- recent listeningCoode Street Podcast Episode 230: K J Parker and the history of a writer
. Wherein it's revealed that Parker is Tom Holt after all (it's been going around
Online]. One podcast I'm listening to, although I find parts difficult to make out as is usual (not their fault; I don't hear things well).
- recent readingOnce in a Blue Moon
by Simon R. Green. This is a very fun, not too serious adventure in the best Simon R. Green style. There's one problem with it, which is that it appears to be the last book of a series. The good news is that it also appears to complete
Let me back up a little. Years ago, in Houston, I picked up a fantasy novel by the title of Blue Moon Rising
by Simon R. Green. It featured Prince Rupert riding an enslaved unicorn (with all that implied about his virginity) to a mission that was probably his death: to slay a dragon. Mainly because he was the second prince of the Forest Kingdom, and a spare heir was...unwanted. But it turned out that the dragon was being held "hostage" by a princess sent him as tribute, said princess, Julia, being very good with a sword, and even more, the hoped-for dragon's hoard to refill the Kingdom's treasury (in case Rupert succeeded after all), turned out to be a collection of butterflies. And that was just the beginning. I was entranced. Green had a gift for mixing sly humor, wisecracks (it's not a Green novel if someone
, usually multiple people, isn't making a wisecrack somewhere in there), moments of breathtaking wonder, a cynical, down-to-earth sense of the importance of personality in politics, grotesque horrors, gore, and plotting so taut that each time I reread the book I'd pick up on some new nuance that he'd slotted in place just so
When I was in middle school, one of the writers I wanted to grow up to be was Piers Anthony, because of his interesting ideas and clarity of prose. But the other was Simon R. Green. I don't read Anthony anymore (and to be honest, am not sure what exactly he's writing these days), but I do still read Green. We only gave up buying his books on sight because I was reading more and more slowly, and couldn't keep up with his output.Blue Moon Rising
started what might loosely be termed a series, although it stands quite well on its own, and as a matter of fact, if you liked Blue Moon Rising
then Once in a Blue Moon
is the kind
of book you will like, as well as featuring familiar characters and situations and places. But in order for Once in a Blue Moon
to make sense, there are a whole lot of books you also have to read.
You see, this series runs something like this:
- Blue Moon Rising
- Down Among the Dead Men
. It's been a while, but I believe it takes place somewhere in the latter part of Blue Moon Rising
, and is essentially a standalone hack-and-slash adventure with an astonishingly high body count. It is perhaps the only book in the sequence that you can safely skip and still understand Once in a Blue Moon
, and I'd reckon it one of Green's more minor works.
- The Hawk and Fisher books, which feature the only honest (fantasy) cops in the corrupt city of Haven:Hawk and FisherWinner Takes AllThe God KillerWolf in the FoldGuard Against DishonorThe Bones of Haven
The individual volumes are out of print, I believe, but were brought back as two omnibuses, Swords of Haven
and Guards of Haven
- Beyond the Blue Moon
, which requires Blue Moon Rising
and the Hawk and Fisher books as prerequisites, functioning as a sequel to both. Also a bit of a tie-in to the Nightside books if I'm not mistaken; Green is one of those writers for whom there are characters who wander in and out of their series. (The standalone fantasy Shadows Fall
, which is the other single Green I tend to recommend to people who are interested in trying him, explains why this is so.)
- Blood and Honor
. It used to be that this worked quite well as a stand-alone, and you can read it that way; there's a bit of an in-joke at the beginning referring to events in Blue Moon Rising
, but you don't actually need it to follow this fantasy mystery/romance. (Note that there is some grue; it's rare that a Green novel will lack some degree of grue.)
- And now, Once in a Blue Moon
.Once in a Blue Moon
ties together a staggering number of old threads and weaves them together into an entertaining story about two nations, the Forest Kingdom and Redhart, that are careening toward war. Some people are for it, others against, others dragged into the mess kicking and screaming. The legendary heroes Hawk and Fisher show up with other legends in tow; a princess is separated from the lowborn Champion who is her true love; a Broken Man is called back to fight for the King who spurned him years ago; an extraordinary fighter (half of, as far as I can tell, a happy lesbian couple) is honored by the man who defeats her; cursed weapons like the Infernal Devices are retrieved from where they perhaps should best have been left sleeping. And then there's the dog, who is not entirely Real, and who is not remotely safe for polite company.
This reads in many ways like a no-holds-barred, fun
, updated version of Blue Moon Rising
--Green daring to push the edge a bit more in terms of topics and language (swearing, mentions of sexuality, crude humor--Blue Moon Rising
came out in 1991). It's not perfect, but it was a hell of a read, and it brings things to a pitch-perfect close. I cried more than once.
I'm sorry that this Blue Moon Rising
and its related books seem to be so obscure. They're a lot of fun and they deserve more attention than they seem to have gotten. I would kill to write like this. I haven't been made this purely happy
by a book in a long time.
For the curious, here's a non-spoilery taste of Green's typical sense of humor/prose:
If the Administrator had ever been blessed with anything as common as a real name and a proper background, no one knew about it. He'd arrived at the Academy some forty years earlier as just another student, bluffed and bullied his way onto the staff, and lost no time in proving himself invaluable at taking care of all the dull, soul-destroying but unfortunately wholly necessary administrative work that no one else wanted to do. All he had to do was threaten to leave, and he was immediately awarded a substantial pay increase and a straightforward assurance that no one gave a damn what his real name might be or where he'd come from. (6)
Spoilery discussion:( Read more... )