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chironsgirl

the Mary Russell books by Laurie R. King

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I am a fan of the Mary Russell series. It's kind of a what if...what if a semi-retired Holmes,while out bee chasing in Sussex, runs into a 17 year old girl who is his equal? And he decides to make her his apprentice? King's Sherlock, while still being brilliant and a bit arrogant, is much more human and approachable. The presence of Mary in his life causes him to be more receptive and less judgemental. A little more mellow. While Mary is a brilliant scholar and prone to long uncommunicative bouts of research, she thrives under Sherlock's teaching and the thrill of the chase. With Watson becoming a little slower and stiff with age, Mary inherits John's position of gun carrier.

 

This series is set in ACD's time; it starts a few years before WWI and continues until the current book which is set in 1925. The series deals with a lot of historical fact, putting Russell and Holmes in harms way all around the globe whilst in pursuit of the foe. They deal with real historical figures and real events. King has a flair for evoking that earlier time and all it's trappings.

 

If any of you have read these books I'd like to know what you think. If you haven't read them, scurry out to the nearest library for The Beekeeper's Apprentice.

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What age range does the series target (not that I particularly care, as long as the stories are good)? It sounds interesting, so I'll have to see if the local bookstore has that first story.

 

Since this is a distinct series of stories featuring Sherlock Holmes as a major character (and John Watson too???), I have moved this thread to the Other Versions forum.

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Hey, I should have thought of that! The age range......Hmmmm. I'd say about 14 and up. Since King is dealing with Victorian and Edwardian era characters there is basically zero smut to be had. The main POV is a well brought up and educated "nice Jewish girl", so the language is pretty clean too.

ACD wrote his stories the same way; lots of daring adventures but all in good taste. The reader will have to be mature enough to appreciate stories that propell them into the middle of exciting historical times and places.

 

I hope this answers your questions.

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Yes, I think you're right about the age range -- this is the very sort of thing I would have lapped up at 14 (and of course I have yet to grow up!).

 

A quick glance through The Beekeeper's Apprentice showed me that I'd like the series well enough, so I bought all three of the books the store had on hand (not really an extravagance, since they're second-hand paperbacks), and am now well into Apprentice.

 

Do you have a headcast? I don't look for them, they just sorta volunteer as the story progresses, so thus far, I have people in mind only for the Holmes brothers and Dr. Watson (oh, and King obviously based Veronica on one of my friends). I'll tell you my three if you'll tell me yours.

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I'm still savoring my way through Apprentice a chapter at a time, but nearly done. As I was dropping off to sleep last night, it occurred to me that the author and I have slightly different takes on one of the plot devices. It's nothing that would make any difference in the plot itself, only in how one paragraph might be worded. However, for people who have not finished reading Apprentice (especially those who enjoy trying to figure out what's going to happen next), my explanation could perhaps be a premature hint, so I'll put it in a spoiler box.

 

 

Where I differ with King is the base-eight Roman numerals in Chapter Sixteen. As one of the characters says, "If human beings had been born with three fingers instead of four opposing their thumbs, we would count by units of eight instead of tens." Reasonably enough, two characters assume that in that case, the Roman numeral "X" would mean eight rather than ten. However, both characters assume that "V" would still mean five, whereas it seems more logical to me that it would mean four. For one thing, this is consistent with the belief that the "V" symbol originated as a simplified drawing of a hand, with the fingers held together and the thumb spread out. Also, twice "V" would still be "X," and the symmetry of the counting system would be preserved:

 

....I.....II.......III..V

..VI...VII.....VIII..X

..XI....XII.....XIII..XV

XVI..XVII..XVIII..XX

... and so on,

 

rather than King's apparent

....I.....II.....III....IV..V

..VI...VII................X

..XI....XII..XIII..XIV..XV

XVI..XVII...............XX

... etc.

 

 

 

If anyone else is geeky enough to consider this relevant and/or interesting, I'd love to discuss it.

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I've read most of them. I've not delved into "Locked Rooms" as yet. Maybe after the New Year. I'm having trouble getting through "The Pirate King", That one is not holding my interest. Not quite sure why. I just finished "The Language of Bees."

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I've read four so far (the ones I've been able to find at the used-book store):

 

#1 The Beekeeper's Apprentice

#2 A Monstrous Regiment of Women

#4 The Moor

#7 The Game

 

I liked the first two the best, but they're all interesting.

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I have started reading the Moor but haven't finished it, yet. I do like her. Just wish he hadn't made Holmes so old. But that's unavoidable, I suppose. Makes him more "human". To me he will always be immortal, oh well. Just my take on it. But I do find King's writing interesting, obviously.

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As I recall, King's Holmes is in his fifties, which is "old" to Russell, but hardly at death's door. (And even someone Russell's age isn't actually immortal.) But I think I see what you mean -- you hate to see Holmes change.

 

Of course, Conan Doyle's Holmes and Watson aged over the years. And hopefully Moftiss's Sherlock and John will be having adventures for a few decades yet!

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I have collected the entire L.R. King series in Hardback, several of them signed. I order the signed ones from the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Arizona. They all have been fun to read. It is best to read them in order and try not to read what others say about the stories. It gives so much away. Ha. Pirate King was my least favorite but it was well written. King's Hebrew training, and obvious love of detail, help keep the stories entertaining. When a new one comes out I buy it in the iBooks (apple iOS) format and start reading and then order the Hardback. My library of Holmes books is growing. Love the site - hope to come back often.

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I have collected the entire L.R. King series in Hardback, several of them signed. I order the signed ones from the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Arizona. They all have been fun to read. It is best to read them in order and try not to read what others say about the stories. It gives so much away. Ha. Pirate King was my least favorite but it was well written. King's Hebrew training, and obvious love of detail, help keep the stories entertaining. When a new one comes out I buy it in the iBooks (apple iOS) format and start reading and then order the Hardback. My library of Holmes books is growing. Love the site - hope to come back often.

 

 

:welcome: Glad to have you on board. :)

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Oh I am horible! I started this thread and then became too ill to manage coherent thought! I'm glad other people are interested in the King books. I actually missed The Pirate King and read the one after it. Then realized there was a book I missed. But then I read a review for it and it said that the book wasn't ss good as the rest. So I gave it a pass. Does that seem fickle? I feel a bit disloyal.

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Welcome back to your thread, chironsgirl! I'm glad you're feeling more coherent these days.

 

Sooner or later, you won't be able to stand knowing that gap is there, and you'll have to read the book. So don't bother feeling disloyal, because all will be well in the end.

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Oh I am horible! I started this thread and then became too ill to manage coherent thought! I'm glad other people are interested in the King books. I actually missed The Pirate King and read the one after it. Then realized there was a book I missed. But then I read a review for it and it said that the book wasn't ss good as the rest. So I gave it a pass. Does that seem fickle? I feel a bit disloyal.

 

I, for one, am glad you started this thread. Sorry about your illness. Hope all is better now. As for the Pirate King, get the audio book and listen to it. That way you have not spent as much time with it but you get all the needed data to move on as a scholar. Ha. Watched an interview with LRK when her latest book came out and she said she knew some would not like Pirate King as much but that it was fun to write, research, and get out of her system. Again, all the best and hope to chat again soon. Happy New Year from Tennessee.

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Oh, you're in Tennessee. I was guessing Kansas City, on account of your user name.

 

If you like, you can add your location to your profile, and then it'll show up below your avatar (where mine says Indiana). It can sometimes be helpful to know where someone is, especially what country they're in.

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Oh, you're in Tennessee. I was guessing Kansas City, on account of your user name.

 

If you like, you can add your location to your profile, and then it'll show up below your avatar (where mine says Indiana). It can sometimes be helpful to know where someone is, especially what country they're in.

 

Thanks, I'll add my location right away.

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I don't mind change, and I do realize that Sherlock Holmes was meant to be regarded as real a person as possible, maybe to real, as it has turned out. But in King's "O' Jerusalem" he is constantly referred to as "old man". It got to be a bit erksome, at least to me. Finally broke down and bought "Locked Rooms" after Christmas. Still haven't finished "The Pirate King" yet.

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The main thing that irks me about some of the King books I've read so far is that Russell seems to be going off on her own an awful lot (and we perforce accompany her). It's the interaction between her and Holmes that I enjoy most.

 

Maybe some of the books I haven't read yet are better in that regard. I'll have to check the used-book store again soon.

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She does give Sherlock some limelight. He is tortured in "O, Jerusalem" but still on his game for an "old man". They are separated for most of the story "The Pirate King". But a lot of the stories are Russel centric. I really can't see Holmes marrying a woman young enough to be his grand-daughter...but I suppose it's her fanfiction and it is selling.

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It's clearly a "Mary Sue" series -- but interesting and well written.

 

Other than irene Adler and Professor Moriarty, Holmes has never before met anyone who is anywhere near his intellectual equal -- and neither has Russell. So of course they gravitate toward each other pretty fiercely. They are effectively the only two people in their own personal universe, which makes romance relatively inevitable.

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I suppose you are right. I have trouble with romance, so not King's problem but mine and I will claim it.

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My son does not get into the King books. My mother loved them. My wife likes the audio books. I like the idea of the books (Holmes mentoring, relating, smitten, sparring, etc. - but personally like the interaction between Holmes and Mary the best. When it strays too far from that I just read. The mystery parts of the books are always clever so they are worth reading.

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Yes, I can certainly see Holmes being drawn to any one with a sharp mind, especially a woman. I suppose I am being to nit picky about it. I do enjoy them. To me Holmes, Watson, and Mrs. Hudson are some where in Sussex, Holmes keeping his bees and he and Watson looking into an "problem" every now and again and Mrs. H keeping house.

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As long as we are being nit-picky, I have another observation to make. King's Watson may be even denser than Nigel Bruce's character. He's certainly not the Watson of ACD's stories. Maybe King has done this on purpose, with the idea that Watson is older, and therefore possibly a bit senile. But the canon Watson seems to be roughly the same age as Holmes, so he's presumably no older than his 60's in King's stories. Senile, indeed!

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I agree that Watson and Holmes are close to the same age. Watson has many interests and is such a likable person in the Holmes stories, He cares, sympathizes, defends, and protects. He would have to take a back seat to Mary because Mary is going to take on that role and more in Sherlocks life. While she is brilliant, she also is often blind to human needs and factors. Her focus is as sharp as Holmes and when they are in sync it is like a symphony. Watson is not left behind, he is just not needed in these cases.

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