Assassins of Thasalon – 3/5 Stars
I fear I am starting to get some Penric-fatigue, and I hope it’s not Bujold fatigue as well. I have to say that the previous two entries in the series did little for me, and this one was more interesting, but won’t stay with me much longer. It’s also possible that’s where I’ve been all along with Penric, who is part of the World of the Five Gods, the world that Bujold has created that I care the least about. One of the issues I am having with the series is that I think we are on eleven entries now. This one is longer, so it took more time to read through, but I can’t say I got more out of it than the shorter ones. In fact, the novella I think I like the most in the series The Orphans of Raspay and the Prisonoer of Limnos are both way shorter, but more perfect creations in the series. I think they might have also created part of the problem. They propelled the series in this direction of a longer more cohesive overall narrative, where some of the shorter, earlier entries were more episodic, rounding out the character through their story while being entertaining. I fear we’ve entered into a more over-arching narrative. And for the addition of 100 pages, I am not fully sure me double the amount of story. I do like further discussions about how magic works, how wizards are made and how they’re used in courts and war, but the plot was just less compelling this time around.
The Ipcress File – 3/5
I started reading this because I saw there’s a show coming out or has just come out. It’s an interesting book overall, though I thought the opening 1/3 or so was scattered or hard to follow. But I was reading it pretty quickly, so who knows. All over this book there’s the claims that this is one of the books that rewrote the spy thriller as we know it. And of course this book came out right about the same time as John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. It’s funny though because that novel and this novel do share a lot of similarities. Both are relatively banal in their understanding and description of spycraft. They also came out about a decade after Casino Royale, which also revolutionized the spy novel. These are decidedly not James Bond books, even though the plot is not much different. This is about following up files, thinking about evidence, chasing leads and otherwise mostly doing police-type work, but without much of the action. There’s still plenty of action or active scenes, but nothing like James Bond. But these are about much more clear state-apparatus spycraft. There’s always been spies and they’ve always worked within state apparatus, but not until the Cold War was it such a hug operation.
The novel is pretty dry and ultimately fairly solid. As a novel though, it’s one of those books that changed the game, but also is such an early entry that it feels…not outdated, but of a time.