The one 'fun' thing I have managed to do in the past few weeks is to start reading works nominated for a Hugo award. All of the short works I have read so far have ranged from meh down to yuck! Thankfully the novel category has some lovely rays of light. I have been reading The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison and greatly enjoying it.
It might be a bit hard to get into at first - the sheer number of names, titles and personalities to assimilate is daunting. However, this mirrors the experience of the main character, so really it is an experience in cultural immersion. It might take some time to sort out what is going on but the journey is worth it. There are no giant battles or sword wielding heros (at least so far, I am not quite done). Instead it is a finely woven tale of courtly intrigue, the political not bloody variety, and happily there are characters you can like and sympathize with. It is like swimming deeply in another world and I am finding Maia's journey to be throughly engaging.
So, for Book Beginnings on Friday, hosted by Rose City Reader, here is the beginning ...
Maia woke with his cousin's cold fingers digging into his shoulder.
"Cousin? What . . ." He sat up, rubbing at his eyes with one hand. "What time is it ?"
"Get up!" Setheris snarled. "Hurry!"
Obediently, Maia crawled out of bed, clumsy and sleep-sodden. "What's toward? Is there a fire?"
"Get thy clothes on." Setheris shoved yesterday's clothes at him. Maia dropped them, fumbling with the strings of his nightshirt, and Setheris hissed with exasperation as he bent to pick them up. "A messenger from the court. That's what's toward."
One more duty landed on Maia's shoulders. He said, "Thank you, Esaran," because he had to.
Csevet suggested firmly to the edocharei that they should go up and familiarize themselves with the emperor's private chambers and that moreover they could make themselves useful by preparing the rooms for use. Maia could only watch in hopeless admiration as this tactic cleared the room of his newest anxious dependents, and then Csevet turned back and said, "Serenity, there is one other matter."
"We do not like to bring it up, but we cannot ..."
Back straight, hands folded in lap, face controlled. "Tell us," Maia said.
So far the book has been a lovely experience and I look forward to finishing it this weekend.