Star wars and five gods

>> Thursday, September 06, 2018

Two really enjoyable novellas today.

TITLE: Kindred Spirits
AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell

Elena is a Star Wars superfan. She's grown up hearing about what it was like when the original films came out, and would have liked nothing more than to have been there for the party. Imagine, queuing for days with a group of like-minded people, all of you getting more and more excited, until you go in and the film is just as good as you expected! So when the new Star Wars movie comes out, Elena doesn't hesitate. A few days before opening night, she heads to the movie theatre to join the party. But there is no party. There's just a couple of other people, and the experience is decidedly unglamorous. But what starts out extremely unpromising may just turn out to be perfectly wonderful.

This was a fun, very sweet read (sweet in a good way, kind of quirky and interesting). It's got moments of fun and a very real heart. I liked it. Most of all, it's a celebration and exploration of fandom, which may be why it didn't resonate with me as much as it has with other readers. See, I've no experience of fandom. There are things I love, even things I've been super into (maybe even semi-obsessed?) for periods, but I've never experienced that... well, that melding of object and self that Rowell seems to describe, that feeling that this thing defines an aspect of you, and that part of your identity is enmeshed in this thing you're a fan of. So while I could appreciate this book and understand it intellectually, it didn't have the impact it probably would have if I had identified with this feeling a bit more.

MY GRADE: A B.


TITLE: Penric's Demon
AUTHOR: Lois McMaster Bujold

This is the first in a series of novellas set in the World of the Five Gods (same universe and, most importantly, religion as the Chalion novels, but set a long time before, and in a different location). The novellas follow a young man, Lord Penric, who accidentally ends up playing host to a demon. And when I say "playing host", I mean within his own body. The demon, who he decides should have a name and goes for Desdemona, brings with her centuries of experience and skills, plus some very cool supernatural powers, all of which are now at Penric's disposal. She is also super snarky and contrary. Penric, who until his fateful encounter with Desdemona had been a sweet, inoffensive and pretty innocent young man, gets quite the education.

I loved it. The world-building is great. You don't need to have read the other books set in this universe to understand this one, but I had reread The Curse of Chalion just a few weeks before, and I felt that already knowing a bit of the context about the gods (particularly the Bastard) enhanced my enjoyment. There are great characters, a fair bit of intrigue and danger, and lots of the gentle humour Bujold is so good at. But the best thing was the relationship between Penric and Desdemona. Before Penric, Desdemona had always been considered as a tool and a prize by all the people she'd been hosted by. Penric is the first to extend her the courtesy of considering her a being deserving of respect. I may have teared up slightly at some points :)

MY GRADE: A very strong B+.

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