November 5th, 2009

torchwood

November Books 2) Torchwood: Border Princes, by Dan Abnett

This is the first Torchwood book I have read, rather than listened to, and it was a good start. Set before the end of the first season (indeed before Gwen's affair with Owen), the immediately striking thing is that the team has acquired a sixth member, James, who is rather too good a fit to be true. It's fairly obvious from the first page what the problem is; Abnett supplies us with a decent chewy and often witty tale of suspense as to how he will get to the inevitable conclusion (and exactly what form that conclusion will take), along with the usual weird alien menaces. I've seen some fans complain that apart from Gwen and Jack the team are rather obscured by the rest of the story, but really this points more to a problem of having a large ensemble cast to begin with.
earthsea

November Books 3) Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison

I found this an unexpectedly brilliant novel. As it starts it seems like simply a fairly plain tale of being black in Michigan. But it opens up into a fascinating voyage for the protagonist, Macon "Milkman" Dead, as he discovers the truth about his own family's past, criss-crossing America to explore both geography and history in a process of self-emancipation. The title of the book is a beautiful piece of misdirection as well - several of the characters have bizarre biblical names (Milkman has a sister called First Corinthians), so I expected that we would encounter some similar reference to the Song of Solomon, but in fact the explanation is quite different and entirely satisfying. Barack Obama claims this is one of his favourite novels, and I can bring myself to believe it.