The next book in the series…

I have a couple of unpopular fantasy-fiction-reading views.

1) I’m kind of over A Song of Ice and Fire. A Dance With Dragons has been sitting on my shelf – and on my to-read list – since September 2011. My husband’s read it. I haven’t. And every time I look at it I go, “…eh. But is anything actually going to get done?” (To be brutally honest, I’m sort of viewing the television series as the polished edit of his increasingly rambling first draft.)

2) I prefer single-volume fantasy. Related to the first point? Very probably. I might, I admit, be getting burned out on having to wait ages to find out what happens next, only to have to wait again. But also, my appreciation for a tight, concise, hard punch of a story is increasing all the time. (Also then I don’t have to worry about getting all the same bindings/sizes/covers to line up on my shelf…)

That said, here are three series I’m really intellectually invested in right now:

Daniel Abraham’s The Dagger and the Coin
Next to read: The Tyrant’s Law (#3). World fantasy in the character-politics-heavy magic-chicanery-light mode of George Martin. After the strength-to-strength magnificent tapestry woven in the first two books, I have no hesitation putting this series top of my list. Those strengths? Genuinely intricate and wide-ranging politics, making banking and finance integral and fascinating, and amazing characters who are each and every one believable, developing and sympathetic. And then setting those characters at cross purposes.

Max Gladstone‘s Craft Sequence
Next to read: Two Serpents Rise (#2). World fantasy of highly developed societal systems; urban fantasy of the most wild kind. It’s been over a month since I read the first of these (Three Parts Dead) but I’m still utterly giddy about it, assisted by the buzz around Two Serpents, and the amazing draft cover for the next book, Full Fathom Five. There’s so much enjoyable, intellectual, inclusive and innovative about these books that I just genuinely can’t stop raving about them. (Of course, putting this on the list might be considered cheating, as the books seem to be more stand-alone novels in a shared world. But GIDDY. ABOUT. IT. So there.)

Daniel Polansky‘s Low Town series
Next to read: She Who Waits (#3). Holy grimy fantasy noir, Batman. Part of what has me so excited for the third book of this series is that, for me, there was such an improvement in book 2 (Tomorrow the Killing) over book 1 (Straight Razor Cure, where I come from). Don’t get me wrong, Cure was zippy and rich and full of grit, but Killing was magnificent, layered and complex and just oozing the regret that gets you nowhere. So I’m eager as anything to see what the third book – tantalisingly named after the world’s oft-referenced goddess of death – brings to play.

Shelving zen

We moved into our house (“to the country”, Mr Dee calls it, mostly because there is now grass instead of road and pavement, the sound of lawnmowers on the weekend, actual pets; ignoring the fact that we are still in zone 1) nearly two years ago now. When we first sat down with the designers to start planning the house, some two years before that, the first thing they asked me was, “What's the one thing you want? Why are you building this house?”

I said, “Because we've had to stop buying books because there's no room. I want bookshelves. I want a whole room of bookshelves.”

(They looked at me like I was a really strange person. I get that a lot.)

A girl and her bookshelves )

The next problem? Bookends. I cannot believe how difficult they are to find, and suddenly we need ten of the damn things…

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The digital word

I have a bit of a teetering-on-the-fence opinion about ebooks. I cannot deny, as someone now trapped in a daily commute, that I look on enviously as people hold on with one hand while they gaily “turn pages” with the other on their e-reader (especially when we are both reading something like Reamde). The sheer portability of an entire library is the most blatant invitation to covetousness.

The reason I have hesitated in jumping on the electronic-reader bandwagon is that I really, really, really like physical books. I like having them. We designed our house to have one room with a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall bookcase, because it will just look fucking beautiful (once we finally get the damn thing installed). And unlike with music, I cannot have my cake and eat it too: there is no way to rip a book I own to digital format, though some make-do options exist for “burning” digital prose to a physical copy.

And now I have been informed of another fundamental problem with the whole concept of electronic libraries; as discovered in sad circumstances by Kate Griffin (an author whose brain is an unending delight to me), Amazon will not permit (or, more accurately, honour) the bequeathing of virtual libraries.

I have philosophical Opinions about this )

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