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July '18 Reading - What We Read in the Shadows

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Currently in the middle of The Realm of the Elderlings. I'm treating it as a 16 'chapter' big as book - like Zelazny's The Great Book of Amber. Started about 5 weeks ago and I thought I would need til the end of the year to finish all 16 books... however the first trilogy (Farseer) immediately led onto the second (Liveship Traders) and then the third (Tawny Man). Started the 10th 'chapter' (first of The Rain Wilds books) and it was too much of a switchback (from the Farseer/Tawny Man characters) so decided to take a break and watch a couple movies before coming back. Thoroughly enjoying it but I need to dig up the RoTE thread to post my gripes & frustrations about the series so far.

Before the The Realm of the Elderlings I had finished reading Dune for the first time. I knew the story, having grown up with the Lynch movie, but I had never gotten around to the book. Enjoyed it immensely. Fully worthy of the praise it gets and its place amongst the classics. Then I decided the only (Hugo Award) follow up to Dune was Zelazny's This Immortal.. and I just couldn't get into for some reason, so parked it for another time.     

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Thanks for starting a new thread.  I’m always reluctant to post in the old thread after it “expires”.  I have such an aversion to breaking rules, even though I hate conservatives who seek to preserve traditions.

Finished The Captain’s Nephew by Philip K. Allan, a historical fiction from the age of sail and the first in the Alexander Clay series.  It’s closer to Hornblower than Aubrey & Maturin, but very little can match Patrick O’Brian.  It’s a good read for fans of the genre, I’ll be going further into this series. 

Finished Kemp: Passage At Arms by Jonathan Lunn, second in the Arrows Of Albion series.  Similar to Bernard Cornwell, who also has a series about an archer in the 100 Years War, although this novel spent much more time with actual historical figures in the court of Edward III and more time on the effects of the Black Death on England and France during their truce.  We also see details like nobles contesting their king via the papal/nuncio courts and a villein becoming a freeman, so it includes more depth than Cornwell about medieval society.  This novel picks up immediately after Crecy for the siege of Calais, the truce and break out of the Black Death, and then the ambush at Calais.  Another good read within this genre. 

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I finished Pratchett and Gaiman's Good Omens. I thought it was a very enjoyable book. It was somewhat reminiscent of Douglas Adams' work - if the Hitchhikers Guide was a comedy about a Sci-fi apocalypse, this is the equivalent for a biblical apocalypse. Crowley and Aziraphale were the most interesting characters, particularly when they interacted with each other, but even many of the minor characters were memorable.

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Alright, I started the second half of the year by finishing The Stuart Age by Barry Coward.  This was an overview of England from 1603-1714 and I thought it was really good.  I personally wished it would have had more military happens for the English Civil War and maybe the continental wars but given it was an overview I realize there are more specialized books that can offer that.

I'll be starting James Joyce's Ulysses tomorrow, so both excited and dreading it as I have no idea what I'm in for.

On Sunday I began reading Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson as my next "home" read, since this focuses on Lift who will probably show up in Oathbringer (that I'll be reading this fall once it comes out in mass market paperback) I wanted to get this read well before then.  I'm roughly 70% of the way through already.

7 hours ago, Iskaral Putsch said:

Thanks for starting a new thread.  I’m always reluctant to post in the old thread after it “expires”.  I have such an aversion to breaking rules, even though I hate conservatives who seek to preserve traditions.

Before I posted here I posted on the June thread because I couldn't make it over there this past Saturday to finish off the month.  Since the book I finished on Saturday still happened in June, I feel no guilty in making a post in July on a June thread about a book I finished at the end of June.  But to each their own.

2 hours ago, williamjm said:

I finished Pratchett and Gaiman's Good Omens. I thought it was a very enjoyable book. It was somewhat reminiscent of Douglas Adams' work - if the Hitchhikers Guide was a comedy about a Sci-fi apocalypse, this is the equivalent for a biblical apocalypse. Crowley and Aziraphale were the most interesting characters, particularly when they interacted with each other, but even many of the minor characters were memorable.

I quoted you in my above referenced post on the June thread.  After Ulysses, I'll be reading Good Omens.  This'll be my 42nd Pratchett book (all of Discworld) and my second Gaiman book (American Gods), so I'm interested to see how the two work together.  Thanks for the snippet review.

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I'm reading Alterworld by D. Rus. It's basically a (very) male teenage fantasy of living in a video RPG.

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I am reading the new Alex Verus novel.  These books are short, but at least he cranks out one a year on a pretty regular schedule. 

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Finished Sloop Of War by Philip K. Allan, second in his Alexander Clay series of historical fiction in the age of sail.  Very good.  An entertaining read and well crafted novel.  Only criticism is that it lacks any grey characters: it’s pretty clear who’s good or bad (similar to Cornwell).  

Also finished The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.   A very enjoyable novel that defies categorization.  It has magical realism, reflections on Stalinist Moscow and a reimagining of religion and faith.  Very well written, with signs of the author’s background as a playwright shining through at times: lots of attention to specifics in appearance and movement, plus some neatly coordinated dialogue, even in internal thoughts.  It’s very funny too. 

Both were very quick reads but highly enjoyable. 

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On 7/5/2018 at 11:01 AM, Garett Hornwood said:

After Ulysses, I'll be reading Good Omens.  This'll be my 42nd Pratchett book (all of Discworld) and my second Gaiman book (American Gods), so I'm interested to see how the two work together.  Thanks for the snippet review.

Good Omens feels more like Pratchett than Gaiman. It's undeniably great though.

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22 hours ago, Iskaral Putsch said:

Also finished The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.   A very enjoyable novel that defies categorization.  It has magical realism, reflections on Stalinist Moscow and a reimagining of religion and faith.  Very well written, with signs of the author’s background as a playwright shining through at times: lots of attention to specifics in appearance and movement, plus some neatly coordinated dialogue, even in internal thoughts.  It’s very funny too. 

I love this book. The theatre manager in Wise Phuul has a cat named Behemoth, named after the vodka-drinking feline in Bulgakov.

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On 7/4/2018 at 4:01 PM, Garett Hornwood said:

 

I'll be starting James Joyce's Ulysses tomorrow, so both excited and dreading it as I have no idea what I'm in for.

I much prefer the stick figure cartoon version of Ulysses called "Ulysses For Dummies"

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Finally got some to finish The Promise of Blood, tome 1 of the Powder Mage trilogy.

Maybe I'm not used to napoleonic era fantasy, but I though it was awesome, a great pace, multiple flawed characters, no railroaded plot, original enough magic, and it stays pretty optimistic through it all. Way better than a Novik's Temeraire. I will have to check Tchaikovsky's Guns of the Dawn for comparison.

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Master and Margarita probably belongs to the top 10 of the 20th century; it is a truly great book, although I was somewhat surprised as I did not expect something so "fantastical" rather something closer to Dostoevsky. (It is also one of the books where one would love to read the complete "book within the book", not only bits of it)

Last night I finished "Wyrd Sisters", slowly filling in gaps in the Diskworld series. It's not bad, but rather slow going and too many Shakespeare allusions for a foreigner who has not spent years in HS and College studying that stuff. The ribald jokes and puns of Nanny Ogg seem somewhat dated as well. About average, thus slightly disappointing.

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17 minutes ago, Jo498 said:

Last night I finished "Wyrd Sisters", slowly filling in gaps in the Diskworld series. It's not bad, but rather slow going and too many Shakespeare allusions for a foreigner who has not spent years in HS and College studying that stuff. The ribald jokes and puns of Nanny Ogg seem somewhat dated as well. About average, thus slightly disappointing.

Within his Witches sub-series, the first three were pretty poor: Equal Rites (blend of Unseen University and Witches), Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad.  I thought they improved a lot with Lords & Ladies, Maskerade and Carpe Jugulum.  And the Tiffany Aching books were good too.

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Posted (edited)

I'm not sure Equal Rites really qualifies as a Witches book: it's not the Granny we come to know, but rather something from the dawn of Discworld, where Pratchett was still finding his feet.

Wyrd Sisters is basically one big Shakespeare joke (I can understand who non-native speakers might not care for it - Shakespeare hangs over the English curriculum throughout the Anglophone world, so it's a bit of an in-joke).

Witches Abroad is from the era where Discworld could stand more on its own feet, making humorous references without completely relying on them. It's mostly fun and fluffy.

Lords and Ladies is darker. There's some Shakespeare joking again, but it isn't as heavy handed as Wyrd Sisters. It's also notable for its (early 1990s) portrayal of villainous Elves.

Maskerade "does" Phantom of the Opera. It's nothing special.

Carpe Jugulum is another dark one, this time focused (unsurprisingly) on vampires. It's also the point at which I think Pratchett realised that Granny was becoming problematic - she's simply too powerful. 

Edited by The Marquis de Leech

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It's been a year or more that I read "Equal rites" but like other Early Diskworld I found it better than expected, quite the opposite of my experience with "Wyrd sisters". I should probably read "Sourcery" next as this must have been one of the first three diskworld novels I read in Germany ca. 25 years ago.

I am reasonably familiar with Shakespeare having read at least two plays in English and a few more in German as well as seen some on the stage or as movies. So while not all specific references ring a bell (e.g. I didn't quite get the "fool speech mannerisms") I get the general ones well enough.

Still, "Wyrd sisters" is also fairly low on interesting characters which is not true for all of the otherwise even more "primitive" early books with their sometimes wildly chaotic mixing up of fantasy tropes. It is somehow both too tame (the actual plot) and to ambitious (the Shakespeare stuff) at the same time.

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Currently in the middle of October: The Story of the Russian Revolution by China Mieville. Although I'm familiar with most of the events described, I'm impressed by Mieville's ability to describe the historical events as a compelling story, while maintaining accuracy and details.

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About 2/3rds of the way through Blade of Tyshalle and I'm finally getting into it.  Took about 500 pages, but things are finally starting to come together and pick up.  

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1 hour ago, aceluby said:

About 2/3rds of the way through Blade of Tyshalle and I'm finally getting into it.  Took about 500 pages, but things are finally starting to come together and pick up.  

That book is pure awesome. 

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15 hours ago, unJon said:

That book is pure awesome. 

JFC.... it took me over a month to get 500 pages in and a day to read the last 250.  Just AMAZING!  The setup was a slog, and I really haven't enjoyed any of the 'future day' setting stuff in either book, but understand why it was necessary for the end.  But that ending!  Wow.

Started Caine Black Knife this morning, and I'm already enjoying the hell out of it.

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