Tag Archives: Daemons

Harkness, Deborah: Book of Life (All Souls III) (2014)

I cannot help but love a novel written as intelligently as The Book of Life. Not only does Deborah Harkness demand that I use what little wits are left to me, but she also keeps herself in the river of words through the entire story. In addition, my autism bug sends itself off on missions of discovery and I have had a blast looking into genetics, history and Yale University Campus and surrounding areas.

These are NOT stand-alone books. If you want to immerse yourself in the world of Deborah Harkness, you will have to start at the beginning: A Discovery of Witches. You can read an excerpt of that story here.

At some point in our lives most of us will make at least one astoundingly stupid choice. Matthew Clairmont’s choice involved revenge and abandonment. Sometimes our idiotic choices come back to haunt us well into the future. In Matthew’s case it would be safe to say that the devastating consequences of his choice could be felt for centuries. He is being bitten about as hard in his ass as a person could be. Time also has a way of sorting things out and vampires have plenty of time (if they manage to stay alive).

The Congregation is all about racial purity. Matthew, Miriam, Chris and his assistants’ research will help to shove the Congregation’s ideas of racial purity right where they belong. I hate the idea of racial purity (shudder). Every time I hear the words I become anxious, and I am one of the majority. I cannot imagine what those who supremacists consider “less than” must feel. Thankfully, both the Claremont DNA research and modern DNA research shows us how much such ideas are worth. It would now be appropriate for me to show my middle finger to those who entertain such ideas, but alas …

Friendship is such a strange phenomenon. I have people I love dearly and hardly ever meet or speak with. But they continue to hold a strong place in my feelings. When we meet, our friendship usually seems to have survived. People I meet often do not necessarily resonate with me. There seems no rhyme or reason to how these relationships come about. Several of the characters in The Book of Life experience the same thing. For some of them friendship comes in the most unlikely places. In other cases people who seemed like stinkers turn out to be strong friends. Then we have those who discover that their love has survived all the challenges thrown their way.

Political scheming, assassinations, power-struggles and betrayal are definitely a part of this last book in the All Souls trilogy. You will find plenty of near-death and death experiences in it, none of them of the peaceful kind.

I must not forget that a large chunk of the All Souls trilogy is about the love story between Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont. The two of them fight for their lives and their right to be together across the lines of their genetic variations. Some of their story is together and some of it is apart from each other.

Highly recommended.


Reviews:


The Book of Life on Amazon • B&N • Books-a-Million • iBooks
IndieBound
 • Kindle • NookBarnes & Noble online


My review of:


Sources:

Meadows, Joshua: Sleeping God (Iyetra I) (2010)

Iyetra 01
Cover art by Joshua Meadows
Iyetra is an episodic series of novellas set in a hybrid sci-fi/fantasy universe.” Each novella can be read as a stand-alone-novella. Sleeping God is the first of the series.

“At the dawn of things, in the eon known as the Whole, Iyetra was a complete, harmonious world and its inhabitants lived with the blessings of the gods, watched over under the authority of the Advent.”

In the usual manner of humans, the Shattering is the effect of our own glorious stupidity. The two opposing factions that led to the Shattering were the Advent that used the gods and magic, and the Imperium that believed in machines and destroying those who could access the powers of the aether. As a result of the fighting between the two opposing factions, the gods chose to shatter Iyetra into pieces. But for some reason they did not want all humans to die out so they made it possible for them to live in the Chaos that came from the shattering. Living on pieces of earth (floaters) the size of cities/countries/continents people go about their lives the way people generally do. 

One of these floaters is Koton, the city that ambassador Tela Niala is supposed to negotiate an agreement with. Koton is led by the Magisterium, the “child” of the Imperium. While the Magisterium is not as fanatical as the Imperium, it does have a rather dim view of those who are able to access the aether.

Why Tela’s father would choose his own magically inclined daughter to travel to the male-dominated, magic-hostile floater Koton is a mystery. Perhaps he is willing to sacrifice her in a gambit to increase his own power-base. After all, even people who supposedly have a lot of power, like Tela’s high ranked senator father, can hunger after more. Tela was annoyed enough at her father that she demanded that the usual group of body-guards be left out. He relented. I found that suspicious as well. Tela’s father had to know something about the situation in Koton that we and she did not.

Tela starts off as an insecure graduate from magic school and becomes someone more comfortable with her own gifts/powers. While it might not be appropriate to call Sleeping God a coming of age story it certainly is a coming of self story. Being thrown into the jaws of death could have that effect on some people. Her father might have landed Tela the job as an ambassador, but in the end Tela earns that title through her own actions.


Reviews


Harkness, Deborah: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls) (2011)

The Duke Humfrey’s Library in the BodleianWhen you go to Deborah E Harkness’ website, you will find information not only on her All Souls trilogy, but also on Ashmole 782, alchemy and a reading guide. Deborah teaches history of science and medicine specializing in the period from 1400-1700. As such, Deborah is Diana  Bishop – our female protagonist.

Diana is not only in Academia, she is also a witch with a few issues. In fact, she is an anti-magic witch and tries to use her magic as little as possible. After discovering a disturbing volume in the Bodleian library, Ashmole 782, her magic seems to be having a will of its own. Ashmole 782 zapped Diana somehow and she banishes the book back to the stacks.

Other creatures like herself (witches) and vampires and daemons have a difficult time believing that she has gotten rid of the book and a time of stalking and persecution begins.

Like Deborah, Professor Matthew de Claremont (our male protagonist) also has an interest in history. In his case it is the history of genetics (among other things) that he researches. Because of the zap, Matthew takes an interest in Diana. Matthew finds himself drawn to Diana, and she to him.

I really, really like the fact that A Discovery of Witches stays at Oxford and the Bodleian through a major part of the book. It is highly interesting to read about the feeling of reverence that Deborah has for the library and the important role it plays in society. Words are music and the music of A Discovery of Witches is the kind that enters your soul and leaves you replete.

Diana and Matthew are fun and frustrating characters. In many ways A Discovery of Witches follows the pattern that a great many action and romance books do. The main protagonists are on opposite sides to begin with and through hardship they are brought together and become friends/lovers.

I’ve read complaints about all of the things that I liked about the book – lots of data, frustrating characters, library. Kind of funny really, how different our tastes in books are and how we are drawn to such different facets of them. I would say that this is a non-typical yet typical supernatural story about adventure and identity.