this is part of as days pass by, by Stuart Langridge

Books I own by Rosemary Kirstein

The Outskirter's Secret goodreads

Rosemary Kirstein

A travelogue around the Outskirts, which does quite a lot more world-building, and therefore the fact that these books are *actually* sci-fi rather than fantasy is slipped in so expertly that I hardly noticed it had happened at first.

Again with untelegraphed revelations pulled off by Rowan, though (avoiding spoilers here); I admit that it's not actually a *problem* that we the readers couldn't have worked things out beforehand (it's not an Agatha Christie book), but there is a constant sense of arbitrariness when some shocking swerve in the plot is revealed by Rowan out of nowhere at all, and she's done that at least once in each book now.

Also, the final scene feels like it should be the climactic finish of this first arc, what with it being the thing Rowan's been trying to do for two books now, and instead it just sort of is arrived at and despatched in the space of a single chapter. It feels almost as if it were rushed, which is a weird word to use for a series which gets two new books a decade.

The Steerswoman goodreads

Rosemary Kirstein

A friendly world. I like the idea of the steerswomen, although that suffers a little from the fantasy cliché of "everyone respects them" (because if they didn't, such a group could never have got off the ground). I like the mystery of the wizards, too; the remote wizard dealing with Things Man Was Not Meant To Wot Of is another cliché, but this neatly avoids it by having there be a few wizards, and they show up and do things occasionally like kill dragons (a small pest, not a terrifying enemy) or provide electric lighting, but nobody has any idea what the hell they're up to. Interesting. At one point I thought maybe they weren't magic at all (our heroine discovers copper wire but doesn't know what it's for, although we've seen what's clearly electric lighting and so know), but they are. At least a bit. Also, if I were properly enlightened I wouldn't have noticed that this is a gender balanced society, but because it is and ours isn't it felt jarring. But that's my fault, and it's excellently done; there's no politics being pushed here, just a picture of a world better than ours.

But. A small but and a big one. The latter is inevitably spoilerful, so beware.

The small but is this: a steerswoman (or steersman) will answer any question of yours truthfully, but in return you have to answer any question of theirs; this is enforced by how if you refuse to answer one of theirs, no steerswoman will answer any question of yours ever again. Clever. But: how does it work? Even given that they all keep logbooks and send them back, does every steerswoman memorise a big list of names? "Oh no, Keith of Pie Town, you're on my list"?

The (spoiler! stop reading!) bigger question is this: as far as I can tell, Rowan pulls the idea that the blue jewels are bits of a fallen Guidestar entirely out of her arse. There are no clues, no foreshadowing, and no indication of how she arrived at this conclusion. Maybe I just completely missed it, but I was bowled over by how much it came out of nowhere. Do better, please.

Books I acquired (and have reviewed) in 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009

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