Wednesday, July 2, 2014

On Barber-Surgeon-Wizards and Interracial Siren/Selkie Relationships

Okay, public service announcement.  If you were under the impression that we were buddies, and are now wondering whether that's still the case (because all of a sudden I stopped doing/replying to everything, ever), let me assure you: our bud-ness is as far beyond question as tribbles are beyond cute.  And I am a sweaty, disorganized mess.

But!  No matter how long the to-do list gets, I cannot let this week pass without celebrating two new releases in the SFF-sphere.  Two of my favorite books of 2013 are dropping sequels this week, and I am going to hold you by the scruff of the neck and shove your face into them until you repent share my enthusiasm.


See that one on the right?  That blue hunk of gorgeous is J.K. Cheney's The Seat of Magic, sequel to The Golden City.  And I've blogged about this before, but like... so often, a huge part of a story's appeal is its setting, its atmosphere.  How can we even think about Lilo and Stitch without Hawaii, or Harry Potter without Hogwarts, or Tombstone without, you know, Tombstone?  This is one of those: Cheney has worked like a dog to bring turn-of-the-century Portugal to life (do you know what a Baedeker is?), and it pays off fabulously.  Plus, of course, there are murder mysteries, sinister magic, and secretive sea-people.  You know.  Like y'do.  If you're just casually awesome like that.

BUT THAT IS NOT ALL.  Segue with me, won't you, from "richly beautiful" to "alluringly disgusting."

Actually, "alluringly disgusting" is a great way to describe E.C. Ambrose's Elisha Barber, and so much of what I'm looking forward to in the sequel, Elisha Magus.  Elisha is obviously not the first medieval hero in the fantasy aisle - but it's pretty dang rare that the medic gets first billing in any story, and rarer still that any writer takes such pains to show the real, unglamorous reality of medicine, hygiene, and life in that time - and not just for plot-glorifying shock value (though we love you, GRRM!), but as a mainstay of the plot itself.  E.C. Ambrose just did a terrific podcast with my good buddy "Evil" Dan Bensen on this very subject - which also includes discussion of historical fantasy vs. straight-up fantasy, which is a whole other post for a whole other time.

So here we are with two historical fantasy sequels by two fantastic writers - and what I think holds them together (more than just their release dates!) is the commitment to the historical part of their fantasy - the love and passion and uncountable hours of research that they've poured into their subjects.  If you're anything like me, your to-read pile is in no danger of disappearing anytime soon, but I highly recommend checking these out.  There's no shortage of books in the world, but passion is priceless.


  1. I'll have to check those out. Thanks for bringing them to my attention.

    1. Oh, I'm so glad they sound good to you too - I have high hopes!

  2. Thanks, Tex! (Everyone should know what a Baedeker is.)

    1. It's like there's a "the more you know" shooting star following you everywhere - that is a hell of a trick! :)