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Garett Hornwood

Fourth Quarter 2019 Reading

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I'm still making my way through Phillip Pullman's The Secret Commonwealth. There's a subplot featuring an author who has written a terrible sounding 900 page fantasy novel that he claims is about the triumph of rationality over superstition and every time he's mentioned I find myself thinking of Terry Goodkind.

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I finished the biography Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush by Jon Meacham.  Well researched and great use of interviews of the elder Bush couple that was published around 3 years before their deaths in 2018.

I read J.R.R. Tolkien's Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth (edited by son Christopher), basically only the last third when it covers people and events of the Third Age was worth the time to read.

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On 10/13/2019 at 10:51 AM, The Marquis de Leech said:

Emphyrio is a neat little stand-alone that is particularly fun if you have an interest in economics. I'd also recommend checking out Vance's Dying Earth books.

Yeah, I really enjoyed it. I'm a long way short of an economist, but I did think it was delightfully refreshing to have that sort of issue be the central story of the book. Downsides were: the trash female characters, some of the dialogue. It's not going on the favourites pile, but I did give it a 5 star rating on Goodreads because it felt so, as you said (perhaps colloquially), neat. Well crafted. 

I've heard of the Dying Earth books - I'll definitely put them on the to-buy pile now. That pile gets cleared way more often than my to-read pile!

 

Next up, I'm going to pick up two books. 

Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury - started reading this when it was published but never finished it. I kind of hate this book, but I don't like to get rid of books half-read. I desperately want to put this away before the end of the month, it's been gnawing away at the back of my mind for years now. 

However, I already take in so much modern political content via podcasts, I'm not sure if I can handle more of the same in books without going completely nuts. But I don't have anything in with a light subject matter right now, so I'm going to pick up Richard III. It may be another book about a corrupt, vindictive and unlikable political leader, but Shakespeare is somewhat better than this Michael Wolff guy.

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I just started The Player of Games. So far, it's a bit better than okay but that's as far as I'll go. Banks had some interesting ideas, very imaginative. But his prose is fairly plain and workmanlike in my opinion, and more and more lately I find that what I really want in an author is that truly superior command of the language that makes the world and the story come to life. 

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1 hour ago, Pecan said:

I just started The Player of Games. So far, it's a bit better than okay but that's as far as I'll go. Banks had some interesting ideas, very imaginative. But his prose is fairly plain and workmanlike in my opinion, and more and more lately I find that what I really want in an author is that truly superior command of the language that makes the world and the story come to life. 

I felt the same way but then fell in love with Use of Weapons, the next Banks novel. Would urge you to try that one. 

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I finished the Broken Earth Trilogy this weekend. Too much stuff got explained in the end imo. Still a series I would recommend. 

Next I'm reading The Terrible Thing That Happens by Charlton Mellick. I really enjoy reading his stuff although his books are difficult to find in eBook format.

Edited by Wolfgang I

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I aim to start on The Book of Dust tonight. Other than that, all quiet on the reading front...

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All done with the fifth installment of the Harry Potter series. The teenage angst was less tedious than I remembered and the Department of Mysteries ending was fantastic, so I really enjoyed this one in the end. Straight on to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince now, which I've never read before.

I'm also about a third the way through The Night Circus, which I'm not vibing so far. Maybe it hasn't helped reading it alongside the charming Potter series, but it really feels lifeless to me. 

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Finished A Little Hatred. Another excellent novel from Abercrombie. Loved all the new characters and the cameos from older characters.

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2 hours ago, Paxter said:

All done with the fifth installment of the Harry Potter series. The teenage angst was less tedious than I remembered and the Department of Mysteries ending was fantastic, so I really enjoyed this one in the end. Straight on to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince now, which I've never read before.

I'm also about a third the way through The Night Circus, which I'm not vibing so far. Maybe it hasn't helped reading it alongside the charming Potter series, but it really feels lifeless to me. 

I’ve been feeling a real desire to re-read Harry Potter lately. From memory HBP was my least favourite.

 

Re: the Night Circus, calling @Darth Richard II :P 

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Finished A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie. I really enjoyed it.  At times it seemed like all of the characters were too wryly fatalistic and jaded, especially the younger ones — not having as much diversity as the bitter glee/elan in Glokta’s POV, for example, in the original books.  But it’s still very good, and sets up a whole new generation of potential conflict. 

Edited by Iskaral Pust

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5 hours ago, Paxter said:

 

I'm also about a third the way through The Night Circus, which I'm not vibing so far. Maybe it hasn't helped reading it alongside the charming Potter series, but it really feels lifeless to me. 

Because it is! It's crap! You and me...we are best friends now.

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Haha I’m not sure how I feel about this bromance DRIII. Let me finish the thing first!

Half-Blood Prince is a little unusual so far...feels very much like a set-up novel. By contrast the other novels had a lot of rising tension - even Phoenix for all of its angsty flaws was quite gripping.

Edited by Paxter

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8 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Because it is! It's crap! You and me...we are best friends now.

Disappointingly tame response... 

6 hours ago, Paxter said:

Haha I’m not sure how I feel about this bromance DRIII. Let me finish the thing first!

Half-Blood Prince is a little unusual so far...feels very much like a set-up novel. By contrast the other novels had a lot of rising tension - even Phoenix for all of its angsty flaws was quite gripping.

I liked Order of the Phoenix because it was so long and ponderous but that felt... Right, because it captured the slow burning resentment and frustration of Harry. HBP is what I like to refer to as the raging teenage hormones instalment. However, it does have some excellent bits. Ironically, the best parts were cut from the film! 

I do think tension begins a slow build from around the time they reach hogwarts though. 

 

Almost finished Republic of Thieves re-read. Enjoyed it so much more this time around, especially the interludes/flashbacks. Those have always been my favourite parts though, seeing the GB working together 

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On 10/17/2019 at 5:30 AM, Garett Hornwood said:

I read J.R.R. Tolkien's Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth (edited by son Christopher), basically only the last third when it covers people and events of the Third Age was worth the time to read.

The First Age material is obsolete, but the Second Age material is worth it too.

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On 10/16/2019 at 10:07 AM, williamjm said:

I'm still making my way through Phillip Pullman's The Secret Commonwealth. There's a subplot featuring an author who has written a terrible sounding 900 page fantasy novel that he claims is about the triumph of rationality over superstition and every time he's mentioned I find myself thinking of Terry Goodkind.

I suspect Pullman was thinking of Mr Goodkind too.

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On 10/17/2019 at 9:16 PM, Darth Richard II said:

Because it is! It's crap! You and me...we are best friends now.

You have never wavered in this point, sir.  Respect.  

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Like always, I got trapped in a re-reading ouroboros. I began AGoT in June, and yesterday I began ADwD... I've got a feeling that Winds will be released next year and I wanted to start preparing in advance. I've also started re-reading The Witcher series, given the fact that the tv show is coming out in a couple of months and I barely remember any underlying details. 

On the academical front, I'm revisiting a phenomenal PhD thesis called ''Tournaments, Jousts and Duels: Formal Combats in England and France, circa 1380-1440.'', by Rachel Whitbread (University of York). Really, really good. 

Edited by iberiandirewolf

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Over the past 3 weeks or so I've tried and tried and tried to read Ruin of Kings Vol. 1 in what is going to be a huge series of huge volumes -- I believe the second vol. is already published too, while the first book came out in -- February?  And its chapters have been running on the Tor website for what seems years.

Just ... couldn't.  One big reason is the so-called frame narrator-achivist's tone of voice, who appears on nearly every page in footnotes, interrupting every action sequence.  I've never had that reaction to footnotes in fiction before, as with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  I loved Díaz's footnotes.  But also disliked Kings' -- o dear -- lost (gorgeous, talented, whom women of all ages find so charming no matter how young this male is) heir to an empire, hundreds of gods, goddesses, demons and whatever religions, groups of this and that with names like the Black Company, banging on and on about them all -- o so much exposition poorly disguised as conversation.  In truth, this all reads more like a board role playing game manual than a novel. But then, as I learned by reading the back flap, the author is a video game designer, so that explains it.

Still reading as both academic and popular history a whole cluster of histories and biographies of Europe's 14th century -- some of which are 2nd and even 3rd re-reads.  There is so much I can't seem to learn about that hinge of the 14th century, the bubonic plague and its aftermaths, plus periodic returns.  I can't figure out how armies of such size could still be formed for the 100 years war, and all those war band companies like Hawkwood's were able to be financed, considering the death toll of both people and animals -- and that proportionately it was women and slightly less for me of prime working age died in the greatest numbers.

But this all happened -- there is enormous primary documentation -- but nothing much that tells me how it was able to happen -- and who financed and organized the clean up of the truly staggering messes left by each wave of plague, when the surviving lords couldn't find adequate labor to farm their now deserted by death domains.

 

 

 

Edited by Zorral

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