silverflight8: stacked old books (books)
[personal profile] silverflight8
So I extensively read and re-read much of Martha Wells' Books of the Raksura over the past few weeks.

I read the second and third books of the Raksura - The Serpent Seas and the Siren Depths. They were tons of fun and I couldn't put them down though I wish she'd titled them somewhat differently. I can't remember which comes first or both titles!

The Raksura are a species of shape-shifters who can fly. Moon is a Raksura orphaned and trying to integrate into various groundling societies (mostly unsuccessfully). That's a terrible summary but the books are about him discovering the rest of the Raksura and his travels/adventures with them.

The fourth book comes out April 2016 and I'm so impatient. I want it, and I want it now!

I have no idea why but I find the books so engrossing and kind of comforting. For some reason - maybe because we rarely get to hear described how Moon is feeling? - the books feel kind of distanced from the characters, but that works in its favour. Many fantasy books are told from the perspective of non-human races, but they tend to unconsciously retain a lot of assumptions and traits and traditions about humans. The Raksura have a very different view about how society is organized and their winged second forms are very deadly hunters, which also makes them one of the

Moon being an orphan not brought up within a colony gives a good excuse for exploring Raksuran society. I also like and root for Moon, for all that he's all hurt and prickly about it. Basically, I'm dying for the next book.

Then James Bond - several of them now. I read Moonraker and then On Her Majesty's Secret Service. (I have never seen the films, though I regret not buying the nail polish collection OPI put out for Skyfall. I have my priorities!) They have their weaknesses, but as good solid action/adventure novels they deliver, and I am emotionally invested in James Bond the character by this point. I keep going to the library and checking out every Bond book there is - which isn't very many. This library system is big on having duplicates and not on having variety - wrong way round, in my opinion. But anyway!

Moonraker is about the rocket the British government is building, which is being made with the assistance of Hugo Drax, a public war hero and now wealthy businessman. M feels something isn't right when the owner of the club Blades tells him that Drax cheats, and sends Bond to first see if he's cheating (yes - and then Bond dupes Drax into losing an enormous sum of money) and then posts him at the Moonraker to see what's going on. This is leading up to a test-firing of the rocket, so there is a great deal of tension and attention being paid - especially after there is a murder at the site.

Bond enlists the help of Gala Brand, a policewoman in deep cover working as Drax's secretary, into the investigations. She's been calculating the required trajectory of the rocket depending on weather conditions for weeks, but has also noticed that Drax never takes them, recalculating them; Bond is disturbed that all the scientists working on the Moonraker are German. (He's also unnerved they are all shaven bald and have weird mustaches which don't have too much bearing on the plot but are nevertheless also a bit unnerving, at least the way they're described.) Anyway, they find out that it's a cell of Nazi-sympathizers, and instead of firing a test rocket to land harmlessly in the northern sea, it is aimed right at London.

Brand and Bond are taken prisoner and manage to escape. They also escape detection by hiding in the steam vent shafts, and they have to endure having steam sent up through them, as Drax tries to flush them out.

They are successful at making sure the rocket does not destroy London (of course!) And Brand does not sleep with Bond - when she shows up at the end, she's with a fiance.

Then On Her Majesty's Secret Service! Bond is sent on the trail of Blofeld again, one of the major figures behind the creation of SPECTRE and one of Bond's greatest enemies. He is put on the tail of Blofeld when Blofeld puts a request through the College of Arms - he wants legitimacy, and wants it badly enough to leave somewhat of a trail. On the pretext of being one of the College of Arms' researchers, Bond goes off to Switzerland to investigate Blofeld, who appears to be running a very secretive clinic of some kind on top of the mountains, within a ski resort.

It is indeed Blofeld - albeit a Blofeld disguised by plastic surgery, and wearing ski-goggles to conceal his eyes. Bond pulls off the role for a while, but has his cover blown when a fellow agent, dazed and battered, is brought in and identifies Bond in relief. Bond has to escape from the resort via skiing - definitely one of the highlights of the book! - and is rescued by Tracy, who had come looking for him. Back in England, Bond and M discover that Blofeld has been using the clinic as a front to secretly hypnotize girls from farming families, from all over the British Isles, and using them to spread viral/biological diseases to destroy agriculture.

I really liked the ski escape; it was full of action and very engrossing. I was rather surprised that actually, Bond gets married. It wasn't the most convincing romance ever - there just wasn't time in the novel to do it - but it was really quite sweet, and his father-in-law, the head of the Corsican mafia, is also over the moon. (I don't think Bond has any other family; he mentions his parents but only distantly and says himself that he doesn't have a social milieu that Tracy "would or wouldn't fit into", not having one). He doesn't stay married for very long, though; Tracy is gunned down by Blofeld and his associate only hours after the ceremony. :( And then in the subsequent novel, You Only Live Twice, which I'm reading, he's destroyed by it; M is ready to pension him off in the beginning of the novel.

Also I watched Pride and Prejudice (1995), season 1 of Sherlock plus the first two episodes of season 2, AND the first three episodes of Agent Carter season 2. More to follow! (All of them were great, in case you were wondering. In many different ways.)
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