Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Limits of Power - Elizabeth Moon

Limits of Power
Elizabeth Moon
Del Rey
Copyright Date: June 11, 2013

The product description:
Elizabeth Moon is back with the fourth adventure in her bestselling fantasy epic. Moon brilliantly weaves a colorful tapestry of action, betrayal, love, and magic set in a richly imagined world that stands alongside those of such fantasy masters as George R. R. Martin and Robin Hobb.

The unthinkable has occurred in the kingdom of Lyonya. The queen of the Elves—known as the Lady—is dead, murdered by former elves twisted by dark powers. Now the Lady’s half-elven grandson must heal the mistrust between elf and human before their enemies strike again. Yet as he struggles to make ready for an attack, an even greater threat looms across the Eight Kingdoms.

Throughout the north, magic is reappearing after centuries of absence, emerging without warning in family after family—rich and poor alike. In some areas, the religious strictures against magery remain in place, and fanatical followers are stamping out magery by killing whoever displays the merest sign of it—even children. And as unrest spreads, one very determined traitor works to undo any effort at peace—no matter how many lives it costs. With the future hanging in the balance, it is only the dedication of a few resolute heroes who can turn the tides . . . if they can survive.
Limits of Power is the most recent addition to the Paladin's Legacy series by Elizabeth Moon. Fourth in the series, which I understand is planned to go for five books in total. As a result, while this was an incredible read, it didn't resolve very much, leaving a lot for the concluding book.

As much as Paksenarrion was my favourite character in the original book set in this world, The Deed of Paksenarrion, all the secondary characters from that book who became the main characters in this series have all grown on me as well. Dorrin, Arvid, Stammel, Arcolin and more, all these characters have become more than they were through their time in these pages.

Arvid is becoming quite the character in this series. He's definitely come a long way from the thief who helps Paks with a couple of situations in the original books. The same thing can be said about a lot of the other minor characters from those days as well though - Andressat, and the king of Tsasia for example.

One thing I found on reading Limits of Power was just how much it relies on the previous books. I do have to note that it's been a while since I last read Echoes of Betrayal, the previous book in the series, and perhaps I should have re-read that one before starting on the newest book.

Now, I have to wait a year to find out what's going to happen next with so many different things. I don't want to list them though, in case that counts as spoilers. Suffice it to say that there are lots of things going on in this world that I'd love to have answers to.

Elizabeth Moon is one of my favourite fantasy and science fiction authors. Every one of her efforts has been top-notch in my mind. Limits of Power is no different, although I'd recommend starting with either The Deed of Paksenarrion or Oath of Fealty, which is the first book in the Paladin's Legacy series.

Just a question for other readers. Who do you think is pictured on the cover of Limits of Power? I know that one of the figures is Paksenarrion herself, but the other one? I can't remember if Elizabeth Moon said anything on her Paksworld blog.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Steadfast - Mercedes Lackey

Edited to add: This review of Steadfast is also my thousandth post to All Booked Up.

Steadfast - Mercedes Lackey
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Copyright: June 4th 2013

The product description:
The new novel in Mercedes Lackey’s bestselling series of an alternative Edwardian Britain, where magic is real—and Elemental Masters are in control.

Lionel Hawkins is a magician whose act is only partially sleight of hand. The rest is real magic. He’s an Elemental Magician with the power to persuade the Elementals of Air to help him create amazing illusions. It doesn’t take long before his assistant, acrobat Katie Langford, notices that he’s no ordinary magician—and for Lionel to discover that she’s no ordinary acrobat, but rather an untrained and unawakened Fire Magician. She’s also on the run from her murderous and vengeful brute of a husband. But can she harness her magic in time to stop her husband from achieving his deadly goal?
Steadfast, the most recent in the Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey is, honestly, somewhat reminiscent of one of the earlier books in the series, Reserved For The Cat, but it's still a very good read in my opinion. Certainly, I raced through it in about two days, enjoying every page of the book. Which has also been true for some of the other books in this series, including Home From The Sea (the last book in the series), The Wizard of London and Unnatural Issue.

I do have a question to throw out there concerning Steadfast, and I don't think it'll be a spoiler in any way. All of the Elemental Masters books to date have been based around fairy-tales. For example, The Fire Rose (not quite set in the same world but close enough that I consider it to be the same) is based around Beauty and the Beast, The Gates of Sleep is Sleeping Beauty etc. I had to ask the same question in my review of Unnatural Issue, by the way and it never got answered. Which fairy-tale influenced Steadfast?

Katie, the main character in this book definitely had my sympathy. She also reminded me just how much things have changed for women in the last century or so since the time Steadfast was set, at least in the Western world. She's definitely one character who really needed a happy ending to her story - which, given the way the rest of this series has turned out, I knew she'd get.

That's one thing about Mercedes Lackey's books so far, generally, I know whether or not to expect a happy ending or not, depending on the series. The Five Hundred Kingdoms books all do, and so far, all of the Elemental Masters series too. Many of the Valdemar books also have that happy ending, but not all of them - and believe it or not, the ones that don't are among some of my all-time favorite stories written by Mercedes Lackey.

Nearly all of her books though, are ones I know I'll read and re-read, even before I've read them the first time - that's why in other reviews I've referred to them as "old friends".

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Moonsinger - Andre Norton

Moonsinger - Andre Norton
Andre Norton
Baen Books
Copyright: 2006
ISBN: 9781416555179

The product description:
Moon of Three Rings: It is the time of the Moon of the Three Rings when the Free Trader ship Lydis lands on the primitive world of Yiktor, a world the Combine was seeking to control for the power the Three Rings would bring them. The life of a Free Trader was all junior crew member Krip Vorlund knew. That life ended at a beast show on Yiktor when Vorlund was strangely attracted to the owner of the show animals, a delicate and mysterious woman named Maelen. Too soon Vorlund learned the nature of Maelen's sorcery, too soon he is caught up in the struggle over the fate of a world…. But his soul would remain his own.

Exiles of the Stars: The galactic trade ship Lydis is making a run to the planet Thoth when a civil war lands her in a battle of ancient powers and nameless evil, with a Forerunner treasure at its heart. The crew seems normal—until you look closely at two of its members: Krip Vorlund, a man who walks in a body not his own, and his pet, a four-legged beast hiding the mind of Maelen the Moon Singer, a woman whose esper powers can save them all—or bring them to eternal destruction.

Publisher's Note: Moonsinger has appeared separately as Moon of Three Rings, and its sequel, Exiles of the Stars. This is the first time the complete saga has appeared in one mass market volume.
This isn't the first time I've read Andre Norton's Moonsinger, but the last time was definitely a few years ago. My original review is here, and it's dated from January 2008, fairly close to the time I started writing All Booked Up. Even then, it wasn't the first time if my memory's correct. I seem to recall reading both the books in their separate editions: Moon of Three Rings and Exiles of the Stars as well, at some point back in the mists of time.

Moonsinger's Quest - Andre Norton
Moonsinger is set in the same world as the original Free Trader/Solar Queen novels, which include: Plague Ship, Redline The Stars, Derelict For Trade and A Mind For Trade, though it's set far into the future from those books. At the same time there are other books involving Krip Vorlund and Maelen which have also been gathered together into an omnibus edition: Moonsinger's Quest, containing Flight in Yiktor and Dare To Go A-Hunting. I know I've read the first of those two books - the review is here, but I can't remember if I've read Dare To Go A-Hunting.

Although it's a part of the same world as the above series, Moonsinger and it's sequels also stand alone - to an extent, even from each other - at least, that's the feeling I got from Flight In Yiktor after reading Moon of Three Rings and Exiles of the Stars.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Dominoes

This is absolutely nifty. I used to love putting together domino chains as a kid, but never even dreamed of doing something on this grand a scale. Just imagine an "oops" and bumping a book at the wrong moment during setup.

And then there's the clean up. I'm glad I wasn't involved with that. Either way, it's an ingenious and fun way to attract attention to the library - and I'm sure someone's going to try and beat their record one of these days too.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Back from Halifax

Just back from Halifax and the Indexing Society of Canada's annual conference. When I say "just back" I mean it. Got the suitcases unpacked, but nothing more than that. Not even my photographs off the camera.

I had a great time at my first ever professional conference, learning more about all sorts of indexing-related topics, including meta-data, epub, biography indexing and so much more, and it was great to meet some of my teachers from the Berkley Indexing Course, which I'd finished just days before I had to fly out for the conference.

Halifax was wonderful - everyone was so friendly and helpful - from recommendations for places to eat to being willing to do things like call for cabs (for a while my phone wouldn't do it without an area code that I didn't know).

One of the biggest things for me was the sense of history the city and surrounding areas hold. Especially down by the waterfront it seemed as though every third building or so had a plaque with the year it was built - most of them being mid-1800's.

I just got home, and while I'm glad to be here, especially being back with my two cats, I also miss Halifax, and I'd love to go back for another visit - maybe see a sunrise or two at Peggy's Cove and see some of the other scenic sites too.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Facing The Text: Content and Structure in Book Indexing - Do Mi Stauber

Facing The Text: Content and Structure in Book Indexing - Do Mi StauberFacing The Text: Content And Structure In Book Indexing
Do Mi Stauber
Cedar Row Press
Copyright: 2004

The product description:
Based on Do Mi Stauber's popular and empowering workshop, the book discusses such standard topics as subheadings, cross-references and indexability, in the context of particular texts and indexes. Hundreds of examples illustrate the many practical strategies that Do Mi has drawn from her own practice in social sciences and humanities indexing. The book goes beyond abstract rules to confront the unique needs of each text and index, and provides guidelines to help novice and experienced indexers alike make common-sense, flexible, and reader-centered decisions. You will learn such strategies as: ? addressing the main topic of the book in your index structure ? pinning down the elusive main argument of a scholarly book ? using local main topics to understand the structure of the text ? deciding which topics should be indexed ? understanding subheadings with a new typology created by Do Mi Stauber and Nancy Mulvany ? choosing subheadings for long spans and locator strings ? deciding when to use the author's wording, when to modify it, and when to create a new wording ? connecting topics in the index through double-posting and cross references ? distinguishing among indexing strategies for scholarly books, textbooks and reference books.
It took me a while to get through this one, but the time taken was well worth it.  Facing The Text is a very dense book, full of information. I found that I had to think over each section for a while before continuing.

I definitely recommend Facing The Text to anyone taking the Berkley course like I did - in fact, it's one of the recommended extra reading books and I can see why. The author has laid things out really well, showing different techniques, explaining them clearly and using lots of examples. Then she explains a bit about when and why you might wish to use one technique over another.

Different chapters cover different facets of the indexing process in depth, including selecting terminology, heading and subheading formats, what is indexable and what generally isn't, among other things.

Personally, I found the final two chapters to be the most interesting, with insights into working on an in-progress index, including strategies for what to do when you get stuck, the editing process etc. Very helpful for anyone just starting out, such as those of us who are fresh out of a course. However, I'm sure that on a re-read, which is definitely going to happen, I'll get even more out of Facing the Text, but for now, it made me think more about what I was doing even as I was working on the longer assignments for the course.

Most definitely a book I would recommend to any new indexer.

Back From Camping

I've been back for a couple of days now, but was busy finishing off the Berkley Indexing Course, as the deadline for that was today. Camping was lots of fun, several days of kayaking, fishing and hiking at one of my favourite campgrounds. We've taken the kayaks there for the day once, but not for a full-on camping trip before.

This time we did something a bit different too - took a regular step-ladder to make it possible to set up the tarps higher up. Worth doing again, because we had the tarps set high enough that it was possible to safely have them covering the fire-pit (so long as it wasn't a raging high fire).

Quite a few of the tarps we use are older ones, still good, except some of the grommets have been ripped out by wind and ropes over the years, but we tried and found an incredible fix, the EZ-Grabbit Tarp Holder. Simple to put together, and you know what, they held the tarps far more effectively and with fewer leaks than the pony clips we'd been using before this trip.

And leaks were definitely a concern. It rained for at least part of the day every day but the last that we were there. Even so, we had a fire every morning and another each evening, and generally enjoyed ourselves completely with only a couple of drips to worry about from between the tarps.

It was also fun poking around the other sites in the campground. Usually they're all inhabited, but this time the whole site was nearly empty. The things you find sometimes. One site was full of nice, long pieces of rope and cord as though someone had taken down their tarps but couldn't be bothered to untie all the other ends of the ropes. So, we added to our stash of rope.

No photos to show, even though we saw things we'd have loved to photograph, including raccoons and birds. It was just too wet to want to take the cameras out.

I did manage to finish reading one of my books - still need to review it though: Facing The Text by Do Mi Stauber. I've mentioned it in a couple of places here over the last couple of months. Now it's been read, I just need to review it.


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