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Garett Hornwood

Third Quarter 2019 Reading

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19 hours ago, RedEyedGhost said:

So it's the second worst book?  That's terrible news.

Well, it's as good as The Heroes, Red Country, and Last Argument of Kings if that works better for you. :)

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I finished one of Adrian Tchaikovsky's latest novels Cage of Souls (I saw one of the latest because it's only been out four months but I think he's published two more books since then).

The setting is significantly different to any of his previous books, it's a 'dying Earth' setting where even the Sun seems to be dying and what remains of humanity has forgotten most of its history. The story is split into two parts, the main portion tells of the narrator's efforts to survive exile on the prison colony known as 'The Island', that storyline being periodically interrupted as Stefan fills in the backstory about his life on what is probably the last city on Earth and how he ended up being exiled. There's a general tone of melancholy to the story, even the parts not set in a brutal prison, although there are still occasional moments of hope. It's a vividly described setting, particularly the inhospitable jungle surrounding the Island which is full of life, little of which is friendly, the Underworld beneath the city of Shadrapur is another fascinating part of the setting. While it's not a short book it's still impressive how many ideas Tchaikovsky manages to throw into the story, some of the subplots could have been the basis for novels in their own right. There are also a lot of interesting mysteries in the story, some of them crucial to the plot, many of which Stefan never finds out the answer to. I don't know if every reader is necessarily going to appreciate the lack of answers but I think it does work well - the book is more about figuring out how to survive than figuring out how the world works.

If I had a small criticism to make, it it that while Stefan does get some good character development throughout the story I think he's maybe not the most compelling of protagonists and he himself comments that he's often only peripherally involved. This is somewhat counteracted by it having plenty of memorable supporting characters and the Marshal and Gaki are very effective antagonists.

I thought this was a good book, although I might rank it slightly below some of Tchaikovsky's other books (such as Dogs of War of Children of Time), it is perhaps a bit slow paced to begin with although it does get more compelling as it goes along and it does have a strong ending.

Next up I think I'll read Lois McMaster Bujold's latest Penric and Desdemona novella, The Orphans of Raspay.

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I haven’t read many books this year yet, but I’m hoping that once I finish college in a couple of weeks I’ll be able to dive into more heavy readig.

My favorite books this year so far have been Chapterhouse:Dune, The Stories of Your Life and Others (I’m surprised I haven’t seen Ted Chiang being discussed here, his sci fi short stories are great!), and Bad Samaritans (an economics book that mixes alot of history in it, it’s a great book and I suggest people to read it if they live in a developing country, like I do)

 

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2 hours ago, Nicomo Cosca said:

The Stories of Your Life and Others (I’m surprised I haven’t seen Ted Chiang being discussed here, his sci fi short stories are great!)

It is a great collection. I'll probably pick up Exhalation, his new short story collection, sometime soon.

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I've just started The Witcher series, The Last Wish, much more well written than I thought it would be, a little light on description and character build up but still very enjoyable to read.  Also started Lovecraft's Dream Cycle, Polaris was very good!

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15 hours ago, williamjm said:

It is a great collection. I'll probably pick up Exhalation, his new short story collection, sometime soon.

I didn't realize he had a new collection out so I was excited to hear this. 

I've had a hard time reading much of anything this year - it's felt like I've struck out a lot on finding something that holds my interest. (It was easier when I was reading through this forum's recommendations and felt driven to keep going, even when occasionally hate reading). This is the first time in a few months where I've immediately thought - I'm going to start this tonight!

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On 8/8/2019 at 5:34 AM, RedEyedGhost said:

So it's the second worst book?  That's terrible news.

You know, I'm glad someone else shares that opinion. Seeing all the love for BSC in the Abercrombie thread always baffles me. It's the only First Law book I did not enjoy and it certainly pales in comparison to The Heroes, Red Country, and Last Argument of Kings.

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BSC is basically a mix of Kill Bill and Mission impossible in a fantasy setting. Among all of them it is most like a 1990/early 2000s revenge action movie. (As I see the first trilogy as a whole and don't remember sufficiently what exactly is in which book, for me Red Country clearly is the most disappointing.)

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Have just started Becky Chambers’ The Long Way To a Small, Angry Planet. Like it a lot so far. The writing is good, with an absorbing plot and some interesting characters. Faced-paced and full of action it is not.

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I have been meaning to read Ted Chiang for a long time...I just find short story collections often let me down, which makes it hard to get motivated to read the next one. 

I finished Austen's Northanger Abbey. A great, quick read overall with some typically funny moments and memorable passages. But it is clearly inferior to her great works (Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice) on account of a more forgettable protagonist and (for my tastes) a slightly tiresome satirisation of the Gothic genre. Then again, this was one of her earlier works, so it was probably unreasonable to expect something as masterful as her later writing. 

Now back to my Harry Potter re-read. I am slightly dreading this one: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. My recollection is that this was overly angsty and bloated. I'll also probably read The Wind in the Willows. Very YA at the moment!

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18 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Haha  don’t tell Joe you compared BSC to Kill Bill :p

I don't claim originality, I think someone else made the comparison in this forum years ago.

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Currently reading London by Edward Rutherford. Great historical fiction by an excellent author imo.

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11 hours ago, Jo498 said:

I don't claim originality, I think someone else made the comparison in this forum years ago.

Yeah if I remember correctly it turned out that Joe did not see the film til long after he wrote BSC and that he was, uh, not a fan.

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On 8/13/2019 at 3:02 PM, Veltigar said:

You know, I'm glad someone else shares that opinion. Seeing all the love for BSC in the Abercrombie thread always baffles me. It's the only First Law book I did not enjoy and it certainly pales in comparison to The Heroes, Red Country, and Last Argument of Kings.

I hated BSC. Red Country seemed like it would be most up my alley in style, but I hated BSC so much that I never picked it up, and it's been 10 years in which I haven't really missed Abercrombie on the whole, so it seems increasingly unlikely that I ever will unless someone convinces me that I'd love it.

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2 hours ago, Eponine said:

I hated BSC. Red Country seemed like it would be most up my alley in style, but I hated BSC so much that I never picked it up, and it's been 10 years in which I haven't really missed Abercrombie on the whole, so it seems increasingly unlikely that I ever will unless someone convinces me that I'd love it.

BSC was the worst for me too, but I did enjoy Red Country.  The Heroes was the best though.  

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If one generally likes Abercrombie, Red Country is worth trying and of course the Shattered Sea trilogy (which I find comparably underrated, it's less ambitious and it has faults but overall it's in some respect better (less rambling) than the 6 FL books). I liked Red Country the least but I did finish it. The only one I did not finish is the Sharp Ends anthology... Overall he is fairly consistent, so it's also unlikely that someone would love a later book when disliking the first three or so.

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Hm, opinion much more divided than i once thought. For me the Heroes isthe weakest standalone. I don’t dislike it, i just find it less interesting than the others

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Finished listening to the audiobook of Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic's Indianapolis: The True Story of The Worst Sea Disaster in US Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate and Innocent Man. Fascinating story of the events surrounding the sinking of the USS Indianapolis after its delivery of the a-bomb used at Hiroshima. As harrowing as the sinking and 5-day struggle of the survivors in the Philippine Sea was, I was equally fascinated by the court martial of Capt. McVay and the efforts to exonerate him. Highly recommended.

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