What I Read in October

I was still below my four book average this month, but I did read most of Winter’s Heart this month. Still, October’s reading didn’t branch out much from what I’ve been reading this year.

An Incomplete Revenge

Jacqueline Winspear

An Incomplete Revenge is a continuation of the Maisie Dobbs series, and maybe it is just because I’ve been reading them one after the other but I am having trouble differentiating them, other than remembering the core mysteries of each. I guess this is something of a testament to the general high quality of the series, because I like them all. This one is notable in that Maisie and Billy get out of London for the bulk of the book, solving a mystery involving the biggest douche of a nobleman imaginable. That is the biggest weakness of an otherwise enjoyable book: a cartoon villain in a series that usually has more sympathetic bad guys. Otherwise, it is a fine addition to a fine series.

The Emperor’s Soul

Brandon Sanderson

I didn’t really believe that Sanderson could tell a complete story in this small amount of space. The Alloy of Law, which I liked a whole lot, was not a complete story but an opening chapter. The Emperor’s Soul is not even half the length of that book, but it is just as enjoyable and more complete. Sanderson lays out an intriguing magic system, giving the reader a crash course in its mechanics over the one hundred or so pages. At the same time he tells a tale around three principle characters: Shai, an artist in the story’s magic system, Gaotona, one of her captors who needs her skills and the Emperor whose soul must be repaired after a failed assassination attempt. While there isn’t space to give them more than the illusion of depth, those three characters are all very human. The Emperor’s Soul is as complex and enjoyable as its space allows.

Mansfield Park

Jane Austen

This is the last of Austen’s works for me to read, and it is easily the least. It fails largely because its protagonist, Fanny, is a passive, wet-blanket. She doesn’t really do anything. She watches and judges her friends and companions, but doesn’t try to curb their sometime excessive behavior. She gains the affections of the trifling Henry due to her pliable disdain for him. She is too timid to just tell him what she thinks and knows about him. He, of course, won’t take a hint since he believes her hesitation is due to timidity. While there are glimmers of what makes Austen’s other novels so enjoyable, Mansfield Park is largely as dull as its protagonist. There is no reason to read this when one could read, or reread, Pride and Prejudice or Emma instead. They are both multiple times more enjoyable.

That is all for this month. I think I am still going to hit my goal of fifty for the year, especially if I include all the crappy ebooks I read that I didn’t cover here.

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