November’s been such a hectic month – whatever happened to winding down for the year? I admit that despite my best intentions, I’ve spent a good amount of time on the internet hitting that One-Click button over the past couple of days. I’m not sure what’s happened (I suspect some price-matching algorithm going haywire), but my inbox has been flooded with price drop emails* over the weekend. I’ve been fairly good, but the 50% rebate at AllRomanceEbooks (today only (30 Nov)!) may be the tipping point. Who needs Christmas presents anyway, right?
I wanted to post about a couple of my recent reads before I completely forgot what I’ve been reading over November – because despite the busy-ness that was November, I’ve been getting through quite a few books.
Most recently, Jim Butcher‘s foray into “steampunk” fantasy, THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS. I borrowed this from the library as his more recent Dresden Files books (his very long-running UF series) have been just okay for me, and his other fantasy series felt very much like fantasy-by-numbers (entertaining fantasy-by-numbers, to be fair, but still, nothing groundbreaking).
But you know what? I actually ended up enjoying this book a whole lot. And I liked it precisely of what it wasn’t.
1) It wasn’t Harry Dresden in a steampunk setting, and by that, I mean the story didn’t feature a snarky dude with tendencies towards heroism, and transplanted into a fantasy setting. (Also interestingly, this appears to be a negative in some of the reviews I’ve read.)
2) It wasn’t steampunk (hence the inverted commas above). Although this was branded as steampunk on Butcher’s website, the most steampunk-ish angle was probably the goggles the aeronauts wore, oh, and some passing references to steam engines? The energy sources for his airships appeared to be magic crystals of the hand-wavey type, which kind of contradicts the whole basis for steampunk setting (not that I’m an expert or anything).
And this is a good thing how, you ask? Because despite my best intentions (I feel like I should like steampunk, you know?), I’ve never really gotten steampunk as a genre (I adore Meljean Brooks’ IRON SEA series, but I suspect that’s more a testimony to her world-building skills than anything else), and I was more than fine with a fast-moving military/adventure fantasy with an intriguing setting and some surprisingly strong female POVs.
THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS isn’t a perfect read – there are quite a few POVs to get to grips with, especially at the start, and it doesn’t exactly challenge any fantasy conventions, but it’s lots of fun and I’m looking forward to the next book.
To wrap up, a couple more November reads I liked:
- Josh Lanyon‘s JEFFERSON BLYTHE, ESQUIRE (M/M NA): I usually enjoy Lanyon’s books, and this was no exception – she has a way of hitting the right buttons for me. This was branded as a caper-style story, and was very definitely one. However, it did have the (trademark Lanyon) abrupt ending, and I’d liked to have a bit more (also, I kept on wondering how Jefferson could afford the many last-minute jaunts between London and the continent – train travel isn’t exactly cheap…).
- Zen Cho‘s SPIRITS ABROAD (fantasy collection): I didn’t love her debut novel SORCEROR TO THE CROWN as much as I thought I would (I appreciated how she made the story feel current, for instance, we had everyday microaggressions translated in a fantasy Regency context, and also how Britain’s colonial history was woven into the story, but overall, never quite connected with the characters). But I thought the short story length in this collection worked really well across the board, and I loved how fantastical and traditional elements were all transposed into a modern setting.
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