Bad idea of the day: “I’ll be back before the rain starts again. No need to bring my umbrella.”

I’m sure you can see where this is going.

I actually would have made it if I hadn’t decided to finish re-reading The Briar King. Three pages from the end — WHOOSH! Instant cloudburst!

So I finished the book, zipped the full-sized hardcover into my jacket, and proceeded to run from Coffee Bean to the parking structure, pausing under overhangs when I found them. There’s a surprising lack of shelter at the Irvine Spectrum, not counting the stores themselves. It wasn’t until I got to the structure that I realized I’d been running with a coffee cup in my hand.

Amazingly enough, even though I got soaked, I managed to keep the book dry!

(Reposted from LiveJournal.)

The Born QueenWe’ve both finished reading The Born Queen, the conclusion to Greg Keyes’ The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone. Yesterday we spent the day reading in tandem on the couch: I read book 3, Katie read book 4, and finished within an hour of each other. Determined to catch up, I read 100 pages last night and spent this morning and afternoon reading the final book.

It was well worth the wait.

The series is set two millennia after humans, led by Virginia Dare (explaining where the lost Roanoke colonists went), overthrew the demonic race that had kept them as slaves for generations. Virginia had discovered how to harness the sedos power, essentially magic. The last of humanity’s oppressors warned them that the sedos would eventually destroy their world. Of course, no one believed him.

2200 years later, this corner of the world is not unlike Europe in the early Renaissance. Except that the church is based on the sedos, in the person of saints, and its priests walk the paths to harness the sedos powers.

The world is also beginning to rot. Things of nature are dying, human alliances are crumbling, and terrible creatures thought to be myth are walking the earth. There are several factions who claim that they want to save it, but their true goals are suspect, and their methods differ greatly. The various viewpoint characters are thrust into the middle of things without any real sense of what’s going on: a holter, a princess, a novice priest, a knight, a swordsman, a composer and a queen.

One of the things I find so fascinating about this series (as I mentioned when I first read The Blood Knight) is the fact that everyone is acting on partial information. This makes them screw up, sometimes mildly, sometimes horrifically. And there’s a curveball that comes about 1/3 of the way into The Born Queen that turns everything on its head.

I don’t think it’ll give too much away to say that one of the key struggles in this book is for control of the sedos. Even 100 pages from the end, I wasn’t sure which faction would give the world a better chance of surviving.

Music also figures importantly, starting with the second book, where it’s learned that certain combinations of sound can have a profound effect on the human psyche. I found myself wondering whether Keyes had someone set any of the songs to music.

By the end of The Born Queen, most of the major questions about what’s really going on have been answered. Of course, they’re answered in pieces, by different characters with different agendas. The major characters’ arcs reach (mostly) satisfying conclusions, with some finding what they want, some finding what they need, some doing what needs to be done, and some getting what they deserve.

It’s weird to finally be done with the series, which started around the same time as this blog. The first post that I made that wasn’t “Hey, look! I have a blog!” was a review of The Waterborn and The Blackgod, Greg Keyes’ first novel and its sequel. In it, I mentioned looking forward to The Briar King when it came out.

The Blood KnightAfter working my way through The Briar King in bits here and there, I made time for The Charnel Prince.  I finished the second book Tuesday evening, and I’m currently 100 pages into The Blood Knight.

Meanwhile, I’ve been talking about the books (Greg Keyes’ The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone) a lot, trying not to drop spoilers in case Katie might read them at some point in the future.  The night I finished book two, I had come home to find her on the couch, reading the first book.  Since she not only reads faster than I do, but has more time on her hands these days, she’s caught up.

It’s nice to really be able to talk about the books, especially since I remember so little of the one we’re both currently reading.

The funny thing is, at this rate, she’ll probably finish the series before I do!

Well, my copy of The Born Queen has arrived via UPS, and I’m nowhere near finished re-reading the first three books of Greg Keyes’ The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone. I’d hoped to start at the beginning of March, but I was in the middle of the Trade Pact books and wanted to finish that trilogy. Then I figured I could read one book each week like last time and be ready at the point that book 4 arrived…and I promptly got swamped with stuff to do at both work and home, so I found myself reading mainly at lunch (and half the time I ended up eating at my desk instead) and in 20-minute chunks. Now I’ve got the concluding novel, but I only just finished book 1 last night, and I’ve gotten only a handful of chapters into book 2.

I’ve enjoyed re-reading them, though, and while I remembered The Briar King quite well, it’s clear I’ve forgotten enough of books 2 and 3 that it will be well-worth having them fresh in my mind.

Now that I’ve got the final volume here, I think I’ll look for more of those 20-minute chunks of time.

To Trade the StarsYesterday I finally had time to finish reading To Trade the Stars, the final book in Julie E. Czerneda’s “Trade Pact Universe” trilogy. Now I’m ready to pick up The Briar King again, since the final book of Greg Keyes’ fantasy quartet, Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, comes out at the end of the month. When the second book came out, I didn’t reread the first. But when the third book came out, I found it extremely helpful to reread the first two books.

The Born QueenI was hoping to time things so that I’d be done with The Blood Knight just in time to pick up The Born Queen, but I was in the middle of the Trade Pact books and didn’t want to break up the trilogy. Then there was the trip to San Francisco, WonderCon, and New Frontier, and I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to post things while they’re still current.

On a related note, I stumbled across Ringworld’s Children in Borders the other day. I read a lot of Larry Niven in college, mostly the classics plus a few from the 1990s, but after The Burning City bored me to tears—I never finished it, which is rare for me—I stopped following his new releases. I’m going to have to return to Ringworld at some point, though.