Monday, February 23, 2015

Kickstarter Day 6 (23 days left): dreaming of powder, and an elegaic fantasy favorite

While poor Boston has been turning into a winter wasteland, Colorado's front range has been dry and warm, to the dismay of every skier in Boulder.  Today at last we're getting our own little blizzard: 16 inches of snow and still falling.  Skiers rejoice!  I went to bed dreaming of my first powder day of the season.

Alas, my dreams were crushed this morning when I went into the garage and discovered a flat tire.  Tire stores here are closed on Sundays, so I can't even get up to the slopes for a short day.  If you're a skier, you'll understand my soul-crushing dismay.  Thankfully, I have only to look at The Labyrinth of Flame kickstarter to cheer myself up (this book is really going to happen! I cannot be sad!).  Plus, there's other fun to be had in the snow.  My five-year-old and I have regrouped with plans for some serious sledding and snow fort building.

But in the meantime, here's a pic to remind myself that there will be other powder days:

Enjoying a powder day at Telluride
And for today's book rec, I turn to another old favorite: C.J. Cherryh's celtic fantasy The Tree of Swords and Jewels.  Plenty of fantasy novels involve elves, but few make elven characters feel much different than pointy-eared humans.  One of Cherryh's greatest strengths as a writer has always been her ability to make aliens feel truly alien, and she applies it to great effect here.  The elf Arafel is the last of her kind, standing guard over a faerie wood even as magic fades and her realm diminishes.  Cherryh captures the sense of the weight of the years Arafel has lived and her loneliness and regret at the changing world in a way that makes her feel both very real and truly other.  The sense of loss that pervades the story is heartwrenching; yet there is hope, too.  The style is very formal, which I know puts some people off, but for me it works perfectly.  I love both Arafel and the human protagonist, Ciaran Cuilean, who is far less passive than is typical for Cherryh's male POV characters, and the magic, which feels wild and old and like a myth that is true.  Cherryh is one of my favorite writers, and this is one of my favorites of her work; it speaks to my heart in a way no other fantasy has yet matched.  Maybe it will speak to yours, too.