Posts Tagged Throne of the Crescent Moon

Hypothetical Hugo Ballot, Pt2

Last time out I looked at the dramatic presentation categories. Now that I’ve finished the last of the five novel nominees, I’m ready with the ballot that I would submit. If I could. Which I can’t. Let’s get right to it, then commentary:

  1. BlackoutBlackout
  2. Redshirts
  3. 2312
  4. Throne of the Crescent Moon
  5. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance

First there’s a clear division on the ballot between my top two picks and my bottom three picks. Blackout and Redshirts were the two books of the five that I had a difficult time putting down. Redshirts I tore through in three nights, Blackout I read the last 120 pages in a single night. If there’s a better reason of dividing a ballot into halves, I can’t think of it.

Ultimately I went with Blackout for two reasons. One, on its own I felt it was a more compelling and entertaining novel than Redshirts. Two, I feel the entire Newsflesh trilogy deserves some recognition beyond just nominations. While only the last part is being considered this year, I feel it’s appropriate with a self-contained trilogy to consider the work as a whole when deciding whether or not to honor the third part. It’s why Lord of the Rings swept up so many Oscars with Return of the King. Newsflesh did so many things well it’s hard to know where to start. Especially harder since many of the things it did so well are rather massive spoilers to the entire series.

Redshirts ends up second because it was the other book I loved, I just didn’t love it as much as Blackout.

In the lower half of the ballot, I didn’t include a No Award vote. Though I almost did. To be blunt, I’m not sure Captain Vorpatril would have been nominated standing on its own, not part of a long running series from a well respected author. At no point did I dislike the read, but it wasn’t as strong as the other four nominees.

In between Redshirts and Vorpatril is my bias for science fiction over fantasy shining through. It’s my hypothetical ballot, it gets subjected to my biases.

I’d be curious about how anyone else would vote (or, if you’re so bold as to go on record, did vote). Drop me a comment if you’ve read all five. Agree with me completely. Tell me what an idiot I am. I’m interested to see how others would rank this year’s field. And remember that the awards will be presented on September 1, and they’ve promised the stream won’t be killed by a copyright claim this year.

, , , , ,


Throne of the Crescent Moon

I’ve been putting this review off. But now we’re at the end of the month, we’re about to roll over to the next books in the Great Hugo Read, so my putting off time has run out. Which I find off-putting. See, I’m still delaying by adding little puns to this introduction.

Let’s start by saying I liked Throne of the Crescent Moon. I can fully understand it’s popularity, I can even understand why it’s up for the Hugo. However, I had two obstacles when reading the book, one which had to do with the book and one which had to do with me.

First, the book. In many ways this felt like the first part of a planned series. Books one of planned series always leave me a little cold at the end, because even as the story is self-contained, there’s a certain unsatisfying lack of actual conclusion, threads are left hanging. The main villain of the work is defeated, but much like Darth Maul, it’s clear he’s not actually the villain of the story. He’s just the villain of the first third, meant to bring all the characters together, give them someone or something to fight, and help introduce the actual drama that will cover the rest of the series. Crescent Moon is a complete story. It has a beginning, it has a middle, and it has an end. But that ending serves as only the first act break of the longer story.

I suppose it’s a compliment to the book that I got to the end and wondered what comes next. I do want to come back to the series. From that angle the book is a success. From that angle the bit of cliffhanger at the end is a success. This is probably just me being petulant, but that’s my prerogative as a reader.

The second problem…this I know is entirely me. I don’t read epic, second world fantasy. Oh sure, I read some. Most notably the Discworld series. But when the books aren’t set on the backs of four elephants riding a giant turtle through space, I tend not to pick them up. So I was left with a clear lack of direction to approach this book. Which is a shame, as many of the reviews I’ve read of Crescent Moon talk about how it rejects many of the tropes of the genre. It may. It may not. I don’t know the tropes well enough to say.

I do recognize that the world is unusual. The bits and pieces of fantasy I have read tend to tie back to British and Norse mythology. Largely because they’re riding firmly on the back of Lord of the Rings. Entering a world of jinn and ghuls was a fun change. Entering a world where they’re spelled “jinn” and “ghul” builds the world almost as quickly as just including the elements. What little I know of Islamic and Arabian storytelling comes from Nicholas Clapp’s book Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen, the first place that I learned that the fantastic creatures of the Arabian Nights flow into more of Arabian culture than just the stories of Scheherazade, and even sneak into the Koran.

The other major step away from trope, however, went clear over my head. Many other reviews have praised Ahmed’s use of working class heroes in Crescent Moon. Unfortunately I went through the book unaware of that trope, so unable to appreciate what Ahmed did in that regard. Discworld is full of working class characters, though many of them achieve greater heights. You can’t get further from nobility than J.R.R. Tolkein’s hobbit protagonists. And…that’s where my epic fantasy knowledge ends. That fantasy is populated with nobles, princes, and lords isn’t in my reading vocabulary.

So at the end of the day I enjoyed the book. It was a chance to read outside of my comfort zone, an opportunity I should take more often. Hell, it’s part of why I started the Hugo Read, it meant lining up books in my to-read pile that I might not touch otherwise. I’m excited enough about the series continuing that Ahemd’s occasional tweets about delays in book two frustrate me. That alone should indicate this first book’s quality. It took this non-fantasy reader on a fun ride, and left him wanting more. Even a little frustrated about not having more. For that, I commend it.

Up next in the Great Hugo Read?

Oh man, if I felt out of place stepping into epic fantasy, how out of place am I going to feel stepping into what’s either book 14 or 15 of a massive space epic that’s been going on since the 1980s and I’ve read exactly none of? We’re going to find out with Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, the 15th published book of the Vorkosigan Saga, and currently 14th book of the internal chronology of the series. These are books that I’ll be getting to know a lot better, as four have already won the Hugo, and they’re playing some havoc with ordering the Read. Eventually the Read will cover enough of these books that I no longer have to look up how to spell “Vorkosigan” every damn time.

We’re also going back into Mira Grant’s zombie apocalypse with Deadline, the second book in the Newsflesh trilogy. Here’s your standard where to find ’em information:

Primary: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold

  • Print: Available new in hardback, paperback releasing in September.
  • Electronic: Available from Kindle only.
  • Audio: Narrated by Grover Gardner, available from Audible and iTunes.

Secondary: Deadline by Mira Grant (Blackout pre-read)

  • Print: Available new in paperback, and as a trilogy box set.
  • Electronic: Available from Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Sony Reader.
  • Audio: Narrated By Chris Patton and Nell Geisslinger, available from Audible and iTunes.

And as always, feel free to join in the Goodreads Group. It’s being just barely active enough that I’m bothering to keep it going, I’d love to see more people in there if you’re reading along, or if you just have thoughts about the books that are part of the Read.

, ,

No Comments

%d bloggers like this: