Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Mythology Of GRIMM - Nathan Robert Brown

The Mythology Of Grimm
The Fairy Tale and Folklore Roots
        of the Popular TV Show
Nathan Robert Brown           
Berkley Boulevard Books

Nonfiction/TV Tie-In


In just a few days, the fourth season of Grimm begins.  For those who have missed it, a Detective Nick Burkhardt works homicide cases with his partner, Hank, in the almost-too-green area of Portland, Oregon.  Starting four years ago, Nick realized that some of the crimes made absolutely no sense.  Unless you know about the Wesen.  Which Nick did not, really.  His Aunt lived long enough to pass along her books and equipment, but not a lot of practical advice.  Except for the fact that now, Nick is The Grimm and these crimes are his to work out.  And most of the Wesen are, traditionally, his to kill.

The Wesen appear human, usually, but in times of stress or fear or being seen by the Grimm, their true forms are revealed.  There are many types of Wesen, for instance, Nick formed a very unlikely friendship with a Blutbad.  (This book contains an entire glossary of Wesen Terms since they do tend to fly by quickly in conversation.)  Some live among humans, others can’t quite manage that.
For those who watch the show and would love to get an opportunity to really go through the books and weapons in the trailer, hold onto your socks.  There’s information here about the weaponry that has already been used, and about pieced we’ve only looked and wondered at.  Sprinkled through the pages are “Tasty Morsels,” serving as kind of fun facts.  If you wonder about all the fascination background that must be in those books, this one starts out with a bio of the Original Grimms, their time, and those who came after them to add to or argue about the original stories.

The meat (if you’ll excuse the expression) of the book is the work of the Original Grimms and how they’re still relevant here today.  The author makes an essentially chronological exam of the cases Nick has worked (not all, clearly, although that would be great) using the formula: brief intro, re-telling of the pertinent tale (using modern English and expressions) then looking at how well it fits into the original tale.  Sometimes, it won’t fit the original.  It may be that circumstances of a case fit with a later iteration of a tale, giving Nick and his friends a place to start.  And making them, quite literally, fairy tale detectives!
Rating: 9
October 2014
ISBN# 978-0-425-27102-5 (trade paperback)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Perdition - Ann Aguirre

The Dred Chronicles, Book 1
Ann Aguirre

Science Fiction/Thriller
Welcome to Perdition.  At one time, Perdition was a deep space ore refinery.  Then the Conglomerate decided that it would make a fine floating prison.  They stripped the place and left. This is where they send the worst of the worst.  An automated ship docks at irregular intervals and leaves new prisoners and various supplies.  There are no cells, no guards, no maintenance, nothing.  It’s every man for himself.  Of course, alliances tend to form.  There are six major ‘territories,’ each ruled by a convict.  There is no such thing as parole or release from Perdition.  There’s nothing to do but fight and try to consolidate power. 

As a woman, it’s tough to just survive in Perdition.  The Dred Queen manages her territory with the help of her spymaster, Tam, and her enormous bodyguard Einar.  Her reputation is fairly new, and she has to live up to her ‘legend’ every day.  Part of it is the chains she wraps around her arms and legs; they’re not just decorative, they’re quite handy in a fight.  It’s exhausting, but the only way to survive.  When a new supply ship docks, Dred is there with her people to try to grab supplies, and to look over the new fish, hoping to add to her numbers.

Jael steps off the transport and into chaos.  There’s fighting over the supplies, of course.  And, since no one has anything at all to lose, the fights are deadly.  Then he sees Dred and her people.  Jael is used to being discounted and generally ignored as an expendable grunt.  When the woman takes a (professional) interest in him, he’s surprised.  But he’s got nowhere else to go, so why not throw in with her?  Like every inmate, (including Dred) Jael is hiding something.  He’s not quite human.
The author does a masterful job of setting the scene.  Everything takes place in a space vessel.  I could see the grimy, gray walls; see the flickering of the unmaintained lights; tried not to imagine the smell that ship must contain.  Even though the ship is huge, it’s still a confined space and slightly claustrophobic for all that.  All of this sets the background for a story that’s part spy thriller, part personal quest, and a whole lot of action.  If you’re sensitive to gore or violence or the language that comes with it, this is not a book for you.  For the rest of us, this is a great find:  A story that’s part spy thriller, part scifi adventure, and part action movie.
The character development is amazing, too.  Bottom line: all these people are criminals of one stripe or another.  Mostly, they’re violent killers.  The author manages to craft identities and backstories for each of the characters that, at least, give us an understanding, if not an empathy for, that person.  Even though they’re all “bad,” there are some who are much more bad/crazy/dangerous than others.  In the world the author has created, it’s easy to understand the sliding scale of human behavior.  Being sentenced to Perdition without hope is one thing; reading about it is another. I’m already planning a return trip.
Rating: 8
September 2013
ISBN# 978-0-425-25844-8  (paperback)