SHADOWBOXER by Tricia Sullivan: not a review

It’s a truism that not every book is for every reader. Shadowboxer is Tricia Sullivan’s latest novel and first foray into YA, out now from Solaris Books’ Rebellion imprint. And it’s not a book for me.

I may not have given it a fair enough shake. I kept picking it up, reading the first chapter, and wandering off. Eventually I managed to read to the end of the second chapter. But while it’s technically quite good, the protagonist and the voice aren’t anything I find encouraging to read: it turns out I have a very limited tolerance for cocky angry-violent protagonists with little apparent grasp of consequences.

I thought this was just the case with male protagonists, but nope. Turns out it’s true for female ones too. They just have to come across a touch cockier and angrier.

So this could be a good book, or not, but since I’m not being paid to finish it, I’m moving on.

Historic links of interest

“The Real Amazon Warriors” discusses Adrienne Mayor’s survey of warrior women across the ancient world.

Classical era poem found on stele in Western Turkey.

Inscription dedicated to Hadrian in 129/130 CE uncovered in Jerusalem.

Wooden statue of standing, dressed male figure preserved in bottom of well; uncovered during excavations under Agios Konstantinos Square in the Piraeus during works on the extension of the Athens metro. The article is in Greek, but Google translate appears to render a rough sense of it.

Counterproductive, and yet I must make a request.

There is a thing than has been annoying me for going on two years. It is undoubtedly counterproductive of me to discuss it, yet it has come to the point where I find it more than slightly irritating when it crosses the threshold of my attention.

I want to put the question to you, dear readers. Is it a) vaguely creepy, b) more than vaguely creepy, or c) not at all creepy when an author appears to hold a public grudge over mixed review,* and continues to refer to it (directly and indirectly) at intervals as much as three years later? But I should not ask.

The review in question was posted on in the summer of 2011. Most recently well-meaning *cough* people have drawn my attention to the fact the author still seems to be dwelling on it.

It is somewhat baffling to me, and I would like to request that well-meaning people in future not tell me these things.

*Admittedly, I did email the bloke when it happened (because people kept telling me and tweeting about I’d called him a misogynist) to point out that this was a rather hyperbolic interpretation of my words. I was a baby reviewer and did not yet know better than to let the narrative burn itself out and not to worry about people’s possible insulted feelings over exaggerated interpretations. Perhaps there is a lesson to be acquired from that.

Collecting the random-yet-interesting links

Wolves revitalise ecosystem.

Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us. Capitalism is an evil, says I.

Brutal new Tories.

On Poisoned Apples, the “Great YA Debate”, and the Death of the Patriarchy.

Related: Pleasure principles.

Adam Roberts reviews THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen.

The Problem of Mike Petersen: Thoughts on Agents of SHIELD and Race.

Books in brief: Hay, Campbell, Carey, Levene, Wheeler, Bedford, Walton, King, Herrin

Mavis Doriel Hay, Death On The Cherwell and Murder Underground. British Library Crime Classics, reprinted 2014.

Had I read Murder Underground before Death On The Cherwell, and not the other way around, I would have been inclined to dismiss Hay’s scant handful of 1930s murder mysteries as tedious and possessed of little redeeming value. Yet for all the back-and-forth boredom of Murder Underground, Death On The Cherwell is a minor delight: it breathes the Oxford of its setting, and Hay here possesses more in the way of sympathy and humour for her characters. And yet neither are mysteries in the usual sense, being more concerned with the lives of the characters than the resolution of the murder. But that makes them interesting in a different fashion.

Jack Campbell, The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword. Ace, 2014. Copy via

Read for review for Very similar to all previous Campbell books.

Jacqueline Carey, Poison Fruit. Roc, 2014. Copy via

Read for review for Satisfactory conclusion to trilogy.

Rebecca Levene, Smiler’s Fair. Hodder, 2014. Copy courtesy of publisher.

Read for review for Strange Horizons. Three quarters of the book is prologue, and I’m none too satisfied with the rest, either.

S.M. Wheeler, Sea Change. Tor, 2013. Copy courtesy of publisher.

Read for column. Reminds me in many ways of The Last Unicorn, though its emotional beats affect me more.

Jacey Bedford, Empire of Dust. DAW, 2014. Galley copy courtesy of publisher.

Read for review. Strikingly old-fashioned space opera. Psionics. Telepathy. Women who take their husbands’ names on marriage as a matter of course. I had only just reread Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword, mind you, so its failures of imagination were clearer by comparison. Perfectly readable adventure, nothing particular about it to make it stand out.

Jo Walton, The Just City. Tor, 2015. Copy courtesy of publisher.

Read for review for Vector. A peculiar book, and less self-indulgent than it seems at first glance – though Walton takes a rather more charitable view towards both Apollo and Sokrates than I ever would. It is immensely readable, and its major thematic arguments emerge slyly from the narrative (although it actually states up front on the first page what it is going to be). In many ways, this is a book about consent, and the abuses thereof: informed consent, consent after the fact, refusal of consent, the power to compel – cunning concealed under explicit arguments about justice and arete.

It is also, at times, rather like reading one of the more enjoyable Sokratic dialogues.

Appropriately so.

Laurie R. King, A Monstrous Regiment of Women, A Letter of Mary, The Moor, and A Grave Talent. 1993-1998 variously, Allison & Busby and Picador.

Excellent mystery novels. All of them.

Judith Herrin, Unrivaled Influence. Princeton University Press, 2013.

Collection of essays on women in the Byzantine empire from throughout Herrin’s (long) career. Very interesting.