“Leaves are falling all around, It's time I was on my way. Thanks to you I'm much obliged, such a pleasant stay.”
Humor is tough to pull off. Inside jokes can fail if they are too deeply buried to be noticed or so obvious they are less a joke and more a reference (hello Scary Movie and all of its knockoffs). Running gags can fall flat if used too often; or worse if they were not even funny in the first place (look up a Nakumara). So when an author proves within pages to be a deft hand with the dealing of jokes I already know I hold a book worth reading.
The Great Game Trilogy begins with Past Imperative, first published in 1995. I probably picked it up in 1998, a hardcover Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club mail-away which also contained the second and third volumes, Present Tense and Future Indefinite. As is the way with these things, I loaned the book out to a friend. Anyone who's done the same will know instantly that I never saw it again. Not long ago, I remembered the book and managed to find the same hardcover, 3-in-1 edition, and sent away my hard-earned nickels to the eBay vendor.
Living world ships move through space; if there is any destination the people on the ships don't know it nor any history of another way. Sadly for these women the worlds are dying as entropy finally seems to be beating out their long living systems. Rival factions war for resources; recycling what they find in an effort to extend the life of their own piece of the sky. Zan wakes among one of these factions and slowly learns she has an ambitious plan for a rebirth of kinds. Problem is an almost complete memory loss gives her no idea what the plan is.
My expectations are NOT too high. I didn't think so, but occasionally reading Young Adult fantasy books I find myself wondering if I expect too much. After all the books are not being written for me (though I am sure no author would be upset to find their book as the next 'all ages' phenomenon). So if I read the latest YA craze and just don't get it, or complain about weak world building, or even just don't like it then I often think to myself 'maybe my expectations are just too high.'
Two unlikable characters. Stupid, completely avoidable mistakes. I would be hard pressed to think of another book where this combination would work but A Darker Shade of Magic pulls it off and is therefore a rare book that lives up to its reputation.
A new take on an old tale... Scratch that. A new take on a lot of old tales. Cold winters are a fertile ground for stories to be told around the fire. And even as the people in Pyotr's village practice Christianity they still take heed of the old stories. It is into this life that young Vasha is born; her birth the dying wish of her enigmatic mother. She grows up on the stories and has no need to believe in them because she can see the truth on her own. Vasha is a wild girl, beloved by her family but never quite understood.
Typically the third book of a trilogy forever sets the tone for how readers will remember the entire series. The first book, say Dreamer's Pool, is what is responsible for sparking interest in the over reaching plot and (hopefully) major players in the coming story. In many cases this may be a readers introduction to the author as well; life long love may follow from a suitable impressive start. Dreamer's Pool was indeed a book like this, a beautifully crafted fairy tale that introduced many to Juliet Marillier. Most importantly it introduced readers to Blackthorn and Grim, a duo sure to entertain for books to come.