Wednesday…er, Thursday reading, 5 May 2016

I could have sworn yesterday was Tuesday but apparently not, so today’s bookish thoughts come to you a day late. Luckily, that did give me time to have an actual finished book, which I didn’t have until late last night. This is the problem with reading two longer novels at once!

Last book finished: Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. It’s not as morbid as it sounds–it’s a historical mystery, with a doctor who specialises in reading corpses (i.e. an early pathologist) as the central character, and I really enjoyed it. More than I expected to, definitely.

The book is set in medieval Cambridge during Henry II’s reign, and this was a big part of why I enjoyed it: the period is one that I’m already interested in and have read around a fair bit, and it was interesting to get a peek at pre-university Cambridge. It certainly made a nice change from all the Tudor-set mysteries that abound. Not that I mind a Tudor setting–I’m a big fan of the Shardlake books–but it’s nice to get something a bit different. The central character, Adelia, is from Salerno, where the world’s first medical school was founded and women were able to study. I got the strong impression that the author did her research (and is a bit of a Henry II fan–a woman after my own heart), which I always appreciate.

My only tiny quibble with the book was that the conclusion to the mystery plot felt a little rushed. Or may not rushed, but easy. And as much as I enjoyed getting a little bit of Henry II, he was used as a bit of a deus ex machina, which was a shame. Although, at the same time, I did enjoy the way that the story tied into the political divide between church and crown at the time, so it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me. It certainly wasn’t enough to put me off reading more by this author! For a start, her conclusion to Adelia’s arc was everything I’d hoped for and not what I expected, which immediately made me want more.

In short, if you’re looking for a historical mystery set in a period that hasn’t been done to death, this is probably going to hit the spot.

Current read: Still working on Russian History: A Very Short Introduction. This will always be my status. I read a page. That’s progress, right?

I’m almost done with the first Wheel of Time book, and it’s every bit as enjoyable as I remembered. A long read, but a worth-while one.

The announcement that they’re making a WoT TV series has made me pretty happy. Yes, there are books by women that would also be awesome, but if this is what we’re getting, I’m pleased. Why? Well, it’s got the big epic feel of Game of Thrones, but the treatment of women in WoT is worlds different. Rape isn’t used as a standard plot point for all the women–they get to be strong and do amazing things without having to overcome sexual assault at every turn. Woo hoo! And WoT has a decent-sized cast of amazing women who are every bit as strong as the GoT women. Rereading the first book has brought home to me how much of a difference there is between the two book series, even though they’re both dealing with huge epic events in secondary medieval-style fantasy worlds. I’ll be watching the progress of the TV series with interest.

Next read: I only finished mystery book last night, so I haven’t picked out a new physical book to read. It’s not like I’m short, though. If anyone wants to browse my current Mount TBR list and suggest something I should prioritise, go right ahead! On my Kindle, I will probably be sinking into some nice easy novellas before I hit the next Wheel of Time book. And I have issue 10 of Uncanny Magazine to read, which has a new short by Seanan McGuire, so that should be excellent.

What are you reading this week, and would you recommend it?


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