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Friday, August 20, 2010

Just BAM TRAGEDY IN YOUR FACE DEAL WITH IT

It has come time for me to discuss something I love.

(Oh wait, that's ALL THE TIME. Anyway.)


So, Tamora Pierce is probably my favorite author. Neil Gaiman is a very, very, VERY close second, but of the non-dead people (holla atcha Hardy and Orwell!), Pierce takes the gold--the length of my love affair with her books tips her into first. I mean, I was eleven--ELEVEN--when I read Song of the Lioness and I'm still buying her books as they come out NOW (note: I am 23). I have loved Pierce books for longer than most American marriages last these days.

There are many wonderful things about Pierce books. They always feature awesome, badass, conflicted, flawed, funny, realistic female characters...AND awesome, badass, conflicted, flawed, funny, realistic male characters. That is not something that occurs too often. They are fantasy, which I love. They feature some truly excellent world-building (the Emelan books in particular are Tammy's brain and interests flung all over the page in beautiful arrays of color and culture). They have romance, but not too much, and varied forms of sexuality. They are fun to read and exciting and interesting. They are, in a word, good.

There is one thing in particular about Pierce books which I find striking every time I come upon it: her tendency to write very short, very abrupt deaths. Behold!

+From Street Magic: "The lady raised a finger. The mute walked out of the gallery and dropped his bowstring over Orlana's head, twisting it deftly. Orlana, fighting wildly, tried to get her fingers under it and failed."

+From First Test: "[The spidren] smacked it lips, then bit [the kitten] in half and began to chew."

+From Tris's Book: "The pirate ran him through the chest, his rumpled face showing no feeling."


THIS IS JUST A TASTE, PEOPLE. THIS IS EVERYWHERE. For some reason I really like this style of writing death; no flowery language, no long passages--you're just forced to acknowledge and deal with it, and in the realms and time periods in which Pierce writes, this is so perfect. In a medieval-style world, there is not usually time to stop and mourn. There are casual slaughters and everyday brutalities. Harsh. Devastating. And when you're cruising along through a Pierce book, admiring the dialogue of the characters and the depth of this created culture you're in and thinking about how pretty Daine's hair is and how you'd love to have a darking of your own and maybe some weather magic to go with and hmmm I wonder if there's somewhere I could take lessons in how to use a lance? and BAM SOMEONE GOT KILLED. One sentence, a few words: someone or something is dead.

Which, presumably, is how it happens in reality.

So, in the event that this sounds like the sort of thing you'd like to read, I would recommend starting off with First Test, if you're a teenager or an adult, and Sandry's Book if you're a kid. Happy reading.

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