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Garment of Shadows (Mary Russell, #12)
I've had this one since it came out but was forcing myself to save it as a reward for finishing a bunch of freelance projects I had in-house. Finally got to it last week, yay!! I'm happy to say that it was MUCH better than Pirate King -- more plot and less silliness. Our old friends Mahmoud and Ali, the English-lords-turned-Arab-spies, are back, we have a lively, intelligent young mute boy as a great secondary character, and the story is (as usual) thoroughly grounded in actual history. Her sense of place is tremendous -- she evokes the sights, smells, sounds, and texture of life in French Morocco so vividly! Several real people are featured, including Hubert Lyautey and Abd el Krim and you get a lot of background about the politics, governance and military history of the region.

On the down side, sometimes you get a little too much history and politics, the book is a little heavy on tell as opposed to show (unusual for King), and the Big Reveal at the end was awfully convoluted. I'm still not sure I get it, what with the plots within plots within plots and people faking this loyalty and that (then again, the politics of that part of the world are awfully convoluted, so maybe that's part and parcel of the setting!). I wasn't crazy about the amnesia trope, either; it felt kind of like it was in there as a device, so that the people and relationships could be recapped for people new to the series. My own opinion is that if you come into the middle of a series, well, you should expect to be confused -- if you want to know what's going on, go back and read from the beginning, right?

Anyway, I give it a three out of five: I liked it, but it wasn't my favorite by a long shot. I still like The Beekeeper's Apprentice (the first book in the series) and A Letter of Mary (the third one) the best.

On another note, I discovered last night that Mr Psmith had never seen The Aristocats (can you believe it?! the mind boggles...) so we watched it while we played Scrabble. I'd forgotten how funny the Gabble sisters are :)


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Jan. 20th, 2013 09:47 pm (UTC)
Everybody wants to be a cat,
because a cat's the only cat
who knows where it's at.
Jan. 21st, 2013 02:40 am (UTC)
If I had five cats I would name them Abraham, Delacey, Giuseppe, Casey and Thomas O'Malley.

Either that or Albus, Percival, Wulfric, Brian and Dumbledore, I can't decide.
Jan. 20th, 2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you're filling that glaring gap in Mr. PSmith's cultural knowledge :D And yay! I'm behind on the Mary Russell books (like just about every other series I've followed), but I'm glad to hear Ali and Mahmoud are back! O Jerusalem and Locked Rooms are my favorites, but there's not a book in the series that I disliked.
Jan. 21st, 2013 02:42 am (UTC)
I know, right??? I couldn't believe he'd never seen it, poor deprived thing...

I want to be Mary Russell in my next life :)
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