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What BOOK(s) are you reading?
I loved the first three books of the Black Company series plus the spinoff book The Silver Spike. Then the series grinds to a half and flounders for a couple of books in Dejagore. The choice to present one of those books from the viewpoint of a semi-omniscient narrator who has become unmoored in time was a bad call, as it makes the reading into a messy chore. Once the story moves past Dejagore and gets to the plain of glittering stone, it becomes compelling again. I think there may be one more book that hasn't been finished yet, but it's been so long now that it may never arrive.
SebastianBludd wrote: Last year I started The Black Company series and recently finished it. It was very good, even though it dragged at times, and I really enjoyed the delightfully weird fantasy mythos Cook created. I also liked how magic and other supernatural elements were rarely fully explained, and how wizards/practitioners (the lower level ones, anyway) were treated more like specialized technicians rather than demigods. The series took an unexpectedly elegiac turn in the last few books but it was a satisfying payoff and it reinforced themes that were percolating from the earliest books.
I've also been reading the third trilogy of Charles Stross' Merchant Prince series. I finished book eight recently and the ninth is due later this year. It's about a clan of people who have the genetic ability to "world walk" between parallel universes, and when the series starts they've been world walking to and from our universe for financial gain for quite some time.
Stross really gets to show off what he knows about tradecraft and government bureaucracies, which is quite a bit, and the directions he takes things in the third trilogy are depressingly dystopian by virtue of their plausibility. The second trilogy has a fantastic ending, and the third trilogy picks up 17 years later and hits the ground running; doubling down on exploring the political implications of what two parallel, yet divergent, societies might do in the midst of first contact across dimensions.
I don't know if I've read all of The Black Company books, but I've read a lot of them. One thing to get used to is that Glen Cook doesn't handle big battles in the same way that a lot of Fantasy writers (Eric Flint springs to mind) will. If you're looking for that sort of Big Battle fantasy, you'll be dissapointed. But it more than makes up for it by the characters.
I read the first Merchant Princes trilogy a while back - I might have to pick that series back up again.
"I do not give a fuck about Duncan Idaho."
Meanwhile, I finished the dumb as hell "My Best Friend's Exorcism." This is what I wrote on Goodreads;
My third book from Hendrix, and I think I'm done.
Each effort is all style, and no substance.
I'm lured into his works because of their presentation. The marketing strikes a chord.
But the content continually fails to deliver.
Shallow characters. Under developed subplots. Uneven pacing. Unnecessary tonal shifts into body horror. Rushed endings.
Horrorstor was bad.
My Best Friend's Exorcism is only marginally better.
Paperbacks from Hell is hardly the work of Hendrix anyway, with most of the heavy lifting by Will Errickson.
Gary Sax wrote: My wife and I have listened to a lot of nature non-fiction.
Entangled Life is a somewhat disorganized book about fungus that will reshape how you think about the world and its ecosystems. In particular, how cooperation and symbiosis is everywhere and makes up everything.
Top ten signs your friends and neighbors are microdosing during the pandemic:
1. Starts talking quoting Paul Stamets and/or talking about the interconnectedness of mushrooms
2. Starts pestering friends to play "The Mushroom Eaters"
3. Sells all of their wargames
4. Listed as playtester for Mushrooms by MailMushrooms by Mail
5. I'll stop now, this is all I've got and it wasn't as funny as I hoped.
I'm enjoying a series of essays about ACLU cases before the Supreme Court, FIGHT OF THE CENTURY, edited by Chabon and Waldman. Scott Turow has a great one about what assholes the ACLU are for their free speech absolutism.
Like every novel, I can squint and see what he’s aiming towards. Heretics and Chapterhouse are the second Dune saga and echo the original novel. Betrayed by one of their own, a boy of marvelous talents and his protectors go into hiding before emerging victorious over a seemingly invincible foe and taking over them. I admire the ambition and scope. But the prose and dialogue are such garbage, and there are absolutely zero compelling characters. There’s no Gurney or Stilgar or Tuek to ground things, a character who actually reacts to things like a human, that doesn’t have infinite perception and mental abilities. There might be four medium novels worth of good material in Herbert’s six very long books. Just give me a pen and let me go Lish on them.
From best to worst:
Children of Dune
God Emperor of Dune
Heretics of Dune
It's a long book is what I'm saying.
But it's better than the first one, Way of Kings. Sanderson's world-building continues to be interesting and unique. His fantasy world is very, very different than your bog standard Tolkien-inspired D&D Forgotten Realms pastiche. This is weird, alien stuff with its own distinct ecology and environment.
Unfortunately, Sanderson has populated his interesting world with a bunch of boring stiffs. I was thinking back to reading the early Games of Thrones novels, and how I'd get excited to flip the page and see that the next chapter was a Tyrion chapter, or a Jon chapter. Those were my favorites, and sometimes you just had to struggle through a goddamn Bran chapter to get to the good stuff. In Sanderson's books, every chapter is the equivalent of a goddamn Bran chapter.
I think I might be done with this series. I don't know. There are compelling teases of interesting stuff now and then, and the stakes crank up dramatically in the last third of this book. It's just such a slog to get there.
Also, Sanderson has such a rigid PG-rating to his books. There's no edge to any of this, no danger or threat. The action is sanitized, and sex is never even mentioned as an activity that humans engage in. I don't know how the characters in this world propagate the species, as no one has even the barest inkling of sexual desire. It's really weird.
I'm now reading War of the Wolves by Bernard Cornwell, and it's the polar opposite of Sanderson. Cornwell is the best. He jams more compelling plot and action into a lean 300-page novel that Sanderson does in 1100 pages.
The PG thing is so interesting. I'm not looking for long rapey chapters or some weird shit like that but the PGness just radiates through the series and feels very constraining. I didn't know anything about the work or the author before I started and I told my wife this must have been written by a pretty religious person... then looked it up and it was a mormon if memory serves.