The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Hermione Granger At The Marco Polo Bridge

Posted on | June 15, 2019 | Comments Off on Hermione Granger At The Marco Polo Bridge

— by Wombat-socho

Aside from the occasional used book, I haven’t bought any books from anyone but Amazon in quite a while. This year, I made an exception and actually paid list price for the Compton Crook Award winner’s debut novel, The Poppy War, by R. F. Kuang. As The post title indicates, this is a coming of age fantasy in a world where magic works…differently, and the gods are feared for a very good reason. Kuang’s novel is about a young girl orphaned by war and fostered by a merchant family who changes her fate by passing the extremely difficult admittance exam for Sinegard, an elite military school where she discovers that her fate isn’t to be an officer in the Imperial military, but something far more dangerous. Despite the foregoing, this is not a book for children or even young adults, because it’s set in the Second Sino-Japanese War, except that everyone is using arrows, swords, and polearms instead of rifles and artillery. While the notion of Chiang Kai-Shek as the Empress is amusing, Kuang spares us and her heroine nothing, not even the Rape of Nanking, which is horrifically re-enacted. I am looking forward to the sequel, The Dragon Republic with some trepidation; I’m hoping our heroine lives happily ever after but am rather afraid she won’t.  It’s due out in August.

On a more cheerful note, the first volume of Komi Can’t Communicate is out from Viz Media. I’d been following it thanks to fan translations on the web, and wrote kind of a pre-review here. The manga has more than lived up to my expectations – while a lot of the characters are bizarre, extreme caricatures of typical middle school kids, it’s at its base the story of a girl who can’t talk to people well but badly wants to make friends instead of being placed on a pedestal by her classmates for her “aloof” beauty. The art is nothing special, but the story is good. Worth your time.

The Four Horsemen universe rolls on, and I’ve finished Mark Wandrey’s Dirty Deeds and Jon Osborne’s When The Axe Falls. Wandrey’s book is the tale of a merc who wants to retire on an idyllic island colony…but trouble keeps finding him, and when the Mercenary Guild forces land, he realizes it’s time to saddle up with his fellow retirees and show the aliens why it’s a bad idea to mess with people who’ve grown old in a field where few do. Lots of humor, lots of action. Highly recommended. Osborne’s book is also good, mixing a story of revenge with an underhanded scheme by the Guild to set humans against humans….which turns out to be a bad idea for the humans the Guild is using as a catspaw.

Cash being short, I’m going to head over to the library this week and get caught up on some recent books by David Drake and the 1632 crowd, plus whatever else catches my eye.


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