Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
williamjm

November 2018 Reading - remember, remember the blade of Ember

Recommended Posts

I finished Chris Wooding's The Ember Blade. Overall, I thought it was a good book, it was perhaps a bit slow to begin with but it picked up once they got to Skavenhald and the final section was the highlight of the book. The series has been described as Wooding's homage to the more traditional epic fantasy of the 80s and 90s, and early it on it does feel a lot like that but perhaps less so as the story goes on. I think the early 90s fantasy it most resembles might be Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana due to the plot following the group of freedom fighters trying to free a country where their countrymen aren't necessarily sure they want to be freed. The ambiguity over whether the characters are really trying to do the correct thing does add some extra depth to the story, particularly with regards to the character of Garrick where even his followers have some misgivings about some of his actions. While the early stages of the book are a bit predictable at times I thought Wooding did manage to throw in a few good twists and surprises at it goes along, and his willingness to abruptly kill off characters adds a bit of unpredictability to the story. In his previous books Wooding's characterisation has been one of the strongest elements, there is some good characterisation here again although I found the secondary characters to be more interesting than Aren and Cade, the initial protagonists of the story. The world-building is perhaps a bit bland, the portrayal of the country of Ossia itself is fine, but the description of the wider world is vague, we're told that there are a lot of races other than humans out there but never actually see any of them in the book, perhaps we'll get a better picture of the world in the later parts of the trilogy.

Compared to Wooding's previous books, I'd rank this similar to The Braided Path, his previous attempt at epic fantasy, and maybe not quite as great as The Tales of the Ketty Jay or The Fade.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, williamjm said:

While the early stages of the book are a bit predictable at times I thought Wooding did manage to throw in a few good twists and surprises at it goes along, and his willingness to abruptly kill off characters adds a bit of unpredictability to the story. In his previous books Wooding's characterisation has been one of the strongest elements, there is some good characterisation here again although I found the secondary characters to be more interesting than Aren and Cade, the initial protagonists of the story. The world-building is perhaps a bit bland, the portrayal of the country of Ossia itself is fine, but the description of the wider world is vague, we're told that there are a lot of races other than humans out there but never actually see any of them in the book, perhaps we'll get a better picture of the world in the later parts of the trilogy.

This is largely how I felt--I was hoping for more twists than we got given some of the really weird places Braided Path ended up going (although it's been a long time since I read it, I remember some legitimately surprising deaths and other choices in there).  My largest problem with the book, exacerbated by reading it right after Miles Cameron's Cold Iron, is just how much straightforward narrative "And this is what Cade thinks about his oppressors and their culture" the narrative indulged in, direct infodump about how WE do X but THEY do Y and THEY think we're primitive but WE are actually good.  I don't think the cultural conflict narrative was worked with much delicacy, although okay, maybe it doesn't need to be.  But there are some solid hooks in the metaplot that mean I'll probably pick up the next one to see what the driving force behind everything really is.  I'm a sucker for that stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just finished Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, an unusual variation on a whodunnit/murder mystery.  This contains two separate nested stories which, of course, will be heavily related.  It's not as deeply nested as Cloud Atlas but a step in that direction.  The first story is a deliberate simulacrum of Hercule Poirot, a paean to Agatha Christie, with a very traditional murder set in a small village, albeit in the 1950s rather than 1930s.  The second story is modern day narrated by the editor who read the first story, and includes some meta deconstruction of mystery novels.  Overall an interesting approach and decently written.  There was nothing urgently compelling or gripping about the prose or characters, but a fan of the mystery genre would enjoy the overall idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm currently reading Brandon Sanderson's Oathbringer.  So far I'm liking how he's pacing things out in the series and the book (I'm approximately 35% through already).  Plus I just read Dalinar's first interaction with Lift which was pretty funny.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just finished The Monster Baru Cormorant. I really liked it. The world building was solid, and the expansion in POVs worked great. The book didn’t flinch from the very controversial ending to the first book, but dealt really wel with all the repurcussions. 

 

It does end on a cliffhanger, which I always hate. But, some during post reading research Inlearned that’s because the original draft of this book was 360,000 words and Seth turned it into two books. So the next book in the now four book series is at least written (in draft form). Hopefully that means it can get published in a year (and doesn’t turn Rothfuss). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Didn't get to as much reading as I'd like over the last few weeks.  About 1/3 of the way through Shogun and finishing up the epilogue in Dark Tower 6: Song of Susanna.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At the moment I'm reading Miles Cameron's The Fall of Dragons which I'm enjoying so far.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/4/2018 at 3:12 PM, williamjm said:

I finished Chris Wooding's The Ember Blade. Overall, I thought it was a good book, it was perhaps a bit slow to begin with but it picked up once they got to Skavenhald and the final section was the highlight of the book. The series has been described as Wooding's homage to the more traditional epic fantasy of the 80s and 90s, and early it on it does feel a lot like that but perhaps less so as the story goes on. I think the early 90s fantasy it most resembles might be Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana due to the plot following the group of freedom fighters trying to free a country where their countrymen aren't necessarily sure they want to be freed. The ambiguity over whether the characters are really trying to do the correct thing does add some extra depth to the story, particularly with regards to the character of Garrick where even his followers have some misgivings about some of his actions. While the early stages of the book are a bit predictable at times I thought Wooding did manage to throw in a few good twists and surprises at it goes along, and his willingness to abruptly kill off characters adds a bit of unpredictability to the story. In his previous books Wooding's characterisation has been one of the strongest elements, there is some good characterisation here again although I found the secondary characters to be more interesting than Aren and Cade, the initial protagonists of the story. The world-building is perhaps a bit bland, the portrayal of the country of Ossia itself is fine, but the description of the wider world is vague, we're told that there are a lot of races other than humans out there but never actually see any of them in the book, perhaps we'll get a better picture of the world in the later parts of the trilogy.

Compared to Wooding's previous books, I'd rank this similar to The Braided Path, his previous attempt at epic fantasy, and maybe not quite as great as The Tales of the Ketty Jay or The Fade.

So far it's reminding a bit of Luke Scull's series but that's probably down to the modern feel and the fact it has young people working in a prison mine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finished Amy S. Greenberg's A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico. Not a title to instill hopes of an objective account. Even with the author's rampant opinions bleeding into the work, there were interesting facts included. It was really a look at the political background of the Mexican War with Polk and the Jacksonian Democrats on one side vs. Clay and his Whigs on the other.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read Claire North's 84K. Certainly a more normal novel than End of the Day, people will be relieved to hear (though EotD has grown on me in hindsight I have to say and I re-read it recently). That said, it has none of the wonder of her normal work - on purpose, since as the title rather hints, 1984 is a clear inspiration and it's an angry, mostly depressing book (though not specifically like 1984 beyond being a dystopia really). It's good, but fans of hers should probably be prepared for that going in.



Now I've started the delightful A Winter's Promise, the first of the Mirror Visitor sequence, a French YA series by Christelle Dabos. There's room for this to go wrong, because a big part of the plot is an arranged-marriage-with-brooding-stranger scenario that could get uneasily Stockholm Syndrome if it's played wrong, but so far it's charming my boots off, proper old-school magical whimsy vibes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finished Merchanter's Luck by CJ Cherryh. It was a re-read, but it had been so long that I forgot basically all of it. Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed it (she's one of my favorite authors), and I think I'll re-read Forty Thousand in Gehenna next,

Edited by Starkess

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All done with VanderMeer's Borne. I struggled with this one a bit, mostly because:

Spoiler

VanderMeer kept a lot of major plot and character details hidden only to reveal them in an underwhelming manner towards the end of the novel. 

VanderMeer certainly knows though how to create wondrous and horrifying settings that capture the imagination. I also enjoyed the familiar themes of truth and trust in relationships that often come up in his work. 

Now on to Woolf's Mrs Dalloway

Edited by Paxter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Started up Dark Tower 7 over the weekend.  Really fast paced start after the sorta cliffhanger in book 6.  Also ordered a few more of his other books I haven't read before.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/10/2018 at 9:49 PM, polishgenius said:

Now I've started the delightful A Winter's Promise, the first of the Mirror Visitor sequence, a French YA series by Christelle Dabos. There's room for this to go wrong, because a big part of the plot is an arranged-marriage-with-brooding-stranger scenario that could get uneasily Stockholm Syndrome if it's played wrong, but so far it's charming my boots off, proper old-school magical whimsy vibes. 



So I finished this and it's really great. Wonderful and savage combination of the whimsy and childlike charm of the magic of the world itself and some proper cut-throat court politics from the people in it. And the romance angle I was worried about has so far been played just fine. It might be my favourite book I've read this year, it's just fantastic.

The fact that the heroine is a clumsy, messy-haired, short-sighted scruff who struggles to raise her voice to where people can hear her is an added bonus. Who said guys can't empathise with woman protagonists, I haven't empathised with a character this much since, well, ever really.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/12/2018 at 10:30 PM, polishgenius said:



So I finished this and it's really great. Wonderful and savage combination of the whimsy and childlike charm of the magic of the world itself and some proper cut-throat court politics from the people in it. And the romance angle I was worried about has so far been played just fine. It might be my favourite book I've read this year, it's just fantastic.

The fact that the heroine is a clumsy, messy-haired, short-sighted scruff who struggles to raise her voice to where people can hear her is an added bonus. Who said guys can't empathise with woman protagonists, I haven't empathised with a character this much since, well, ever really.

Is this French language? And if so do you happen to know if it has been translated? Sounds like my kind of thing

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Is this French language? And if so do you happen to know if it has been translated? Sounds like my kind of thing



Sadly, I don't read French. :P The first volume has been translated, and just came out, it's what I read. Second book's due early next year I believe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just finished The Fall of Dragons, bloody hell there's a lot going on in that book and I'm not entirely sure I followed everything but it was still very enjoyable.

I'm not sure what I'll read next probably either Lies Sleeping or War of the Wolf.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since I’m finishing up a book today, i’ll probably also get Lies Sleeping (Aaronovitch) next.  Not really a release day must have but this one sounds interesting, seems from the synopsis to be more or less winding up the story so far.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×