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Old 05-15-2011, 03:36 AM   #9387
ATDrake
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BearMountainBooks View Post
Just because we're all different...Soulless bugged me a lot more than anything in Peters' books! I found the writing particularly shallow toward the end when Soulless dissolved into little more than a panting, mindless romance...whereas I barely noticed the perfect child syndrome in the Peters books (it is there to be sure, but it didn't bother me).
Possibly it may have something to do with one's expectations going in.

For Soulless, Gail Carriger's author photo on the back was very tongue-in-cheek (wearing white gloves and a fancy hat while sipping from an oversized teacup and saucer), and the first few pages convinced me that it was supposed to be a silly light spoof like those Pride & Prejudice & Zombies-style books.

So I wasn't expecting anything more than a comedic parody of Victorian/steampunk/paranormal tropes and any extra actual mystery plot would have been a pleasant bonus on top of that, which it turned out to be.

Whereas for the Amelia Peabody books, I'd gotten the impression that aside from some gentle fun-poking at Victorian-style prose and the social conventions that Amelia was going against, they were supposed to be seriously for serious Plucky Victorian Egyptologist adventure tales, which the first two really were.

But then they kind of turned into a self-parody of themselves another two books later, with lots of repeated stylistic tics (redheads compared to Set! confounded young lovers who slap each other to show affection! Peabody-your-overactive-imagination-is-inventing-a-Master-Criminal! Ohh-Emerson-your-manly-manhood-is-so-fade-to-black!) and of course the day-saving wunderkind, which I wouldn't have minded nearly so much if these books were tagged "A Walter Ramses Peabody Emerson Mystery!".

Now, when I read something labeled "An Amelia Peabody Mystery", I expect the said Amelia Peabody to be the main mystery-solver and getter-outer-of-sticky-situations-er, and not to have this key role offloaded to her son more than half the time. So that development was kind of a disappointment.

But the latest one I'm reading seems to be a moderate improvement on the last, so hopefully this is just a glitch in the series and they get back on track soon enough.

Quote:
I also love the Vicky Bliss series. Light, fun reading.
I agree with other assessments in the past of this thread that the Vicky Bliss books are probably the best series Elizabeth Peters has written overall. They strike a good balance between realistic and employing genre gimmicks, and have a decent sense of the absurdity of certain conventions and avoiding too much of those. Jacqueline Kirby is fun, but a bit over the top as she's kind of a larger than life character who demands a larger than life plot.

Anyway, from Victorian Britain to Roman Britain, finished Caveat Emptor, 4th in Ruth Downie's Gaius Petreius Ruso series, which was due at the library.

In this installment, Ruso and Tilla have returned from Gaul, only to have Ruso end up being temporarily assigned as an investigator into the death of a native tax collector who'd apparently absconded with mass quantities of Roman money.

Not that the Roman officials care all that much about the death of their tax collector; they just want their money back.

Complicating matters is the fact that Tilla is determined to help the ostracized wife of the tax collector who's just given birth, and that as always in these things there's a deeper game being played behind the scenes in local politics with everyone oozing helpfulness while obstructing investigation.

Another good addition to this series, and saw the return of a couple of characters I liked from earlier in the series in supporting roles.

A prior development from the last book which I was uncertain about seems to be working out okay; or at least not affected the character in question's personality and actions for the worse. Another character revelation in this book had me similarly ambivalent, but so far it seems to be handled well, and was not given the easy out that was hinted at possibly resolving things, nor was it brushed off with platitudes when finally shared with the other party involved.

Highly recommended if you like historical sleuth stuff set in ancient Roman Britain with put-upon medical doctors trying to figure things out while the people around him are not being nearly as helpful as they say they are and the author's brief historical notes on the background + minor recommended further reading (I always love it when they do that).

I like that these books don't take the easy way out when resolving personal problems and wrap up the relationship stuff with a pat bow; instead, the issues have to be gradually dealt with and sometimes left unresolved just like in real life.
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