Feb. 4th, 2016

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Oh man, I'm getting totally bogged down on this Chernow post. So here, have Library of Mount Char instead.

(Also, it being February, I'm going to try to put a quotation in every post I make. Let's see how long that lasts.)

3+/5. The book begins like this:
Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78. Most of the librarians, Carolyn included, had come to think of this road as the Path of Tacos, so-called in honor of a Mexican joint they snuck out to sometimes. The guacamole, she remembered, is really good. Her stomach rumbled. Oak leaves, reddish-orange and delightfully crunchy, crackled underfoot as she walked. Her breath puffed white in the predawn air. The obsidian knife she had used to murder Detective Miner lay nestled in the small of her back, sharp and secret.

She was smiling.

And, I mean, it is a great introduction, it certainly drew me in to where I really wanted to know what was going on and what happened next! It also is a great introduction in that it pretty much tells you what the book is going to be like.

It's going to be weird; it's going to be fantastical; and it's going to be violent. I'd in fact categorize it more as horror than as fantasy. There's a lot of carnage, a lot of death, a lot of torture. I don't really get into horror that much, so I, uh, fast-forwarded through a lot of the more gory scenes (and there are a lot of gory scenes).

Also, it's about the Librarians, a set of young adults who grew up together as not-really-siblings under "Father." Father appears human but clearly is not, has all kinds of superhuman powers, appears to be protecting this Earth from malevolent forces, and subjects them to over-the-top physical and emotional abuse that is more accurately described as (literally) torture, turning at least one of them into a psychopath and driving at least one more insane.

This appears to be in the service of giving each of them some of his knowledge to master; one can bring back people from the dead; one is a master of warlike arts; Carolyn herself can speak many languages, including the languages of beasts. At the beginning of the book, Father is missing and there is the possibility he is dead, which of course is a problem given the malevolent forces previously mentioned, but also raising the question of where he is, who is responsible for it, and how that plays into power struggles among his "children."

It's a fascinating book. It was definitely riveting and held me to the end. There are a lot of neat fantastical aspects. One of the best characters is a sentient lion. There's a super awesome character who's a war hero who has gone civil.

In my opinion it did not stick the landing. I really liked the idea of the ending, which was certainly satisfyingly climactic and earthshattering, but the execution didn't quite do it for me.

Book-destroying spoilers. You might as well read them if you don't think you want to read this book. )

Book-destroying spoilers for both Library and McKillip's Riddlemaster trilogy; if you have any expectation of ever reading the Riddlemaster trilogy and don't want to be spoiled, don't read this. )

Anyway… it was well-written, well-plotted, and had a lot of interesting things going on. I'll be interested to see what Hawkins does next… but I might not read it unless he cuts down significantly on the gore. On the other hand, if you like your SFF with a big dollop of horror (or at least don't mind it), you may well really enjoy this.

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