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Garett Hornwood

First Quarter 2019 Reading

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I don't post here much but often read these threads for book recommendations, so thought I'd share my reads as well. I read pretty much only great and excellent SciFi-Fantasy nowadays, thanks to you guys!

So far this year I've read 

The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey which I thought was okay. Liked the beginning but lost interest when the story changed focus. The ending was mildly interesting, though.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. Got this one in translation as a Christmas gift. Thought both the book and the translation was excellent. It has a warmth and humanity about it that made it a joy to read.

The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore by Ursula Le Guin, also in translation. I adore Le Guin, and these were no exception. The translation was also absolutely wonderful. Possibly the best translation I've ever read.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. I bought this one on impulse and it was a bit of a let down. The whole book is told as a set of interviews by a behind-the-scenes-manipulator sort of character. The author didn't really pull it off though, and it mostly resulted in a lot of telling, not showing. 

And most recently finished Pride and Prejudice. Haven't read Jane Austen before, but I will again. The language was a bit of a challenge at first, but I loved it once I got used to it.

Now onto All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, I think.

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Well it definitely took me a lot less time to read Dark Forge. I thought Cameron was going for more low key, low magic series with the first book, that's not really the case with Dark Forge though, which is a bit closer to his Red Knight books in style. Still, I really enjoyed it.

Next up I think I'll read one of the books in the new releases thread which seem to be receiving positive reviews. I've bought both The Ruin of Kings and The Priory of the Orange Tree, I'm leaning towards The Ruin of Kings.

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In late 2016 I started keeping track of the books I read and I don’t know how I never really peeked into this thread but seems like a good place to gather recs, so I’ll share some of my opinions as well.  I tried goodreads and don’t really like it.  I like my little google sheets spreadsheet better (nerd alert).  

Lately I’ve also been doing a bit of a round up of classic SF/F and sprinkling it heavily into my rotations so I’m sure most of these will have been read by many here.  Anyway, so far this year I’ve read:

1. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein.  I had forgotten that I actually HAD read this before and realized it about 5 pages in but decided to keep going becuase I couldn’t remember what actually happens.  Honestly, I didn’t really care for tgis book.  Didn’t like the slang that the entire book was written in and found the plot a little tedious.  Kind of had to force myself to finish it.

2. Small Gods - Terry Pratchett.  My first foray into Discworld.  Really liked this one.

3. Aethelstan - Tom Holland.  I have read most of Holland’s books, this one was part  of a series of short books on English Kings which I didn’t realize when I ordered it.  I thought it was going to be a little broader in scope for some reason.  Ok read.  Not particularly memorable.  

4. Shogun - James Clavell.  In the last few years I have found myself avoiding 1000+ page books like this one.  It’s just such a big time investment and I always feel obligated to finish the damn thing which can turn into a helluva slog if you aren’t clicking with a certain novel.  I think this book was probably longer than it needed to be, but I liked it a lot and it didn’t take too long to get going either.  The setting of fuedal Japan was unique and outside of the realm of things I normally read about.  So in addition to being a good adventure story, I absorbed a lot about Japanese culture and that was really good.  Found myself looking up all kinds of shit on Wikipedia as I read Shogun.  I don’t know if I would go out of my way to rec. this book to anyone and everyone, but I personally enjoyed the experience of reading it.  And since it was like 1100+ pages, thank God I did.

5. Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C. Clarke.  My first Clarke novel, enjoyed it and will read another.  I gather this is part of a sort of a series about these mysterious Raman vessels but I doubt I’ll pursue all the Rama books immediately.  Gonna check out some of his other works and maybe circle back if I’m still feelin it.  Enjoyed it though.  

6. The Color of Magic - Pratchett.  Since I liked Small Gods I decided to tackle Pratchett from the beginning.  I havent actually finished this one yet, probably about 50 pages to go.  So far I don’t think it’s on the level of Small Gods, but I recognize this is the first one and I’m still enjoying it.  It’s certainly not giving me any reason not to read another Discworld novel.

 

Next up - gonna work through some stuff I’ve already got in stock at the house.  Likely to be Hammer of God by Clarke or Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror.  The latter is a brick of a tome but I’ve been meaning to read it forever so I might just do it and I like to read a history book every 2 or 3 novels.  

 

Edited by S John

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@S John just in case you are unaware, The Colour of Magic actually has a direct sequel with The Light Fantastic, continuing the story of Rincewind, the Tourist and the Luggage. One of the few direct follow ins I think (as opposed to series within Discworld, Witches is still my favourite)

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I finished Colour of Magic a little while back and it was fun. I moved on to Guards! Guards! and loving it. Better written then Colour of Magic and I'm really looking forward to the Night Watch books.

Last night I finished The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft and it was excellent. Highly recommended for anyone who has enjoyed Senlin Ascends and Arm of the Sphinx. 

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On 2/25/2019 at 5:22 AM, larrytheimp said:

Finally got around to Bank's Culture books.  Read Consider Phlebas and Player of Games this week, couple chapters in to Use of Weapons, loving it and can't wait to read more but going to take a break after this one to read some other stuff in the TBR pile.  Next up are The Fifth Season, Jemison, and Dead Boys by Gabriel Squalia.

I read Consider Phlebas last year and it was easily one of my favorite of the year.  Player of Games is definitely on my list to read, but I have so many fucking books I have not read sitting around the house that I'm really trying to reign in the book purchases until I've reduced my queue a bit.  I've made a deal with myself that I'm not allowed to buy Player of Games new or from Amazon.... but if I happen to stumble upon a copy at a used bookstore?  Well, that's just fate.  

26 minutes ago, HelenaExMachina said:

@S John just in case you are unaware, The Colour of Magic actually has a direct sequel with The Light Fantastic, continuing the story of Rincewind, the Tourist and the Luggage. One of the few direct follow ins I think (as opposed to series within Discworld, Witches is still my favourite)

I was not aware, thanks for the tip!  Gonna make a note to look for that one next when I return to Discworld.  

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3 hours ago, S John said:

In late 2016 I started keeping track of the books I read and I don’t know how I never really peeked into this thread but seems like a good place to gather recs, so I’ll share some of my opinions as well.  I tried goodreads and don’t really like it.  I like my little google sheets spreadsheet better (nerd alert).  

4. Shogun - James Clavell.

Speaking of nerd alerts, I do Goodreads, but mainly I've got this text file I keep updated in Emacs. 

Shogun was one of those books I remember my dad reading when I was a kid, but just before I was old enough to read the same things he did. Never gone back and read, but your comments make me want to do so.

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I love Shogun, have read it several times and I also listen to the audiobook a lot.  It's almost 50 hrs ircc (makes me feel like it's a great deal on audible)

3 hours ago, S John said:

I read Consider Phlebas last year and it was easily one of my favorite of the year.  Player of Games is definitely on my list to read, but I have so many fucking books I have not read sitting around the house that I'm really trying to reign in the book purchases until I've reduced my queue a bit.  I've made a deal with myself that I'm not allowed to buy Player of Games new or from Amazon.... but if I happen to stumble upon a copy at a used bookstore?  Well, that's just fate.  

 

Player of Games was great but I'm liking Use of Weapons even more.  

On 3/1/2019 at 7:04 PM, maarsen said:

Welcome to the Banks fan club. I am glad you are enjoying them. 

<Snip>

Larry, Use of Weapons is a fantastic book, and was my introduction to Banks. Tip of the hat to you.  (That's a joke. You'll understand when you are farther along.)

Thanks!  And hahahahahaha,  nice!- I read that part yesterday!  

Edited by larrytheimp

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18 hours ago, ljkeane said:

Next up I think I'll read one of the books in the new releases thread which seem to be receiving positive reviews. I've bought both The Ruin of Kings and The Priory of the Orange Tree, I'm leaning towards The Ruin of Kings.

I know I’m begging up Priory of the Orange Tree in the other thread (and I think it’s fantastic, although I’ve only read half) but yeah, I’d read Ruin of Kings first, it’s much pacier and generally from the thriller-like end of the fantasy spectrum. Priory is more traditional, 4 narrators, slow world building. Plus it’s like twice the length to start with.

Otoh, it might be a stand-alone, not sure yet since I haven’t finished but Shannon still has 4 books in her YA series The Bone Season to put out (I read the first one of those when it came out and wasn’t particularly impressed). Anyway, a stand-alone is always a bonus imo and Ruin of Kings seems like another long series.

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14 hours ago, Mr. X said:

Speaking of nerd alerts, I do Goodreads, but mainly I've got this text file I keep updated in Emacs. 

Shogun was one of those books I remember my dad reading when I was a kid, but just before I was old enough to read the same things he did. Never gone back and read, but your comments make me want to do so.

If you already have some interest, you should definitely go for it.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.  I blasted through it, despite its length.

One word of warning, it is loosely based on true events.  If you don't already know that story (I didn't) and were to google the real guy that it's based on - it would ruin some of the suspense of the book.  Immediately after I finished  Shogun I did a little research on the guy and it was very interesting but I'm glad I didn't look it up while I was reading b/c it would've spoiled one of the major plot points of the book. 

 

 

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6 hours ago, john said:

Otoh, it might be a stand-alone, not sure yet since I haven’t finished but Shannon still has 4 books in her YA series The Bone Season to put out (I read the first one of those when it came out and wasn’t particularly impressed). Anyway, a stand-alone is always a bonus imo and Ruin of Kings seems like another long series.

I haven't read any of it myself, but it doesn't seem to me that The Bone Season has usually been marketed or reviewed as being a "YA series" in the USA. 

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10 minutes ago, Ormond said:

I haven't read any of it myself, but it doesn't seem to me that The Bone Season has usually been marketed or reviewed as being a "YA series" in the USA. 

Lots of stuff that isn't shelved or advertised as YA in any country gets labeled YA, and I've never been able to figure it out,

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13 hours ago, Ormond said:

I haven't read any of it myself, but it doesn't seem to me that The Bone Season has usually been marketed or reviewed as being a "YA series" in the USA. 

Interesting. It’s definitely marketed as YA in the UK, it was the “next Harry Potter” by a wunderkind author and recent Oxford University graduate (I can’t think of another book in the fantasy genre in the last ten years that was so heavily marketed).

But I’d say it is in fact YA, it has a teen girl protagonist, a dangerous liaison with a stern young supernatural type man. And just generally teen angst abounds. That was the reason I didn’t really get on with it.

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On 3/4/2019 at 11:17 PM, S John said:

6. The Color of Magic - Pratchett.  Since I liked Small Gods I decided to tackle Pratchett from the beginning.  I havent actually finished this one yet, probably about 50 pages to go.  So far I don’t think it’s on the level of Small Gods, but I recognize this is the first one and I’m still enjoying it.  It’s certainly not giving me any reason not to read another Discworld novel.

I found The Color of Magic to be a little strange, and really lacking in cohesion, so after reading it (and finding that its preface promised the rest of the series to be written like that too), I put it away and didn't feel like continuing. But then one day I saw The Light Fantastic on sale, decided to give it a try (hey, might as well find out what happens with Rincewind), and found it leaps and bounds better. I've bought one Discworld book per month since, there should be enough of them to sustain me for another two years.

So yeah, even though you like the first one, just rest assured the series will be even better later on.

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On 3/4/2019 at 11:17 PM, S John said:

2. Small Gods - Terry Pratchett.  My first foray into Discworld.  Really liked this one.
[...]

6. The Color of Magic - Pratchett.  Since I liked Small Gods I decided to tackle Pratchett from the beginning.  I havent actually finished this one yet, probably about 50 pages to go.  So far I don’t think it’s on the level of Small Gods, but I recognize this is the first one and I’m still enjoying it.  It’s certainly not giving me any reason not to read another Discworld novel.

This was an unfortunate order. "Small Gods" is the best of the 15 or 16 Discworld novels I have read. (It is also together with "Paladin of Souls" the best treatment of religion in fantasy I have encountered.)

Whereas the first handful or so, especially the Color of Magic and The Light fantastic are rather different from the later "standard" (and many readers find them considerably weaker, a position I can understand but don't quite share). Some are rather episodic and/or heavily dependent on making fun of fantasy tropes. I still found them quite enjoyable and actually preferred the "raw" first two to Wyrd sisters and a few more somewhat early ones. For closure you should still probably read "Light fantastic" but then jump either to "Mort" or the first Guards novel ("Guards! Guards!")

 

I am almost through with Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" (Hunchback of) I saw a movie or two of this one ages ago but never got around reading it. Except for one occasion where Hugo inserts a 20 page essay on cultural history and a few more lengthy passages it is quite good (rather grimdark at times as well).

Edited by Jo498

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6 hours ago, Jo498 said:

This was an unfortunate order. "Small Gods" is the best of the 15 or 16 Discworld novels I have read. (It is also together with "Paladin of Souls" the best treatment of religion in fantasy I have encountered.)

Whereas the first handful or so, especially the Color of Magic and The Light fantastic are rather different from the later "standard" (and many readers find them considerably weaker, a position I can understand but don't quite share). Some are rather episodic and/or heavily dependent on making fun of fantasy tropes. I still found them quite enjoyable and actually preferred the "raw" first two to Wyrd sisters and a few more somewhat early ones. For closure you should still probably read "Light fantastic" but then jump either to "Mort" or the first Guards novel ("Guards! Guards!")

 

I am almost through with Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" (Hunchback of) I saw a movie or two of this one ages ago but never got around reading it. Except for one occasion where Hugo inserts a 20 page essay on cultural history and a few more lengthy passages it is quite good (rather grimdark at times as well).

That chapter in which Hugo describes  medieval Paris is my favorite of the novel.

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I have usually no problem with colorful descriptions like in the very beginning with Gringoire's silly play being disturbed all the time etc. or the chatting women later (who "accidentally" reveal Esmeralda's backstory to the reader).

The chapter that I found too long was not an actual description  but really an essay about printed books replacing (usually sacred) buildings as memory of mankind (book 4, chpt. 2). It was an interesting thesis but the exposition simply too long for insertion in a novel.

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