Yearly Reading Targets 2021

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Wilshire

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« Reply #45 on: July 08, 2021, 04:15:41 pm »
The Red Knight by Miles Cameron (23)

This remains one of my favorite books. Cameron is a great character writer, which an interesting (if chaotic) world for those characters to exist in. Cameron really knows his historic fighting, which make his battles (both large scale and individual) very believable and fun to read. The story of this first book is very standard fantasy, but Cameron sticks to what he knows and it makes the book better for it. The dialogue usually makes up for the standard plot, and I'm very much hoping there is unseen complexity in the woldbuilding that will be revealed later on.

I highly recommend this book.

The Fell Sword by Miles Cameron (24)

This book felt like a transition novel. Its still very good, but if felt like a story was shoehorned around the necessity of bringing the main character to a particular point. It took a whole book to get there, and it was written well, but I can't decide if it was really necessary. Luckily Cameron is delightful to read and so I can't really complain too much about it. There's still enough going on that I want to see the plot continue, and I feel invested in the vast majority of the storylines and characters. I'll pick up book 3 later on this year.

But first, Staveley just released his most recent book, and I got Wight's most recent one on sale, so I'll switch gears a bit before coming back.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2021, 02:02:19 pm by Wilshire »
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Wilshire

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« Reply #46 on: July 28, 2021, 02:06:18 pm »
Empire's Ruin by Brian Staveley (25)

The newest installment in the Unhewn Throne universe, taking place some 5-10 years after the events of the previous book. New characters, new troubles, some great writing. Staveley does a good job at keeping the religion/philosophy on the back burner and not letting it get in the way of the series. Similar to his previous books, the story follows 3 separate groups which you can see imagine coming together at the end of the series in a conflagration.

Trying to think back to Emperor's Blades, I think Staveley's writing has improved. That said, I'm not entirely sure all the stories in his most recent book are as individually compelling as they were for Unhewn Throne. Time will tell though, and I look forward to Staveley's writing career.

Bloodline by Will Wight (26)
What can I say. Its the same books, more/less, every time. But its still fun. There is something entertaining about magical kung-fu. This book feels like Wight picked a new direction for the series. Maybe "new direction" is too extravagant, but there at least appears to be a new goal, a lot of storylines were wrapped up, the general narrative will likely tighten a bit in the future because of this, and it seems new foundations were laid for probably another 10 books.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2021, 01:28:21 pm by Wilshire »
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The P

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« Reply #47 on: August 09, 2021, 05:06:34 pm »
A Veil of Spears by Bradley P. Beaulieu (15)

Each of these has been better than the previous one.  I have minor gripes with some details (where do we get all this wood in the desert?), but nothing to ruin my enjoyment.  Beaulieu continues to shift the stakes, I keep thinking I know what kind of conflict/climax he's building to, but new players and insight keeps me on my toes.  This third book kept mainly to the previously established pov.  There is a new one added in, but only had a handful of chapters.  We also got some very brief povs from a couple different kings.  Thoroughly enjoyable, I look forward to the final three, but maybe a couple short books before I dive back in.

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« Reply #48 on: August 11, 2021, 01:48:02 pm »
Inside Man by K. J. Parker (16)

I like just about anything he writes; have I said that before?  This is another novella.  It's kind of a sequel to last year's Prosper's Demon.  This is some time later, now from the demon's perspective.  He's been dubbed "fragile" due to prior events, and assigned to "other work of equal value."  Parker gives a fun depiction of a bureaucratic hell in opposition to, but also in support of the Plan.  There are lots of real-world Judeo-Christian analogues throughout (mostly poked for fun and given a wry take), but it has plenty of Parker-verse connections (Perimadea, Robur, Saloninus, etc.).  Thoroughly enjoyable, it drew an audible chuckle on several occasions.  The next Parker book looks delayed until January, alas.

The P

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« Reply #49 on: August 30, 2021, 12:34:05 pm »
Miserere by Teresa Frohock (17)

I picked this up on a whim.  I heard it was good, but got bad marketing because the publisher ran out of money and collapsed.  I liked it.  It's pretty short (under 300 pages), has decent writing, good characters, some intense moments.  The setting is kind of a barrier world between hell and earth, with the main characters as the force preventing the fallen/demons from conquering earth and being able to war against heaven.  In this place are supposedly all religions working together, but aside from brief blurbs, the characters are all christian-centric.  Which isn't bad, but I would have liked a more diverse cast, or at least some more detail of the other groups' roles in the world.  As it is, I enjoyed the interesting take on these religious mages using psalms and prayers to channel power, etc.

Reading some author comments online after reading, she said one big problem with the marketing of the book was that they decided to sell it in christian book stores.  I certainly don't blame whoever was in charge for making that mistake, but it surely would have bothered any wholesome parents trying to shelter their kids from secular fiction.  (There's swears, violence, gore, sex, abuse, oh my!)  So I'm not sure the audience for this one, it has enough overt christian religiosity to scare away the non-religious, but is plenty gritty to stand alongside others in the "grimdark" genre.

I'll probably check out some other stuff by Frohock at some point.  She has other unrelated fantasy.  While the ending was satisfying, this book could easily have sequels, but it seems unlikely after 10 years.

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« Reply #50 on: September 07, 2021, 01:08:11 pm »
A Door Behind a Door by Yelena Moskovich (18)

I picked this up on a whim.  It's not sff, but the guy who recommended it said it had some David Lynch vibes, which was enough for me.  I liked it quite a bit.  It has a strange style.  It's almost like very tiny chapters, sometimes only a sentence, with a bold-caps title that sometimes is part of the body itself.  The style makes it feel a little like stream-of-consciousness, but actually readable.  It reads very quick.  Under 200 pages, it could and probably should be read in one sitting.  I understand the Lynch comparison, in things get weird, but where Lynch goes for absurdia with the appearance of meaning, the weirdness here means something (I think, and I'm sure I don't get it all).

It is rare for me to read outside my choice genre(s), but I'm glad I did in this case.  Being short helped its pitch.  Definitely worth the time if you want to try something more capital-L Literature.