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First Quarter 2020 Reading

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Finished @Derfel Cadarn’s Thorns Of A Black Rose.  Very enjoyable and very well written.  I was initially concerned by such an abrupt change from Scottish Victorian gothic in has prior novel to an Arabic/African fantasy of assassins, and sorcerers.  But it was really well done: the prose felt evocative, the character development offered depth and avoided cliche despite nominally following some fantasy tropes.  The chapters after the Black Citadel felt like a protracted epilogue, but it worked well to develop the arc of the characters for the remainder of the series.

Definitely recommended.  And congrats to Derfel on his success as an author.  Looking forward to his next book, probably back in Glasgow to battle vampires.

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Finished Joseph Conrad's Typhoon. Previously I've read To-morrow and of course Heart of Darkness by Conrad. I felt that this was much more accessible than both. It was short and sweet, extremely vivid. 

It's high time I went for something with a bit more levity, though. I found myself buying a copy of Pratchett's Sourcery the other day; which incidentally was less than a month into my 2020 resolution to not buy any new books until I'd exhausted my backlog. Looking at it one way, of the 10 books I've read so far, only 2 were actually from said backlog. From another perspective however, I want to read a Discworld book. This one shouldn't take me long anyway.

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William Gibson's Agency is so good. 

Look, I don't go to read this guy for his plots. The plots are never the point. The point is the weird way the prose rejiggers my brain and makes me see modernity through a different and alien lens. 

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4 hours ago, IlyaP said:

William Gibson's Agency is so good. 

Look, I don't go to read this guy for his plots. The plots are never the point. The point is the weird way the prose rejiggers my brain and makes me see modernity through a different and alien lens. 

Thank you for the heads-up, as I wasn't aware that he had a new book coming out.  I enjoyed The Peripheral, so I am looking forward to continuing the story and the worldview rejiggering.

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On 1/31/2020 at 10:20 PM, williamjm said:

I finished @Derfel Cadarn's Resurrection Men, which I thought was a good debut novel. I thought the characterisation was good, I liked the two main protagonists and there were a number of interesting supporting characters. While it does introduce early on some strong hints about the threat they are facing, I thought it did a good job of gradually revealing the details of the world-building. The book does have a lot of antagonists in it, who could potentially have blended together but they do all have their own agendas and tangled webs of rivalries which helps distinguish them. The mix of wealth and squalor in the late 19th Century Glaswegian setting does seem to fit well with the storyline. The epilogue of the book had an intriguing twist (which I didn't see coming, even if I had some suspicions that there was some hidden truth), I'm curious where the story is going to go next.

Glad you liked it, thanks for the GR review :)

On 2/5/2020 at 12:58 AM, Iskaral Pust said:

Finished @Derfel Cadarn’s Thorns Of A Black Rose.  Very enjoyable and very well written.  I was initially concerned by such an abrupt change from Scottish Victorian gothic in has prior novel to an Arabic/African fantasy of assassins, and sorcerers.  But it was really well done: the prose felt evocative, the character development offered depth and avoided cliche despite nominally following some fantasy tropes.  The chapters after the Black Citadel felt like a protracted epilogue, but it worked well to develop the arc of the characters for the remainder of the series.

Definitely recommended.  And congrats to Derfel on his success as an author.  Looking forward to his next book, probably back in Glasgow to battle vampires.

Glad you liked it. I didn’t realise how long the post-citadel stuff was until I got the paperback.

Next book will indeed be Sooty Feathers #2 (Lord of the Hunt). I received the proofread version from the publisher this morning, so it’s almost finalised. Will be out this year, hopefully sooner rather than later. The vampires are forced to take a bit if a backseat due to it being set in summer, limiting them to around 5 hours of ‘night’ a day.

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13 hours ago, Derfel Cadarn said:

Glad you liked it, thanks for the GR review :)

Glad you liked it. I didn’t realise how long the post-citadel stuff was until I got the paperback.

Next book will indeed be Sooty Feathers #2 (Lord of the Hunt). I received the proofread version from the publisher this morning, so it’s almost finalised. Will be out this year, hopefully sooner rather than later. The vampires are forced to take a bit if a backseat due to it being set in summer, limiting them to around 5 hours of ‘night’ a day.

Looking forward to it :) Have to say that your biggest talent, for me, is making the setting come alive so i am excited to see more of Scotland!

 

Finished rereading the Time Machine, now onto the war of the worlds

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I listened to the audiobook version of Richard Guilliatt and Peter Hohnen's The Wolf: The German Raider that Terrorized the Southern Seas During World War I in an Epic Voyage of Destruction and Gallantry. Interesting and suspenseful account of the German commerce raider SMS Wolf's actions during WWI and the interactions of its crew and captives. 

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I've begun my trek on re-reading the Demon Cycle. 

I understand the series is unpopular with some on this board. 

Meh, but I love it. 

Paints a more nuanced picture of gender/sex, war, culture, and religion than most series I've seen imo.

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6 hours ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

I've begun my trek on re-reading the Demon Cycle. 

I understand the series is unpopular with some on this board. 

Meh, but I love it. 

Paints a more nuanced picture of gender/sex, war, culture, and religion than most series I've seen imo.

Nothing nuanced about constant rape.

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35 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

Nothing nuanced about constant rape.

An acquaintance spoke about book 2 in pretty much that tone and manner. It did not impress her.

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11 minutes ago, IlyaP said:

An acquaintance spoke about book 2 in pretty much that tone and manner. It did not impress her.

I don’t want to derail and well, I’m trying to be polite as i can, but I find those books extremely distasteful, for, well, being full of rape. I’ll say I mostly enjoyed book 1 until well...you get the point.

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7 hours ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

I've begun my trek on re-reading the Demon Cycle.  

I understand the series is unpopular with some on this board. 

Meh, but I love it. 

Paints a more nuanced picture of gender/sex, war, culture, and religion than most series I've seen imo.


Is this your re-read once a year book? Coz I definitely remember this being one of the topics you made back when you were being super-enthusiastic and it spinning off into discussion of other authors who use rape as a plot device. I'm not knocking since there are plenty of books I re-read a lot and I've read China Mieville's The Scar like once a year for fifteen years but it seems an unusual choice...




Anyway, meself I just re-read Strange and Norrell, ha. Always forget how good that book is - love how it seems meandering and rambling until all of a sudden it's really really not.

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9 minutes ago, polishgenius said:

Anyway, meself I just re-read Strange and Norrell, ha. Always forget how good that book is - love how it seems meandering and rambling until all of a sudden it's really really not.

Susanna Clarke's got a new book coming out this year, too! 

https://www.tor.com/2020/02/05/the-plot-of-susanna-clarkes-new-book-piranesi-sounds-wild/

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12 hours ago, polishgenius said:

Anyway, meself I just re-read Strange and Norrell, ha. Always forget how good that book is - love how it seems meandering and rambling until all of a sudden it's really really not.

An all-time classic. And the BBC adaptation was pretty darn good too!

And urgh, Peter V Brett. Just awful. 

I'm wading through The Stone of Farewell. Another slooooow start - hopefully it warms up a bit like the first novel did. I'm also reading Madame Bovary. 

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I finished Jeanette Ng's Under the Pendulum Sun, which I thought was an impressive debut novel. The plot starts off relatively slowly, although even from the early chapters it does a good job of building up the Gothic atmosphere as Cathy explores the sprawling and sometimes illogical faerie castle that her missionary brother has been assigned to. Once she is reunited with her brother the pace picks up significantly and the author isn't afraid of throwing in a few vicious plot twists, the faerie characters in it are both capricious and expert manipulators. I did anticipate the major plot twists since there's enough foreshadowing to at least hint at what might be really going on, but they were still effective when they happened. I think it's a book that rewards careful reading, there are lines which might superficially seem innocuous but turn out to be very significant. There is quite a lot of theological discussion in it, I think someone more familiar with the bible might get more out of that than I did. I think it's fairly clear the author doesn't think much of the idea of 19th Century missionaries believing they can convert others to their worldview, but at the same time the book does respect that the characters are sincere in their faith.

13 hours ago, polishgenius said:

Anyway, meself I just re-read Strange and Norrell, ha. Always forget how good that book is - love how it seems meandering and rambling until all of a sudden it's really really not.

I think it is one of my favourite fantasy books of all time.

I was comparing Under the Pendulum Sun a bit to Strange and Norrell while reading it, and it does do a somewhat similar thing in terms of building up the plot. I could imagine Queen Mab and The Gentleman With The Thistledown Hair both existing in the same realm, although I suspect they would be deadly rivals.

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Finished A Man Of No Country by Philip K. Allan, the fourth in his Alexander Clay series of historical fiction in the age of sail.  This one depicts the Battle of the Nile, which strangely has not figured before in any of the many naval historical fiction I have read, although frequently mentioned.  A good read.  This series is similar in style to Hornblower or Aubrey/Maturin, but without quite reaching the levels of the latter.  It is interesting for its use of POVs among the ordinary crew members in addition to the captain, but spoils it slightly by giving them such childish speech patterns.  

Edited by Iskaral Pust

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Finished William Gibson's Agency last night. Lots of interesting questions set up and threads established that could take a potential third book to some very interesting places.

Moving on now to Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master trilogy.

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1 minute ago, Darth Richard II said:

You know I need to read Strange and Norrell some day. :leaving:

Me too. One of those books that i’ve heard great things about but somehow manage to forget about whenever it comes time to buy something new

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6 minutes ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Me too. One of those books that i’ve heard great things about but somehow manage to forget about whenever it comes time to buy something new

Yeah, it's shelved with the regular old yucky fiction here so I always forget about it. :P

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