It's been an incredibly busy month, but I have found time to get through a few good fictions recently:
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, by George R.R. Martin: For fans of the "Song of Ice and Fire" series, this new edition of the three Dunk & Egg novellas puts them in one convenient place for the first time, and with a suite of effective illustrations by Gary Gianni to boot. These stories, set about a hundred years before the events in A Game of Thrones begin, highlight the exploits of an ordinary hedge knight and his anything-but-ordinary squire, and include a fair bit of useful and interesting backstory to the world of the Seven Kingdoms. Good entertainment all around.
Numero Zero by Umberto Eco. I will read pretty much anything Umberto Eco publishes, and I'm always delighted when a new novel of his appears in English. In this one, much slimmer than his usual offerings, Eco returns to his frequent themes of conspiracy theories, Italian politics, media criticism, and biting satire of journalistic practices and ethics. I suspect those with more knowledge of Italian media and politics may get more out of this one than I did, but the connections to Berlusconi's rise to power are veiled thinly enough even for me to catch. Hilariously funny in many places, and spot-on with much of its evisceration of modern media practices, this is very much worth a read if you're interested in Eco's themes.
Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix. Nix writes that his new novel was inspired by the works of Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, and Patrick O'Brian, and—not surprisingly—that combination works well. With Nix's fantastical elements added (in this Regency world Napoleon is magically imprisoned in Gibraltar and the crown employs sorcerers), you've got a real page-turner on your hands. I wished for a bit more world-building and explanation here, but on the other hand, it was also neat to get dribs and drabs of background information as the book went on. Good fun, and I hope Nix will invite us back to Newt's world again soon.
More reviews coming soon, with any luck at all ...