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el dang

Joined 11 months ago


I'm currently the coordinator of the #SFFBookClub so a lot of what I'm reading is suggestions from there.

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The Accidental Alchemist No rating

When Zoe Faust--herbalist, alchemist, and recent transplant to Portland, Oregon--begins unpacking her bags, she can't …

Fun, albeit flawed

3 stars

This was a fun light read, engaging enough to get me turning the pages and worrying that one of the characters I liked would turn out to be the culprit. But it was also sort of formulaic, and could really have done with an editor. The love interest was telegraphed about 15 times before the narrator admitted it, and several important details seemed to be introduced 3 times in 3 consecutive paragraphs.

Took me a while to pick the Gogol back up because the antisemitism of "St. John's Eve" was so overwhelming. I'm glad I did though. "A May Night" is delightfully weird and I was actually able to enjoy it.

I may just skip Taras Bulba because I've heard that that's particularly hateful about both Jews and Turks, but it looks like I'll at least be able to enjoy the rest of the collection.

replied to el dang's status

Content warning Four Hundred Souls (CW: slavery)

replied to el dang's status

urgh, the first story in the Gogol compilation dropped enough casual antisemitism that I didn't really process what the story was about, and I haven't had the gumption to read the next one yet. I hope they're not all like this, because I would like to be less clueless about this author.

Content warning Dune ending spoilers

started reading Short Fiction by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

Short Fiction (EBook, Standard Ebooks) No rating

This is Standard Ebooks' collection of Gogol's shorter works. It appears to be a compilation …

Jade City (2017) 4 stars

Jade City is a 2017 fantasy novel by Fonda Lee. It won the World Fantasy …

The mobster-wuxia hybrid I never knew I needed (spoilers)

5 stars

I'm not usually all that excited about either really martial fantasy or mob stories, because both tend to rely on either very flatly good/evil dichotomies, or just telling the reader that one set of characters are the good ones and should be sympathised with.

At first, this book felt like it was going down that road, since our introduction to some of the core characters is them dispensing a lot of violence for profit, against some thieves who I found myself sympathising with. But by about 1/4 of the way I was getting reeled in by the Kauls' charm even as I was never convinced by their goodness. I think that ambiguity is one of the great strengths of Lee's writing. She could so easily have brought the world another set of Atreides/Skywalkers/Gandalf-and-the-hobbits, and instead we got some much more interesting, real and complex characters fighting a much smaller war. …

The conference of the birds (Paperback, 1984, Penguin) 3 stars

Composed in the twelfth century in north-eastern Iran, Attar's great mystical poem is among the …

charming, to a point

3 stars

I was quite charmed by The Conference of the Birds for some time, but eventually it became rather repetitive. The basic theme is delightful: the hoopoe painstakingly convincing all the other birds to join it on a spiritual quest, which they keep making excuses to cover up their cowardice about. But I was hoping a work of this length would have more breadth of discussion, without which it starts to feel like the same argument over and over again.

reviewed Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune (Paperback, 1978, New English Library) 2 stars

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, …

Dune and the suck fairy (spoilers)

2 stars

Content warning spoilers, though, you know, it's a book older than me

I've kind of lost interest in Don Quixote. Any half dozen or so chapters are fun, but after that the joke gets very old very fast. I think I'll keep occasionally dropping in on the group read, but I'm not even bothering to read chapters for the weeks I miss because it's not like the story really advances.