Dec. 16th, 2008


Webcomics: Dominic Deegan, Oracle For Hire

Unlike the prior post this review of a webcomic belongs here. It's not appropriate to Faces of Colour and it's not something I want to discuss in a political way. Dominic Deegan, Oracle for Hire is just plain geeky fun for me to read.

As I got up to date I couldn't help thinking that it's a web comic version of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden Files. The constant visions, the plotting evils, the larger arcing bad guys all give me a sense of a Dresden File book, with organizations navel gazing with their machinations and one hero left to gather his friends and loved ones to fight off the darkness. It also only helps the heroic parallels that Dominic likes wearing a long striped scarf that's reminiscent of the 4th Doctor Who.

The universe is Tolkenesque/ Dungeons & Dragon-esque fantasy. There are humans, orcs, were-wolves, sorceresses, mages, necromancers - it's a full fantasy spread. But it's set with a very contemporary feel. For example, there's a City of Sin that's a cross between Las Vegas and an open market bordello. And there are references to racism, including lynching and what such single-minded thoughts & actions can do to degrade an individual's soul. I was impressed that it wasn't just the overt moments that were represented, but also how peer pressure and desensitization can lead to a certain just under the surface darkness and blindness.

But that's all heavy stuff and Oracle for Hire doesn't read as heavy to me - ie - this is my message, this is my moral, open wide and swallow. Instead I found myself liking the character. He's a bit of a misanthrope, mostly because of constant interactions with stupidity. I liked how he meets one of the female characters and comes to care for her because she's brilliant and he just finds her intelligence unbearably sexy even if she has self esteem issues and can't image that's possible. I've experienced the surprise of finding someone patient who lets you recover from vast psychological torture. I've also been the patient friend. This was one of the few occasions I didn't end up thinking the writer had no clue what they were doing and why did they ever embark on this kind of storytelling subtext in the first place.

I like Dominic's friends. They're flawed, funny, loveable characters. I have favourites in fact. I even like some of his enemies. I've seen their flaws. I've seen them realize how their own mistakes led them up to a point and then watched them justify their continued actions. Very few characters feel dark just so that there can be a bad guy. Most of all, I like Dominic. I like his loyalty and determination to protect the innocent. Maybe that's the part of him that reminds me the most of Harry Dresden, that sense of righteousness.

As much as I enjoy digital comics, I may find myself ordering a few hard copies to share with friends. Good world building, intelligent plot arcs, motivated characters and a good ensemble with clan building. How could I not share that?

And yes, I am aware that I'm being very spoiler-careful, but I think there's value in discovering certain aspects of the world and the characters for yourself as a reader.

Jul. 22nd, 2008


The Stravaganza Series

These are the old Stravagana by Mary Hoffman book covers.


You can see The New Stravaganza Covers at the link. I sincerely don't like them. Putting faces on the covers takes away my ability to shape the world she describes to my own satisfaction. Moreover I feel like something magical is quite, quite lost.

The old covers spoke of Italy but not Italy. They helped me fall in love with Talia, a world of secrets and intrigues and magic and heroes and heroines.

I have no doubt the new covers are meant to capitalize on the Twilight Movie and the hope that young teen readers will see these covers and be drawn to another world about teenagers and magical happenings. But now I regret not having had the money to buy the books with the old covers when I had a chance.

I don't want to see white faces on the covers. I don't want the protagonists' looks spelled out plainly by photography. The world building in these books is a fine craftsmanship. It builds upon Italian history and geography. I learned about real aspects of Italy even as I became engrossed in the plot of this other Italy, the magical Talia.

The faces on the covers are far too modern. They take away from the secondary characters who help make the books what they are.

I'm going to refresh my memory and then come back and write up reviews for the first three books in the series.

Jul. 17th, 2008


Flesh & Spirit / Breath & Bone - Carol Berg

My original, very short review of Flesh & Spirit sometime earlier in the year was :

Really enjoyed this one. Despite the first person pov, I felt suspense, urgency and peril/panic of dire situations. Oddly it made me think of Anita Blake done right, only without vampires, sex and 80's clothing.

I've just finished Breath & Bone and I really, really enjoyed it. Even if it took me 9 weeks to finish reading it. The suspense was so much I kept putting it down because I couldn't handle anything else happening.

So I think it's safe to say the main character does not have it easy. But I adore him. I absolutely adore him.

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