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Messages - The P

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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.

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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.

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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. 

(click to show/hide)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: February 15, 2021, 03:38:48 pm »
Legend by David Gemmell (3)

Man, what a great book.  I'm not sure why I never read it before.  Maybe when I heard about it I turned up my nose at it being 80s heroic fantasy.  Shame on me, if so.  It is maybe a little dated, but not much.  The world-building is slight, but for the most part it's a very focused setting, so the far details don't matter much.  I expected the main hero to be the drive, of course, the legend, but it seemed like nearly every character had a gut-wrenching heroic moment.  Gemmell achieves a lot in a relatively short book.  Plenty of poignant lines about being a man and doing the right thing, etc.  Teenage me would have called it his favorite book perhaps, adult me still likes it an awful lot.

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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: February 07, 2021, 08:55:39 pm »
The Grand Design by John Marco (2)

Parts of this were pretty good, but I could barely stand any of the chapters featuring the main character.  The writing is serviceable, but rarely if ever rises above that level. It has the bones of a good story.  The count is interesting.  The alchemist/scientist could have been, as with the girl experiment, but Marco just uses them as a plot device without fleshing out the most interesting parts.  I was disappointed that the first book barely touched on the religion of Nar, so was excited to learn more in this one.  Even more disappointed that it is basically just a generic Catholic stand-in.  There are some potentially interesting differences mentioned in passing, but seemed mainly just there for the author to say, "see it's not really Catholicism."

I might read the final volume, but I am in no hurry.

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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: January 18, 2021, 04:20:34 pm »
I liked it a lot.  It is very much a "fantasy of manners."  The prose is really good.  I found the plot of a genuine/na├»ve/good person thrust into a position of power and having to deal with cutthroat politicking to be amusing and enjoyable.
He's also a half breed, which adds another amusing layer.

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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: January 15, 2021, 12:04:01 am »
Another book coming out this year, which will probably be a prioritized read: The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison

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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: January 12, 2021, 02:43:56 am »
Oh yeah, I forgot that series is completing this year, too.  Guess that's on my list, too.  I've heard enough to temper my expectations, but I'm glad you say it's as good as any Abercrombie.

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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: January 08, 2021, 06:29:40 pm »
The Burning God by R. F. Kuang (1)

I was very disappointed with this book.  The first book was decent, the second improved and showed some real promise, but this final was... not good.  I actually liked the ending.  The last chapter, while it didn't make up for the 600 pages that came before it, actually was well done.
The dedication at the front of the book made me wary at the outset; "To my dear readers, who stayed with this series until the end, and came prepared with a bucket for their tears."  I had really no emotional investment in any of the characters or their relationships after two books, so the author presuming she'll make me cry (which isn't an impossible task) did not sit well.
The story itself, even from the first book, is pretty shaky.  People working hand in hand with others who've been trying to kill them without taking a moment to reflect on the matter.  Characters do really stupid things, which is fine if they are a stupid person, but even supposed geniuses or savant constantly make poor decisions.  I only know they are geniuses because the author says they are.
Frequently it seemed like the author didn't know what was going on in her own story.  Some examples (there are many more): A group of refugees flee through abandoned mines; they emerge and we shortly get a description of supply wagons they brought with them, which I find hard to imagine they could bring through.  There are dirigibles from another country;  one crashes (it is noted the balloon is deflated), and a "genius" character looks at it a while, then makes it work; I'm not sure where he found the gas to fill it, there is no mention of it being a heated air situation either.
The whole book seemed slapped together without any real thought.  Things happened because the author wanted/needed them to without any real logic or flow.  It also seemed like before every page break or chapter ending, the author wanted to throw in a really cool, dramatic, poppy (yes), line; but they invariably fell flat for me, and I think I might have physically rolled my eyes a couple times.
Don't read it, unless you though the first two were absolutely amazing.  I thought they were ok.  This book needed a better editor or more authorial diligence.  But the ending (last chapter) was pretty good at least.

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Literature / Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: January 08, 2021, 05:44:03 pm »
I guess I'll make this since I finished a book.

I'll keep my goal for the year at 30, since it is usually achievable, and I like to be successful.

Some series getting completed which I expect to read in the coming year, in no particular order:
Stone Dance of the Chameleon, 2nd edition (7 books, one I read last year)
Song of the Shattered Sands (6 books and a prequel novella)
Books of Babel (4 books)
The Expanse last book (I really thought it was coming out in 2020)
Last King of Osten Ard (4 including the bridge book)
*Edit* Abercrombie's Age of Madness (3 books)
*Edit* The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison (stand alone sequel of sorts)

Some others either stand alone or older series
John Marco's Tyrants and Kings, two left
Something by Laird Barron, probably a short story collection
Paul Kearney's Monarchies of God
Gemmel's Legend
Stover's Acts of Caine; I read the first a long time ago, but just never got to the rest

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Yeah, I don't buy into the Consult preparing Esmenet's womb, but I like the idea of gray goo as part of the Tekne, toeing the line between biohorror and advanced technology.

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