July 2011

Books read in July:

  1. Lirael. Garth Nix.
  2. Sir Launfal. Thomas Chestre; ed. A. J. Bliss.
  3. The Alchemist. Paulo Coelho.
  4. Abhorsen. Garth Nix.
  5. Un Lun Dun. China Miéville.
  6. The Lais of Marie de France. Glyn S. Burgess and Keith Busby, trans.
  7. Le Morte Darthur. Thomas Malory. (33%)
  8. Fairies in Medieval Romance. James Wade.
  9. The Library of Shadows. Mikkel Birkegaard.

Best new read: Lirael/Abhorsen
Best (only) non-fiction: Fairies in Medieval Romance
Best Tube read: The Lais of Marie de France

Lirael and Abhorsen by Garth Nix really do have to be treated like one long book. I really enjoyed how that trilogy captured my imagination. I read The Lais of Marie de France both for pleasure and for work, and because the book was small and the stories quite short, the book was perfect for reading on the underground in London. And before you question why I only read one-third of Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, allow me to point out that it is 700 pages of Middle English prose, so it’s going to take me longer than a month to work through the whole thing.

A disappointing read was The Library of Shadows. I enjoyed the premise and the first 200 or so pages of the book. Then the protagonist became a super super-hero and there were weird electricity things, and the female protagonist immediately morphed from being an interesting, strong character in her own right to being completely two-dimensional once she hopped into bed with the male protagonist. The treatment of Katherina was what bothered me most, actually. I had been quite pleased with how for the first half of the novel, Birkegaard actually had the two protagonists develop a working relationship and friendship. But then, instead of having that relationship shift naturally into a romantic one, the characters have sex and their characterizations become entirely clichéd, particularly Katherina. Basically, the second half felt like a completely different novel because all of the characters, plot, and even setting, changed.

On a positive note, if you like Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, you might just also enjoy Un Lun Dun by China Miéville. It very fun to read about an alternate London — UnLondon — while staying in London. The chapters were really short, too, which were well suited for reading on the Tube. The reason this book didn’t make the ‘best Tube read’ though was because it’s quite a big book and made my bag heavy while I was reading it.

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