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Peadar

Third Quarter 2020 Reading is a Joy

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I slogged through the sci-fi classic Dune for the first time. I can certainly see why it is viewed as such a classic, with a great cast of memorable heroes and villains, a cool exploration of ecology, religion and civilization, and many warring political interests. But the pacing of this novel frustrated me immensely. At times things would move very quickly, with cool action sequences and tense dialogue punctuated by time jumps and rapid plot shifts. At other times the novel dragged...thinking especially of the early scenes in Arrakeen Palace and Paul and Jessica in the desert.

I don't think I'll bother with any of the sequels but I'm glad I checked it out. I'll be interested to see how the (latest) movie adaptation goes. 

Now on to Calvino's If On A Winter's Night, A Traveller. And I'm still trudging through Stone of Farewell as a side project...

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New thread!

S.A. Chakraborty's The Empire of Gold was just released and it is amazing. Great endings for all of the characters.

To be honest, the first book in the trilogy, The City of Brass, was okay but all the time that I was reading I was pretty unsure about whether it was worth it for me to read the entire series... until the last few chapters. It's not that there was a twist I wasn't expecting but it was suspenseful enough that I continued to the next book, The Kingdom of Copper.

The second book, IMO, was much better. There was a 5-year timeskip which allowed two of the POV characters (Nahri and Ali) to mature a bit which was quite a welcome development. It also helped that this time there was an additional POV (Dara's) that I found to be quite interesting.

The Empire of Gold is the most readable and fun one since, this time, the action doesn't slowly build up. It's totally action-packed almost from start to finish.

Now that the series is finished, I can recommend it to everyone who wants a good, epic fantasy read. I'll never think of djinn in the same way again.

P.S. Reading it made me want to try out Egyptian cuisine. :)

It's my best read of 2020 so far!

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2 hours ago, Paxter said:

I slogged through the sci-fi classic Dune for the first time. I can certainly see why it is viewed as such a classic, with a great cast of memorable heroes and villains, a cool exploration of ecology, religion and civilization, and many warring political interests. But the pacing of this novel frustrated me immensely. At times things would move very quickly, with cool action sequences and tense dialogue punctuated by time jumps and rapid plot shifts. At other times the novel dragged...thinking especially of the early scenes in Arrakeen Palace and Paul and Jessica in the desert.

I don't think I'll bother with any of the sequels but I'm glad I checked it out. I'll be interested to see how the (latest) movie adaptation goes.

I think if you're struggling a bit with Dune then avoiding the sequels is probably a good idea. I liked the first book but I thought the pacing felt worse in Messiah and Children of Dune (I didn't read any further).

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Gigei said:

New thread!

S.A. Chakraborty's The Empire of Gold was just released and it is amazing. Great endings for all of the characters.

So someone else read it too! I enjoyed it immensely, even if it's somewhat difficult for me nowadays to remember all the plot lines and characters in sequels that are published a year or two later.

Spoiler

What did the title refer to? And didn't the involvement of the peris come somewhat out of the left field?

 

Edited by Gaston de Foix

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7 hours ago, Gigei said:

New thread!

S.A. Chakraborty's The Empire of Gold was just released and it is amazing. Great endings for all of the characters.

To be honest, the first book in the trilogy, The City of Brass, was okay but all the time that I was reading I was pretty unsure about whether it was worth it for me to read the entire series... until the last few chapters. It's not that there was a twist I wasn't expecting but it was suspenseful enough that I continued to the next book, The Kingdom of Copper.

The second book, IMO, was much better. There was a 5-year timeskip which allowed two of the POV characters (Nahri and Ali) to mature a bit which was quite a welcome development. It also helped that this time there was an additional POV (Dara's) that I found to be quite interesting.

The Empire of Gold is the most readable and fun one since, this time, the action doesn't slowly build up. It's totally action-packed almost from start to finish.

Now that the series is finished, I can recommend it to everyone who wants a good, epic fantasy read. I'll never think of djinn in the same way again.

P.S. Reading it made me want to try out Egyptian cuisine. :)

It's my best read of 2020 so far!

 

Heh, as I said I am almost the opposite. I liked the earlier bits when they were doing setup and political manuevering, but once everyone got sorted into "sides" it wasn't as good. Not BAD, but not as good.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Gaston de Foix said:

So someone else read it too! I enjoyed it immensely, even if it's somewhat difficult for me nowadays to remember all the plot lines and characters in sequels that are published a year or two later.

  Hide contents

What did the title refer to? And didn't the involvement of the peris come somewhat out of the left field?

 

Hmm, no idea about the title.

Spoiler

Actually, in the first book, the marid came out of left field for me. Thus, the peri came second as "wtf" faction for me.

2 hours ago, Galactus said:

 

Heh, as I said I am almost the opposite. I liked the earlier bits when they were doing setup and political manuevering, but once everyone got sorted into "sides" it wasn't as good. Not BAD, but not as good.

 

 

It's all good. 

I know what you mean but if it's about political maneuvering then I like Hatset but she didn't get much screentime. I remember some people were fans of Muntadhir and wanted his POV.

 
 
 
 
Spoiler

It was really awesome when he schooled Dara about how to rule a conquered people and pointed out that threatening the tribes wouldn't do as much as wooing them would... only for Muntadhir to seize the opportunity to stage a coup that almost succeeded.

 

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15 hours ago, Peadar said:

I've just started Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked it All Up by Tom Phillips.

That deserves some kind of award for best title.

 

I just finished Shorefall (The Founders Trilogy, book 2).  For me, it was a big letdown.  One, the best character from book 1 was off-stage 90% of the book.  Two, there was a lot of action building toward a big crescendo.  Then, that climax never happened.  None of the major conflicts were resolved.

Just started One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence.

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I'm about two-thirds of the way through Kameron Hurley's The Light Brigade now.  It's well-written -- probably the best of this year's Hugo Award nominees that I've read, though I've not got to Gideon the Ninth yet -- but it's also incredibly depressing, so I've only been able to manage it in relatively short doses.   That said, I don't really read much military SF (although I read Joe Haldeman's The Forever War years and years ago, and that seems like the most obvious single influence on this book) and possibly people more familiar with the genre would find this less bleak. 

(I don't remember finding Haldeman's book to be quite as viscerally grim as The Light Brigade can be though.  I suspect that's because reading The Forever War in the early 2000s it was easy to think of it as a historical piece that was, at least in some sense, obviously 'about' the Vietnam War.  The setting of Hurley's book feels a lot more plausibly contemporary.)

I've seen people suggest it's a lot more conventional than some of Hurley's earlier work, which is definitely true but doesn't feel like a bad thing at all.  I probably enjoyed reading The Stars Are Legion more than I did this, but I think that the newer novel is a lot more focused and all the better for it.

(This also happens to be the first physical book I've read in several months, and has largely confirmed my impression that, all else being equal, ebooks really aren't for me.)

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9 hours ago, Teng Ai Hui said:

I just finished Shorefall (The Founders Trilogy, book 2).  For me, it was a big letdown.  One, the best character from book 1 was off-stage 90% of the book.  Two, there was a lot of action building toward a big crescendo.  Then, that climax never happened.  None of the major conflicts were resolved.

Spoiler

I enjoyed it as I enjoy all of Bennet's work.  I do wish he had a summary of the previous novel since I had only the vaguest recollection of what had gone on before.

And now, two months after I have read it, I have only a vague recollection of what happened in this one.  Either my mind is going or it didn't make that much an impression.  I don't even remember what the big reveal at the end as to Crassedes' motives and his relationship with Clef was. 

Who was your favourite character who was offstage? Clef?

 

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On 7/3/2020 at 12:28 PM, Gigei said:

New thread!

S.A. Chakraborty's The Empire of Gold was just released and it is amazing. Great endings for all of the characters.

To be honest, the first book in the trilogy, The City of Brass, was okay but all the time that I was reading I was pretty unsure about whether it was worth it for me to read the entire series... until the last few chapters. It's not that there was a twist I wasn't expecting but it was suspenseful enough that I continued to the next book, The Kingdom of Copper.

 

I couldn't get through this first book - I felt it started off very interesting, but then quickly veered into YA novel cliches, especially everything about the protagonist. If that was my main complaint, do you think I'd enjoy the rest of the trilogy? Does it begin to feel more like an "adult" book? I don't mean adult in terms of sexual or violent content, just maybe... more mature in themes and characterization?

 

I just read Elizabeth Bear's Range of Ghosts. It's great to read a fantasy book with such a well researched central-Asian backdrop; monk character aside, it doesn't feel orientalist, which is a lot more than you can say about most fantasy books taking place in Asia inspired locales (ASoIaF included). However, the characters came across as very flat to me, and there wasn't much of a plot to speak of. The ending of the book was also very jarring. I think I'll still give book 2 a shot, based on the strength of the worldbuilding, but I'm hoping it delivers something more.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Caligula_K3 said:

I couldn't get through this first book - I felt it started off very interesting, but then quickly veered into YA novel cliches, especially everything about the protagonist. If that was my main complaint, do you think I'd enjoy the rest of the trilogy? Does it begin to feel more like an "adult" book? I don't mean adult in terms of sexual or violent content, just maybe... more mature in themes and characterization?

Hahaha, yeah the first book is very YA since the two main characters are very young (in djinn years). There is a 5 year timeskip after the first book which means the second one has more aged-up characters.

Did you get to the other main character's chapters? There are actually two protagonists in the first book. I mean it starts off with Nahri but Ali is also a main POV character. Ali himself is quite young but it's his chapters that have the political stuff with older, much more experienced minor characters.

City of Brass was the author's debut work and she gets much better later on. Like I said, I was pretty much "huh..." at first on City of Brass but it had a nice ending which made me want to read more. You could always skip ahead to the ending to see if it intrigues you.

Edited by Gigei
typo

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5 minutes ago, Derfel Cadarn said:

Re-reading Bernard Cornwall’s The Winter King (book 1 of his Arthurian trilogy). 

The writing is great, very descriptive.

My favourite of his series, hands down. Wonderful mysticality to add an extra dimension.

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Reading Lord of the Hunt by our own @Derfel Cadarn. I've had it queued up for ages, but other stuff kept getting in the way. Been a great read so far, thoroughly entertaining and nicely paced. I'm almost finished now (82% according to Kindle) and just came across this little gem of an exchange which had me giggle like the immature child I am at heart

Quote

“It’s a he,” Hunt said.

The bull had turned, the evidence hanging on open display.

“Oh? How can you be sure, Mr Hunt?” she asked breathlessly. “Do tell me.”

He cleared his throat and pretended not to hear.

:lol:.

Will make a full review on Amazon (and now Goodreads too! Yes I have been dragged there kicking and screaming) once finished

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9 minutes ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Reading Lord of the Hunt by our own @Derfel Cadarn. I've had it queued up for ages, but other stuff kept getting in the way. Been a great read so far, thoroughly entertaining and nicely paced. I'm almost finished now (82% according to Kindle) and just came across this little gem of an exchange which had me giggle like the immature child I am at heart

:lol:.

Will make a full review on Amazon (and now Goodreads too! Yes I have been dragged there kicking and screaming) once finished

Thanks @HelenaExMachina, glad you’re enjoying it :)

It was a challenge to write a sequel, where the characters had already been introduced.

For those wondering about the passage Helena quoted, the woman in question (Kerry) is taking the piss out of Hunt, playing the vapid lady :P

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6 minutes ago, Derfel Cadarn said:

Thanks @HelenaExMachina, glad you’re enjoying it :)

It was a challenge to write a sequel, where the characters had already been introduced.

For those wondering about the passage Helena quoted, the woman in question (Kerry) is taking the piss out of Hunt, playing the vapid lady :P

I think you have done a good job, particularly with 

Spoiler

Showing the after effects of the first book on Hunt. It's mostly off page and implied but I think you've handled it well.

I'm hoping you are able to do the se for the big revelations and events of this book too - i.e Foley becoming a werewolf, and Hunt learning he is the son of Lucifer. The latter has had a lot of impact on Hunt already which I hope continues, but I hope to see more of the impact of the werewolf issue on Foley as it seemed to be brushed off quite quickly (emotionally I mean). Of course I still have some of the book to finish, so I may eat my hat yet.

Kerry and Lady Delaney are my favourite characters, by the way. More of them please!

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@HelenaExMachina

Hopefully book 3 will do the characters justice. 

Glad you like Kerry and Lady Delaney; they’re favourites to write, and were scanted in book 1. Hell, they were very minor characters in the original 2011 draft.

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8 hours ago, Gaston de Foix said:
  Hide contents

I enjoyed it as I enjoy all of Bennet's work.  I do wish he had a summary of the previous novel since I had only the vaguest recollection of what had gone on before.

And now, two months after I have read it, I have only a vague recollection of what happened in this one.  Either my mind is going or it didn't make that much an impression.  I don't even remember what the big reveal at the end as to Crassedes' motives and his relationship with Clef was. 

Who was your favourite character who was offstage? Clef?

 

Robert Jackson Bennett's Shorefall does absolutely need a summary of Foundryside.  About a year ago, I tried to read City of Blades and dropped it because I felt that I needed to reread City of Stairs first.

For plot, there wasn't a lot that needed to be remembered. 

Shorefall starts with a war that's Sancia and friends vs Crasedes vs Valeria.  The battle ends in a stalemate as everyone is running away from the city of Tevanne as it burns to the ground. 

The big reveal is that Clef is Crasedes's dad.  Sancia had mistakenly assumed that Clef is Crasedes's son.

Yes, Clef is my favorite character.

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8 hours ago, Caligula_K3 said:

I couldn't get through this first book - I felt it started off very interesting, but then quickly veered into YA novel cliches, especially everything about the protagonist. If that was my main complaint, do you think I'd enjoy the rest of the trilogy? Does it begin to feel more like an "adult" book? I don't mean adult in terms of sexual or violent content, just maybe... more mature in themes and characterization?

 

 

I would say yes, a bit. It retains a bit of that feeling, but there's a few points where various characters makes mistakes that genuinely hurt them that are punished, and in turn causes them to change a bit. (some more than others) 

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