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But but but I haven’t finished the last issue yet because Hugos!

Finished reading THREE PARTS DEAD by Max Gladstone (Hugo Voter Packet)

A God has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethras, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb.  Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.  Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in.  Her only help is Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead God, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

But when the duo discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and the city’s slim hope of survival.

Back cover blurbs are weird. This book has such a strong ensemble that it’s decidedly odd to see it rendered down to just Tara and Abelard. He’s not her “only help” by a long chalk. What of Elayne Kevarian, Tara’s formidable boss (played by an icy Lucy Liu in my mind), or sort-of magical beat cop Cat, or vampire pirate captain Raz Pelham, all of whom are instrumental in their own way to building and defending the case? The only reason I can think of for singling out Abelard as the only companion to get a mention is that the blurb writer wanted desperately to hint at a romance subplot. Or maybe to bump up the book’s noir cred: unlikely crime-solving duo, city on the edge of violence, chain-smoking…

I’m only complaining because I liked this book a lot. Partly because it lines up with a lot of my own thoughts on magic. If you look into ye olde English ceremonial magic - the type John Dee and Aleister Crowley and so on practised - you discover that none of the power was supposed to come from the wizard; it all comes from petitioning creatures from other planes to do stuff for you (in contrast to, say, HARRY POTTER, where the magic is inside the wizards, some people have and some don’t, which I find tends to lead to problematic readings). Gladstone takes this idea and runs with it: magic in THREE PARTS DEAD is basically a branch of law, governed by arcane pacts and contracts (literal pen-and-paper ones in some cases). And somehow that doesn’t bleed any of the fantasical sense of wonder out of it.

Interestingly, I ran across N. K. Jemisin’s post about overly systematised magic in modern fantasy the same evening I finished this. You could read Gladstone’s magic as a logical extrapolation - maybe even a criticism, or at least a bit of fun-poking - of D&D/Brandon Sanderson-style supersystematic magic. If it’s systematic and predictable, then at some point it’s going to involve paperwork.

Colombian organic - 100% Arabica (bought at Doppio Coffee Warehouse) is my new brew

Listen to an album you love enough times and eventually you get to the point where you can put it on while you’re cooking or reading or working, and it’ll get to the end and you’ll realise you can’t remember actually hearing any of the tracks. You’ve heard them enough times that your memory doesn’t bother recording this latest instance. But you remember the feel of them on your lips. You don’t remember hearing but you remember singing along.

Finished reading TITHE by Holly Black

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms — a struggle that could very well mean her death.

Bought as part of the most recent Humble Ebook Bundle (closed now, sorry).

I dropped out of and back into this because Hugo Awards reading. Would have been a nice speedy read otherwise. It made me realise I’ve not actually read a lot of portal/secret heritage fantasy featuring poor (what the blurb calls “blue-collar”) characters - CS Lewis, THE DARK IS RISING, NEVERWHERE et al tend to explore the fantastic as an escape from comfortable middle-class and/or white-collar office-worker ennui. Maybe because then the choice between worlds is more balanced? If you don’t have much in the ‘real’ world, jumping through the portal/accepting your secret destiny might be a no-brainer, whereas if you’re leaving comfort behind for a life of potential danger, it’s more difficult. Or maybe it’s just a factor of the background of the writers I’ve been reading, and their perceived/intended audiences. In any case, this has exposed a new gap in my reading - can anyone recommend other good (urban?) fantasy books with less-well-off main characters?

No vehicles beyond this point

Booze and tunes @ldnbrewmkt (at Old Spitalfields Market)

Booze and tunes @ldnbrewmkt (at Old Spitalfields Market)

londonbrewersmarket:

We’re so excited!

We’ll be at Old Spitalfields Market this Friday and Saturday from 11 am until 6 pm. This is a free event which gives a great taste of the brewing scene here in London, with over 20 breweries participating over the two days.

Here’s the line-up for who to expect on each…

The last one of these was great fun. It was also in the bleak midwinter, so we were mostly on the heavy stouts and porters - if the weather this weekend stays the way it’s been in London lately, it’ll be pale ales all the way this time round.

mostlysignssomeportents:

Matthew (of Guy Fawkes bandanna fame) writes, ” These acid-etched stainless steel lockpick earrings are an elegant accessory perfect for quick escapes, late nights, and lost keys. They feature a selection of picks, rakes, and a tension bar. The earrings are slim and lightweight, meant for…

Fashionable AND practical!