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Third Quarter 2020 Reading is a Joy

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I finished Harrow the Ninth. I've got mixed feelings about this one. I liked bits of it and I think there's the potential for a really interesting next book but I did think it was a bit too convoluted. Overall I'd say I enjoyed it but not as much as I enjoyed the first book.

Next up I'm going to read Django Wexler's Ashes of the Sun.

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I finished The Etymologicon, which was disappointing. I don't want to try to ask too much of it, since it is very much made for bathroom-reading. The maximum chapter length of <4 pages suggests that it does not intend to make any conclusion. 

I mentioned when I started that I enjoyed the light-hearted, breezy witticism of it. Perhaps I made a mistake in trying to ingest something in large chunks that clearly needs a more sparse reading schedule, but what I had identified as light humour soured on me in the first third. The jokes come across as less bantery and more unoriginal and crass. The author isn't totally unlikeable, but again - this is humour best served in small doses.

That said, I do think it is an interesting concept as a book - certainly, it's not a bad effort at making a book on etymology accessible to a layperson. 

 

Next up, it's time to finally reopen Jane Eyre. I've been putting this off for years following a failed attempt in Uni, but I think I am a more patient reader these days. However, my copy is caked in dust, so I'll probably have to get the allergy tablets out first.

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On 8/8/2020 at 4:58 PM, The Marquis de Leech said:

I've been bingeing a bit on the Icelandic Sagas so far this month. 

There was a man called Sture Hjorlufson. His house was between the mountains blabla and the river etc. He had a servant called Thordur Snorrison. At harvest time Thordur and two others met men from the other side of the river. There was a quarrel. Thordur was killed... 10 years of blood feud, burning down homestead etc. follow

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21 hours ago, Iskaral Pust said:

Started and abandoned The Elven by Bernhard Hennen, the first in a fantasy series.  The opening chapter in the Nordic setting worked well (and I think that was the sample chapter that got me to buy it), but the following chapters about the courtly elves were trite at best.  I was left with a feeling that the contrast of the coarse Nordic types and the courtly, chivalrous elves was a propaganda allegory for Saxons and Normans.   I doubt the author meant it that way, and I probably saw that comparison because of podcast series I’ve been listening to.  Regardless, I dropped this book at 10%.  It didn’t seem worth reading further, despite high ratings at Amazon.

It's amazing that this has been translated. I have not read it but Hennen was/is connected with the largest German table top roleplaying system (DSA) and wrote a whole bunch of novels or novellas connected with their worlds and scenarios. As my younger brother played that system in the late 1990s, I read a bunch of Hennen's earlier books, partly collaboration with the more famous author Wolfgang Hohlbein (who became already famous in the late 80s or so with a bunch of fantasy, often YA novels). They were not horrible, but not very good either. Typical fare based on/connected with RPG campaigns, only in a rather low magic setting IIRC, compared with e.g. Salvatore or Dragonlance. And, being 10-20 years later with little of the freshness that saves some of the Dragonlance novels.

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8 hours ago, Jo498 said:

There was a man called Sture Hjorlufson. His house was between the mountains blabla and the river etc. He had a servant called Thordur Snorrison. At harvest time Thordur and two others met men from the other side of the river. There was a quarrel. Thordur was killed... 10 years of blood feud, burning down homestead etc. follow

You forgot the exciting court case, and the payment of compensation. And that the killer will likely be composing verses of drottkvaett poetry at various intervals. 

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I've decided to join the cool kids* and read Ted Chiang's Exhalation. His first collection is a huge favorite of mine, so it's strange I haven't gotten to this one yet.

 

 

*The rest of the cool kids, that is ;)

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15 hours ago, Jo498 said:

There was a man called Sture Hjorlufson. His house was between the mountains blabla and the river etc. He had a servant called Thordur Snorrison. At harvest time Thordur and two others met men from the other side of the river. There was a quarrel. Thordur was killed... 10 years of blood feud, burning down homestead etc. follow

You forgot the entire family trees of both Sture and Thordur, including where everybody lived and who were married to whom.

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I've taken a break from fantasy for a while (Currently reading the biography Pitt The Younger by William Hague and before that a multiple biography binge on Horatio Nelson) but I'm feeling the need to get a new fantasy series on the go for the first time in years.

I'm going to read Dune after I've finished Pitt The Younger, been on the the TBR pile for too long and with the film coming I'd rather read it first.

After a few failed attempts, Terry Pratchett and Discworld finally clicked with Guards! Guards! end of last year and I'm working my way through Discworld slowly, read one then a few other books and back to Discworld. Hogfather was the last in April and it was a bit of a slog for me. I'll get to Jingo before the year is out and carry on with The Watch novels.

But I really want to start a 'proper' series, Discworld is more loose so it's good to dip in and out of with no need to read the next soon after so you don't forget the story as they're mostly self contained. I'm stuck between Wheel Of Time and Farseer (plus the follow on trilogies). I've scoured Reddit and previous threads here for opinion and looking for an updated view. With WOT it's more a case is it worth reading/trying Eye Of The World before the Amazon series begins?

I don't want to read both at the same time as I like to read other stuff and not be flipping between WOT/Farseer/Discworld for god knows how long with no time for anything else. So the question is what do I buy when I go to pick up Dune? Assassins Apprentice or Eye Of The World?

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32 minutes ago, Jodan said:

I don't want to read both at the same time as I like to read other stuff and not be flipping between WOT/Farseer/Discworld for god knows how long with no time for anything else. So the question is what do I buy when I go to pick up Dune? Assassins Apprentice or Eye Of The World?

At risk of turning this into another Wheel of Time thread, choose Assassin's Apprentice. 

Without going into the merits of each (WoT sucks and I hate it), Assassin's Apprentice is part of a larger series of similar size to WoT, but with the distinction of being in discrete trilogies that are easier to take one at a time. Addiionally, if you found Hogfather to be a slog - and I actually kind of agree with you there - WoT has like 4 books in a row that are kind of just filler. And they are each 3x the size of Hogfather.

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30 minutes ago, Leap said:

At risk of turning this into another Wheel of Time thread, choose Assassin's Apprentice. 

Without going into the merits of each (WoT sucks and I hate it), Assassin's Apprentice is part of a larger series of similar size to WoT, but with the distinction of being in discrete trilogies that are easier to take one at a time. Addiionally, if you found Hogfather to be a slog - and I actually kind of agree with you there - WoT has like 4 books in a row that are kind of just filler. And they are each 3x the size of Hogfather.

Thanks, yeah I don't want to derail this into another debate on the merits or lack of on WOT and I didn't want to start a new thread either. I should have mentioned I've done my research on both and considered a few other series and I'm well aware of the WOT slog around books 7/8-10. Yet I'm still to drawn to it slightly more than Farseer and I can't explain why though I know Farseer is probably the more likely better option. 

I've just remembered I've got Persepolis Rising & Timat's Wrath to catch up on as well at some point as well. :uhoh:

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7 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

You forgot the exciting court case, and the payment of compensation. And that the killer will likely be composing verses of drottkvaett poetry at various intervals. 

Favourite there is from Gisle Surson's saga - the one who nearly managed to live as an outlaw for four years. 

When his enemies catches him, they fight. And he gets his stomach cut open. 

He then proceeds to stuff his entrails back, keeps them in place with a belt, and then composes verses. Before he fights again. 

Absolute classic!

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On 7/19/2020 at 2:31 PM, Plessiez said:

 (I know I've seen some discussion on the forum about Jones going back to work on Endlords -- in fact that was actually part of why I picked up A Cavern of Black Ice last year -- but does anybody know if this is intended to be the final book in the series?)

I probably shouldn't answer, because I do not know for certain, but I believe I've heard that two more books were planned? After Watcher of the Dead, that is.

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1 hour ago, Jodan said:

After a few failed attempts, Terry Pratchett and Discworld finally clicked with Guards! Guards! end of last year and I'm working my way through Discworld slowly, read one then a few other books and back to Discworld. Hogfather was the last in April and it was a bit of a slog for me. I'll get to Jingo before the year is out and carry on with The Watch novels.

Yeah, the Discworld books take a while to find their form. In particular, I didn't like The Colour of Magic very much (it was fun and all, but the lack of an overarching story irked me), so after reading it I didn't continue with the series until years later, when I'd heard so much good about Pratchett that I had to give it another go. The Light Fantastic was so fun I had to continue reading in chronological order, but it took until Guards! Guards! or so before the series really found its tone. The number of stand-alone books and stories in the beginning means it takes a while before it has built a cast of recurring characters and settings to return to. 

At some point I realized there were approximately as many Discworld books as there were months left of my PhD studies, so from then on I've bought one book per month. I'm now on Wintersmith, and the series is nearing its end while my thesis deadline is looming ahead. Unfortunately, I've heard that Pratchett's dementia had an impact on the books from Unseen Academicals onward (which is the next one), so I'll get the most stressful PhD months alongside the least-liked Discworld books. Oh well, at least there will be some closure. Kinda strange to think I've read the last of the Death series already and that Susan won't be around for more books. I think the rest of the recurring characters have at least one more book to them, but not much more. It'll be sad to see the last of Lancre, of Ankh-Morpork, the Unseen University, Uberwald, L-Space, Great A'Tuin, and all the rest of the lands on the Disc. 

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1 hour ago, Jodan said:

So the question is what do I buy when I go to pick up Dune? Assassins Apprentice or Eye Of The World?

I don't like Hobb as much as most of the board (I gave up on Realm of the Elderings after Fool's Fate, and haven't ever been seriously tempted to go any further).   But I think Assassin's Apprentice is the obvious correct answer to this question.

That said, it's been decades since I read them but if I remember correctly the first few Wheel of Time books are actually surprisingly self-contained for a multi-volume epic fantasy.  Certainly not as much as the Discworld books of course, but they do have definite internal narrative arcs that are resolved by the end of each book, and introduce characters/settings that are unique to that book.  This stops being true around the fifth book, The Fires of Heaven, when everything becomes much focused on (not) advancing series-long subplots.

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16 minutes ago, Kyll.Ing. said:

The Light Fantastic was so fun I had to continue reading in chronological order, but it took until Guards! Guards! or so before the series really found its tone.

Guards! Guards! was the first Discworld book I read, and it's usually the book I recommend people starting as well.  I think the series gradually starts finding its tone from Mort onwards, with ocasionally exceptions like Sourcery and Eric dragging things back a bit.   I'm probably in a minority in liking Hogfather as much as I do, but certainly around this point I think the series starts to lose some of its charm.  (There are maybe three really good Discworld books from Jingo onwards, I think, compared to two or three times that number of top-level books before that.)

The last few published books are definitely worse, for whatever reason.  Unseen Academicals and Snuff are both pretty bad, sadly.  (And Raising Steam is a lot worse than that -- it's the only Discworld book I genuinely regret reading.)

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49 minutes ago, Kyll.Ing. said:

Yeah, the Discworld books take a while to find their form. In particular, I didn't like The Colour of Magic very much (it was fun and all, but the lack of an overarching story irked me), so after reading it I didn't continue with the series until years later, when I'd heard so much good about Pratchett that I had to give it another go. 

Exactly the same for me. First time I attempted Discworld I made the rookie mistake of going with The Colour Of Magic just because it was published first and had the same issues you did. After a few years I tried again and found that reading order infographic and plumped for the Death novels. I liked Mort but still wasn't hooked on Discworld. Reaper Man I like and I don't at the same time, I need to reread it at some point. I feel like a lot was going over my head that I wasn't getting while reading it. I think you need to be more attuned to Pratchett's style and humour before going for the Death novels as they're more philosophical in nature. Soul Music just lost me and put me off for a few more years as I still wasn't wholly convinced even after Mort and Reaper Man.

17 minutes ago, Plessiez said:

Guards! Guards! was the first Discworld book I read, and it's usually the book I recommend people starting as well.  I think the series gradually starts finding its tone from Mort onwards, with ocasionally exceptions like Sourcery and Eric dragging things back a bit.   I'm probably in a minority in liking Hogfather as much as I do, but certainly around this point I think the series starts to lose some of its charm.  (There are maybe three really good Discworld books from Jingo onwards, I think, compared to two or three times that number of top-level books before that.)

The last few published books are definitely worse, for whatever reason.  Unseen Academicals and Snuff are both pretty bad, sadly.  (And Raising Steam is a lot worse than that -- it's the only Discworld book I genuinely regret reading.)

Guards! Guards! I decided to try last year and third time lucky! I knew The Watch were the most popular books and GG kept being mentioned as the perfect gateway into Discworld and it was. I'll be recommending GG as the first Discworld to try to anyone who asks, gave my brother a copy of it as well. Despite all the humour when the dark bits come along (Specifically near the end of Men at Arms & Vimes visit to his childhood street in Feet Of Clay) it really hits home more as you aren't expecting it and adds more depth I feel. Also helps they seem to have more coherent plots unlike Soul Music, Hogfather & Colour of Magic.

Plan is to read Discworld in this order Jingo, Fifth Elephant, Pyramids, Small Gods, Thief Of Time, Night Watch, Thud & Snuff for the foreseeable (Spread out among other reading so it'll be awhile). It takes in what seem the be the three best/most popular novels (Small Gods, Thief Of Time & Night Watch) while all being loosely related according to the reading order infographic. Probably saving myself up for more disappointment further down the line.

49 minutes ago, Plessiez said:

That said, it's been decades since I read them but if I remember correctly the first few Wheel of Time books are actually surprisingly self-contained for a multi-volume epic fantasy.  Certainly not as much as the Discworld books of course, but they do have definite internal narrative arcs that are resolved by the end of each book, and introduce characters/settings that are unique to that book.  This stops being true around the fifth book, The Fires of Heaven, when everything becomes much focused on (not) advancing series-long subplots.

That's pushing me more to Eye Of The World again. Really stuck on this which is unusual for me, it's just such a commitment as it'll be a few years at least before I get to the one I don't decide on and I've wanted to read both for quite a while. Part of the reason for WOT is I think I just want a simple good vs evil, I know WOT is criticised for being outdated in that way now. But after all the moral ambiguity of AsoiaF, Abercrombie etc it might just hit the spot, Whether that spot is 14 books deep is another matter.

 

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2 hours ago, Jodan said:

I've taken a break from fantasy for a while (Currently reading the biography Pitt The Younger by William Hague and before that a multiple biography binge on Horatio Nelson) but I'm feeling the need to get a new fantasy series on the go for the first time in years.

I'm going to read Dune after I've finished Pitt The Younger, been on the the TBR pile for too long and with the film coming I'd rather read it first.

After a few failed attempts, Terry Pratchett and Discworld finally clicked with Guards! Guards! end of last year and I'm working my way through Discworld slowly, read one then a few other books and back to Discworld. Hogfather was the last in April and it was a bit of a slog for me. I'll get to Jingo before the year is out and carry on with The Watch novels.

But I really want to start a 'proper' series, Discworld is more loose so it's good to dip in and out of with no need to read the next soon after so you don't forget the story as they're mostly self contained. I'm stuck between Wheel Of Time and Farseer (plus the follow on trilogies). I've scoured Reddit and previous threads here for opinion and looking for an updated view. With WOT it's more a case is it worth reading/trying Eye Of The World before the Amazon series begins?

I don't want to read both at the same time as I like to read other stuff and not be flipping between WOT/Farseer/Discworld for god knows how long with no time for anything else. So the question is what do I buy when I go to pick up Dune? Assassins Apprentice or Eye Of The World?

Farseer all day every day and three times on Tuesdays thank you very much. Everyone else's opinions are irrelevant.

 

1 hour ago, Kyll.Ing. said:

Yeah, the Discworld books take a while to find their form. In particular, I didn't like The Colour of Magic very much (it was fun and all, but the lack of an overarching story irked me), so after reading it I didn't continue with the series until years later, when I'd heard so much good about Pratchett that I had to give it another go. The Light Fantastic was so fun I had to continue reading in chronological order, but it took until Guards! Guards! or so before the series really found its tone. The number of stand-alone books and stories in the beginning means it takes a while before it has built a cast of recurring characters and settings to return to. 

At some point I realized there were approximately as many Discworld books as there were months left of my PhD studies, so from then on I've bought one book per month. I'm now on Wintersmith, and the series is nearing its end while my thesis deadline is looming ahead. Unfortunately, I've heard that Pratchett's dementia had an impact on the books from Unseen Academicals onward (which is the next one), so I'll get the most stressful PhD months alongside the least-liked Discworld books. Oh well, at least there will be some closure. Kinda strange to think I've read the last of the Death series already and that Susan won't be around for more books. I think the rest of the recurring characters have at least one more book to them, but not much more. It'll be sad to see the last of Lancre, of Ankh-Morpork, the Unseen University, Uberwald, L-Space, Great A'Tuin, and all the rest of the lands on the Disc. 

My slightly unpopular opinion is that the Witches series is the best of the Discworld stuff. By unpopular I don't mean people necessarily dislike that series, it's just far more common to find, the Watch is most popular. I also include the Tiffany Aching books in that series too, for obvious reasons. I think Wintersmith is my favourite Tiffany Aching book

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3 minutes ago, HelenaExMachina said:

My slightly unpopular opinion is that the Witches series is the best of the Discworld stuff. By unpopular I don't mean people necessarily dislike that series, it's just far more common to find, the Watch is most popular. I also include the Tiffany Aching books in that series too, for obvious reasons. I think Wintersmith is my favourite Tiffany Aching book

I'm actually inclined to agreeing with you there. The Watch series is really, really good, of course, with police dramas in a magical city being really interesting, but the Witches series really shows a culture unique to Pratchett's world. It also helps that the main characters practically have it as their job description to outsmart everyone else, meaning you get a lot of examples of badassery and displays of skill. Unfortunately, the plots have a small tendency towards the same type of villain every time: something or somebody even more magical and mystical than the witches themselves. For this reason, I think Wyrd Sisters and Maskerade are my favourite Witches books so far, as they deal with matters a little more mundane than the usual "go into a magical realm and wrestle the MacGuffin away from the big bad therein" plots.

And that's sort of my complaint with Wintersmith so far, around halfway through the book: The main conflict concerns another magical entity stalking Tiffany Aching. Wasn't that the plot of A Hat Full of Sky too? As well as a non-trivial side plot in The Wee Free Men, even beyond the titular characters? I hope to see Tiffany meet some human adversaries eventually, instead of just supernatural entities. There's two and a half books left in her story, so there are a fair few chances left.

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2 hours ago, Jodan said:

I don't want to read both at the same time as I like to read other stuff and not be flipping between WOT/Farseer/Discworld for god knows how long with no time for anything else. So the question is what do I buy when I go to pick up Dune? Assassins Apprentice or Eye Of The World?

10 minutes ago, Jodan said:

Part of the reason for WOT is I think I just want a simple good vs evil, I know WOT is criticised for being outdated in that way now. But after all the moral ambiguity of AsoiaF, Abercrombie etc it might just hit the spot, Whether that spot is 14 books deep is another matter.

The two series are hugely different. I'm... not the best advocate for Realm of the Elderlings; I'll tell you right out that I think that Hobb's writing is great but I also found series to be incredibly depressing/bleak and it resonated in ways I didn't enjoy with my generally shitty mental health which is why it never made its way onto my re-read pile. While Elderlings has a pretty wide scope at its core it's a very intimate personal story, whereas on the other hand WoT is kinda the platonic ideal of your massive fantasy doorstopper good vs evil, fate of the world, high magic, chosen one type series. It's definitely the bigger commitment in terms of pagecount but if that's what you're looking for then that's exactly what you'll get with WoT.

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