A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine
Mysteries abound, especially in Two Castles. A handsome cat trainer, black-and-white cats, thieves on four legs and two, suspicious townsfolk, a greedy king, a giddy princess, a shape-shifting ogre, a brilliant dragon. Which is the villainous whited sepulcher?
If the real world were a book, it would never find a publisher. Overlong, detailed to the point of distraction-and ultimately, without a major resolution.
Jasper Fforde, Something Rotten.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Drug dealers, hustlers, brothels, dirty politics, corrupt cops . . . and sorcery. Welcome to Low Town.
In the forgotten back alleys and flophouses that lie in the shadows of Rigus, the finest city of the Thirteen Lands, you will find Low Town. It is an ugly place, and its champion is an ugly man. Disgraced intelligence agent. Forgotten war hero. Independent drug dealer. After a fall from grace five years ago, a man known as the Warden leads a life of crime, addicted to cheap violence and expensive drugs. Every day is a constant hustle to find new customers and protect his turf from low-life competition like Tancred the Harelip and Ling Chi, the enigmatic crime lord of the heathens.
The Warden’s life of drugged iniquity is shaken by his discovery of a murdered child down a dead-end street . . . setting him on a collision course with the life he left behind. As a former agent with Black House—the secret police—he knows better than anyone that murder in Low Town is an everyday thing, the kind of crime that doesn’t get investigated. To protect his home, he will take part in a dangerous game of deception between underworld bosses and the psychotic head of Black House, but the truth is far darker than he imagines. In Low Town, no one can be trusted.
- I was so fixed on my purpose that I nearly rebounded off Adolphus, who stood at the foot of the steps, rendered nearly invisible by the low light and his own uncanny stillness. Beneath his heavy overcoat a ragged suit of studded leather stretched taut against his chest, and he'd dug up his old kettle helmet, the steel dented by five years of close calls. Apart from his dress he was also festooned with weapons, two short blades hanging at his side and a battle-ax strapped to his back.
- 'What the hell are you wearing?' I asked, astounded.
- The savagery in his eyes left me with no doubt that my comrade was quite serious in his choice of attire. 'You didn't think you were going alone? This isn't our first time over the top. I've got my eyed on your back, as always.'
- Was he drunk? I sniffed at his breath- apparently not. 'I don't have time for this. Watch Adeline, I'll be back in a few hours.'
- 'Wren's my son,' he said, without affectation of aggrandizement. 'I'll not sit by the fire while his life is in danger.'
- The Oathkeeper spare us from such pointless nobility. 'Your offer is appreciated, but unnecessary.'
- I tried to squeeze by, but he put one hand against my collar and held me firm against he banister. 'It wasn't an offer.'
- The streaks of gray outnumbered the black in his once charcoal hair. His pockmarked face was heavy. Was I that old? Did I look that foolish, my collar pulled up like a hoodlum, steel bulging from my pockets, a middle-aged man playing at adventures of youth?
- ...I brushed off Adolphus's hand and took a step back up the stairs, giving myself enough room to maneuver. 'You're fat- you were always big, but you're fat now. You're slow and you can't sneak, and you don't have it in you to kill a man anymore, not the way I'm going to do it. I'm not sure that you ever did. I've no time to flatter your vanity- every second you waste the boy gets closer to death. Get..out of my way.'
- For a moment I thought I had overplayed my hand and he would knock my head off my shoulders. But then he turned his face to the ground and all the energy seemed to slump out of him, like a hole at the bottom of a jug. He turned away from the staircase, his collection of cutlery jangling.
- 'Look after Adeline,' I said. 'I'll be back in an hour or two.'
- That was far from certain, but there was no point in saying so.
- I slipped out into the night.
Sunday, November 13, 2011