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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: July 06, 2021, 02:07:49 pm »
With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu (13)

This book improved upon the first in every way, I think.  The good and bad from the first book get more nuanced into grayer shades.  We get more magic going on, and from that there is also a much needed (imo) new pov.  Even with the new one, there are still only five viewpoint characters.  The stakes are raised, and we get a lot more insight into the Kings' origins and their current intrigues.  The two main characters from the first book, who have same goal, find themselves on very different paths in this book, which creates some nice tension when they come together.  Some exciting action sequences and an increase in supernatural occurrences give me further hope that the next four books will keep ramping up.

The Big Score by K. J. Parker (14)

I will read everything K. J. Parker writes (but for some reason not Tom Holt, go figure), and I will enjoy it.  This is another novella, loosely following Blue and Gold and The Devil You Know in the further escapades of notorious felon and polymath genius Saloninus (think Shakespeare mixed with Da Vinci).  It is of course thoroughly enjoyable; I laughed several times, blitzed through the whole thing in an afternooon.  Parker is easily my favorite short-form author.  He has another novella and novel (end of the Siege trilogy, likely his best trilogy) coming out later this year.

Wilshire, I think the Liveship Traders series was my favorite of Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings books.  I read them all together a couple years ago, so the books blur.  Part of my enjoyment might have been getting out of the one pov of the Farseer books.

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: June 01, 2021, 04:31:44 pm »
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu (12)

This was pretty good.  I enjoyed the desert city setting.  The characters are well drawn, if not particularly original.  There are instances of various magics and supernatural dealings, but their effect on the pov characters is secondary.  It is a good start to a series that promises to open up nicely in future books.

My only issue is that the narrative arc was kind of lacking.  We are given the main character's ultimate goal, but it is presented more as an unattainable pipe dream of hers.  The path she takes through the book seems very disconnected from the goal as such.  Things eventually come together in the end and the narrative looks to be more directed going forward.  So it very much feels like a prologue book, which isn't terrible.  I'll be reading the full series (6 books) unless things take a nose dive.


But they did, it's why they took the Chorae off the Carapace.

They even say as much:
“And you think I’m the missing piece?” Kellhus asked. “The Subject that will revive this ... system?”

Was that why the Chorae had been removed from the Carapace? For him? It seemed to Malowebi that he strangled ...

The nearest of the disfigured Dûnyain, the burnt one, nodded. “The Celmomian Prophecy foretells your coming, Brother.”

Still not convinced.  I will try to put out my thoughts.  I'm erratic and in sore need of a reread.  If the Celmomian Prophesy is the basis for their "knowledge" of needing Kellhus as an insertant, they are making some intense cognitive leaps (which I guess maybe I can't be expected to understand, them being Dunyain and all).  All the prophesy says is an Anasurimbor will return at the end of the world.  I don't think there's any more to it, since we are shown the scene where Celmomas says it to Seswatha.  That's so vague, it could mean any of the many Anasurimbors running around, why decide on the most difficult to grab?  I take the disfigured's nod to be more saying, "well, here you are, so we're going to plug you in and see what happens."

If they really think the Anasurimbor lineage is the key to awakening the No-God, why aren't they plugging in one of their own?  Surely at least one of the disfigured has some Anasurimbor blood in them.  If they knew the original insertant, it seems logical they'd want to try another Anasurimbor, but did the Consult even know who the original insertant was?  My impression was Nau-Cayuti was just another faceless attempt in a long procession of souls (but it's been a while since I read that scene).

It's easier for me to believe the Consult/Dunsult is ignorant of how to start the No-God than it is for me to believe they're just pretending to try to kill Kellhus to lure him in.  All the while ignoring any of his more accessible offspring or ishualian relations for 20 years.

Oh yeah, this should probably be moved.  I don't know how to spoiler tag from my phone, so I'll refrain from posting more.

I am not sold on the Dunsult knowing it needs Kellhus, nor even that he could be an insertant.

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: May 18, 2021, 12:10:46 pm »
Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor (11)

This is technically three novellas and a short story, but I won't pad my numbers.  The three novellas were conceived together, and really tell one story in 3 parts.  It's a great sci-fi story grounded in African culture.  It is not action-packed, but it has more action than I expected.  The premise is, girl from insular tribe gets accepted to galactic university and decides to attend.

I enjoyed it.  There are plenty of aliens, outer space, advanced tech, tech so advanced it might as well be magic, and mysticism.  It was refreshing reading a sci-fi from something other than a Western/Anglo-centric perspective.  The only gripe I have is the pacing of the third story.  It starts with the main conflict, then is almost entirely denouement.  It works well enough, but I found my interest waning a little in the end.

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: May 10, 2021, 02:44:51 pm »
The Third God by Ricardo Pinto (10)

There were portions of this book that were really good.  The beginning was very slow, and had me questioning the division of the original into 3.  The previous book had a huge, horrible, climactic battle, and the first third of this finale made me think the whole book was going to be aftermath and wrapping things up.  Thankfully things picked up.  There were some intense moments and big events, and the ending did not end up feeling too drawn out.

There were a couple points where we actually got some extended exposition.  This is, strangely, my biggest problem with the series as a whole: there is not enough exposition.  The world and culture Pinto has created is so strange and alien, and many things just get dropped on the reader without giving any ground to the why or how things are happening, it makes it hard to be invested in the story at times.  Pinto has a lot of extra notes he shares on his website, which is helpful, but even that often isn't enough.

This series goes into some dark places.  There is slaughter and atrocity aplenty, but story does not dwell on it or glorify it like a "grimdark" story would.  A number of times, I found myself thinking some scene/theme/idea had been inspired by TSA, only to remind myself that these were initially published in '99, '02, and '09.  I'd be surprised if these in any way inspired Bakker, but there are similarities.

Overall, I liked it.  The writing itself isn't amazing, but the story is good and has a very unique setting.  I'd call it Aztec, pre-historic (dinos included), with a healthy Skeksi vibe (from Dark Crystal).  I wish the gods played into it more; I always like more magic and the mythical, but this series is on the low fantasy side.

This sounded a lot like Brownian motion.  I looked it up; I guess pedetic is the word kids are using for it these days.  :)

The Unholy Consult / Re: What's up with the "Second" Inverse Fire
« on: May 04, 2021, 03:06:29 pm »
I imagine the Ten Simpletons and ten larval senescents is coincidental.  One of them having the Judging Eye seems unlikely, since then one of them would have to be a woman.  It seems unlikely a woman would be tasked with painting the ceiling of the Holy Junriuma, or that a woman would be a legendary artist.

I guess the name could have easily come from a skin-spy who recognized the similarities.

What interests me is in what way was it inspired by pre-Arkfall Nonman statuary?  From what I remember of Nonman carvings, they have some aspect of depicting change or showing an entity in varying time points.  Maybe each soul is simultaneously shown in each of its methods of torment.

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: April 30, 2021, 02:17:05 pm »
The Mirror Breaks by Ricardo Pinto (9)

This one started a little slow but picked up a lot at the end.  Things get really dark and brutal, but Pinto doesn't dwell too much on it.  We get to see some of the oddities that comprise the Commonwealth in greater detail, and learn some more about its history, which is nice.  Pinto has what is basically an appendix to the series (book by book, and even sometimes chapter specific) on his website.  Some of this is almost essential to get a picture of what is going on at times.  I think all of the books so far could benefit from more exposition, but leaving all the finer details out keeps the story moving at a good clip.
Some moments in this book bear similarity to TSA, at least superficially.  Pinto is nowhere near the level of Bakker, though.  And again, I think the series is hurt by its insistence on only one pov character.  And that character is often a side actor to the primary driving force of the plot.  I still like it enough.  One book to go.

Literature / Re: YOU MUST TELL ME ... What else are you reading?
« on: April 30, 2021, 01:56:37 pm »
Congratulations.  Many people put GotM in the lower half of the series, while book 2 and 3 are usually on the higher end of people's favorites.  Book two is largely a new cast of characters and a new setting.  It takes place in Seven Cities.  The returning characters from what I remember are Fiddler, Kalam, Crokus, and Apsalar.  Book three is more or less concurrent with the events of book two, so it wouldn't hurt to skip to three if you want.  In fact, Erikson initially had them swapped before losing the draft of what became book three to a computer crash.  Book three continues on with the campaign on Genabackis.  There are a lot of returning characters from GotM. 

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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: April 23, 2021, 12:41:04 pm »
The Imago Sequence by Laird Barron (7)

A collection of some short horror stories.  They were pretty good.  I like Barron's writing a lot.  Most of the stories gave me a nice unsettling feeling, and only one really fell flat for me.  After hearing his work compared to the Cthulhu mythos, I was a little worried about it being too close.  I can see the connection, but Barron's work is unique though clearly drawing inspiration from Lovecraft on occasion.  I'll read some more of his stuff at some point.

Dragon Fire by Ricardo Pinto (8)

After four books of increasing quality, this one dipped a little.  I was disappointed that the supernatural aspect had not been emphasized more, and in some ways was even just ignored.  I think part of the problem with this book is it lines up as the first third of the final book in what had been a trilogy.  Even so, the end of this one was really good with the "dragons," and then some further craziness revealed about the Commonwealth to cliffhang into the next.  There is no surprise where this series is going, but how it's going to get there and what will happen when it does promises to be enjoyable.

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: April 07, 2021, 12:09:52 pm »
The Darkness Under the Trees by Ricardo Pinto (6)

There has been a decent amount of darkness in these books so far, but this one really leans into it.

My biggest complaint about this series is that we mostly only ever get the point of view from one character.  He's more or less sane/normal and provides a relatable view for the reader in witnessing the insanity around him.  The problem is that he is not a principle agent for a lot of the big events going on.  Keeping such a limited scope makes for a tighter story, but also not as exciting or compelling as it could be.

There has been mention of gods before this book, much like in PoN the gods are assumed to at most be inactive entities if they are even real.  With this fourth book, the idea of the gods as active agents is... possible, hinted at, maybe a thing.  This is where I'd like a broader viewpoint as a reader, and I really hope this potential supernatural aspect is explored more in the coming books.

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: March 31, 2021, 05:05:10 pm »
The Standing Dead by Ricardo Pinto (5)

This is my favorite of this series so far.  The action does pick up, though it is still rather reserved in its delivery.  I think part of this is the story being told from the perspective of only one character.  A lot of times he isn't sure what is happening around him, or just gets glimpses of the bigger picture.  In the barest of senses, the series has so far been the hero's journey; the protagonist comes from remote isolation, we learn the world as he learns it.  He's kind of destined for greatness, depending on how you look at it; or kind of stumbles into greatness-adjacent.  In this book we get the major road block to the path, and through it get an in depth look at the wider world and how people live there.

The major draw to me so far is the uniqueness of the setting.  It's unlike anything else I've read, which makes it a little challenging as there are very few familiar touchstones.  The prose is nothing special, but it is very tight narrative style.  A lot goes unsaid and is left to the reader to extrapolate.  There is not a lot of exposition on the setting, plot, motivations.  Spans of narrative time pass quickly.  I don't know how much of that is due to it being a second edition.  The author says he cut a lot, but also added portions in.

This book ends abruptly.  Like the first two, books three and four of the second edition were one book in the first edition.  The divide of the first felt natural, but book three ends right in the middle of something.  Not a big deal, since they are all released and I'm going right into the next.

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: March 19, 2021, 12:45:05 pm »
The Chosen by Ricardo Pinto (4)

This is the second book in the Stone Dance of the Chameleon (2nd ed).  I am not sure what I think of it.  The first book saw the outsider who grew up away from the center of power journey back for the election of the gods.  This book is mostly the culture shock he experiences, culminating in the election and some other events.  So there isn't a lot that happens, but we get to see all the crazy aspects of life as one of the Chosen.  It is a very unique setting, the prose is evocative, but the plot in this book leaves a lot to be desired.  In the first edition of SDoC, this and The Masters were one book.  I think dividing them up works well; both have reasonable narrative arcs and are thematically and tonally unique.  This is a book that is going to stew in the back of my mind for a while and I will probably come to realize I like it more than I thought initially.  I am intrigued enough to keep going, and it looks like the plot gets moving in the next book.

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