I hope all of you had a great Labor Day weekend and a wonderful September! I certainly did, especially with my birthday being last week! I made schnitzel and spaetzle as well as went to trivia!
Anyway, it’s been awhile since the last chapter, and I’ve also spent last month reading plenty of new books. I would like to share those titles with you, so let’s begin!
No Country for Old Gnomes by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne is the second book in “The Tales of Pell” series. The Skyr is a rich land that’s claimed by both the halflings and the gnomes. For hundreds of years, the former has worked to undermine the power of the latter and seize total control through legal means and an underground criminal network. The gnomes are desperate and ready to fight back. A group of outcasts that contain creatures like halflings, gryphons, and the aforementioned gnomes go to Gustave the Goat King for help with the situation. Can he bring peace, or will this lead to a civil war in the kingdom?
It’s been awhile since I read the last book in the series Kill the Farm Boy. For those who haven’t read that review, I’ll summarize it now: While the title is instantly memorable, and there were parts that I liked, I felt that the book overall didn’t live it to its expectations.
I decided to read No Country for Old Gnomes because I’m a completist, and I like novels that pay homage to Monty Python.
What do I think of it so far? Well, it’s definitely better than the first one even though I don’t think No Country for Old Gnomes is as awesome of a title as Kill the Farm Boy, but I still like it. The elements that worked for me in the first book are present in the second one. These include the map of Pell, the quirky characters that range from a halfling who’s obsessed with his toes’ appearance to a gryphon who kills for omelets that band together to restore peace in Skyr, and the relationships that they have with each other. I genuinely like Agape – a half-human, half-sheep who can’t trust people outside of her Piini Automatti (a robot) and steals stuff – and Offi – a goth gnome who wants to be his own person outside of being compared to his more perfect twin brother Onni.
The things that didn’t work in Kill the Farm Boy are thankfully minimized (including the bodily function jokes). Although the pacing is a bit slow in the beginning, it does pick up when all the main characters meet each other. Occasionally, there are bits that do come off as “Ha ha ha, this is funny,” particularly in the prologue with the witches. At the same time, that’s more on me because my sense of humor tends to be more dry. A lot of the book leans more towards the witty end anyway.
Of course, I have to mention about the what the book is making fun of. The satire in No Country for Old Gnomes is a little more broader than in the first one since it focuses on prejudice and how ridiculous is it in a multitude of ways. The novel does a good job with establishing how a certain group behaves and presents themselves and then, contrasting that with their outcast main characters. In addition, it plays on audience’s expectations. There’s a great scene, in which a teen witch-gnome named Kirsi stops by a house made out of candy and gingerbread. I won’t spoil it; all I will say is that she encounters a witch that Hansel and Gretel would warn her to stay away from.
Overall, No Country for Old Gnomes is better written than Kill the Farm Boy, and I look forward to seeing the payoff.
Now, let’s look at the second and final novel of this chapter.
There There by Tommy Orange follows twelve people from various Native communities as they travel to the Big Oakland Powwow. They’re all connected in ways they may not yet realize. These voices tells the story of the urban Native American, grappling with its complex and painful history, beauty, spirituality, communion, sacrifice, and heroism.
I’ve read about a quarter of the novel so far, and I like it. Each chapter is devoted to one character and how they deal with being an urban Native American. All of them have their reasons for going to the powwow. However, it’s a little hard to connect to them since once I’m into one person, the book switches to another perspective. The one I gravitate to the most so far is Edwin Black – an overweight half-Native and half-white man who stills lives with his mom and has issues with her boyfriend. He wants to begin his life again by working and finding his biological Native father.
It moves kind of slow, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it picks up when the characters get more intertwined with each other. I look forward to seeing how There There unfolds.
We have now come to the end of the thirty-eighth chapter of “What Am I Reading?”
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