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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Books: Raven's Shadow 
26th-Jul-2012 10:22 am
Read Irresponsibly
Raven's Shadow, by Patricia Briggs. Fantasy, paperback, 334 pages. First in a duology.

Raven's Shadow is a fantasy in the classic style, full of magic, fictional racism, personal confrontations, and creeping evil. But, given that the author is Briggs, the main characters are all strong people in their own rights, male and female. The women have talents and reasons and motivations as much as - if not more than - the men in the story.

Our heroine, Seraph, is the last survivor of her traveling clan of mages and family. Known easily enough as "The Travelers" (no pronounciation games here), her family had been hunted and burned by ignorant villagers across the lands. Her rescuer, Tier, is a discharged soldier come home again but strongly reluctant to fit back into the mold (ha ha) of being the village baker. The two of them agree to forge a farming family at the foot of the Shadows Fall mountains.

For hundreds of years, the non-Traveler villagers and people of the Empire have been forming a secret Order based on a bastardized version of the Traveler beliefs and the recruitment of younger (disenfranchised) sons of nobility. The few with magic among them have secretly kidnapped and sacrificed Travelers in order to gain what magic they had. Through secrecy and guile, they decide that Tier is their next sacrifice. His capture, and his intelligent manipulation of his captors, is half of the answer to the distruction of the Order and the reintegration of those sons into service of the Emperor. His wife Seraph's late-coming maturity is the other half. Not magical maturity, mind you, but she finally realizes how to deal with groups of people by other than shouting at them.

One of the things that I really enjoyed is that Saraph's sister-in-law never likes her. Ever. Even when they have to work together to rescue Saraph's daughter and brother-in-law, the two women still don't resolve their animosity. I like this lack of resolution because it is in line with both of the women's characters, and keeps the book from feeling too easy.

And thank the gods that the cover had almost nothing to do with the book! With a wild leap of faith, I could say that the cover illustration of a richly-yet-half-dressed sorceress is the main character Seraph and her son, not her sidekick, familiar, or boyfriend.

I picked this book up as a recommendation from Make_Your_Move. She loaned the series to me way back this spring.

I recommend the book to people who like classic fantasy with modern mindsets.

New-to-me Books for 2012

January
House of the Star by Caitlin Brennan, YA fantasy. 282 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); straight into the giveawaybox (eta: gone)
Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey, Fantasy. 404 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 2/5 stars on Goodreads (2 = "it was OK"), 3/5 stars on Amazon (3 = "it was OK"); straight into the giveawaybox (eta: gone)
Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt, Urban fantasy. 336 pages; paperback; first in the series. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); going to keep it around and loan it to friends
Hexed edited by uncredited, listed under the first author, Ilona Andrews. Urban Fantasy, 326 pages. Paperback; anthology of four novellas. 3/5 stars on Goodreads, 4/5 stars on Amazon; going to loan it to friends who like Kate Daniels, then likely give it away.
Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White. YA Fantasy, 335 pages. Hardback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
Stormwalker, by Allyson James. Urban Fantasy, 330 pages. Paperback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson. YA Fantasy, 423 pages. Hardback, stand-alone. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
Shadow Ops: Control Point, by Myke Cole. Urban Fantasy... sort of... 382 pages. Paperback, first in the series. [4/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.

February
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, fantasy. 672 pages. Paperback; first in the series.[4/5 on Goodreads] Borrowed.
Westward Weird edited by Martin Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes. Hell-if-I-know, 302 pages. Paperback, anthology. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire. Urban fantasy, 360 pages. Paperback; first in the series. Keeping it for now.

March
Fair Game, by Patricia Briggs, Urban fantasy. 293 pages; hardback; third in the series. Keeping it.
The Modern Fae's Guide to Surviving Humanity, edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, Urban fantasy. 308 pages; paperback; anthology. Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Tempting Danger, by Eileen Wilks. Paranormal romance, 301 pages. Paperback, first in the series. Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Too Much Information, by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes. Comic book, 127 pages. Paperback. 9th in the series. Keeping it.
Touch of Power, by Maria V. Snyder. Fantasy romance. 390 pages, paperback. First in the series. Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Out Whom Shall We Gross?, by Brooke McEldowney. Comic book. 87 pages, paperback. First in the series. Keeping it.
Sonata for Piano and Armpit, by Brooke McEldowney. Comic book. 87 pages, paperback. Second in the series. Keeping it.
Sphinx's Princess, by Esther Friesner. YA Fantasy. 365 pages, paperback. First in the duology. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads.
Sphinx's Queen, by Esther Friesner. YA Fantasy. 347 pages, paperback. Second in the duology. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads.

April
Bone Shop, by T. A. Pratt. Urban Fantasy. Online. Prequel to the Marla Mason series.
Kitemaster and Other Stories, by Jim C. Hines. Fantasy. e-book anthology. 3/5 on GoodReads, 4/5 on Amazon.
How is that Underling Thing Working out for You?, by Scott Adams. 128 pages, paperback. Comic. Keeping it.
Teamwork Means You Can't Pick the Side That's Right by Scott Adams. 128 pages, paperback. Comic. Keeping it.
The Sentinel Mage, by Emily Gee. Fantasy. 509 pages, paperback. First in the trilogy. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads; 4/5 on Amazon.

May
Dragon Ship, by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. e-ARC. Science Fiction. Fourth in the series; 14th in the Universe.
Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers, YA fantasy. 549 pages; hardback; stand-alone. Giveawaybox. 4/5 on GoodReads; 4/5 on Amazon.(eta: gone)
Eon, by Allison Goodman. YA Fantasy. 531 pages, paperback. First in the duology. It was a loan.
Silence, by Michele Sagara. YA Fantasy. 289 pages, hardback. First in the series. Keeping it.
Divergent, by Veronica Roth. YA Dystopia, paperback, 487 pages of story, 72 pages of afterwards. First in the duology.
Princeps, by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Fantasy. 496 pages; hardback; fifth/second in the series. Keeping it.
Black Blade Blues, by L. A. Pratt. Urban Fantasy. 398 pages; paperback; first in the series. It was a loan.

June
Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey, fantasy. 311 pages; hardback; seventh/eighth in the series. Keeping it for now.
Kitty's Greatest Hits by Carrie Vaughn, urban fantasy. 308 pages; paperback; anthology related to the series. Keeping it for now.
Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander, urban fantasy. 331 pages; paperback; first in the series. Giveawaybox.
Hex Appeal edited by P. N. Elrod, urban fantasy. 356 pages; paperback; anthology. Keeping it for now.

July
Spellcast by Barbara Ashford, fiction (urban fantasy). 433 pages; paperback; first in the series. Keeping it for now.
Monster in My Closet by R. L. Naquin. Urban Fantasy. E-ARC. First in the series.
Spellcrossed by Barbara AShford, urban fantasy. 448 pages; paperback; second in the series. Keeping it.
Cyanide & Happiness; Ice Cream & Sadness by Kris, Rob, Matt, and Dave. Comic books. 160 and 176 pages; paperback. Loaners.
Raven's Shadow by Patricia Briggs, fantasy. 334 pages; paperback; first in the duology. Loan.



In case you want back references, here is the Books for 2011 round-up post
Comments 
27th-Jul-2012 12:48 pm (UTC)
Huh. The past week or so I have been slowly rereading Raven's Shadow on audio book. I liked it the first time, but had a really hard time getting past the first two chapters. Which is where I'm a bit stuck now. I'm sure I will unstick.

But reading the same book? Weird.
27th-Jul-2012 06:21 pm (UTC)
Weird. And yeah, the prologue is kind of necessary, but very sticky and slow.
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