Actually, I’ve already done it. It was more of a semi-re-read because I lost momentum before I got to the last two books the first time. So I was re-reading the ones that lead up to them.
With the new kittens, I’ve been spending a bit more time at home, keeping an eye on them, instead of going out. As a result, I’ve been on a bit of a reading tear. I recently read two books (technically four since one was an omnibus):
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer was very disappointing. I saw the trailer for the movie, and wanting to read the book before the movie came out, I dove into this first book of the Southern Reach trilogy. The first thing that surprised me about it was how short it was. At only about 210 pages or so, I was expecting this to be longer. Despite that, the premise of the book really intrigued me, so I was excited to read it. I ended up being very disappointed, and the book was a slog to get through. Not very much happened, even less was explained, and there is almost no characterization. I feel like the idea behind the book had great potential, but the way the story was told was disappointing. Now I’m not sure if I’ll even bother with the second and third books of the trilogy.
The second book I read was the Riddle-Master omnibus by Patricia McKillip. This omnibus contains all three short novels in the Riddle-Master trilogy: The Riddle-Master of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, and Harpist in the Wind. Similarly to Annihilation, each book is only about 200 pages or so, so the entire trilogy is about 600 or so pages, shorter than one George R. R. Martin novel.
This is actually the third time I’ve read this entire trilogy. The first time I read it was back in 1992, when the summer before my Bar-Mitzvah, my parents rented a house in Jerusalem, and we spent the entire summer living there and traveling around Israel. The house we rented didn’t have a TV or a computer, but whomever the owners were, they had an entire bookcase filled with classic science fiction and fantasy novels. I was in absolute heaven. I don’t think I’ve ever read as many books as I read that summer. I devoured the Foundation Trilogy, the first couple Pern novels, Dune, the aforementioned Riddle-Master trilogy, and more.
Since reading the books in 1992, I had actually forgotten the names of them, and had been somewhat futilely searching for them, wanting to own a copy so I could reread it and lend them to my friends, since no one other than me had heard of the series. I had no luck in either remembering the names of the books or finding copies. Apparently, the Riddle-Master trilogy had been out of print for a long time, but was finally republished as an omnibus in 1999. Imagine my surprise and joy at seeing the omnibus at a bookstore, reading the summary, and realizing that this was the series I had read during that magical summer. That was the second time I read the trilogy.
So, I read the Riddle-Master omnibus and started lending it to my friends and they loved it just as much as I did. I lent it to one friend, and before he could return it to me, he got a job in Europe, taking the book with him to finish it, and by the time he moved back to the US, I was living in Japan teaching English. We just kept missing each other and he he’d had the book for the past 10-12 years or so. In January, I saw him for the first time since college, when he came down to VA for MAGFest, and he returned the omnibus to me. After finishing Annihilation, and having such a bad taste in my mouth from that book, I decided to reread the Riddle-Master trilogy for the third time.
The books, written in the 1970s, are very Tolkien-esque in their writing style, without being Tolkien-esque in their plots. The Riddle-Master trilogy is rightly held to be one of the classics of fantasy, and Patricia McKillip is an amazing writer, having won multiple World Fantasy Awards Locus Awards, among others. Reading this trilogy for the third time, this time in my 30s, as opposed to the first time when I was 12, or the second time when I was in my early 20s, I got so much more out of them and enjoyed these books like never before. Everything about them is just… magical. There is a lyricism to her prose that just sucks you in. The writing is just beautiful and evocative. The world-building is subtle, giving you hints and bits and pieces of the backstory.
The story is somewhat cliched at this point, but considering when it was written in the 1970s, was different from other fantasy books at the time. One hero of the trilogy is the typical reluctant farmer, thrust into mystery and greatness, but instead of wanting adventure, he fights against it, wanting only to go back to his farm and raise pigs. In the second book in the trilogy, the focus shifts to three young women on their own quest, which was probably quite provocative and revolutionary at the time. In the 1970s, I doubt there were many books with strong women protagonists.
Without wanting to give away any spoilers, I cannot recommend this book/series enough. If you like fantasy, strong writing, and great characters read this. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Sorry for the length of this post. I just can’t praise this trilogy enough.
We don’t have a thread for books about to be released, so I figured I’d post this here, but this looks really interesting and cool:
“While it might be easy to describe Condor Heroes as China’s answer to Lord of the Rings or A Song of Ice and Fire, Liu compares Jin Yong’s popularity and relevance to Jane Austen: “Only six novels to work with, but the movies never quit coming.” And he says Jin Yong — like Austen — is renowned for his social observations and insight into human nature, which is why so many people adapt his work. “Jin Yong’s works have an emotional richness that seems inexhaustible,” Liu says.”
Audiobooking Capital in the 21st Century. Since my own light novel/campaign setting is kinda about economics I figured I should pick up some reading. Only 11 chapters in at the moment, and the history course is probably pretty valuable at least.
Currently getting through Legend of the Galactic Heroes; Dawn. To say that I’m finding it a bit dry is an understatement. I’m sure when I go back and read it in Japanese it might have a bit more flow to it. But every time the books builds up a bit of steam it decides to stall out and dumb so exposition on you. The meat and bones of the character interactions is great and you get a real flavour for them. But some bits are a bit dull. Then again it was written in 1982 so that could explain a bit.
Currently have Autofiction glowering on my book shelf. Its meant to be a bit more heavy than Hitomi Kanehara other big book (Snakes and Earrings) but still very very good. Need to build up some filler to brain wash some of it though. Thank fully its short as well so might just whip it off like a plaster.
Also reading The Slow Regard of Silent things by Rossfuss on the loo at work. I both like and loath this book. Feels like badly written Gaiman imitation work, but there are moments where some really great stuff shines through. But if I have to bloody read about someone washing their face, hands and feet one more god dam time I might remover someones face, hands and feet.
Capital in the 21st Century was great as an audiobook.
Malazan Book of the Fallen Book 2 Deadhouse Gates was absolutely awesome. Having a talented reader (and probably editor) can really make a huge difference.
Just now starting “The Worm at the Core” and I’m already concerned this isn’t going to go so great.
Coltain and the whole Chain of Dogs was amazing.
The Chain of Dogs is what sold me on the series.
I still want someone to gut Mallick Rel.
The Worm at the Core isn’t doing itself any favors yet. It’s much much much shorter and I’m getting the feeling it’s just pointless fappery. Yes, “death bad” is a thing. I bought the book in the hopes you’d expand on that.
Just wait for Mallick Rel…
Finished Harmony by Project Itoh. Great book about society, the control of the population and individual freewill vs the collective good. Pretty short, but full of some great ideas.
So in college it sounds like I took exactly one of these “tests”, probably as a follow up but it sounds identical. Read a story, then fill in some blanks for words. Stuff like coff__, maybe you write coffee, maybe you write coffin. The control story was neutral, the test story was death stuff. I got the control story, but I’m pretty much a death cultist so most of my words were death things.
The claims they seem to want to make off of stuff like that just don’t jive for me. Some of their premises are fine, some of their conclusions seem possible, but how they get from A to B is poorly reasoned. Similarly the reasoning seems like… well… undergrads.
Maybe I’m wrong to think that most people should have moved past this at some point in their lives. I think as a society we’re also somewhat critical of this behavior after a certain point. At some point you learn to say “so it goes”. Even fighting over legacies and what-not seem silly.
Still have quite a bit to go though and I’m playing Battletech basically all day tomorrow.
I saw Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente on Nelson’s Goodreads, and then it showed up as featured in my library’s online audiobook section, so I took the plunge. It’s really fun. It’s basically
In 300 page book form.
Hell fucking yes. It’s washup David Bowie vs. the Universe, defending Earth in a galactic eurovision contest that honestly made me reevaluate eurovision as a sociopolitical phenomenon (securing european unity through semi-nationalistic displays of song might actually have been one of the better geopolitical ideas of the 20th century). The tone is very different than Valente’s other books (I particularly love Deathless) but it hearkens back to the best of Douglas Adams, and the aliens are all very creatively done.
I think there had never been a war between two participating Eurovision nations until Russia and Ukraine a few years ago… and then Russia were shown disapproval by the rest of Europe by coming in second that year… to Ukraine.
The audiobook guy can sing
Stanhope’s This Is Not Fame audiobook is available now. Not as compelling as his first book but just as good.
After being slightly disappointed with the third Expanse novel: Abaddon’s Gate, the fourth book, Cibola Burn, was much better. I still think the second book in the series, Caliban’s War, is the best so far, but I’m glad that the series seems to be back on course.
With the cancellation of the TV show, which I haven’t yet watched, people who enjoyed that, or are looking for a good science fiction series should check out The Expanse. I’m really looking forward to picking up the fifth book soon.
Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans refers to him as “Andy” and honestly I’m surprised I got past that. No one ever called Jackson “Andy” in life (although little documentation from his childhood exists leaving the possibility, but not certainty, that his mother used the name) so it’s really only acceptable if you’re fighting a character limit on something like Twitter. I hate this book so much I won’t even donate it to a library because I don’t want anyone else reading it.