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Garett Hornwood

Fourth Quarter 2019 Reading

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Reading 'the Bone Ships' based on a rec. here somewhere.

So far, entertaining, but my one quibble is that the author uses 'bone' way too much. It's like the Smurfs - but instead of smurf as the universal prefix, it's bone. 'The crew of the boneship raised its sails on the towering bonemasts...'

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Finished The Northern Lights (or The Golden Compass, non-UK) re-read after falling in love with Pullman’s world again reading The Secret Commonwealth. Its fun reading it in light of his new trilogy in progress and seeing whether the two trilogies square up or if there seems to be a lot of retconning

(imo, there are some minor things that can be explained but don’t quite “fit” so seem like a retcon)

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Finally done with The Night Circus. That was a slog. This book is so busy trying to convince you how amazing and wondrous the circus is that it forgets to actually be amazing and wondrous. And the plot and characterisation are mediocre at best. 

Edited by Paxter

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Another audiobook. This time Nathaniel Philbrick's Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution. I've enjoyed all of the author's books I've read or listened to. This one was just as interesting. I appreciated discovering more about Joseph Warren and the city of Boston during the British siege.

I tend to listen to/read a lot about colonial/revolutionary era America with books and podcasts. I decided to change it up a little bit and discover the wonderful world of international art theft with Robert K. Wittman's Priceless: How I went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures.

Almost done with Zoe Oldenbourg's Massacre at Montsegur. Excellent history of the Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade.

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14 hours ago, Astromech said:

 

Almost done with Zoe Oldenbourg's Massacre at Montsegur. Excellent history of the Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade.

I read Massacre at Montsegur over 30 years ago and still remember it as one of the best history books I ever read. I couldn't get over the idea of thousands of people being killed with swords or clubs. Just the physical work involved in that is mind boggling.

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10 hours ago, Ormond said:

I read Massacre at Montsegur over 30 years ago and still remember it as one of the best history books I ever read. I couldn't get over the idea of thousands of people being killed with swords or clubs. Just the physical work involved in that is mind boggling.

It is brutal in parts, but very well written and engaging. I loved Oldenbourg's depiction of the massacre of the inquisitors. The mob all jockeying to get in their hits on the bodies.

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I finished Connolly's Book of Bones and it was good like all Connolly books are good. 

Next I read Barker's Age of Assassins which I liked more than I suspected I would at the start.  I'm not sure I can even pinpoint why.  

I'll choose a new book before bed tonight.

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"Gideon the Ninth" by Tamsyn Muir - space necromancers and swordspeople get embroiled in a deadly mystery. Swashbuckling tale with the unusual imagery/setting and snappy dialog. Loved it. I still have quite a few questions, though, some of  which will hopefully be answered in the sequels:
 

Spoiler

 

How come that no children were born to the Ninth House after Harrowhark? Some of the sacrificed kids were infants, so their mothers likely would have been young enough to have more. Also, since the Ninth House administers that prison, you'd think that would have tried to use it to get some kids from the inmates? Offer them better treatment in exchange or something. Also, what did the Emperor's promise to "renew" it mean? Is some other House going to produce lots of kids who are going to be handed over to them? Does he have better fertility technology than the Nines?

I don't entirely understand why Harrow's parents decided to commit suicide and wanted her to do likewise after she entered the Locked Tomb. Did they think that her having done it it would cause the Emperor's death? I mean, the whole point of them producing a necromantic heir of their blood at such a cost was because only their DNA was attuned enough to the seal to open it? Also, if it was considered so important for their line to continue, how comes that the great-aunts didn't contribute their bit back in their youth?  

So, Gideon was a mysterious orphan somehow immune to the poison gas and apparently connected to the reasearchers who became the Emperor and his Lyctors and now she is dead, just like that? I liked this twist, but I still want to know what the deal was supposed to be with her, Also, Cyntarea said that it took centuries for her to wholly integrate her cavalier's soul, but Gideon was gone so very quickly? Hm...

How have the firerams fallen in such a disuse, while grenades and explosives are still popular? From what we have seen, while bullets  wouldn't do much against  necromantic constructs, the necromancers themselves are as susceptible as normal people?

What's the deal with the First Planet? There is no way that the buildings on it and the contents of the palace are 10 millenia old.

I am inclined to think that everybody who survived the Trials without becoming a Lyctor was summarily killed, because the Emperor wouldn't want the secret of how to gain such powers to get out of his control. In fact, I am currently  pegging him for a villain.

 

 

"The Ninth House" by Leigh Bardugo - her answer to Lev Grossman's "The Magicians", I guess, except that she doesn't go for secondary world setting and puts the magical societies into Yale directly. So, not quite urban, but college-town fantasy, I guess? Our protagonist Alex Stern has a very chequered past, but for once her ability to see and interact with ghosts that ruined her youth works in her favor and gets her a full-ride scholarship to the Ivy-league university, where she is supposed to ride herd on the use of magic. Hijinks ensue. I liked it well enough.

"La Belle Sauvage" by Philipp Pullman - really liked about 2-3 -3/4 of it, but then it turned into a slog with a helping of unnecessary unleasantness.
 

Spoiler

 

Did everybody and their dog among the supernatural wanting a peice of Lyra really add anything? And Bonneville being able to stay on their track even after they shot him and his daemon and took away his aletiometer made zero sense. Also, why did Pullman feel the need to include gratuitious rape of poor Alice?!

Among the parts I liked I still have a few gripes - the complete disregard of the necessary rules of undercover work once Dr. Relf got truly involved in Oakely matters was rather disappointing. And why were Malcolm and Alice, as well as their families not arrested, put into camps or even killed after their involvement with Lyra? We are supposed to think that they are safe in the end, but it doesn't make sense...

 

 

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On 11/22/2019 at 5:42 PM, Maia said:

"The Ninth House" by Leigh Bardugo - her answer to Lev Grossman's "The Magicians", I guess, except that she doesn't go for secondary world setting and puts the magical societies into Yale directly. So, not quite urban, but college-town fantasy, I guess? Our protagonist Alex Stern has a very chequered past, but for once her ability to see and interact with ghosts that ruined her youth works in her favor and gets her a full-ride scholarship to the Ivy-league university, where she is supposed to ride herd on the use of magic. Hijinks ensue. I liked it well enough.

I've also just finished The Ninth House. Having not read "The Magicians" I was more inclined to compare it to Tim Powers' work, revealing occult secret histories that incorporate a lot of genuine history, although I think Bardugo is much more comfortable writing in a contemporary setting than Powers is.

I liked the way the story was constructed. The chapters switch back and forth between different points in the story with the first chapter being one of the chronologically latest and I think this is used to good effect to gradually reveal details about the characters and setting. The murder mystery that is central to the plot also works well, there's plenty of foreshadowing about the culprit but also enough misdirection that it wasn't predictable. There's a secondary plot that was perhaps less convincing because there is a plot twist that seems to come almost out of nowhere near the end of the book. I thought Alex was an interesting protagonist, in the early chapters she might feel a bit passive because she's trying to hide who she really is, but the book's pace definitely picks up once she decides she's had enough of hiding and is going to be more proactive. I also liked Darlington and Dawes out of the supporting cast, both of whom make a good contrast to Alex.

Next up I'm going to read Peter F. Hamilton's Salvation Lost. I liked the first book in the series, so I'm interested in seeing where the sequel goes.

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2 hours ago, williamjm said:

I've also just finished The Ninth House. Having not read "The Magicians" I was more inclined to compare it to Tim Powers' work, revealing occult secret histories that incorporate a lot of genuine history, although I think Bardugo is much more comfortable writing in a contemporary setting than Powers is.

I second all of this.

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On 11/22/2019 at 7:43 AM, Inkdaub said:

I finished Connolly's Book of Bones and it was good like all Connolly books are good. 

Next I read Barker's Age of Assassins which I liked more than I suspected I would at the start.  I'm not sure I can even pinpoint why.  

I'll choose a new book before bed tonight.

Ooo Age of Assassins, the third book in that trilogy made me cry like a bitch. That series needs more love.

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I'm really really enjoying Beneath a Starless Sky: Pillars of Eternity and the Infinity Engine Era of RPGs by David L. Craddock. 

It was published as a mega long-form piece on Shacknews originally, and later was assembled into an eBook that I picked up on the Kindle store. This book is supremely fascinating! 

A blurb about the piece from the original article at Shacknews:

Quote

"From the Sword Coast to the Deadfire archipelago, Beneath a Starless Sky explores the making of the Infinity Engine RPGs, the history of Black Isle Studios, and the development of Obsidian Entertainment's Pillars of Eternity franchise."

A highly recommended read. If you've played/enjoyed any cRPG in the last 30 years, you will find something here that's of interest to you.

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2 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Ooo Age of Assassins, the third book in that trilogy made me cry like a bitch. That series needs more love.

There is definitely something about this book.  My main gripe is it felt rushed in areas of the plot.  I know many people get excited by a four hundred page fantasy but I'm not one of them.  I like my fantasy long and detailed...fleshed out...whatever.  Age of Assassins was on the shorter side and I think it shows.  Good news is it's the first of three and I read it in two days.  Barker does emotion well and he isn't afraid of letting the badasses be badass.  It's a good combo.   

Now I'm on to Ruiz Zafon's Labyrinth of the Spirits.

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Finished It a few weeks back.  Great book, but I had one major issue with it

Spoiler

What the fuck is up with the 11 year old group sex scene.  Like, who thought that would be a good idea and how the hell did it get past any editor with any sense.  The movies did a much better job in this regard.

I also finished a short novella by King called Elevation.  Cool little story that was very little about the weirdness that was happening and more about some of the shortfalls of conservative, small town America.

Now I'm back into fantasy the The Fifth Season.  About done with it and will definitely continue through the trilogy.  Loving it so far.

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Finished Coconut Cowboy by Tim Dorsey, which is apparently #19 in the Serge Storms series, although it’s my first exposure to this author and this series.  This is a humorous series about a proud native of Florida with an encyclopediac knowledge of the history of his state, who is a serial killer of inconsiderate douche bags.  He is accompanied on an Easy Rider-inspired jaunt by his permanently inebriated/stoned side kick as the search to reverse the disappearance of the American Dream.  There’s also a story of small-town, red-neck corruption, and eventually the two plot arcs intersect.

This is definitely funny and weird, and seems like a blend of Hunter S. Thompson and Justified.  I enjoyed it and laughed with it.  But I doubt I’ll be reading all 18 of the earlier volumes. I might try another if discounted on Kindle. 

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I finished the audiobook book version of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. The cast was enjoyable in particular Dion Graham who read the Sweet Sorrows sections. 

If you did not enjoy The Night Circus I cannot imagine you even wanting to pick this up. I enjoyed TNC but this 18+ hour book reminded me of another Goldfinch - overly long with some beautiful passages but ultimately a shrug in book form. The parts I liked I really really liked and would welcome a compilation of the stories within this story. Time Falls in Love With Fate and The Innkeeper and The Moon were particularly lovely. 

 

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Read maybe 1/2 of the first Red Riding book from David Peace. So relentlessly grim that I was not sad to see my loan period had ended before I finished the book. Oof. Having looked up the rest of the plot of the TV show made from the book, it was in fact even grimmer than I thought. 

 

 

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