etumukutenyak: (Nuclear night test)
Based on the recommendations of [livejournal.com profile] hawkwing_lb, I checked out Jane Fletcher and ordered three of her Celaeno series books: The Temple at Landfall, Rangers at Roadsend, and Dynasty of Rogues.

It was hard to tell which should be read first, so I initially started with Temple, and then realized that I should go with Rangers and then Temple.

Rangers introduces us to the world of Celaeno through the eyes of a Ranger Sergeant; we learn of the Militia and Temple Guards who patrol various aspects of daily life in comparison to the Rangers. Sergeant Coppelli investigates the mysterious murder of a corrupt and abusive Ranger in another squadron, and clears the name of the Ranger who was framed for the murder. There's true love in the midst of all this too.

In Temple, we begin with an Imprinter, who belongs to the Sisterhood of the Goddess -- but more as a slave than as a religious devotee. Through her, we learn of the history of the colony, and some of the reasons for the structure of the all-female society. Sergeant Coppelli returns in a supporting role along with her squadron. True love returns as well, for the Imprinter and a Ranger.

In Dynasty, the daughter of Sergeant Coppelli is now a Corporal (and the Sergeant is now a Captain); young Coppelli is betrayed to the enemy and must be rescued from the dank dangerous dungeon in the middle of the capital city. Coppelli family members assist the rescuer, and there's some true love once again, between two young Rangers.

I have to admit that when I first thought of lesbian science fiction, the Isis books came to mind -- and they weren't all that good. They were manna to starving lesbians in the 1980s, I agree, but they were limited by their lack of true plot or development. Characters were very cardboard, and reactions were telegraphed -- it was almost a paint-by-numbers plot. The Celaeno series is much better than this.

We've got rich world building development, with tempting bits and pieces being given to us throughout the books -- no reams of expository writing, just characters interacting and discussing things, and some "historical papers" as appendices. We've got realistic time frames for a pre-technological mostly agrarian society. (Or should that be post-tech?)

There's good plot development; a murder mystery is an excellent plot device and in the right hands it can be a compelling story. The old story of bad girl being redeemed by a good girl is still a good read, as is the old vision quest/escape from confining society. There's definitely no rose-colored glasses with respect to the premise of an all-female society; I'd say this author saw all the good and bad things happening in feminism and the lesbian communities during the 70s and 80s.

Characters are not exactly deep, but are solid and not two-dimensional. There is -- praise the goddess -- no omniscient authorial POV, but instead there are clearly defined separate POV for the main characters, which adds to the tension. There's some deus ex machina action, but well-enough explained and for the most part, believable. There's tension between characters, both good and bad (i.e., good versus bad, and good versus good). There's hawt lesbian sex, and not too much of it.

Basically, I'm quite pleased to have added these to my collection and look forward to getting more from this author -- she's going on my Must-Buy list, along with Ellen Hart, Rose Beecham (aka Jennifer Fulton/Grace Lennox), Claire McNab and Karin Kallmaker.
etumukutenyak: (Ballon rouge)
Carnival, by Elizabeth Bear ([livejournal.com profile] matociquala) is a love story involving two people who don't know how to trust each other -- or anyone, for that matter. With the help of an alien intelligence, they learn the deepest truths. ETA:That's not all, of course, but it's one way of looking at it. I'm avoiding putting any spoilers here because it's such a good book.

Farthing, by Jo Walton is a murder mystery in a different world. It was exceptionally chilling to me, as the grand-daughter and grand-niece of Jews who did -- and did not -- survive the Holocaust. The casual anti-semitism of the upper-class English politicians was -- I hate to say it -- so true to life. The mystery was twisty and even I didn't figure out who really did the foul deed before the final denouement.

The Sleep of Reason by Rose Beecham, the second in the "Jude Devine" series. This mystery focuses on the disappearance of a toddler, and the actions of his mother. The pursuit of the suspected killer is chilling, if only because it can happen (and I'm sure it has). A subplot involving a shipment of explosives is intriguing, and is clearly being set for a later book. I like books that carry over and don't try to solve everything in one volume.

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