BOOK & BLOG
February 18, 2008
Books of the Week: BLOOD ON THE TABLE by Colin Evans and THE SLEEPING GOD by Violette Malan
If any of you have read the several books written by men who headed the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City (I’ve read at least two, by Milton Helpern and Michael Baden) you may be interested in reading BLOOD ON THE TABLE. It’s a history of the OCME since its inception, and it’s more of an account of its politics (almost as bloody as the corpses) than a recital of its more famous cases. It’s a fairly interesting book with a few pictures not gruesome and a full account of the struggles for funding, for larger facilities and more sophisticated equipment and more employees. I think the subtitle, “The Greatest Cases of The New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner,” is somewhat misleading.
Violette Malan’s THE SLEEPING GOD is really, really good. In the interests of disclosure, Violette and I have the same agent, Joshua Bilmes, who is also the agent of Simon Green, Tanya Huff, Lee Killough, Tobias Buckle, John Moore, Elizabeth Moon, Brian Sanderson, and Kat Richardson, among others. But I bought THE SLEEPING GOD because I’ve enjoyed her writing in the past, and this is another excellent read. It’s science fiction fantasy at its best.
Dhulyn and Parvo are members of the Mercenaries Guild, and they’re hired to escort a young and undistinguished member of a noble house from one city to another. Dhulyn has a secret gift; she’s a seer. She tells no one but her partner, Parvo, because she knows once that fact is out, no one will look at her the same. Parvo has his own secrets. Though the two Mercenaries are devoted to each other and have been together for years, they find out more on this trip than they ever bargained on. A false religious leader is causing all the people with extrasensory skills (the Marked) to be shunned, if not killed, and he’s powered by an evil entity that can travel from one body to another. Though Dhulyn and Parvo hadn’t counted on taking sides in a fight for which they weren’t hired, they are sucked into the struggle along with the rest of the country. In the process of helping the better side to win, they learn more about each other than they realized there was to discover.
There’s a wonderful bit of world-building here, and lots of sword fighting. There’s love, poison, and fully-drawn characters, both good and bad and in-between. Malan’s written a classic fantasy novel that manages to be fresh and compelling. I highly recommend THE SLEEPING GOD.
Things that don’t happen can affect you as much as things that do. This is an odd and inescapable conclusion I reached this week. I’m not talking about something as dramatic as a car wreck; of course, the absence of a car wreck is spectacularly better than the presence of one. No, I’m thinking of smaller things.
The soup luncheons, for example. A couple of blogs ago I was thinking about Lent and what a sacrifice working at our church soup luncheons is, at least for me. We had a meeting last Sunday and came to the grim conclusion that we would not be able to hold them this year. Our church is small, and we have at least five members out of the equation this year for various reasons including cancer treatments, a son leaving for Iraq whose family needs care, a member whose mother is failing in health a bit every day, and other roadbumps that life throws in our way. We just can’t do it this year. It’s sad to call off a community activity that so many people enjoyed, but we also don’t want to provide shoddy service. So, I’m reprieved for a year; and I’m relieved AND disappointed.
I had been waiting, too, for our own second son to go to Iraq. The army changed the date three times, and I’m still waiting. Now it appears he may not go at all, because of a knee injury he suffered in basic which has grown progressively worse. I had been waiting for the blow to fall for so long that it feels funny now that it’s growing fainter on the horizon a really mixed metaphor, I know. He volunteered to go, he wanted to go, and now it’s possible he won’t go. I never wanted anyone to shoot at my son, but I wanted him to have whatever HE wanted . . . talk about scrambled reactions. Though we still have to await the army’s ultimate disposition, I can allow myself the cautious hope that no one will try to kill my son. At least, no enemy combatant!
You’d think I’d be jumping up and down, and writing scores of pages a day since I don’t have to spend two working days on the soup luncheon. That didn’t happen this week. It’s hard to say what did, but I didn’t produce scores of pages. I’m not jumping up and down. It can be harder to absorb the absence of things rather than their actualization.
Maybe this week things will snap into place for me and I’ll plow ahead with a positive attitude. I hope all of you avoid the flu and all the other illnesses that are laying low the population. Keep your energy up, read some good books, and be happy for the bad things that DON’T happen.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris