Here we go, an exercise in randomness. Because I seriously don’t know who (besides me) would read all three of these books. Different genres, different moods… it’s possible that somebody I’ve known for fifteen years will pipe up with “Hey! Whoa! I’ve read all three of those books!” but that would be pretty random too.
The first one has the best title: Quillifer. I’m pretty sure that Walter Jon Williams had a very entertaining time coming up with the perfect name for a hero that would also be the perfect title for his epic fantasy novel. As the name Quillifer suggests (to me, anyway), this is an engaging, lighthearted adventure story set in a medieval-Europe-esque fantasy world. There’s not a whole lot of magic in the plot, but the kingdom itself is imaginary, the perfect setting for those of us who like our fantasy novels focused on cheery wayfarers and somewhat plausible adventures. Quillifer is a young man who is all set to embark on a course of studying law when his world turns upside down and he must find other ways to live by his wits. Quillifer is a clever fellow, whose blithe quest for adventure leads him to firm friendships and bitter enemies, and to escapades with ships and soldiers and goddesses. When I look back on this, I just think it was a lot of fun to read. And it’s a hefty book, too, 530 pages, which I guess is what makes it epic. Quillifer, I understand, is a series launch, so I’ll be looking forward to more Quillifer books for sure.
Genre switch! Feel that whiplash? Next we’ve got a contemporary mystery that’s also a debut, hooray! called The Last Equation of Isaac Severy. It’s mainly set in California right around now and is kind of a family saga about the Severy family, many of whom are brilliant mathematicians, making it kind of rough for the few who aren’t. Isaac Severy, the patriarch, hides his last brilliant equation immediately before his somewhat puzzling death. He sends a letter the day before his –suicide? murder? nobody seems to be exactly sure– to his adopted grand-daughter Hazel, who is miserably failing at running a bookstore. Hazel goes to Los Angeles for the service and somewhat unwillingly begins to try to follow the abstruse instructions in her letter from a dead man. The mystery becomes multi-faceted as different branches of the family attempt to discover Isaac’s last great mathematical breakthrough. It turns out that there’s an awful lot of death around, and unhappy childhoods and also migraines. It’s kind of a cerebral, dark book, and you don’t get to try to figure out who the killer is (if there even is a killer) because many of the clues, not to mention one of the eulogies at the funeral, are based on mathematics. Higher mathematics, the kind with a lot of Greek letters. It’s got some plot twists and plenty of psychological suspense. Novelist Nova Jacobs is off to a strong start here, and if you like dark suspense you should check this one out.
Genre switch! Now we turn to historical romance, namely Lenora Bell’s series launch, What a Difference a Duke Makes, a Regency romance set in London. Mari (rhymes with starry), a red-haired orphan, aspires to be a governess and has studied hard at her charity school to become one. She has to kind of sneak her way into the profession, though, when the Superior Governess Agency refuses to offer her a position and she decides to show up at the home of the Duke of Banksford when she learns that their fourth governess in two months has walked out. The Duke, meanwhile, has just taken his illegitimate children, twins who are nine years old, to live with him in London. They miss their somewhat unorthodox upbringing on the coast of France, their poet mother, and beloved French nursemaid. Edgar, the Duke, is not very certain what to do with them, and struggles with the fact that their mother soundly rejected him years ago and never even told him he had children. Mari is well up to the challenge of figuring out how to make the twins feel safe and happy AND learn their lessons. As well as attempt to ignore the handsome, smoldering Duke. He’s her employer, so he should be off limits. She’s a servant in his household, so she should be off limits. Does anyone see where this is going? This is a well-written, well-plotted frothy historical romance that was a real pleasure to read.
And, so? Would you read all three of these? Or two, or one, or none?