For Great Justice

This Too Shall Pass

Definitely Not a Post about Books

Posted on December 30, 2023
Categories: GeneralTags: #books, #reviews

Bringing 2023 to a close!

Scott Pilgrim, by Bryan Lee O’Malley (reread)

By some strange coincidence, I reread the books after watching the anime Scott Pilgrim Takes Off. It’s a funny ol’ world.

It holds up, for the most part. Some of the mechanics of the world are gibberish, like the whole glowing head thing. But it captures the experience of being in your early twenties and having no idea what you’re doing. And I can’t speak about the accuracy, but I feel like it’s a snapshot of Toronto in the early 2000s.

(I’d suggest watching the anime. The books were written while O’Malley was the same age as Scott Pilgrim; the anime brings twenty years of hindsight.)

1636: The Cardinal Virtues, by Eric Flint and Walter H. Hunt

King Louis XIII needs an heir. With Cardinal Richelieu’s assistance, he’s procured the assistance of a nurse to help Queen Anne conceive. His exiled half-brother, Monsieur Gaston, plots revenge on Richelieu. And Marshal Turenne has raised a battalion of soldiers trained on new weapons and 20th century tactics.

This was a weird one. There are three factions, and each faction has an uptimer — Katie Matewski as Queen Anne’s nurse, Sherrilyn Maddox as commander of the new battalion, and Terrye Jo Tillman as Gaston’s radio operator. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they’re all women: early on there’s a scene about how women exert power in a patriarchal world.

But they don’t push the plot along; they’re just there. The one with the most agency is Maddox, who advises Turenne. Tillman spends a lot of her time distrusting Monsieur Gaston, but works for him anyway. Matewski can best be described as “also there, in the background, not saying anything.” Maybe I missed something, but I don’t think there was a thing to miss.

Otherwise, the book was good. Plot happens. Things go pear-shaped. As is often the case, the books ends when things are getting interesting, with France on the verge of civil war.

I really liked this bit from Terrye Jo’s perspective:

The admission caught Terrye Jo somewhat by surprise. Her dad looks troubled, embarrassed, almost helpless, as if he’d been dragged into this against his will; he was obviously very happy to see her — there was no blame, no anger, just the same profound sadness she’d seen when she was last in Grantville.

He doesn’t really belong here, she thought. Not just here in Reims. He doesn’t belong in the seventeenth century.

She looked down at her clothes, which really did fit well — they’d been made for her. She was completely comfortable; she had a profession, she had a purpose, she had a direction in her life that would never have been there but for the Ring of Fire. She did belong in the seventeenth century.