What We’re Reading (October 2019)

Since every good writer is always reading, we thought we’d share with some of you what we’re reading (and sometimes why).

Naamah’s Blessing (by Jacqueline Carey)

Since we’ve been making our way through the rest of the Kushiel series over the last several months, we’ve at last come to the final volume, in which Moirin must contend with the consequences of her previous actions. Though we’re not very far through it yet, there are already signs that this is going to break our hearts by the end. As always, Carey has a keen eye for sensual (and sexual detail), and you cannot help but feel yourself swept up in the grand adventure of it all.

The Ruin of Kings (by Jenn Lyons)

This was one of those 2019 fantasy releases that basically begged to be read. It’s quite compelling reading so far, though it does sometimes get a bit difficult to navigate the complex interweaving of temporalities that the author puts into play to tell her story. However, there is no doubt that she’s constructed a fascinating world for the story to inhabit, and the characters, particularly the hero, are compelling and sympathetic.

Oh, and did we mention that there are footnotes?

Lady Hotspur (by Tessa Gratton)

We both enjoyed Tessa Gratton’s debut adult novel The Queens of Innis Lear so much that when we saw that Lady Hotspur was soon to be available as an ARC we leapt at the chance. So far, it’s a delightful read, a bit lighter in tone than the very melancholy and at times rather dreary Queens. Based on the various plays that constitute Shakespeare’s Henriad, the book follows Prince Hal as he struggles with both his new position as heir to the throne and his feelings for Hotspur.

Though it’s still early going, we’re finding ourselves drawn into this story, and we especially dig the queering of the story, so that there is a decidedly erotic aspect to the relationship between Princess Hal and Lady Hotspur.

Marie Antoinette: The Journey (by Antonia Fraser)

Having finished Lady Fraser’s fascinating biography of the wives and mistresses of Louis XIV, we thought we’d turn to her famous biography of Marie Antoinette (the basis for Sophia Copola’s film of the same name). Fraser has a compellingly readable style and, unlike some other popular historians who seem to think that throwing a lot of material detail into a book is somehow illuminating, Fraser keeps the pace going and doesn’t allow her narrative to get too bogged down in detail. That being said, she does give us a fascinating and look at the glittering and dangerous court of Versailles, as well as the tortured politics of the period.

This is one of those books that is, at least in part, research for our projects, as one of the great nations of our fictional world, Troyeis, is based on France. We’re not quite sure yet how we might use this, but rest assured that it will come up at some point!

Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration (by Antonia Fraser)

This book, also written by Fraser, is a magisterial biography of King Charles II, who would go down in history as “The Merry Monarch.” We’re not really sure if any of this will come to play a part in the various tales that we’re in the process of telling, but that’s one of the great joys of reading of this sort. You never quite know when some little seed that’s been planted by your reading will end up bearing fruit.

So there you have it. The fantasy titles on this list will, we hope, find their way onto this blog in the form of a review, so stay tuned!

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