Book Announcements + Masked Ball + “Phoenix Extravagant” (Lee) summary

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Summary “Phoenix Extravagant”

What we enjoyed about the book:

  • world heavily inspired by Korea; Razani; world feels very alive; great setting; interesting setting
  • dynamics / characters / setting works well
  • world felt ‘real’
  • artistic part of the story enjoyable; painting really interesting and nicely done
  • magic was connected to magic
  • art and magic really cool
  • magic system innovative
  • characters cool
  • queer characters, identities, relationships normalised, very nice
  • dragons really cool
  • protagonist’s relationship with the dragon really interesting: animal machine to be commanded not to be befriended
  • give the dragon agency / questions of free will
  • main protagonist a bit unlikeable, interesting
  • philosophy of the main character interesting: I do not want to fight
  • pigment as magic cool
  • bureucracy gives it a nice dystopian touch
  • Arazi is really cool
  • writing style love or hate: “somewhere in between there”; artistic-esque and other parts were a bit much
  • some concepts over the protagonist’s head, parts confusing, in the way of understand the world sometimes
  • main character very oblivious; interesting; wanted to know more about it all
  • mechas!!!
  • trauma transported very well
  • great ideas, lots of potential
  • philosophical dimension incredibly interesting
  • full of strong contrasts that boggled the mind

What we discussed:

  • what is going on in the end???
  • dark secret not so dark: pigment from art; we expected something darker
  • blurb did not really capture the novel
  • Arazi is a great character but “a really really lame mecha”
  • dragon pacifist bit weird; capable of spaceflight; could’ve been more inspiring or more destructive; goes to the moon!
  • world building did not make sense for the first half for one BSFG member
  • answers sometimes came too late
  • what was the end about? saved the art from being turned into pigment and they put it on the dragon; the two lovers / main protagonists go to the moon and store the art there; in space they meet supernatural beings? World war is starting? Super rushed; meta????
  • breathe in space on top of the dragon?
  • magic system could’ve been explained more?
  • ending very nebulous; bit magical realism like
  • fairy tale ending, quite puzzeling
  • love story happens out of nowhere
  • so many open questions / plotholes
  • villain not convincing
  • “I really did not get the characters. They were nice, but they were also kinda stupid”
  • Disjointed novel: one book until the escape, really cool; after the escape: very rushed
  • dreamlike quality of the latter part of the book
  • strong contrasts interesting but also weird: war machine automaton dragon –> pacifist
  • “it’s a nice novel” but it could have been a great novel
  • could’ve been a great trilogy: get more information; learn more; explain more; explore more
  • felt very scattered
  • blurb describes more what we would have liked to see

How we rated the book:

  • 3.5 / 5 dragons: journey and characters enjoyable, “I enjoyed reading it”
  • 3 / 5 mechanical dragons: “I liked some of the ideas, there was much potential; not as well executed as I would have liked”
  • 3.5/5 stars: “concept is great”; “I would’ve liked to have seen much more in the book”
  • 3 / 5 stars: “liked the concept”, “entertaining”; ending disappointing
  • 3/5 stars: “the idea was good and I liked the writing style”, feeling at the end; was expecting more
  • 4/5 mecha dragons: great queer rep; magic pigments cool; loved the dragon; but the ending kinda destroyed it a bit

Other books we talked about:

  • “Machineries of Empire” by Yoon Ha Lee: calendar magic; fascinating; space; society liberal as long as it does not concern the calendar; 1984 crack; conquering a space fortress; lot of action; very different to “Phoenix Extravagant”
  • “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by Kelly Barnhill: leave a baby in the forest for a supposedly evil witch; kind witch brings it to the other side of the forest which offers better living conditions; story about one child that received too much magic and is raised by the witch; love as a strong theme
  • “The Watchers” by A.M. Shine: monsters in the woods, a group of people stuck in a bunker
  • “Eric of Melniboné” by Michael Moorcock: a classic; Conan the Barbarian deconstruction; counter culture; “bit dusty”
  • “Saga” comics recommendation by Brian K. Vaughan: art style; story extremely creative; inventive; highly enjoyable; now continued
  • “House in the Cerulean Sea” by Klune: “so gay”, “just fills my inside with warmth”
  • “The Death of a Sailsman” by Arthur Miller: theatre, weird theatre, recommendable

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