Which I spent finishing Fool's Errand. Hobb is frustrating. She needs an editor badly- there's no way that book should be 650 pages long- but she needs a real editor of the kind one hears they don't make any more. I couldn't do it. I knew the book was too long but I couldn't have pointed out exactly where it needed to be cut. It's a kind of all-over minor flab that in only a slightly better writer would be leisurely narrative pace pure and simple. There wasn't any one place I felt I could skip through the story (and if I had I'd have stopped reading, because if I can skip easily there's no point in me reading the book in the first place.) I'd probably have handed the thing back to her with a curt Cut 200 pages, and let her make the decision where to tighten it up. But she needs desperately to tighten up.
Equally her invention didn't dazzle me but it wasn't same-old same-old either. Good enough that I sort of want to read more, bad enough that reading more has the feeling of a tiresome chore, not so bad as to make me say No bloody way. Frustrating.
However. Spring-like temperatures these last two days removed the last of the ice'n'snow from ten days ago so I did get to bicycle around, with the usual lift to the spirits that comes from mobility. Bicycled to Book City of course open on New Year's, and followed ashoka's suggestion of getting the first book. I have a source for the Ships trilogy which will arrive in the course of New York time- NY time isn't faster than usual BTW, it's the slower of very busy people eventually getting around to things. supacat's comments have left me a little apprehensive about that one: even a glance at the blurbs suggests it's not a nice read.
Then went and bought The Count of Monte Cristo as well, on the principle that I can't tell what's happening in Gankutsu-oh unless I know what's supposed to be happening. You could trust to your Japanese comprehension, says the dry voice in my head, and I respond equally drily, Ha ha. Ho ho. And likewise Hee hee. No, a knowledge of the original work is necessary when you deal with a variant version, just to appreciate the cleverness of the variation. And yes thank you, I'm fully aware that this isn't true of western works once the Japanese have taken the work's basic idea and run with it, though I forget what particular example seared this maxim into my head. Heidi, maybe, or Anne of Green Gables? Whatever. I am reading CoMC because I have never read CoMC, only the Classics Comicbook.
Then to my favourite coffee shop for vol 2 of Onmyouji and discover, in a bout of aarghness, that Onmyouji 2 is also about Basic Principles of Onmyoudou. This one being about why Heian-kyou has ohh I forget, nine horizontal and six vertical streets is it, rather than five and four? in an attempt to invoke the nine secret Taoist guardians, which is a bad idea because this invocation is supposed to be carried out before you enter the Immortals' realm, so you can travel through the various dimensions thereof; but if you apply it to the everyday world you then give the various dimensions access to each other, so that ghosts and youkai wander the streets of the human city.
And I can just see a western fantasy writer putting all this careful explanation into her novel, telling not showing because westerners want a reason why everything happens, even if it's within the confines of a totally artificial fantasy world; but cheez does it irk me to find it in a Japanese manga. Whatever happened to the notion of 'These things happen. Deal' that you find in most traditional ghost stories, east and west? Sheesh.