Why I read it: Another book by my instructors. It's not something I would have picked up myself, the civil war not being something I... well, I care about it, but I don't read about it, and I didn't watch that documentary series. Though the thing about "United State of Jones" on the Daily Show last week sure sounded interesting.
Bookmark: Library receipt
Tastes like chicken: "The Liveship Traders Trilogy" by Robin Hobb, except with more boat-tech. When I explained to people what it was, I called it "Master and Commander and Magic", though I've never read any Patrick O'Brien so I don't really know. Had something of the "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell" in it, too, with the two dueling wizards, and the history.
What I liked: Pages 120-121 were magic. So was page (I think it was ) 249, where one of the minor characters says "Oh, belike," and you can hear the sarcasm dripping, and it's like the way we say "Whatever" now, or "Yeah, right." I really like "belike", and Ed and I have been saying it for two days now.
Not so much: When I read the amazon reviews of something, I tend to go for the 1-stars first. Maybe I like to watch train wrecks or something. Anyway, the complaints there fell into two categories: too many boat-words, and un-huggable characters. For the first, I think that was voice. The main character is a sailor, so he's going to use the boat words for things. I think that's a good thing. If he was using 20th-21st century words for things, or explaining them, or calling them "the sail strings" and "that thing at the front of the boat" and stuff, I would have found the character quite unreliable. One of the problems with the liveships books for me might have been that the main character didn't use enough boat words for me to really believe that it was her boat, and they ought to give it back. As for unlikable characters, so what? What Ursula K. LeGuin said.
Lesson: It was neat the way this book was put together. There were letters, diaries, and the narrative of John Nevis. Structurally similar to how "The Historian" was put together, in fact. I would like to try that structure sometime. Maybe when I've finished some of this other stuff. Maybe that would be how to handle the karate zombies story...