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mashiara

March Reads

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Well, since no-one else has started the new thread... I'm reading Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. About one third of the way through, as I expected it so far.



What are you reading this month? Share your likes and dislikes, I know I've gotten a lot of good recommendations from these threads over the years.


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After finishing Toll the Hounds, which may well take the first spot on my Malazan favourites list, I couldn't read any other book than Dust of Dreams. I was planning on finishing The Rise of Ransom City next, but I need more Malazan.

I'm also reading the first Sandman book, I might finish it today, it's really good. I didn't know what to expect, since this is the first graphic novel I've read, but so far it's great.

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Last night I finished Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey, second in her "Kushiels' Legacy" trilogy.



I really liked most of this book. For those who don't know Phedre, the main character and narrator of the story, is an "anguisette", which means that her stated occupation is that of a masochistic courtesan. Some of the lesbian s&m scenes in the first third of the book were a bit much for my personal taste.



I had another main irritation with the book in terms of Carey's character names, though I'm sure only the very rare name expert like me would notice. This world is really as much or more an "alternate history" as it is a fantasy. The physical map is almost exactly the same as that of modern Europe, and to some extent the world is a working out of "what would have happened if all the Jews had accepted Jesus as the Messiah right after his crucifixion?" Carey's answer is that there would be no Christian or Catholic church as we know it. The Italians (called Caerdicci in her world) worship the mother goddess Asherat, and the French (called Angelines in Carey's world) have a unique religion based on angels that glorifies sexuality and has as its main ethical commandment "Love as Thou Wilt." Another aspect of her world is that Britain is still Celtic -- there was evidently no successful invasion by Angles and Saxons.



The problem is that Carey gives her characters names from the modern languages, many of which have Biblical or Catholic saint origins, and which probably just really wouldn't exist in the world she has created. I haven't run across any indication in her description of the beliefs of the Yeshuites (her Jesus-believing Jews) that there is any veneration of Mary at all. How then did Marie become a common name in Terre d'Ange (France), much less Maria in La Serenissima (Venice) where they are worshipping Asherat? How does Pietro become a name in Caerdiccian (Italian) and Pjetri a name in Illyrian (Albanian) where there was never a St. Peter in her world? And there are lots of other examples.



But the above were minor irritations. Despite the fact that I do not have any S&M interests, I find Phedre to be one of the most likeable viewpoint characters in fantasy. She is resourceful and interesting without being perfect. Her relationship with the "knight" Joscelin seemed was well-developed, and I found the visit to Kriti (Crete) in the book fascinating. Looking back on it, there are probably a bit too many amazing narrow escapes in her life (and those of her queen Ysandre) in the tale for some tastes, but while reading it they never seemed outrageous to me. I'd recommend the book to anyone who likes long books where women are the chief characters (and who can deal with the S&M elements.)


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Currently a little over halfway through The Portable Greek Historians, I found Herodotus alright even though he tended to wander while telling his history. I'm currently going through a section of Thucydides and I remember why I skimmed through this book, he loves his speeches (a lot).



Up next I'll be reading Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb.



Year-long Read through Updates:



The Bible, I'll be finishing 1 Samuel tomorrow. If I continue my current pace I'll be finished around the middle of September.



The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, I finished Richard III and through it was just great. I'm reading the poem Venus and Adonis and so far it's interesting.


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Still working my way through The Great Hunt. I'm about halfway through, so I plan to finish it by the end of the month. From there, who knows!


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Finished Terry Pratchett's most recent Discworld novel, Raising Steam. I enjoyed it, and I felt that it got better as it went along, but it doesn't feel nearly as light on its feet, or nearly as stunningly on point, as Pratchett often does. It feels kind of like Snuff, and maybe a little bit like Jingo, in terms of comparing it to the relatively small number of other Disc books I've read: Good overall idea, and some enjoyable moments, but a lot of just puttering along talking about how harmfully silly the people who don't agree with the story's major premise are. A lot of it is just kind of spending time in the Discworld while watching Moist von Lipwig and some somewhat less entertaining characters be right about things.



Also finished Naomi Mitchison's Memoirs of a Spacewoman, as part of a very gradual ongoing project to read some more classic sf by women. Enjoyable. Fascinating. It's an emotionally reserved book in many ways, but interesting in that its an emotionally reserved book precisely about emoting, since the focus of most of the novel's episodes is communicating with nonhuman forms of life. Deceptively simple -- the prose flows easily, but there is virtually no infodumping, and while some stuff about the world is presented up front a lot of it is slipped in as blink-and-miss it detail we're assumed to be familiar with already, since it's being presented as a book written within its own universe. Not the kind of novel designed to grab me most completely -- the characters, with notable exceptions, are mostly talking heads --, but a fascinating book I could see myself returning to.



Now reading Rachel Bach's Fortune's Pawn, which is about a badass power-armored mercenary who takes a job as security detail aboard what's supposed to be a cursed merchant ship and punches aliens, and has romantic feelings, and has huge fun shooting things, all in spaaaace. Very pulpy, reads very easily, much fun, kind of addictive. The space opera universe the novel's set in seems straightforward on the surface, and the characters appear to be falling into the "charmingly quirky" box -- the love interest is a badass space cook named Rupert, for instance. However, there are a couple of intriguing points that notch themselves in the book's favour for me: 1: The book is partially mystery-based, in that there's clearly something kind of sketchy going on with this "cursed" merchant ship, but this mystery seems to be moving along at a pretty brisk clip. The book is constantly baiting the reader with questions, but does not fuck around with the provision of answers -- I'm only just over half-way through, and I already have a major answer to something I thought might well be jerked around until the climax of the book. 2: The armored space mercenary, Devi, is a character I find quite fun and refreshing, in that while she's a badass, hard-drinkin', lustful risk-taker, she's presented as a really nice person, rather than as someone the reader is encouraged to see as having a problem. She's clearly got flaws, but she's a functional human being, and things that in another story might be presented as among these flaws are instead presented as just a part of her functional human being-ness. Having a lot of fun with this book.



And, finally, I'm about a hundred pages away from the end of Elizabeth Bear's Shattered Pillars, the second book in her Eternal Sky epic fantasy trilogy. I'll try to remember to come back and say something about this when I'm finished, but these books are just fucking great. I think most genre readers probably have a few books / series the obscurity of which feels like evidence for an absence of cosmic justice. This is one of mine.


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I'll be reading Chris Wooding's The Braided Path trilogy this month. I'm only four chapters into the first book of the series, The Weavers of Saramyr, but I'm liking it so far.

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An Artist in Treason: The Extraordinary Double Life of General James Wilkinson by Andro Linklater.


Wilkinson was twice the U.S. Army Commander in Chief -- and Agent 13 in the Spanish Secret Service. He betrayed both Benedict Arnold and Aaron Burr (and others).


Fascinating stuff. I knew the outlines of it, but never his whole life. What a fellow. Our Jimmy was an American real-life Flashman, all right.

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The Three Musketeers.

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Still reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett - really good so far, glad I finally got round to picking it up. I've heard the film is pretty good too.

Next on my list is Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, which looks very promising.

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Currently on Claw of the Conciliator.


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I just finished Matterhorn, a Vietnam war novel that I know got some love on this board a few years ago. I want to discuss it now, but I couldn't find the old threads via board search or google search.


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The Stand by S. King, what a coincidence that I just caught a cold after reading 150~ pages in.



That's what I get for not washing my hands after scratching my ass.


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I just finished Matterhorn, a Vietnam war novel that I know got some love on this board a few years ago. I want to discuss it now, but I couldn't find the old threads via board search or google search.

I'm not sure there was ever a dedicated thread for it. I know it came up in what seemed like every monthly reading thread for like a year, though. And actually maybe there was a thread--I think Raidne started it? Huh. My memory fails me exactly. But yeah, search shows nothing.

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I'm almost halfway through Memories of Ice. Very good so far, I just wish I had more time. I remember in years past I could plow through LotR in 6 days ugh.

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I'm not sure there was ever a dedicated thread for it. I know it came up in what seemed like every monthly reading thread for like a year, though. And actually maybe there was a thread--I think Raidne started it? Huh. My memory fails me exactly. But yeah, search shows nothing.

Thanks!

I wasn't completely sure after I couldn't find it on the search because I was like "It wasn't that long ago." I recall seeing some very heavy praise for it on the board, and I recall it being mentioned fairly often. I won't go into it here, but I liked it but didn't love it to the proportion that I recall seeing it loved. But I could have sworn it had its own thread. Perhaps not.

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I read the Emperor of Thorns just yesterday, it was all in all quite good, although the really good stuff comes after the first 3/5 of the book, everything during those 3/5 to me wasn't really interesting.



Will start Norwegian Wood by Murakami probably.


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finishing The Way of Kings today. And then Words of Radiance on Tuesday!!!! Cant wait!!!!


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