Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Blood and Iron" by Elizabeth Bear

Why I read it: Part of the "blogger's books" project. I've been reading her blog for maybe a year. As a published-writer wannabe, her blog is maybe the best one I read. That's because she goes on at great length about the life of a writer, how the money comes in, how the words go out, how her hormonal cycle affects her climbing, her writing, her motivation.

I was really happy that I liked this book.

Tastes like chicken: Covers a lot the same ground as GGK "The Summer Tree" - a lot the same supporting characters out of mythology -- wild hunt, Arthur, etc. But this book seemed like it added something, wasn't just the standard rehashed blend of northwestern euro myth.

Bookmark: Library receipt.

What I liked: To start with, I agreed with the theme that better for humanity in general to have some risk (fairies) than for humanity to become sheep... in order for us to stay human (i.e., intelligent), we need an element of danger.

While there were probably as many named characters in this book as in, say, The Summer Tree, I didn't seem to have trouble keeping track of them. There were plenty of unfamiliar names, and characters that were known by more than one name (I was going to try to spell one here, but Whiskey a.k.a. Uigebaudgh just doesn't look right and I can't remember any others right now) but that wasn't a problem.

After I got into the book Saturday, this one almost became a stay-up-all-night-to-finish book, except that I thought it might be good to be awake for work the next day. That was strange, because it was also a book that I had to put down very few chapters because I was getting upset. Both Seeker and Matthew made some horrific choices that I totally disagreed with, and the tension built really well. I kept saying to myself that I would stop reading at the end of a chapter, and then I would start the next chapter and not really be sure how that had happened.

I guess I talked this one up at home, because Ed asked if he could read it, too.

What I disliked: Sometimes I got confused about where we were, and had to read a section again, or skip back a page to find out, oh, we're in the cave with asleep Arthur... This might have been on purpose. Sometimes I didn't feel quite smart enough for this book.

The main character is a baby-stealer for the fairies, who was in fact a changeling. And this leads me to a little rant that's been festering in the back of my brain. Back in the spring, there was a story in which a mother sells her rotten daughter to the peddlars. The internets took sides and an editor who had rejected the story got involved, and the author defended herself. And that's all fine. I have no position on the argument. Except: someone suggested why doesn't she have the child get sold to space aliens or fairies or something. And that bugged me. I've always thought the aliens and fairies and the like are stand-ins for "other" where other is peddlars or Roma or gypsies (in this case) or infidels or whatever. And while I'm not one of those and therefore can only be offended on their behalf (and only apparently if I choose to be) isn't it just as wrong to have a mother sell her daughter to the fairies? Wouldn't most of the people who were offended in the first place still know they were being implied, and still be offended? I know I would be.

Lessons learned (what I can steal): The way she used first person/third person (Seeker)/third person (Elaine) depending on what character we were following at the time was really neat.

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