Oct 29, 2011

Protector of the Small Quartet, by Tamora Pierce

This four book series by my favorite childhood author takes place in the familiar realm of Tortall, a land Pierce created first in the Song of the Lioness series. The main character is Keladry of Mindelan, a ten-year-old noble girl who's greatest wish is to become a lady knight, and to follow the example of her idol, Alanna the Lioness. We follow Kel through her four years as a page, four years as a squire, and then her first year as a knight. Kel is likable, strong and intelligent, a caring young woman who refuses to stand idly by while those with power mistreat those without. As always, Pierce's writing is lucid, entertaining and fun, imbued with a solid sense of right and wrong, justice and injustice.

I actually got a chance to meet and speak with Tamora Pierce some days ago, and she did not disappoint. She was kind and intelligent, and speaking in front of a group of very excited teenaged girls, she was inspiring and free with both sarcasm and good advice. It is not every day that one gets to meet one's favorite author since the age of ten, and she most certainly lived up to my expectations. It's not surprising that her characters have such a good sense of right and wrong.

Oct 22, 2011

Don Quixote (Part II), by Miguel de Cervantes

The second part of Don Quixote was written in response to a false second book written by an author other than Cervantes, and we hear about this imposter quite a bit. This installment is more plot-driven than the first, so it flows a bit better as a story instead of presenting lots of little, unconnected snapshots. Sancho Panza is a good deal wiser than in the first part: he proves himself astonishingly capable at governance, and wily enough in his own right to manipulate situations to suit him.

Other than these small changes, the second part is much the same as the first. Don Quixote is utterly mad then completely coherent by turns, and his words and actions never cease to amaze even those who had read about him in the first part of his history. Due to people knowing of him, various tricksters devise humorous adventures for him, and though they laugh at him, no one can deny his general good sense. And as graciously as he lived, Don Quixote dies, "cured" of his madness but no less gallant for it. This novel is truly a treasure that people will enjoy for yet more centuries to come.

Oct 4, 2011

Lamb, by Christopher Moore

Once again, I am vindicated in my love for Christopher Moore. This book is about the missing years of Jesus' life, from 6 years old until his death, as told by "his childhood pal, Biff." Is it hilarious? Yes. Is it blasphemous? Yes. Is it offensive? Most likely. Is it brilliant? Absolutely.

This is the most message-driven of Moore's books that I've read, and it's a message I like. Moore has Jesus and Biff traveling throughout Asia and the Middle East in a quest to find out what truly matters, searching for the Divine Spark. While learning from various wise men, Jesus realizes that the extreme differentiation his people, the Jews, engaged in as a result of a millennium of persecution, was not the way to God. He persistently comes up against the wall, even among his own disciples, of not understanding that EVERYONE is welcome in the kingdom of heaven. His message to love all, no matter what, is lost even on those who followed him and loved him most. It's a poignant message, not at all undercut by Moore's comedy and intermittent vulgarity. As always, I look forward to reading more of Moore's books.