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First Quarter 2020 Reading

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, IlyaP said:

Has it aged well? 

Have this in my library, picked it up a few years ago, intending to read it, since it's a classic of the genre. 

Yes, Hobb's writing is still superb and the story and characters still very compelling. Noticed one or two things she seems to have changed since starting out (Chalced is one of the Duchies in AA, for example) but doesn't detract from the story. 

Not surprised it has aged well though, because:

a) It was only a mid-90's series so not too old really, and more importantly

b) It was the beginning of a 16-part series set in the world which all forms part of a single narrative, which she only concluded in... I want to say 2016? 

(although you could skip certain parts but, why would you) 

Edited by HelenaExMachina

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

On the subject of re-reading, i found it was time for me to dig out Assassin’s Apprentice. Again.

Somehow everytime i read it i pick up on little details I either missed first time or forgot. Its also quite amusing to me

I read a later series (apparently the most recent Fitz and the Fool) with those characters without knowing there was an earlier trilogy (or two). It was a highly rated audiobook and actually available on the library app, so I jumped in.

It was really good but also strangely annoying for reasons I'll keep to myself (much of it relating to pacing).

Would you say the latter is similar in tone and structure or is it perhaps dissimilar from the former?

Edited by Ser Not Appearing

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22 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Yes, Hobb's writing is still superb and the story and characters still very compelling. Noticed one or two things she seems to have changed since starting out (Chalced is one of the Duchies in AA, for example) but doesn't detract from the story. 

Not surprised it has aged well though, because:

a) It was only a mid-90's series so not too old really, and more importantly

b) It was the beginning of a 16-part series set in the world which all forms part of a single narrative, which she only concluded in... I want to say 2016? 

(although you could skip certain parts but, why would you) 

I started reading it 4 years ago and i was actually surprised by how mature it was for what is essentially a "coming of age" fantasy story. I think if I'd read this when it came out as a teenager I'd have been blown away and had much higher standards in my reading material.

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22 hours ago, Ser Not Appearing said:

I read a later series (apparently the most recent Fitz and the Fool) with those characters without knowing there was an earlier trilogy (or two). It was a highly rated audiobook and actually available on the library app, so I jumped in.

It was really good but also strangely annoying for reasons I'll keep to myself (much of it relating to pacing).

Would you say the latter is similar in tone and structure or is it perhaps dissimilar from the former?

Most of her stuff is sedately paced to start and goes absolutely bonker balls for the last 50 pages or so. She crafts her characters in a way that you care about their mundane/every day life - I imagine had you read the first trilogy and got to know Fitz and the others first, you would have found tthe pacing less annoying.

The most recent Fitz and the Fool (I assume this means the one beginning with Fool’s Assassin?) can technically be read in its own right but you miss out on so much by not having read the previous volumes. Obviously i have no comparison as i read them all beforehand, but i think this likely imoacted your enjoyment. I recommend giving Assassin’s Apprentice a try to see how you feel.

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I read Ben Aaronvitch's False Value. I've always enjoyed the Rivers of London stories and this was no exception. After the series tied up some long-standing plot threads in the previous book this is a relatively stand-alone novel although the ending does set up some potential plots for future books. Most of the book focuses on an investigation into a company set up by a secretive Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur who has set up his new business in London (which may be secretly using some potentially dangerous magic as part of its technology stack). Aaronvitch always likes throwing in lots of references and this time there are lot of references to Science Fiction (the entrepreneur having an obsession with naming things after The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy) and board games, as well as Peter's usual observations about London. The central mystery is interesting, and some extra complexity is added by a rival group trying to investigate the same mystery who don't trust Peter and The Folly to investigate properly. Peter is always a fun narrator and he does get some character development here as he is starting to take on more responsibility both in his professional and personal lives. For most of the book the stakes perhaps don't seem quite as high (or as personal) as in some other books, so it's perhaps not the most compelling of the books in the series but it is still a very entertaining book to read.

Next up I think I'll read Arkady Martine's A Memory Called Empire, which I've heard several good things about.

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I trailed off Robin Hobb partway through The Mad Ship, but have always intended to go back to her because the Farseer Trilogy was excellent. 

 

In other news, I finally finished Mrs Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf. Not quite what I was expecting - probably one of the most true-to-form stream-of-consciousness stories I've ever read, if not the only. This book honestly left me with a lot of questions and frankly a pretty uneasy feeling. It's certainly vivid, though, and beautifully written in its fairly atypical way. Woolf has such a strong sense of authorship to me that I know I'll probably search out more of her stuff later this year if I get the opportunity. 

Up next: Coriolanus

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Most of her stuff is sedately paced to start and goes absolutely bonker balls for the last 50 pages or so. She crafts her characters in a way that you care about their mundane/every day life - I imagine had you read the first trilogy and got to know Fitz and the others first, you would have found tthe pacing less annoying.

The most recent Fitz and the Fool (I assume this means the one beginning with Fool’s Assassin?) can technically be read in its own right but you miss out on so much by not having read the previous volumes. Obviously i have no comparison as i read them all beforehand, but i think this likely imoacted your enjoyment. I recommend giving Assassin’s Apprentice a try to see how you feel.

Yes, it stood alone. It did spoil much of the other series, though. It was the most enjoyable, painfully slow series I've ever read. I finished it with relief but think of it often.

Edited by Ser Not Appearing

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2 hours ago, Leap said:

I trailed off Robin Hobb partway through The Mad Ship, but have always intended to go back to her because the Farseer Trilogy was excellent. 

How does the Liveship Traders series connect to the Fitz books? From what I understand, it's a new protagonist/antagonist? But in the same world? Does it share tertiary characters from the previous books?

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1 hour ago, IlyaP said:

How does the Liveship Traders series connect to the Fitz books? From what I understand, it's a new protagonist/antagonist? But in the same world? Does it share tertiary characters from the previous books?

Yes, there is a shared world, yes it shares a tertiary character, and the plot of Liveships is incredibly relevant to the overarching story of the series. To say more than that would be very spoilery.

but it is also the trilogy that stands alone most easily.

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Also the Liveships trilogy is written in a different perspective--the Fitz books are all in first person, whereas the Liveships is a multi-POV third person series. The first Farseer trilogy is quite possibly my favorite thing I've ever read. It's so so good. (The rest of the series is excellent, but not quite the same. I did not care for the Fool as much as Hobb clearly does.)

I finished up reading Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey this week. I watched the movie a couple months ago and it was bonkers so I thought I'd try the book out. I definitely enjoyed it more than the movie (I was not a big fan on the more extended, bizarro parts of the movie), although it's a fairly unemotional tome for some very huge events. I also preferred the HAL sequence in the movie, but the book's ape sequence, moon, and final sequence were much better.

I've gotten close to finishing Sleeping Giants. I'm really enjoying it, although I'm a bit puzzled about where it's going to end. I know it's a series, and there were a couple points already that felt like a natural stopping point in the story. Got a long run coming up on Thursday, so hopefully I'll finish it then. I've already got the next one checked out.

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Finally got around to and have finished JA's A Little Hatred.  

Thinking about giving VS Naipaul's A Bend in the River next.  I understand in a vague sense that the author and book are controversial but know little more and have a copy sitting around.  

Imagine explaining to a friendly Martian why the degree of controversy of the two aforementioned titles is like the opposite of what the titles suggest.  

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Hobb is one the fantasy authors I think can be recommended to non-fantasy fans or people new to the genre.  I like all Hobb stuff but Liveship Traders is easily my favorite.  I also liked Soldier Son better than many Hobb fans seemed to.  I suspect the reason is neither feature Fitz.  I never bonded with him the way every one else seems to. 

Almost finished with West's City of Night then it will be on to House Name

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On 3/11/2020 at 8:18 AM, Darth Richard II said:

The first two soldiers son books are amazing. The third...not so much.

I am a huge fan of Hobb, but I dropped this one series after the first book. The worldbuilding was too stupid and neither plot nor characters engaged me. De gustibus and all that.

Anyway, I have read some YA lately:

"The Witchlands" series by Susan Dennard, consisting of "Truthwitch", "Windwitch", "Sightwitch" (novella) and "Bloodwitch" so far. Picked it on a whim from my library. They are swashbuckling fun, nothing extraordinary, but lacking most of the annoying YA tropes and featuring such welcome plot points as female friendships, along with male ones. I do find the break-neck pace where they constantly jump from the frying pan into the fire and moving across the continent a bit overdone, and the series isn't finished, but it was such a welcome change of pace from disappointing "Children of Virtue and Vengeance" by Adeyemi and "Graceling" by Cashore.

"Ship of Smoke and Steel" and "City of Stone and Silence" by Django Wexler, from his "Wells of Sorcery" series, also unfinished.  I have been hearing about the author for some time here and elsewhere and wanted to try something of his - conveniently, my library obliged. I didn't expect to ever say it - I like a good fight in my fiction as much as anybody, but there was too much fighting and as the author's "go-to" for plot advancement it became rather repetitive. Also, certain aspects of worldbuilding and plot didn't seem internally  plausible. But I liked the characters and other aspects of worldbuilding, so I'll certainly read the next installment when it reaches the library.

"Deeplight" by Frances Hardinge. This is the third book of hers that I read and I loved all of them! Refreshingly different from most YA. Yes, it is another "coming of age" story, but it has such inventive worldbuilding and such engaging characters that it doesn't matter. The plot was also twisty and interesting. I really hope that she does more with this setting.

And here is some not-YA that I forgot to mention in my previous post: "Stormsong" by C.L. Polk. I liked her previous book "Witchmark", with some reservations, and unfortunately this sequel justified all of my concerns. Basically, the author abandons any pretence that the faux-Edwardian atmosphere of the series is  more than cosmetic in order to cut corners and provide simple solutions to complex problems. Also, while the PoV character of the previous book (they are single-PoV) came across as competent in his field and his relative isolation made sense, none of it works for the current PoV. She just appears incompetent due to Polk ham-fistedly applying the same romance formula to her and wanting to short-circuit the central problem of the setting - the problem which made me interested in it in the first place. It doesn't help that each of the books only covers, like, a week.

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On 3/11/2020 at 12:18 AM, Darth Richard II said:

The first two soldiers son books are amazing. The third...not so much.

And you remind me of how far behind I am on Michelle West,

She doesn't seem to be slowing down either.  

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On the audiobook side, I finished Sleeping Giants, it was really good so I'll definitely be continuing on with the series. But first I'm going back to Chalion to listen to The Hallowed Hunt.

As far as reading, I'm about to start my re-read of Leviathan Wakes.

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