Monday, October 19, 2015

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 10/17

Life rolls on, and here we are back on Monday again. There are a lot of unpleasant things about Mondays, but I hope "Reviewing the Mail" isn't one of them. (And, if it is, you do know that you can just avoid reading it, don't you?)

As always, this post list books that arrived unexpected at my house over the prior week -- in the time-honored way of book-publishing publicity efforts -- and I try to present those books accurately and/or amusingly, depending on my mood. If I make anything below sound deeply unappealing to you, it's probably because I'm wrong about something. (This is the Internet; we can all be sure that we're all deeply wrong about more things than we can count.)

This week's haul is all words-on-paper, but three of them are light novels, and only one a full-calorie novel. So I'll lead off with the lighter works, as if this were a tasting menu, and end with the full-strength stuff.

So first up is Mamare Touno's Log Horizon, Vol. 3: Game's End, Part 1, which also has illustrations by Kazuhiro Hara. It's a bold step to have two volume numbers in a title, but I've seen this in light novels before: the Japanese are nothing if not bold in their numbering schemes. It's from Yen Press, available now in paperback. Log Horizon is another "trapped in an online game" series, which are proliferating in Japan for whatever cultural reasons you might care to posit, and features dungeon-crawling, angst about getting back to the real world, and the usual interpersonal stuff with a cast of mostly teens.

Accel World, Vol. 5: The Floating Starlight Bridge comes from Reki Kawahara, with illustrations by Hima, and it's also from Yen. This is about an online game that doesn't trap people inside -- which is generally a better business model, if you ask me -- and the nebbishy boy who is superstar in the game and not-so-much at the real world school he attends. (At least, that was the initial set-up; things might have shifted since then.) The back-cover copy is pretty dense, as you'd expect for the fifth book of a series: this is not a jumping-on point.

And then there's A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 5, which takes the bold step (in this company) of not having a subtitle. It's from Kazuma Kamachi and has illustrations by Kiyotaka Haimura, and also published here in the US by Yen. According to the back cover, this is about three people -- Accelerator, Mikoto Misaka, and Touma Kamijou -- on the last day of summer vacation. I have a vague memory that this is a "kids at magical school" story, and that is not disproven here.

Last up is the full-power novel: Gatefather from Orson Scott Card, published by Tor in hardcover on October 20th. It's the third in a portal fantasy series, after The Lost Gate and The Gate Thief, in which Our Hero is the first Portal Mage to survive to adulthood in two thousand years, with the usual vast power and responsibilities bestowed upon the hero of a fantasy series. In this book, that hero has opened a Gate back to Westil, the parallel world of magic whence his people came so long ago -- and "has fallen into the power of that great enemy of both Earth and Westil." Card is sometimes known to be less than subtle in his religious allegories, so I'm not sure how much weight to put on "great enemy," but that's probably just a question of how dark this particular Dark Lord is.

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