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Maester Llama

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About Maester Llama

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  1. The North American publication date is today, the 27th; the UK edition releases on the 29th.
  2. Maester Llama

    Book of the Ancestor trilogy by Mark Lawrence {spoiler thread}

    I am astonished, bewildered, terrified, disheartened. Might read Red Sister now though.
  3. Maester Llama

    Hugo time! Your packet is available! 2018

    I think this is an awesome list, at least in the categories in which I can have an opinion. The novel list is just great -- I'd have made a couple different choices, of course, but all of these are books for which I have seen a lot of genuine love and appreciation and the list contains no entry the presence of which is just fucking bullshit, in other words no entry that cannot be easily explained by smart engaged readers having different tastes. Too Like the Lightning! I did not expect that. Happiness! I am also surprised by how much I like the nominees for best series. I don't need to like the nominees for it to be a good category, of course, but the series that have ended up nominated make it feel to me like this could be a genuine way to recognize good work, rather than just a way for fans to hand out additional cookies to work that already sells incredibly well and is very popular. I hope this gets Gladstone's superb Craft Sequence another reader or two. The list's got a minor case of TB, yes, and the focus of his mischief this year means that his minions may be able to concentrate more on single nominees and increase the likelihood of a win, which sucks, but outside of that I think at the nomination stage this one feels like a success.
  4. Maester Llama

    Hugo time! Your packet is available! 2018

    Yeah, everyone's going to have a thing or two that they feel should really have appeared on any awards list, since there are so many worthy stories and so few slots. That's totally reasonable. I am very puzzled by the absence of Palmer's Too Like the Lightning from the Locus recommended reading, though. It's outstanding. Not even in first novel? Have all the reviewers got collective amnesia? It's an unusual book, certainly, but are those of us who like it really that weird? That's bananas. Apart from that I think the only thing I've read so far from last year that I'd really whine about is Frances Hardinge's The Lie Tree, which should absolutely appear in young adult and does strike me as an omission. It's very possible that was originally published in the UK in 2015 though and that's why it is not here. I'd probably include Paul Kearney's The Wolf in the Attic in fantasy, too, but that falls into my "different strokes / only so many slots on an award shortlist" box. I like the Nebula list a lot. I'm not one-hundred percent on the All the Birds in the Sky train, but I like it much more than several people here. I'm part-way through Ninefox Gambit and I'm not sure it's my thing, but it's very intriguing and well done. Also Tor.com really has this novella thing locked down don't they?
  5. I'm unfamiliar with a lot of the names on that BBC spitball list -- Dhawan, Ayoade -- and it would be cool to get someone relatively "unknown" in the role. Of those I am familiar with, plus a couple other options: Ben Whishaw: Solid option, would be great. I tend to go mostly off of vocal delivery, and Whishaw strikes me as slightly Smith-like. A wonderful actor, but a very safe choice for Who. James Norton: Oh god the fandom would love him. They would melt the fuck down. Another wonderful option, but again very safe. Also kinda busy it seems. David Harewood: This is a cool idea. There are a number of white guy actors in the "likely" column whose work I like a lot and I am sure the one of them who is eventually cast will do a great job, but I admit I am very partial to the idea of using this moment to get someone who is not a white guy in the role. Harewood is a commanding but also likable presence. Regular on Supergirl right now, which could pose some small difficulty. Emma Watson: Great idea. Probably too high profile to actually happen. The Beeb does not have this kind of money. See also Eva Green, whose haunted steely Vanessa Ives moves would bring a new energy to Who, but who seems too big deal to me, though perhaps not quite so far as Watson. Hayley Atwell: Great goddamn idea, and they should hire her tomorrow. She can do the fun swashbuckling action material while also keeping the show thoroughly relatable. She would be my choice. Sarah Lancashire: An older first woman doctor could also be great and Lancashire is straight up amazing in Happy Valley. A left field interesting choice. For absolute maximum fun pair Lancashire with Atwell's doctor as a companion, perhaps. Benedict Wong: I saw Chiwitel Ejiofor namechecked as a good doctor option somewhere -- he would indeed be stellar, but is like Watson too high profile I think -- and he called to mind Wong, who was in Doctor Strange with him. Great at deadpan funny. There are of course an absolute ton of good options available to them and many of them would bring wonderful things to the role. Atwell is my choice, I think, but I'm pretty confident whoever they ultimately cast will bring something cool. I note that ... I forget dude's name, Rob Stark, the King in the North, who was widely rumoured at one stage as I recall, seems to have faded.
  6. Maester Llama

    Young Adult Books: Discuss!

    The ya thing I read last year that I'm the highest on and that hasn't been mentioned yet here is Frances Hardinge's The Lie Tree. Nineteenth century feminist parlour espionage / mystery about the unappreciated brilliant daughter of a British fossil hunter who gets in over his head with some shit. Speculative elements. Sneaks up on you, but once it gets going wow god damn. A highlight of the year in perceptive ya that I think cuts deep and I'll be reading more of Hardinge's stuff -- she is very well thought-of in children's lit review circles, I understand. I got a lot out of Maggie Stiefvater's first two Raven Cycle books. Drenched in atmosphere and character and magic that feels genuinely weird. I'm surprised how well these have done given how firmly they often flip the bird at conventionally-paced plots and how obtuse they're willing to be -- and I do admit that I occasionally wouldn't mind being shown the money a little more, but I love how completely they blaze their own way and wouldn't want them to stop doing it. My favourite thing of hers I've read so far might still be The Scorpio Races, which I remember as an all-timer. All praise to Leigh Bardugo and Six of Crows / Crooked Kingdom. Some of the purest fun I had reading last year, but also with some real crunch to them. Need to read the second book in Kate Elliott's Court of Fives series; I found the first one excellent. Ditto the sequel to Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes; I thought the first one took a maybe slightly less thoughtful and more actiony, but still often compelling, approach to a cultural conflict very broadly similar to the one in Elliott's Court of Fives and that it had one breakout character -- not either of the characters in the main couple, who are very ... couple-y.
  7. Maester Llama

    The Paul Kearney Thread: Monarchies of God,Sea Beggars,The Macht etc.

    Brief thread revivification to say that I'm just over a third of the way through The Wolf in the Attic, entirely understand what people were excited about, and am pretty baffled as to why this hasn't become [or at least doesn't seem to have become] a bigger deal. Very rich in atmosphere; very mysterious and numinous; beautifully written so far.
  8. Maester Llama

    Scott Lynch's THORN OF EMBERLAIN

    I think the argument that it's likely to be delayed again is being based more on the fact that the hardcover's disappeared from Amazon UK than on Del Rey's scheduling issues -- which are unfortunate but, yeah, very much a case of them's the breaks and it doesn't really matter -- no? The hardcover listing underneath the Thorn of Emberlain kindle edition now leads to "Untitled Lynch 4 of 4," which is listed for March 2018. It's too bad, because it sounded like they really were pretty positive and they don't usually announce if they're not, but it doesn't look great. Ah well, these things happen; hopefully they can reschedule soon, if September is indeed not gonna work out.
  9. Maester Llama

    The Books That Have Just Come Out: New Release Thread

    Public service announcement: Max Gladstone's latest Craft Sequence novel Four Roads Cross comes out today. Gargoyles, necromancy, sorcerers as lawyers, the economy of faith and the exchange value of the soul. One of my very favourite current secondary world fantasy series. This is the good shit and a new one should be a big deal. The books are standalone, though they do form a larger arc, and a glance at the sample chapters for Four Roads suggest that it might be pretty helpful to have read Three Parts Dead first.
  10. Maester Llama

    Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance v. 3.0

    I forget whether I mentioned this book in this thread and I don't think I did; apologies if this is repetition: I finished Mishell Baker's Borderline a little while ago and I thought it was pretty good. It's about an organization set up to police the borders between Earth and the world of the fae, with most of the people who work for this organization -- including the protagonist, who has borderline personality disorder -- being in some way mentally non-normative in a way that makes them well-suited for this work even as the rest of society trusts them less. It's set in Hollywood and deeply steeped in the culture of the film industry. The protagonist is well-crafted, with a distinctive voice, snappy and spikey and sometimes self-destructive in ways that can be frustrating but always feel real, and ultimately kind of likeable in her way, I think. It's a really interesting spin on uf, often such a physical genre, to follow a character whose both neurologically and physically [she uses a wheelchair] challenged in ways this genre's leads usually aren't. The plot moves briskly once it gets its feet under it, the world gets a lot of cool mileage out of its one central conceit, and the secondary cast comes into its own later on even though at first it feels a little sparse. There's only the first book right now, but it does sound like it's going to be a series; the sequel's scheduled for next March. I'd also recommend giving Daniel Jose Older's Bone Street Rumba books a try. Ghost / undead based uf set in Brooklyn. First book's decent, with a somewhat loose and shaggy plot and pace. Second book really sings, building on the series' strengths and minimizing its weaknesses. The voice and humour is really great, and the series is developing one of the strongest ensemble cast benches I've seen recently in this kind of stuff. Neither of these are that heavy on the romance elements -- though Older's Bone Street Rumba does certainly contain a romance and it's important. Oh, Legend Has It is gonna be the last Pax book? That's too bad. Still, yeah, better that this is known going in, to avoid a Generation V type situation -- I'm still majorly grumpy about that.
  11. Maester Llama

    Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance v. 3.0

    The only reason I think the triangle plot sometimes makes Sig look bad, which to be clear I think it does only rarely, is, I suspect, down to the narrative's construction of the asshole rather than the characterization of Sig herself, in that we're never really shown any reason, however fleeting, for Sig -- or indeed any sane human -- to like this man, or more to the point to have liked him in the past. He is so bad. He is the worst. And he is the worst with astonishing consistency. And yes, we're given to understand that he is reaching new lows here, but ... I mean, ... wow. Like dude can't even be borderline civil. I wonder if just one or two good things about him might have made the whole thing feel more real. I entirely agree that we're told things about Sig's past and her own issues, which seem to me to be portrayed well and with nuanced respect, that make it clear why she stays around him, but I found it tough to gut-feel those things, because we don't really glimpse much of them in action; we're just told about them. Sig's great: flawed but self-aware, and treated wonderfully by the narrative. It's the asshole's characterization that stumbles, for me. It's a minor narrative-positioning / balancing complaint; I agree that for the most part the story's blissfully free of triangle bullshit. And ... and this is so appealing, ... for the most part they talk their issues through like adults. That is just so cool. But yes, it is moot by the end of the book! So wonderfully, beautifully moot... Onwards and upwards! I flipped to the excerpt for book 2 in the back and had to fight impulses to buy it immediately. I think these books are winners -- and, haunted by the cancelations of uf series past, hope plenty more people think so too.
  12. Maester Llama

    Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance v. 3.0

    I have finished the first Pax Arcana novel. I mostly really dig it! The plot's zippy, the world-building combines mysticism and practicality in a way that I like a lot even if it does sometimes feel a bit haphazard to me in this first one, and the prose just reads itself; it's very appealing. Most of all, though, and of course this is key for these urban fantasy things, I really like most of the characters -- the leads, for sure, but also a couple of their monster-hunting sidekick buddies. The humour's pretty all over the place, but I'd say more hits for me than doesn't by a pretty wide margin. There's more men competing over a woman than I'd like and I found some of those sections pretty uncomfortable, in part just because of the male posturing, but particularly since the hero's rival / the heroine's current boyfriend is so clearly and unambiguously the absolute worst that it occasionally makes the heroine look bad. I feel like the book makes the tastiest lemonade possible under the circumstances out of these plot lemons and ends up in a good place, and it certainly does an excellent job of portraying the heroine as a powerful person with her own agency the vast majority of the time without making it feel like a "see? she does stuff too!" figleaf -- she really is the catalysing force of the story in many ways. But there are moments of awkward. I will read more of these! Thanks for the solid recommendation, oh board!
  13. Maester Llama

    Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance v. 3.0

    Okay, I'm trusting y'all: My local library has never bought any of the Pax Arcana books, so I went ahead and ordered the first one. I hope it works out for me. Thanks to all those who recommended the series! I'm half-way through Mishell Baker's Borderline, the first book in a new uf series about an amputee woman with borderline personality disorder who gets involved with monitoring the fay community in Hollywood. It's compelling me quite a bit so far: it's got sometimes frustratingly but also enjoyably and truthfully spikey characters, an interestingly-evoked world that builds slowly based on just a couple fantastical conceits, and thus far no reliance on anything creepy that is not clearly intended to be so. Also recently finished Midnight Taxi Tango, the second book in Daniel Jose Older's Bone Street Rumba about a Brooklyn full of ghosts 'n shit, a major step up for the series and an absolute delight. Plot's mostly a fun delivery mechanism and the bad guys are just dicks who give the protagonists something to point at, mostly, but the characters and the dialogue and the tone are all just wonderful, and the world gets more fully fleshed out in this one. Older's writing is, and I'd say this is an important point of recommendation for this series, also damn funny. I'm notching this series up to definite recommend territory now based on the strength of this second one. Oooh right Paul Cornell's third one happened; thanks for reminding me and I'm glad to hear it's good!
  14. Maester Llama

    The Paul Kearney Thread: Monarchies of God,Sea Beggars,The Macht etc.

    As someone who hasn't read Kearney previously and so hasn't been following along closely this may be a dumb question, but: I recall that Solaris delayed The Wolf in the Attic significantly, and that the reason given was that they felt that they had a big thing on their hands with this novel, and that they wanted to prepare a big marketing push and try to do as well as possible by it. So, ... um, ... what's the deal with that? Because, apart from Wert's excellent review [and the arc that made it possible, which I understand is no longer usual], I've encountered very little online material meant to remind people that the book's coming out and that it's good, excerpts and interviews and the like. It seems to be in danger of slipping back under the radar, as has often happened to Kearney's stuff. So where's that there marketing push? Where's the momentum? Am I simply looking in the wrong places? Or has Solaris not quite done what they implied they would do here?
  15. Maester Llama

    The Books That Have Just Come Out: New Release Thread

    I was kind of wondering whether The Immortal Throne would be published in North America at all, as I'm not sure The City did that well here, so this actually counts as sorta-kinda good news for me, since we now know that it is at least happening, even if not as soon as might be hoped. I've got Snakewood on hold at the library, so I'll definitely be trying it and saying stuff about it around here, but probably not until after a consensus has been reached, as the library is wonderful, but slow. I agree that based on reactions thus far it's looking like the year's first wipeout, but maybe it'll work really well for some people? The year seems to be amply supplied with debut epic fantasy, particularly in the summer, including a resurgence of dragon stuff, so we'll see if Snakewood retains its dud crown. Elizabeth Bonesteel's The Cold Between is picking up some solid reviews as an enjoyable debut space opera that shows great promise. I've read the beginning and am definitely interested. It's gonna give the people who see romance and go eeew coodies shattering heart attacks, but for the rest of us it has great potential in terms of mapping out an interestingly tense post-scarcity-but-still-tension-ridden interstellar society, I think.
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