||[Saturday 20th November 2010 at 11:51 pm]
Hmm, no post yet from talismancer today. Or, at least no post that I can see when I started writing this - I don't consider private posts to count for NaBloPoMo, but I suppose I'll let you off if you've made a friends-only one that I'm not on the filter for.
So, what to post that's not a meme or snark bait?
Books. I'm sure I can always think of something to post about books. Warning: books means potential spoilers and lots of links to TV Tropes.
Back in... well, from April 2009 to April 2010 according to library timestamps, I made my way through Robert Jordan's excellent Wheel of Time series. I've since decided that I like it enough to go and buy the books, although I'm trying to be good and not get the entire series at once (though Waterstones' aren't helping with their frequent 3 for 2 offers). So far I've got books 1 through 9, as well as picking up book 13.
The change of style in book 13 is not unexpected, seeing as Robert Jordan unfortuantly suffered Author Existence Failure a while back and the quill was taken up by Brandon Sanderson. I didn't notice it so much at the time of reading book 12 as I was still borrowing them from the library at the time, but having books by both old and new authors to hand the differences are now more noticeable. If anything I think it's improved by the new author, as a fair amount of the space-filling fluff is being reduced and the pace has picked up. Of course, that's also due to the end fast approaching, with plot threads being neatly tidied up, the main protaganists actually all arriving at the same place, and no small number of Chekov's Guns finally firing (some of which have been sitting there for a long time).
I still think Mat, along with possibly Perrin, are the only truely sane characters who have not instantly gone "Power! Muwhahahaha! Dance, puppets, dance!".
What else... well, after the library ran out of Wheel of Time books I then read through William Nicholson's Wind On Fire trilogy (The Wind Singer, Slaves of the Mastery, Firesong). It's a very readable fantasy series, chronicling the Hath family as they try to find the settler's homeland.
The Wind Singer starts in the city of Aramanth, where the entire social hierarchy is decided by sitting exams. Since this is a young adult fantasy it's not that dystopian a society: poor scoring leads to snide comments from neighbours rather than secret police. In the middle of the city stands a curious contraption known as the Wind Singer. Long ago this construction sang a calming song, but invaders came and stole the voice. Kestrel sets off to find and reclaim the voice, restoring Aramanth to the utopia it used to be. Of course, the invaders aren't just going to let this happen. And that's just book one.
For a fantasy setting, it's suprisingly light on dragons and magic swords. Instead it goes for deep philosophy, turning into psychic powers at times. On one end of the spectrum you've got the Master, who wants everyone to love him; while on the other end there's the Morah, who are legion.
William Nicholson's also written a second trilogy, Noble Warriors (Seeker, Jango, Noman), which has much of the same mechanics applied to it. The Noble Warriors are basically a warrior monk society, dedicated to protecting others. As a result of their faith they have a curious power, which is not quite Charm Person and not quite Hypnotic Eyes. The upshot is that if you try to attack a monk, you'll consistently miss, and if their willpower is strong enough you'll suddenly find yourself collapsing to the ground without them moving. It does rely to some extent on eye contact, as proved by one trainee monk who closed his eyes during a demonstration. Of course, the teaching monk then demonstrated the downside to that.
Of course, a neighbouring warlord decides he really doesn't like these monks, and so chooses to deal with them in a rather permanent fashion. At least, he thought it was permanent...