I’d like to say I haven’t been blogging about reading because I’ve been doing so much reading, but that’s only partly true. Despite many protestations and formal requests, the day has not been lengthened from 24 to 36 hours and thus, not everything can get done. Having a baby sure does reroute your priorities.
I’d like to say and write a ton about each of the books I’ve read since last I blogged, especially as some of them are very deserving. But if I try to do that, I just plain won’t get through it. So each of these works will get a sentence or two and then I’ll be caught up so to speak.
After The Heroes it’s almost unfair to pick up another fantasy. It just wouldn’t stand up, and indeed, The Blood of Ambrose by James Enge did not. It was very poorly written and did not keep my attention. I gave it the ole 100 page try and then set it aside.
Following that I selected a quadrilogy by an author I’d been hearing a lot about in many contexts: Daniel Abraham. I read his Long Price Quartet and really enjoyed it – it had such a new and different flavor to it that even if at times it was a little slow, I enjoyed savoring it. He’s a good writer, great conceiver of characters, and an excellent evoker of place. While it’s nothing like Abercrombie’s style, and perhaps because it isn’t, this series stands apart from a lot of fantasy I’ve read.
Following that, I picked up a steeply discounted e-book version of Sharps, the new novel by K.J. Parker, and my introduction to the author (whose identity and even gender remain one of the most interesting secrets in fantasy literature!). Loved it. Even if there was no magic (something of a hallmark for the author I take it) Very intelligent writing, but writing that moved and flowed with an unusual grace. I will enjoy reading more from this author, and, as they’re quite prolific, there’s plenty more to read.
I departed fantasy for a moment a read a book given me by my mother-in-law: Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You. Laugh out loud, gut-bustingly hilarious. Sadly true. Deeply emotional. A book to give to others, no doubt. And I did.
Then I tried N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Again, been hearing a lot about it and her. While I finished the book, the first of a trilogy, I decided not to pick up the rest of the trilogy. It was below average for me, a little boring, and suffered from the non-use of what I might call the unrealized potential of some of its characters. You can’t write about god-like characters and then have them be impotent to effect change. Maybe this is why I like flawed characters better.
Since my friends enjoyed it, and they’re making it into a movie, I picked up World War Z, the zombie mockumentary book. It was, well, just boring. Maybe too much zombie stuff out there right now? I don’t know. Didn’t finish it.
Departing from genre fiction again, I read (mostly by candlelight as the power was out for 24 hours because of Hurricane Sandy) Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. It was boring and hard to follow, not at all like his other books I’ve read. I can see why it was an influence for Abercrombie’s Red Country, but it wasn’t the groundbreaking, award-winning awesome book I was expecting.
Then Red Country arrived and I devoured it, like all other Abercrombie works. It was very, very good. But, and I hate to say this, it was not as excellent as I was hoping. Maybe there was too much anticipation, particularly for the return of Logen. Maybe I had elevated Abercrombie to writer-god status and thus was expecting more nectar like The Heroes. There was just something missing – perhaps a greater sense of grandeur like we’ve gotten in his other books. Loved the characters though, especially Dab Sweet and the wizard character who gets about three lines. An Abercrombie work that is not quite up to par with his previous works still blows most other fantasy books out of the water though and this was no exception.
A while back I had found a $2 copy of Alex Bell’s Jasmyn, an author Abercrombie recommended. So, not wanting to make the same mistake I made after reading The Heroes, I picked up this more urban/dark fantasy. I have to admit, had he not recommended it, this was a book I likely would never have read. But I am glad I did- it was a good yarn. Not a great one, but fun and different enough to make it an enjoyable read.
And now I’ve begun another series. I’m into Book 3 of The Chathrand Voyages series by Robert V.S. Redick. It is excellent so far – a naval fantasy, very unique. I love the world he’s created, the characters he’s birthed, and the singular problem of having the main bad guy be ever present with the protagonists, but with each unable to do anything to the others fora variety of creative and understandable reasons. It doesn’t feel cheap or contrived, it feels frustratingly real. In real life, your enemies rarely live in Mordor. More typically, they are in the same office or the same block as you. Book 2 ended with an amazing cliffhanger – again not one which felt contrived, but well planned and well executed – and so I dove into Book 3. I have to say, this third book took longer to get into than the previous two, but I think it’s going now. And going in some unexpected directions, with very cool things happening in very cool locations. Delightful.