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The Native Star by M. K. Hobson
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The Native Star (2010)

by M. K. Hobson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4843421,248 (3.66)1 / 35
  1. 00
    Warrior by Zoë Archer (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: It is a little heavier on the romance, and is categorized as such, but has the same historical steampunk adventure feeling, with a bit of magic thrown in. Part of a series of four, Zoe Archer's Blades of the Rose battle a colonialist brotherhood to keep magic in the hands of those who it belongs to. Read the series if The Native Star left you wanting more between Dreadnought and Emily!… (more)
  2. 00
    Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede (SockMonkeyGirl)
    SockMonkeyGirl: Not necessarily intended for the same age group, but with similar worlds.
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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
In a lot of cases, it's incredibly helpful to be able to listen to a sample of a book on Audible before buying. It often makes all the difference in whether or not I'll commit to a book. Unfortunately in this case the sample was completely misleading. It was terrific – it was creepy and fascinating, and brought in the Civil War and my goodness what are these terrible men up to? So I bought it, and, still looking for a good fantasy set in the period, listened to it. The problem was that the sample was part of a prologue; the book proper skipped from South Carolina to California, from the mysterious happenings in a haunted barn to an unpleasant young woman casting a love spell. And it is with this young woman, Emily Edwards, that the story stays until the epilogue.

She is not a likeable character. It is excused as extreme pragmatism, the tendency to set aside everything else in favor of what is necessary. For example, though she does not want to do it, and in fact dreads the consequences, she determines to place a love charm on a young man of decent fortune in order to keep herself and her adopted father from the depths of starvation they have recently endured. She's snappish, stroppy, and closed-minded. She's racist, too.

Harassing her and her Pap is Dreadnought Stanton, a wizard who keeps trying to instruct them in how things ought to be. Now, it's a common enough trope that the hero and heroine bicker until they inevitably become lovers (and usually after). Sexual tension is shown through sparring, when an author can come up with no better way to do it. However, this guy is introduced so negatively, with so much apparent malice, that it's very, very difficult to stomach it when these two do, inevitably, become a couple. And, of course, bad as he is, she's even less pleasant. It's not believable.

The onomatopoeia was excessive. Every action in the book makes a sound, and every sound is conveyed.

There were holes in the story that were immediately obvious. How does a hick farmer in the nineteenth century Midwest know that glucose is sugar? How is Miss Magic-Negator Emily supposed to ride in a magic-driven biomechanical device? And if it's not magic-driven, what does keep it together? The bad guy – (with an incredibly awful accent – gives Our Heroes something to drink before they realize who he is, and then he brags about how he slipped in a compulsion potion. Everyone ends up with at least a mouthful, and it has obvious and bad effects on Stanton – and it seems to take forever for anyone to worry about what that sip might have done to Emily.

It didn't take long for me to recognize a sort of a pattern in the book: O no terrible danger what will they ever do … oh. Never mind. Not so much. O no Stanton's been injured again he's bleeding … oh. Never mind. Not so much. He's fine. O no … etc. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Unfortunately, a weak narrator did not help a weak book. Pronunciations were all over the place, and drove me crazy – everything from mispronunciation of common enough words like "vestibule" and "impudence" to a mangling of "trompe l'oiel" that made me, a former art student who took an entire course painting one trompe, grit my teeth. "Black Maria" is pronounced as though it had something to do with Natalie Wood's character in West Side Story. Some of the trouble is the usual misplacement of emphasis in sentences; it's as though narrators can't hear what they're saying, and "narration" overrides natural speaking patterns. And what a shockingly bad Italian accent for "Grimaldi". And an even worse Russian one.

One very brief bright moment in the narrative was a line which – unfortunately unintentionally – made me smile, because of its absurdity: "Get yer goldurn hands offa my cockatrice." Second place in unintentionally hysterical lines goes to: "Miss Edwards – will you bring out the nut?"

But about three quarters in I swore that if I had had to hear "carissima mia" one more time I would scream. And very shortly after I made a note:

AAAARRRRGH ( )
  Stewartry | Jan 16, 2017 |
I enjoyed reading this book, but I felt like I was enjoying it in spite of myself.
It was so, so, so like Cherie Priest's Dreadnought (& Boneshaker) in tone, plot elements and setting that I could almost have believed it was a new book from Priest - except that I don't think she'd use such a trite romance as a driving plot device. (I really dislike the whole romance trope of "I hate you - but wait, that means I'm actually in love with you!" People just don't work like that.)
It also, several times, comes thiiiiis close to getting really preachy about its environmental and socially progressive messages. Not to a Sheri Tepper degree (although I was also reminded of Tepper at moments), and I can't say that I don't agree with the messages: industrialization is not actually progress (even when the industrial pollution is "magical"), but I found myself going, "oh come on, well that's just a bit OBVIOUS" about her metaphors at several junctures.
But yet, I kept reading. Quickly. It's a fast-moving, engaging, fun story. I very well might even go seek out the sequel. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This was an excellent steampunk western, and I'd fully recommend it to anyone who loves steampunk or just alternative history adventures.

M.K. Hobson blew me away with her world-building and sassy wonderful main characters. Both Emily and Stanton are a such contradiction as in they are polar opposite to each other it's pure fun to see them try and work together.

Emily is a young witch in a backwater country who can't even make a love spell without it going awry, and Dreadnaught is a stuffy young educated warlock who can't help but lament his exile away from civilised society of New York and point Emily's inadequacies to her.

Of course how it often happens, a magical mining explosion releases a horde of zombie-like creatures and unleashes a magical artifact that embeds itself in Emily's palm, and now the couple will have to travel to New York to help Emily to get rid of it.

However be wary of impending magical disaster, treachery among warlocks, a mounting movement of witch burning and political intrigues while they are at it. Add native American magic, cross-dressing, a villain with a flair, and an embarrassing growing attraction between Emily and Stanton, and you'd get an excellent, wonderful adventure!

Highly recommended. ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
This was fun. I liked the first half better than the second. There's definitely some (yucky) romance involved that I'm not used to in the fantasy books I usually read.

Some of the dialogue was pretty witty and had us both laughing. Pretty cool world/faction setup but even with pretty dark bad guy it still seemed a little lite. ( )
  ragwaine | Sep 24, 2015 |

A crítica completa encontra-se aqui no meu blog Ler e Reflectir...

Este livro tem muito pouco ou quase nada de steampunk e MUITO de magia. Confesso que não sou grande apreciadora e quando comecei a perceber, logo no primeiro capítulo, que era um livro sobre/com magia, torci o nariz, parei a leitura e só a retomei quando comprei o Kindle. Com o avançar da história fui percebendo que a magia neste universo era abordada de uma forma muito científica e racional e foi isso que me manteve cativada. As explicações de Dreadnought a Emily sobre os vários tipos de práticas de magia fazem compreender melhor este universo e nunca foram aborrecidas.
Emily e Dreadnought partem numa viagem cheia de aventuras, o enredo é interessante e original, muito diferente de tudo aquilo que li até agora. A sensação de faroeste está constantemente presente, com cavalos, pistolas, vestidos com corpetes, índios, comboios... muito bom! O Steampunk surge na segunda metade do livro para a frente mas de forma tão subtil que quem não conhece a estética nem se apercebe da sua presença.
Muito aquém da expectativa (ou até mesmo desnecessário) é o romance entre Emily e Dreadnought. Das duas uma: se a escritora planeava em escrever apenas um livro, podia ter construído o romance desde início ou, se planeava uma série (que é o caso), então não teria terminado como o fez. Achei tudo muito forçado, rápido e seco demais. Passam o tempo a tratarem-se como amigos, sem um vislumbre de desejo em frase nenhuma e, de repente, a Emily está a numa choradeira porque tem o coração partido. É tão insípido que desejei que nunca tivesse acontecido. Se vão escrever um romance mau então não o escrevam! Ficavam amigos durante uns livrinhos e o desejo surgia, depois o romance... seria bem mais empolgante de ler. ( )
  tchetcha | Jan 15, 2015 |
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Epigraph
It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration'; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility;
Listen! The mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
a sound like thunder - everlastingly.
Dear Child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
If though appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thous liest in Abraham's bosom all the year;
And worship'st at the Temple's inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.

William Wordsworth
Dedication
For Nora
First words
Five loud, sharp crashes.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The year is 1876. In the small Sierra Nevada settlement of Lost Pines, the town Witch, Emily Edwards, is being run out of business by an influx of mail-order patent magics. Attempting to solve her problem with a love spell, Emily only makes things worse. but before she can undo the damage, an enchanted artifact falls into her possession - and suddenly Emily must flee for her life, pursued by evil Warlocks who want the object for themselves.

Dreadnaught Stanton, a Warlock from New York City whose personality is as pompous and abrasive as his name, has been exiled to Lost Pine for mysterious reasons. Now he finds himself involuntarily allied with Emily in a race against time - and across the United States by horse, train and biomechanical flying machine - in quest of the great Professor Mirabilis, who alone can unlock the secret of the coveted artifact. but along the way, Emily and Stanton will be forced to contend with the most powerful and unpredictable magic of all - the magic of the human heart.
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In 1876, witch Emily Edwards is forced to run for her life when an enchanted artifact falls into her possession, and she teams up with a warlock from New York City to unlock the secret of the mysterious artifact.

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M. K. Hobson chatted with LibraryThing members from Aug 30, 2010 to Sep 6, 2010. Read the chat.

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