You, your fans and fan club , and anyone else wondering about Kotaishi may find this informative:
A really nice, thoughtful and just review - may there be many more!
(Btw, Kevin, I owe you a copy of The Riddle. I'll stick it in the post this week. Apologies, I've had rocks in my brain recently.
Oh, my! I am quite literally speechless - so it's a good thing I have fingers to type with. I had just come out of a four-hour meeting with a pounding heacache, came back to my cubicle, and decided to check email before heading home, and found this very nice link awaiting me.
What a wonderful and comprehensive review, HE! My many thanks to you Sir, you are truly a gentleman and a scholar. All of your observations are both piquant and fair. Even above and beyond the numerous complimentary things you have to say, the fact that you took the time to write such a long and thoughtful review is very much appreciated. It also presents all the best hallmarks of a good review - explaining what makes the book of interest without revealing too much story, and being candid with both the good and the not-as-good aspects of it. Knowing that there are a number of "big names" who have not necessarily passed your reading muster makes your appreciation for the book that much more meaningful for me.
The 'fan club' is pretty small at the moment, but through such generous efforts as yours that may hopefully change.
And thank you, too, Alison my fair poet. It was of course your kind words that first piqued HE's interest to pick up the books. Worry not on The Riddle; whenever you have a moment is perfectly fine. It already has a reserved spot on the reading stack whenever it sails in!
Hey Kevin, I finshed Book 2 the other day on a plane ride. Bravo. I owe you a review, but I don't know if I can be near as elegant as HE, but I'll try.
I'm still trying to get the podcast up and running, but I've a couple of pesky authors (basically all of 'em but you) who have yet to send me a recording. Plus I've got a few books to purchase.
Thanks! Yes, HE looks like a pretty hard act to follow, but certainly all comments are welcome.Originally Posted by maus99
What Gary failed to mention in his thread was that it took him a month to figure out how to record, and then I had to help him out with it! But that's ok, he's not a PC geek like me. If he gets around to it, you should get a good recording out of him. I heard him deliver a reading at World Fantasy last year and he did a good job. He read a slightly 'darker' passage, and I think it was quite effective.
EEK. I totally forgot. I'm so sorry, Maus. I'm not kidding about my head being full of rocks (and life being full of things). I think I know how to do it - there's some sound software on my computer my children are always playing with - but I fear generating a huge file. Anyways....I'm still trying to get the podcast up and running, but I've a couple of pesky authors (basically all of 'em but you) who have yet to send me a recording.
Poet on the loose!!! Hide your hard drives! She'll steal every last megabyte with meter and rhyme!Originally Posted by alison
Okay, I don't like the subtitle thing. I don't like the Volume 1 and 2 approach. I think if they had to split them, then there should be additional titles, like The Hikari Lantern or something. While Vol. 1 of "The Road to Kotaishi" ends on a solid cliffhanger, it's a bit abrupt and I second the idea of rejoining the volumes some day because I don't feel like I'm getting enough of the world before I have to leave it. A lot of the minor characters seemed to waffle a little on the Japanese/Asian flavor, sounding a bit more like British folk in their dialogue, but then, if you translated Japanese, that's very possibly what they'd sound like. Or you were maybe a little unsure of your footing there. I also have a strong desire to shake Princess Mikasama until her teeth rattles. I mean, has the kid learned nothing about statescraft?
Oh, and I'm really annoyed that I now have to buy three more books. So those would be my complaints.
But otherwise, what total fun! It's reminiscient of Barry Hughart's trilogy, of which I'm a great fan, but here, the comedy is part of the fabric rather than the main goal, and there is a wonderful hopeful, thoughtful center without being too staid or preachy. In fact, it may be the least preachy story on finding your moral destiny ever. (Perhaps that Taoism influence.) It takes the traditional idea of a vital magic quest and gives it a very different feel. The world in which the quest operates is very sharply defined and delicate, like a jade carving. The atmosphere manages to mix fairy tale wonder with dark and realistic underpinnings.
But what sells it are the characters. I mean, even the birds in it are interesting. The whole world of the Hajimeshi castle itself had so many funky bits going on that the story could have just stayed there, but then we wouldn't have the entertaining political science of the Reds and the Blues. It's clear that bit players are just as important to Kevin as his leads and he tries to let each of them shine, without it dragging down the story (as it might for some writers we could name.)
My favorite line in the book is the first one, and I'm going to quote it here to show Kevin's highly visual style: "The rain pelted down so hard that it bounced, each drop performing a final pirouette before merging again with its comrades along the wooden planks of the bridge." I didn't know where that bridge was, but I could see it, and once that happens, you're good to go.
So I guess you could say I enjoyed it.
Why, thank you, my Lady Kat! I appreciate your comments very much.
I agree completely on the two-volume thing. It's been a real drag making that work in the marketplace, but it was the only real option at the time the books came out. Kotaishi, in particular, had never been written with a "break" intended in the middle, so although there is a cliffhanger Part 1 is, indeed, essentially just half a book. Given that, keep in mind that the character arcs for the leads extend of course all the way into Part 2. I think you will find that Mikasama's teeth will be able to stay in her head.
I'm very pleased, naturally, about the things you found to like in the book. I do like to give even the bit players a lot of life, so that they seem three-dimensional and not just walk-ons to get a story bit moving along. And I'm glad the first line got you! See, that Writing 101 stuff pays off...
You took Writing 101? Wow. I thought all your skills were developed and honed in the ball pit at the Olde Inn.
Funny you should mention that - I actually went back to look at those old threads a few weeks ago, just for nostalgia's sake. Ah, the indiscretions of youthOriginally Posted by Hereford Eye
I'm with you KatG on Kevin's books - they're great fun. I too especially liked the birds. And I liked the moral centre, which as you say, stays well away from any preachiness...
Stealing hard drives? O the slander...
No worries. Whenever you get the time, ship it on over. Let me which book you do so I can look into buying a copy to review for the podcast.EEK. I totally forgot. I'm so sorry, Maus.
Okey Dokey, Radical Thorn. Have completed Sands and am very impressed with the total effort. Nay, I thoroughly enjoyed the total effort. Your work is up there at the top of the fantasies that I have read. I do have a few questions re your motivations for certain things. You may or may not wish to discuss these items in the open forum so I'll post a few samples for your consideration. As this conversation could well develop into major spoilers for those who have not read the books, I can understand avoiding open discussion.
Of the male characters, only Himitsu pays a price for his supporting the cause. Nakama pays a price but not because of anything he does or fails to do and not because he supports the cause. Natami may have paid a price but there is no information provided in the story as to what happened to him. OTOH, all the women pay a price ending with lives they did not plan. Only Shudojo has a patently happy ending though one can surmise that Nusumi and Jayan will be okay. Did you see the story in these terms?
Shiko's ordeal is a character assassination; Mikasama's is a physical test. Shiko must come to terms with his humanity - that was good stuff!; Mikasama must come to terms with her role. One deals directly and one deals indirectly with the Darkness. The contrast between the two, the costs paid, and the outcomes are very different. The same can be said for Natami and Kurtaya. One deals with a physical test and one with a test of character. Did you see these opposing plot lines when you were building the story?
You tell us how Shiko sees his future but you didn't tell us if Shiko ever realizes how his actions fulfilled the Kotaishi's destiny to unite Tonogato under one banner to fight the Darkness. Does he ever realize that he accomplished what his father meant for him to do?
Anyhoo - thanks for a great read! I'll get around to reviewing Sands sooner or later, promise.
Many thank you's! As my wife would say, "Another satisfied customer."Originally Posted by Hereford Eye
I think I shall PM you on the discussion points you have raised, as you're right, we might start wandering off into all sorts of story topics and examples from the text. When I become as well-read as Alison and everybody stopping by the forum has read the books, I'm sure we'll have all kinds of debate threads popping up, just like she does!