Nearly three weeks since the last one of these? How did that happen? Ashes of Honour, Toby Daye Book 6
, Seanan McGuire
There's quite an odd opening to this episode in October's progress, the first chapter is essentially set-up for book 7, giving us an info-dump on Faerie's Goblin Fruit problem, goblin fruit being a nice legal high for purebloods, but lethally addictive for changelings like Toby. Toby is trying to shut down the trade, which isn't making her popular, and there are questions about what she's truly trying to achieve. And then it doesn't come up again. The real plot crops up after the weird opening, with perfect knight Etienne, the knight she always measures herself lacking against, desperate for Toby's help - he's just found out that 16 years ago he got a mortal pregnant, and that's double trouble because 1) it means a faery half-blood has been in the possession of her mortal parent for 15 years or so without the needed camouflage and 2) someone just snatched her. So Toby has to do her only private detective in Faery thing with the police watching and a human parent who's convinced that even if they get her back Faery will steal her child the first chance they get (she's right) and that's before the complications of a political cat-fight in Toby's boything Tybalt's court, escalating problems of the China Syndrome variety in the missing kid's magic, and Duchess Riordan, the opposition to Toby's liege Sylvester, is Up To Something.
It's a good read, but I was a little disappointed with it structurally. Duchess Riordan has been built up as an off-camera threat since the start of the series, we finally meet her here, and she's everything we might have hoped for, but then there's an unexpected plot twist which makes absolute sense for Riordan to follow, but means all that build up towards an expected confrontation falls flat. The role Riordan plays could have been handed to any reasonably powerful Faery noble, leaving Riordan's threat intact, and if there's one thing Faery has no shortage of it's annoying nobles. There's also a definite retcon feel to the introduction of the widow of Countess January O'Leary as a character, which even Toby notes is a little odd as no-one mentioned January being married when she was playing a major role in book 2. Chimes at Midnight, Toby Daye Book 7
, Seanan McGuireChimes
picks up where the opening of Ashes
left off, with Toby trying to shut down the Goblin Fruit trade. When she realises just how many changelings are dying she tries to appeal to the Queen of the Mists for help, which given their daggers-drawn relationship was never going to be easy, but she certainly wasn't expecting to be banished for it. Toby might have 3 days to get out of Dodge, but neither her lover Tybalt nor her squire Quentin can follow her, so if Toby can't go, then she'll just have to overthrow the monarchy, in three days, with the Queen's guards dogging her every move. It's another fun read, and we finally get confirmation of what every reader has to have suspected about Quentin, but I was left with a deep desire to scream 'Just how stupid are you people?' There's one overlooked fact with literally the whole kingdom hanging on it that can be explained away as people choosing political convenience when faced by a larger crisis, but then there's another one, that the queen has one thing going for her, something that makes it almost impossible to move against her, and the entire set of good-guys, renowned heroes and legendary warriors and all, forget about it.
Toby suffering for her quest isn't new, this is a woman able to use 'and then I was disembowelled' _in the plural_, but the plot pushes her to new limits this time, and sitting there in the background is the Luidaeg, noting she has plans for Toby and everything to date has really just been getting her warmed up. Somewhat intimidatingly there's a comment in the author's notes that this was the first of the Toby Daye stories to be plotted - which half-way implies the six novels preceding Chimes
are just the backstory for the main event.Other MediaSpinnerette
is a webcomic about a female grad student who develops superpowers after the traditional exposure to radioactive spider DNA. In her case six arms and the ability to shoot web from, well let's just say she has aiming difficulties. It's semi-anime styled, with mostly good art and writing. I say mostly because a couple of the female supers have overly large, in one case ridiculously large, breasts - and Super-MILF? Seriously? But there's enough good here to make me overlook that as they aren't primary characters. And for all the juvenilia of Super-MILF, it actually handles the romance between the two female leads (Spinny and Mecha-Maid) pretty sensitively, and so far it's managed to handle Mecha-Maid being disabled by ALS without making me cringe. OTOH you have to mark it as NSFW because of the two breast-fixated characters, one of whom crops up pretty regularly. OTGH it's positively staid in comparison to an ad that kept popping up while I was reading, which manages to combine being pornographic with being simultaneously boring and distracting. I eventually blocked it because it was irritating the hell out of me, not because of the subject matter (animated cartoon masturbation - I presume it turns someone on). If you want to check Spinnerette out, and I think it's well worth reading if you're a webcomic fan, particularly a fan of superhero webcomics, then I'd block http://hlamedia.adk2x.com/* in advance.
Other ProjectsGraveyard Shift
, By Me
Health issues (both mine and my dad's) have kept me from my novel-in-progress for far too long, I was hoping to be able to pick it up again around March-ish, but having to wait until May for surgery has left me distinctly behind schedule in comparison to where I wanted to be by now, not helped by having a laptop with a semi-functional keyboard (I can't write on my desktop, sitting is too uncomfortable, I write with the laptop sitting on my chest while I lie flat on the couch). But the replacement laptop should finally be arriving in a day or two so I sat down last night to reread Graveyard Shift
, and read all 134,000 words in a single sitting. That's promising. I dropped it mid-second-draft when dad had his stroke, and I seem to have gotten further into that second draft than I remember. There's some fairly minor plot surgery needed, finishing the deletion of a character who turned out not to be going anywhere - and I've already handled the most difficult scenes for that, reversing who is framing who in a sub-plot, and renaming a character because her name turns out to completely overlap with the protagonist of an existing fantasy series, who works for exactly the same police department as my character in Graveyard Shift
, and I think even out of the same precinct house. There's coincidence, and there's bloody ridiculously annoying! But what's needed most of all is a really tight line edit to pull the wordcount much closer to the recommended 120,000 words, which I think is doable. Anyway, hopefully I'm now back at it.