What I Just Finished Reading
The Captive Prince – C.S. Pascat
Plotwise, it read like a bona fide BL novel in English. Craftwise, it read like decent fanfic, although I could have done without 90 percent of the adverbs. I can't shake the feeling that I know this story from somewhere.
Our main character Damen seemed a little too blasé about his captivity, and his flaying. I have high hopes that his complacency toward slavery will come back to haunt him, potentially as a wallow in helpless devotion to his captor. I imagine that exchange between Laurent and the Regent is significant, especially given the latter's preference for children. (Ew.) I do like that the racy bits are largely pandering to my tastes, versus standard romance novel or porn-for-straight-dudes tastes. I just hope they pander less to non-con/non-con BDSM/chan...I honestly can't tell where things are going at this point.
The novella at the end was of far better quality than the main novel; I hope the subsequent books take after it.
Prince's Gambit – C.S. Pascat
Okay, I'm hooked. Our heroes are clearly ciphers for Thor and Loki, but perhaps it's because I can rely on that shorthand/familiarity here that the book seems far more three-dimensional than it should be. Other elements remind me of Attolia, or Saintcrow's Romances of Arquitaine, or even a bit of Song of Achilles, and that's helping too.
For me, bad fantasy fails because it bumps me out of the narrative, and this should be doing that – (Who produces all the food and clothing for this bloated court and its rent boys and girls? Where are all the rent boys/girls coming from, anyway? Are their families upset that this has happened to them? What about the people who don't want to be pets? The slaves who don't learn to embrace abject groveling subservience? The commoners who think they're worth more than three coppers?) – but it isn't.
I am surprised by how much I like the dynamic between Damen and Laurent, which is more complex than I'd anticipated, and there are moments of shining humor that took me completely by surprise. The slow burn between them is also very, very well done, and hits pretty much all of my buttons. My one concern is that Laurent will prove to be too manipulative and omniscient to be believable, but I'll have to wait for the third book to find out.
Kings Rising – C.S. Pascat
I was absolutely right about the big reveal underlying much of Laurent's behavior, but it was handled so well, I'm pleased at having spotted it instead of irritated at its obviousness or heavy-handedness. I am also pleased at the way Damen's change of heart was revealed – as genuine and believable character development versus, again, heavy-handed with capital-L Lessons Learned moping and angsting.
I was surprised by an incorrect assumption I'd made concerning Jocaste, and completely blindsided by a nice piece of narrative symmetry toward the end.
Overall, in terms of some major kinks (worldbuilding, long-game plotting, character developmet) these books were far, far better than I thought they'd be and I am very glad to have read them, despite their having rendered me useless for doing anything else over the past five days.
The Late Works of Hayao Miyazaki – Dani Cavallaro
I finished it. I think my favorite passage is this:
His ecstatic vision is shattered as an enormous zeppelin descends onto the scene and proceeds to bomb the countryside below, while the boy is powerless to halt it. Strange creatures ride the zeppelin's hideous ammunition, which hangs from the aircraft by means of wires redolent of thick noodles.
“Redolent of thick noodles.”
"Redolent of thick noodles."
The entire book is written like that.
What I Am Currently Reading
The Strangler Vine – M.J. Carter
Largely put on hold because of the Captive Prince series, along with the fic.
Western Power in Asia – Arthur Cotterell
The conquest of Calicut and Malacca was put on hold for the Captive Prince series.
Someone out there is responsible for this. They know who they are.
Indonesian: A Comprehensive Grammar – James Sneddon, K. Alexander Adelaar, Dwi Djenar
I've forged ahead into se- and se-nya constructions. Unlike last week's affixes, my brain seems to take to this set.
What I'm Reading Next
Trees vol. 1 – Warren Ellis
I am going to wrap this one up this week, because I've had it signed out for a really embarrassingly long time.
Myth-Making and Religious Extremism and Their Roots in Crises – Arthur Neal & Helen Youngelson-Neal
I made it to chapter 6 before the dense prose made me take a breather. There are interesting ideas in this book, but the presentation could have been tightened and the editing, well, could have been done in the first place.
A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab
This being my third stab at this novel since last November, I am determined to make headway this time.