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December 20, 2011

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December 20, 2011

More reading recommendations!

Laura Anne Gilman's Vineart trilogy was a set of books that took me totally by surprise. I'd read and enjoyed Gilman's earlier works. I'd seen the writeup and thought, 'Huh. A magic system based on winemaking. That sounds cool.' So when I picked up the first in the series, Flesh and Fire, I was ready for a good book.

Not a 'knock your friggin' socks off' book.

The difference, as with so much fantasy, is in the execution. There's a world of difference between a nice concept ('magic wine') and something magic, something so alive that you believe in it, that you feel the power rolling off the pages. These books have the magic. In part it's the clearly massive amount of research and thought the author's put into the system; in part it's the characters. There is a point that those who pour themselves into their work hit wherein they realize they have gotten a bit too consumed and need to, say, get outdoors more, or speak to another human being, or at least have a shower. Gilman's wine-mages have hit this point, passed through, and are now so far out in the sea of obsession that things like their disturbing infastructure of abusive slave-ownership fail to register, and the undead sea serpents strike them mostly as a faintly annoying distraction from the grape harvest. It's simultaneously sweet and faintly creepy.

This would probably have been enough to hold me even without the compelling plot and sly humor, but hey. Compelling plot. Sly humor. Not complaining.

The trilogy itself is awesome, and recommended, but for those who want a nice short introduction, Gilman is currently running a Kickstarter project for the prequel novella, 'From Whence You Came,' which goes into a bit more detail about those pesky sea serpents. It's an excellent way to support the author, get introduced to a fabulous series, and make me happy. So go! Buy! Read!