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Read more about Wicked Lovely. Halfling Tildi Summerbee has led a typical, unexciting life, tending the house for her brothers while they manage the family farm. Her days are boring, but happy In an effort to provide for Tildi, the town's leaders prepare an arranged marriage and take control of her farm's assets. After all, a female halfling is incapable of handling such matters on her own. Tildi sees things differently. In order to escape her arranged marriage and overcome the prejudices against the "weaker" sex, she decides to pass herself off as a man.

Assuming the guise of her brother Teldo, Tildi disappears into the night. She plans to accept Teldo's position as an apprentice to a great wizard. But she soon finds that the rest of the world isn't very welcoming to halflings. And that she is surrounded by fantastic dangers. Dangers that are more than a match for a wizard's apprentice.

Read more about An Unexpected Apprentice. Neil Gaiman, Eoin Colfer, and many more join? Publishers Weekly In Wizards, today? Read more about Wizards. On his eleventh birthday, sad, orphaned Benjamin Bartholomew Piff accidentally adheres to all of the wishing rules—and, in wishing for the mother lode of limitless wishes, he unknowingly sets into a motion a chain of events that threatens to disrupt the balance between the magical realm of wishes and curses.

Before long, Benjamin has been recruited by the Wishworks Factory director himself to fight the evil henchmen of the Curseworks Factory. When a mysterious stranger enters her world and discovers that her mother's life is now in danger, Clovermead must put aside the rules of being Demoiselle and return to her shape-shifting ways in order to save her sovereign land of Chandlefort and her mother from pending destruction.

Read more about Chandlefort. What is Un Lun Dun? It is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things of London end up. Un Lun Dun is a place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero, whose coming was prophesied long ago, set down for all time in the pages of a talking book. When twelve-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance leading out of London and into this strange city, it seems that the ancient prophecy is coming true at last.

But then things begin to go shockingly wrong. From the Hardcover edition. Read more about Un Lun Dun. At years-old, Malao is the youngest of the Five Ancestors.


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As he grapples with these new and unwelcome feelings, Malao has an encounter with a dangerous band of bandits, is adopted by a troop of monkeys commanded by a one-eyed albino, and hears tantalizing rumors of a mysterious recluse called the Monkey King, who is said to act, and look, a lot like him.

Read more about Monkey. Helps teachers and librarians promote reading and writing through book clubs, reading groups, and individualized, personal feedback on written book reviews. But I guess my motive in not going the kickass paranormal chick route was that I wanted Caitie to be a thinking hero. She gets into plenty of scrapes, but her main weapon is her ability to solve problems by reasoning them out.

That keeps her vulnerable — because she can also come to the wrong conclusions — but flexible. And I hoped her braininess combined with her Southern Belle charm would make her likeable, even if she does make some really stupid decisions on occasion. She makes realistic mistakes, bad choices and good choices. Most fantasy and science-fiction stories seem to deal in archetypes. That is, the writers pare down their characters to essential characteristics and work from there. Caitlin seems to bring along a lot of baggage, but in a good way.

However, I will ask this. When you sat down to write Primary Fault, did you have a list of characteristics you wanted Caitlin to have or is this more a question of having a general idea of who she was and letting circumstances fill in the details? In early drafts, I did a lot of floundering with Caitlin — and the other characters — before I figured out who they were and what they wanted. But I did have a clear picture of the characters from the start, an amalgam of traits, some taken from real people, and glommed together to form a whole.

So, no archetypes, at least not consciously. I like to think that all the main characters started out well but have become more real with time, even the baddies.

bite the hand that feeds you essays and provocations Manual

Caitie has proved to be plenty stubborn. But so have Gus Schwarzbach and Hagen von der Lahn. And Sebastian. Ending the series will be a relief, but will also be like losing an entire family all at once. To me, it felt as if they were a bit overprotective on more than one occasion. Is this just who the characters are, or did you have a specific purpose in having both the relative and the hunk act in the same way?

I mean, this sort of overprotectiveness seems a bit condescending at times. Something against which Caitlin can rebel? Gus and Hagen are compelling characters. They present a challenge for Caitlin to maintain her independence.


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She has her own way of managing Gus, and it works most of the time. Hagen is a different matter. His attractiveness, sexual magnetism and force of personality are a bit overwhelming to most women, including Caitie. The rebel in her does assert itself, especially when she feels betrayed. She does need help, even in the face of betrayal. Hagen enjoys making her surrender — not succumb — to him. She accedes to a certain extent.

Shadow Zone, book four, will be out in early summer Plus, he sends Corky onto a fair number of dodgy missions, such as impersonating a journalist on assignment—which proves doubly awkward when, after the ruse is detected, he actually does get sent on assignment. The outcome is ten pieces of light, springy humor and shining wit, lampooning the more disreputable side of the British upper class.

It mixes in a bit of romance, some sporting fun especially boxing , a sepia-printed cameo of life as a down-and-out student in the early s, a touch of crime, a kiss of politics, and a passing breeze of satire on the evangelical revivals of the Billy Sunday era. My favorite bits involved boxing, a sport whose humorous possibilities have not been sufficiently explored. Reading these rib-ticklers, or hearing them read by a comic actor such as Jonathan Cecil, will certainly foster what Ukridge calls a "big, broad, flexible outlook.

Labels: books. One of the most mysterious and macabre things about him is the fact that he went on writing them after his death. It turns out that four of his books were completed by Brad Strickland based on sketches left unrealized at the author's death; Strickland then went on to write at least nine more books based on characters Bellairs created. This accounts for the strange fact that 31 novels are listed on Bellairs's bibliography , though he only lived to write 18 of them.

There may be more pseudo-Bellairs spookiness to come, including a film franchise. Is this a good thing? I suppose the jury is out. Some fans of Bellairs may appreciate the chance to see his work continue, compensating in some degree for his untimely loss. Others may feel emotions ranging from irritation at having to distinguish between books Bellairs really wrote and those ghost-written after his death, to heartbreak at seeing a most unique creative mind lose control over the fruit of his imagination.

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My personal feelings, however, are not mixed. I do not plan to read anything to which Brad Strickland set his hand. The way I mean to mourn for the genius of John Bellairs is to read all the books that he actually wrote, period. I look forward to keeping it, treasuring it, re-reading it, singing its praises, and sharing it—starting here, with you.

Most of Bellairs's work was aimed at a juvenile audience. Evidently this is because his publisher, from some time in the early s, discouraged him from trying to write adult fantasy, a genre that had not yet begun to thrive. First, however, he gave us this one book about a grown-up wizard named Prospero not the one in The Tempest by Shakespeare , his best friend Roger Bacon, and their chillingly dangerous search for the root of a great evil that has begun to darken their unnamed country.

Bellairs did write a short prequel to this novel, but it was lost when the fantasy anthology in which it was to be published, wasn't. He also started to write a sequel to this book, titled The Dolphin Cross —but neither Bellairs himself, during the last decade of his life, nor his ghost-writers since, ever finished it.

So there is a wistfulness in enjoying this book, wherein one recognizes its integrity as one of the finest early examples of the wizard novel and regrets the unfulfilled prospect of more of the same. In this respect, Bellairs's masterpiece really his first novel, though it was his third book begins to attract comparisons to the writings of Mervyn Peake.

Both authors were powerhouses of adult fantasy before it became a bestselling genre. Both of them died too soon, leaving behind the torso of unfinished novels for other authors to complete. Both authors had a flair for rich, descriptive, strikingly original utterance. And both authors had a distinct way of blending whimsical silliness with dark, Gothically spooky stylings.

The key difference is that Bellairs did it in much leaner, economical prose. His action moves at a brisk pace, taking both characters and readers farther in fewer words. This book, in which so much promise is tantalizingly but compactly embodied, shows Bellairs to be a master of charm, eloquence, and wit, the soul of which is brevity. It is not a long novel. But I think it could be a great one. Prospero and Roger are admirable wizards. Undeniably goofy, in the cracked-but-great tradition of Gandalf and Dumbledore, they study hard—setting an example for all aspiring wizards.

But while they have weird powers at their fingertips, they also have tender and noble hearts, and very human dreads and terrors. And so, as they explore the creepy mystery behind the unseasonable frost spreading across the land, and the evil face that traces itself in the frost on so many people's windows, and the stirrings of violence and chaos that threaten to set the Northern and Southern Kingdom at each other's throats, you can't help feeling their fears and sorrows along with them. In short, you will love them, and thrill to the creepy mystery-adventure through which this book leads them.

And then, if you are as sensible as I trust you will be by now, you will place The Face in the Frost in your bookcase or Kindle folder alongside such beautiful tales of wizardry as The Last Unicorn and The Wizard of Earthsea. It draws on its author's experiences as an English teacher at a boarding school in Brussels, where among other unhappy experiences she suffered from loneliness, homesickness, and possibly an inappropriate but unrequited attachment to her married employer. It also depicts characters based on other people Ms. Rather, it seems to be the confession of a spiritually troubled young woman who suffered greatly from solitude, heartbreak, and depression; who, while bearing these afflictions, sought to make her own way in the world, armored with a fiercely independent spirit and at times a biting wit; who frankly admitted feeling unlawful desires and entertaining such mental house-guests as jealousy, peevishness, a dread of ghosts, and near-suicidal despair.

It is a daring story in that its narrator is sometimes unreliable, deceiving the reader or playing coy with the nature of her afflictions such as exactly what became of her immediate family ; even its ending is ambiguous, suggesting that something dreadful happened but inviting the reader to imagine a happy ending instead.

We first meet Lucy Snowe as a girl staying with her godmother Mrs. Bretton and the latter's son Graham, along with an even littler house-guest named Paulina Hume. No sooner is the stage set for some melodrama than this episode passes, and the setting changes, and we find a grown-up Lucy waiting at the bedside of an elderly invalid who confides the heartbreak of her life during the first of the book's many moving passages.

Through some tragedy or another, Lucy finds herself alone in the world and decides to try being a governess or a teacher somewhere across the sea. She settles in a country called Labassecour somewhere in the neighborhood of Belgium , in the capital city called Villette modeled on Brussels , at a boarding school directed by a Madame Beck, quickly moving up from being a nanny to Mme.

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Beck's own children to teaching English in the school itself. All this time she suffers from the culture-shock of being surrounded by people who speak a different language and practice a different religion; until, left alone during a school break, she becomes so completely miserable that it almost kills her. This crisis is not so much relieved as succeeded by a new set of problems. Lucy loses her heart to a handsome, English doctor who she belatedly reveals is our own Graham Bretton from the beginning of the book. But as kind as "Dr. John" is don't ask , he never gives his heart to her.

Lucy's torment is exquisite as she schools herself to bury her passion for Graham while, at the same time, trying to ensure that he chooses the right girl of two beautiful cousins. Then she starts to have feelings for the brusque, moody M. Paul Emanuel the "M" stands for "Monsieur," silly —a relative of Mme. Beck's, who teaches literature and other subjects when he isn't trying to bring Lucy under the discipline of the Catholic Church. Even as it grows increasingly obvious that their love can never be—their religious differences being only one of the reasons—Lucy's desperate need for some kind of happiness becomes so unbearably urgent that it may make you squirm.

And does she find it? That's where the book cheats you; or rather, it forces you to choose between the happy ending you would like and the probable ending that you wouldn't. Make no mistake, this book will lead you on a gruelling journey. It is a fascinating one, though—full of scenes and characters and ideas and details that form a speaking picture of Lucy Snowe, Villette, the school, and a whole remarkable way of life.

Perhaps as deeply as any novel can, without becoming unreadable, it explores the inner workings of one woman's heart in a situation in life that is not conducive to a conventional storyline with a tidy ending, a neat resolution, or poetic justice for its good and bad characters. It is, in fact, more or less a slice of life with all the unpoetical injustices left in and, where a happy ending is wanted, at best the memory of a circumscribed period of incomplete happiness, followed by Well, whatever life brings next.

The Hand That Feeds You

If you want the girl to end up in Mr. Rochester's arms, read Jane Eyre. To meet a young woman whose mundane outer struggles and colossal inward ones continue indefinitely, this is your book. The other story may be more in line with your romantic ideas. But this one seems, at times, to be opening your heart and reading it back at you. I'm neither a woman, nor a teacher, nor a foreign traveler, nor a victim of unfulfilled love And so in struggling to understand Lucy, one might perhaps feel a comforting sensation of Being Understood.

It might be interesting to know how these passages play in French translations of the novel, but enough said. The Black Mask by E. Raffles and his school chum, sidekick, and biographer Bunny. These characters seem to have been invented as foils to Holmes and Watson, the celebrated creation of Hornung's friend and brother-in-law Arthur Conan Doyle. Though they are not so well-known today, anyone who reads British fiction written in the first quarter or so of the 20th century must have had their interest piqued by references to Raffles, whose name stood for a while as a proverb for any merry rogue who made off with millions while posing as a sportsman, a magnetic figure of fashion and culture, admired by men and women alike.

In this book, however, Raffles has moved beyond the phase of his career when he plied his criminal craft under the cover of being a celebrated cricket player. Presumed dead since his escape over the side of a cruise ship in The Amateur Cracksman , he has returned to England resolved to stay dead in the eyes of the law. Bunny, meanwhile, has done a bit of time for their joint crimes, and has emerged into a society that does not promise much to a man of his experience.

The pair are reunited in the guise of an elderly invalid and his personal attendant, resuming their criminal lifestyle while taking pains to uphold the public's belief that Raffles is dead. All in all, the eight capers in this volume are cloaked in a vapor of melancholy that sets them apart from the rollicking fun of the previous set. Raffles daringly swipes a priceless artifact from under the very noses of a museum's guards, only to admire its beauty for a while before sending it to Queen Victoria as a jubilee gift—a display of sentiment that even Bunny considers unlike his worshiped friend.

One chapter is devoted to the story of a tragic romance with an Italian girl, another to Raffles' narrow escape from gruesome death at the hands of a vengeful crime boss. There is a duel of wits to the death with a fellow tradesman; the revival of an "old flame" with a married woman, leading Raffles to fake his death a second time; an interlude of more or less successful burglaries carried out on bicycles, while our rascally heroes hide out under a new identity; and finally—and I mean finally—the Boer War, in which the patriotism in Bunny and Raffles is so stirred up that they risk exposure and death to fight for their country.

And these risks become all too real when they recognize a corporal in their unit as an enemy spy. The end really comes for Raffles in this book, yet somehow it is not the end of the stories published about him. Hornung went on to write another book of Raffles stories— A Thief in the Night —as well as a novel— Mr.

Justice Raffles. The same author wrote a considerable number of other books, which are listed here. And while hard copies of these entertainments can vary from cheap reproductions to expensive used books, the free Kindle book makes for a fiendishly clever way to steal an hour of fun out of a snow day, a rainy afternoon, a dull lunch break, or a holiday at the beach. Tuesday, December 11, Hardy Horowitz. I've been recommending a lot of books lately that are not what one would expect in answer to the question, "What should I read after the Harry Potter series?

But I submit that it's a most appropriate book for the purpose. Because, for starters, it has magic in it. Concerned parents may want to observe an "occult content advisory," in fact; for one of the main characters is suspected of being a witch, to the extent of having a hat-pin stuck into her arm by a superstitious neighbor. And later, the same neighbor makes a waxen effigy of the same lady and thrusts needles into it while performing a creepy incantation. But that's not actually what I meant when I started to say that this book has magic in it. I had three other examples in mind.

First, I drew great pleasure from hearing the award-winning audiobook narration by Alan Rickman, known to every Potterhead as the actor who played Professor Snape in the movies. And although Rickman has as distinctive a voice as any actor of the silver screen, there were times during his reading when I forgot it was he. Can it be less than magical when an actor as noticeable as Alan Rickman disappears in a role—or rather, a whole cast of characters? My second example is Hardy's evocation of the grim, unchanging, sparsely populated Egdon Heath, which he conjures so vividly throughout the novel and especially in its first chapter that you may find it hard to believe, afterward, that no such place exists.

Egdon, all but a speaking character in its own right, was based on a combination of several places Hardy knew of, embellished and immortalized as part of the equally fictional English county of Wessex in which several of Hardy's novels take place. Part of what makes this trick work is the interrelatedness of the settings of Hardy's books, so that even without seeing a map of this all-but-real fantasy-land, you can visualize the heath's location relative to such Wessex points-of-interest as Casterbridge, Weatherbury, Sandbourne, etc.

Basically, Hardy has rearranged the whole southwest of England, renamed the places, and created an environment so convincingly real that one is shocked to be unable to find it in the atlas. Thirdly, there is that which Prof. Dumbledore admitted to be magic beyond all that they do at Hogwarts: music. Shortly after Thomas Hardy's death in , English composer Gustav Holst came out with an orchestral piece called Egdon Heath, honoring the place so vividly evoked in this book.

Here is a recording of that piece, which lasts about as long as it takes Alan Rickman to read the chapter that sets the scene. It's playing on my computer's speakers as I write this. I almost think that if you listen to Holst's piece while you read Hardy's chapter describing Egdon Heath, you may look around on reaching the end of both and find yourself in a strange, dark, peaty landscape of thorn trees, furze, and lichen, the rim of the surrounding horizon broken by strange mounds and barrows.

As to what happens in this lonely, subdued, remote landscape—where some who live there feel trapped outside the flow of life, while others who have left it are drawn back to its savage beauty—well, that's where recommending this book as a supplement to Harry Potter becomes a stretch, to say the least. This book is not a supplement to anything. It is, rather, one of the great books of modern English lit, on which things like the Harry Potter series are at best a gloss.

It is the sort of tragic romance in which the romantic bits of its human characters come into conflict with the immovable, unchangeable, anti-romantic character of the landscape, and the landscape wins; therein lies the tragedy. It is a story about how the permanent conditions of human nature triumph over every spark of originality. It is about something that suggests magical or at least pagan ideas, because it is older than history; while it may actually be in the business of crushing the magic out of people.

To put these general hints into more concrete terms: The Return of the Native is about what happens when the golden boy of Egdon Heath—the young man who was voted "most likely to succeed in the outside world"—comes back from a glittering career in Paris, disgusted with his cosmopolitan life, homesick for the beloved heath of his boyhood, and determined never to go back. Unluckily, this young man—Clym Yeobright by name—falls in love with a fascinating young lady named Eustacia Vye, whom Hardy describes in almost as much sensuous detail as the heath itself.

You would think someone like that would fit right in among the barrows erected by "dyed barbarians," and feel at home amid the local customs in which Hardy observes "fragments of Teutonic rites to divinities whose names are forgotten," which "seem in some way or other to have survived mediaeval doctrine. Imagine what happens when the lad who loves the heath, and would rather be anywhere but Paris, marries the girl who hates the heath, and would give anything to go to Paris. Perversely, part of what brings them together is the very thing that will tear their marriage apart. Or one of the things, rather.

There's also a little matter of the man who married Clym's cousin Thomasin—an innkeeper named Damon Wildeve, whom Hardy is describing when he pungently writes: "To be yearning for the difficult, to be weary of that offered; to care for the remote, to dislike the near This is the true mark of a man of sentiment. Before and even during their courtship, however, he has dallied with the fiery Eustacia; and after losing her to another man, he desires her even more.

Add to the crucible an older woman Clym's mother and Thomasin's aunt , who disapproves of both unions and inadvertently provokes Eustacia's vehement dislike; to say nothing of the fair-figured but demonically tinted reddleman—a dealer in red dye whose trade was dying out even at the date of this story—whose name is Diggory Venn.

To give measure for measure, the reddleman has loved Wildeve's bride before and during their courtship, and goes on loving her after their marriage. Do you think you can see where this is going? Well, you don't. You have no idea. The accidents and incidents on which these characters' fates turn are so cruelly perverse, so devilishly coincidental, that what someone does with excellent intentions often brings about calamitous results; and when their motives are bad, the results are even worse.

Half of the characters I have described above die horrible deaths, and one of them perhaps the only altogether admirable person among them survives with the heartbreaking conviction that he is to blame for it all. As in his other books, Hardy garnishes the main course of his story with a whimsical flavoring of salt-of-the-earth, local-color characters, such as the old "grandfer" who always boasts about what a dashing young soldier he once was; his cowardly, superstitious fool of a son who is silly enough to believe, even at age 31, that he will never survive to manhood; grouchy old Timothy Fairway; and so on.

But then even these minor, seemingly comical characters, show themselves often enough in a tragic light, from Susan Nonesuch's business with the wax image of Eustacia to her sickly son Johnny, who innocently blurts out the words that destroy Clym Yeobright's peace of mind. One especially memorable minor character is Charlie, the youthful servant of Eustacia's grandfather.

His puppy love for Eustacia adds a humorous, not to say mildly sensual, note to the episode in which Eustacia engages in cross-dressing as a stratagem for meeting Clym. After Eustacia meets her grim end, Charlie's heartbreak proves to be nearly as moving as Clym's. So, finally, you might ask yourself at the end of this book: Did the heath punish these people for trying to leave? Or were they undone by discontent combined with sentimental delusions and forbidden desires? Is the heath an uncanny place, or is it rather a microcosm of how the world irons out, or mows down, the uncanny people who stick out of its smooth conformity?

Is it perhaps neither a magical place to escape to nor an unmagical place to escape from, but rather an example of the inescapable forces that seal magic out of the world? The nature depicted upon Hardy's heath would abhor a witch or wizard, or anyone with an ambition to challenge or change the world. The sense of this is, I think, what makes the tragedy in this book particularly crushing. And the fact that Clym Yeobright finally commits himself to a slow, humble, lonely course of challenging and changing what he can, lends the last page of this book the very essence of what is meant by the word bittersweet.

He has been gunned down by an assassin and lived to tell. He has blown up a luxury hotel in outer space. He has even survived a feature-film adaptation that flopped at the box office. And now, in his seventh action-filled adventure, Alex has splashed down in Australian waters and become a guest of ASIS, the down-under intelligence agency that wants him to do for them what he has so often done for Britain's MI6 and, most recently, America's CIA. What better cover could a spy ask for than to be a kid? In this case, it should be even easier than that. Alex only needs to look like a dirty, dentally-challenged Afghan refugee kid to lend credibility to the cover of the grown-up spy who is supposed to do the real job.

All he has to do is keep his mouth shut and act stupid. Doesn't sound like too much work, right? And the clincher, ensuring that Alex will accept the assignment, is that the grown-up spy in question is his godfather—the person who knew Alex's parents the best—and the last person to see them alive. So, of course, Alex signs on. And, of course, the mission proves to be more of a test of Alex's survival skills than as advertised. For the people-smuggling gang Alex is supposed to help Ash infiltrate, is really only one small part of a vast network of evil—indeed, the world's most powerful criminal organization.

By sheer luck, Alex finds himself at the center of a plot to kills tens of thousands of innocent people. Although he is outnumbered, outmuscled, outgunned, and outmaneuvered by a villain of insane fiendishness, Alex is the only one who can stop a tsunami of mass destruction and death. And just to make it extra hard, he has been betrayed by someone within ASIS.

The bad guys saw through his cover from the word Go. All they have to do is wait for him to fall into their hands. And fall he does, time after time. This is the one where Alex gets forced into the ring of a no-holds-barred blood sport in Bangkok, held up by commandos in a sinister toy factory in Jakarta, chased between the decks of a cargo ship, and bundled off to a high-security hospital where his organs will be harvested for transplant. Besides a few gadgets and an occasional hand from a friend, the only advantages Alex has working for him are his compact size, his lightning reflexes, his towering nerve, and brain made for rapidly designing hairsbreadth escapes out of materials that would have left MacGyver thinking, "In my next life, I'll always make sure to have a wormhole at my back.

But could that be the end for Alex? Even if he survives the mission, he swears he's through with the cloak-and-dagger stuff. But we're not fooled. Wednesday, December 5, Mebus Pratchett Shan. This sentence immediately confronts me with the problem that there is so much to explain, just so you can understand what I'm talking about as I try to describe this book, that I could very well say, "Read no further until you have read Gods of Manhattan.

This trilogy is really a most unique fantasy concept, and its complex layering of magical problems and solutions bears witness to a lot of intricate planning on its author's part. I'm not sure I can do it justice in a paragraph or less. But I'm going to give it my best effort anyway. Brace yourself. The fundamental idea of "Gods of Manhattan" is that people who have left a strong impression on the memory of the generations after them, live on as "gods" in a reality alongside our visible world.

This reality crams together people and institutions that existed in all the different eras of history into a sort of augmented space that fits into regular space. So, for example, there is room for the original Waldorf-Astoria hotel on the same site as the Empire State Building that replaced it. And on the island of Manhattan, tied to that borough of New York City by a magical force called "blood," are millions of spirits covering all periods of New York history, from the s corrupt politician Boss Tweed god of Rabble Politics , to colonial-era leaders such as Alexander Hamilton the Mayor of the spirit-side of Manhattan , all the way back to the New Amsterdam period and beyond.

Some of these "gods" lend their magic touch to areas they came to symbolize, such as the Korean shopkeeper whose talent for thwarting shoplifters led him to become the god of Put That Back. Many of these lingering spirits begot new families after their death—immortals, such as the young members of the Rattle Watch, who can never be gods because they never lived in the mortal world. And some of the gods have fallen, or continued the evil ways they followed during their mortal lives. This is why there is danger and conflict in this layer of reality where phases of history overlap each other—where the spirits of the Munsee Indians who lived on Manhattan before the Europeans came are magically trapped in Central Park—where power-hungry villains and their insane minions will use every means, from propaganda to murder, to thwart or destroy the only mortal who can see their world or help others to see it.

Such a mortal is known as a Light. And that's why Rory, being a Light, is lucky to have lived as long as he has. All right, that was a long paragraph. But it covered most of the background. It left out a few things. You'll have to find out at your own hazard why there are little men dressed in cockroach armor, some of them riding rats. All these concepts are but a few of the ingredients swimming in the chowder of chilling danger, thrilling adventure, magic, action, romance, mystery, heartbreak, and nuggets of historical trivia that this book cooks up.

Some of it is rather chewy. But, if I may murder this metaphor to death, it will also warm your insides, nourish your mind, and energize you. As Rory searches for his long-lost father in the mists at the edge of the world, Bridget has her own adventure in a super-sized, perilous park Central Park, that is haunted by resentful Indians, man-eating squirrels, traitors, friends, a rival for the heart of Rory's almost-girlfriend, and clues to the disappearance of a girl who could heal the conflict between the trapped Munsees and the gods who betrayed them.

One thing is clear, however. The Trap must come down, or Manhattan will tear itself apart with earthquakes, storms, and whatnot. But when the Trap frees the Munsees from their year captivity in Central Park, will there be war? Somehow Rory, Bridget, and their friends hold the key to the fate of all the gods of Manhattan and the spirits in the park. And even in this book's climactic conclusion, there is clearly much more danger to be faced, and many questions still to be answered. To find out how it all turns out, look to the third book of the trilogy: The Sorcerer's Secret.

This book, for example, is the 37th novel of Discworld out of at this writing a total of That's not too bad. I'll probably get caught up soon If I were thinking about just starting to read this series say, with The Colour of Magic , I might be a bit intimidated. But reading the next new Discworld book will always be a high priority for anyone who has ever read one, or 10, or 36 of them.

Once you get started, you won't feel so much intimidated as thrilled to anticipate so many weird, funny, and exciting books.

FEATURED CHILDREN'S AUTHOR

Their entertainment value is hard to beat, especially if you're reasonably bright reader with an off-center sense of humor. And even more encouragingly, they maintain a consistent high level of quality, unlike many other long-running series. Always exploring new territory, even within well-loved areas you have visited before, the Discworld novels offer to be the cornerstone of a huge library of comic fantasy, especially appealing to young wizard fans who have grown tired of waiting for their letter of admission to Hogwarts. And behold, this book focuses on a school for wizards.