Blog Archives

#CBR6 Review #2 – The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the JinniTarget: Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni

Profile: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

After Action Report:

There’s something timelessly optimistic about ‘coming to america’ stories.  Even if we intellectually know that immigrants faced abject poverty, incredible discrimination and the lingering shadows of racial tensions held over from wherever they immigrated from, that sense of hope and of starting a new, better life pervades even the most depressing immigration story.  Helene Wecker captures this sense and deftly weaves it into a story of magic and creatures not quite human.

The Golem and the Jinni is really a story about culture shock, told from the perspective of two supernatural creatures who couldn’t possibly be any further from the concept of human culture.  Chava, a new golem without a master, has no experiences to draw on other than her instinct to help people and her tireless strength.  Ahmad, an enslaved Jinni, was sealed in a bottle for hundreds of years, trapped in human form and brought to New York without his knowledge.  For him, America is more a prison than a second chance and he must learn to work for a living and be a part of his community.

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Lost Battles: Gates of Fire

Target: Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae

Profile: Historical Fiction, Military

Summary: From the back cover, “At Thermopylae, a rocky mountain pass in northern Greece, the feared and admired Spartan soldiers stood three hundred strong. Theirs was a suicide mission, to hold the pass against the invading millions of the mighty Persian army.

Day after bloody day they withstood the terrible onslaught, buying time for the Greeks to rally their forces. Born into a cult of spiritual courage, physical endurance, and unmatched battle skill, the Spartans would be remembered for the greatest military stand in history—one that would not end until the rocks were awash with blood, leaving only one gravely injured Spartan squire to tell the tale….

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#CBR4 Maneuver #14 – Under Heaven

Target: Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven 

Profile: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Summary: From the Back Cover, “Shen Tai is the son of a general who let the forces of imperial Kitai in that empire’s last war against their western enemies from Tagur, twenty years before.  Forty thousand men on both sides were slain beside a remote mountain lake.  General Shen Gao himself has died recently.  To honor his father’s memory, Tai has spent two years of official mourning alone at the battle site among the ghosts of the dead, laying to rest their unburied bones.

One spring morning, he learns that others have taken note of his vigil.  The White Jade Princess in Tagur is pleased to present him with two hundred and fifty Sardian horses, given, she writes, in recognition of his courage and hour done to the dead.

You give a man one of the famed Sardians to reward him greatly.  You give him four or five to exalt him above his fellows and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal.  Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor.

Tai starts east towards the glittering, dangerous imperial capital and gathers his wits for a return from solitude by a mountain lake to his own forever-altered life.”

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CBRIII Maneuver #25 – Sailing to Sarantium

Target: Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium

Profile: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Summary: From the back of the book, “Sarantium is the golden city: holy to the faithful, exalted by the poets, jewel of the world, and heart of an empire.

Caius Crispus, known as Crispin, is a master mosaicist, creating beautiful art with colored stones and glass.  Still grieving the loss of his family, he lives only for his craft-until and imperial summons draws him east to the fabled city.  Bearing with him a queen’s secret mission and seductive promise, and a talisman from an alchemist, Crispin crosses a land of pagan ritual and mortal danger, confronting legends and dark magic. (truncated)” Read the rest of this entry