. After the fall of said vampire (and most of the city, too), Esther accompanies Abel and his colleague Tres Iques (a cyborg with very little to none human emotion) to Rome and becomes engulfed in the whole story herself.

"Trinity Blood" is a quick read and both full of action and humour (the latter most due to Abel, though).

So, those are the books I have read - or still am reading - and can recommend to others ... at least some of them (I could easily recommend more).

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