Yearly Reading Targets 2022

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The P

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« Reply #30 on: June 21, 2022, 02:19:02 pm »
Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan ( :( )

DNF about halfway through.  So sad, as Blood Song was enjoyable.  The biggest problem with this was pacing, I think.  It expanded from the one POV in book one to 4 or 5 here.  None of them were developed enough to get me to care about what they are doing or why.  Most side characters just seemed to be there as plot devices to get the main characters to go where they needed to.
This is typical second book syndrome, and I should expect it.  Book one has been worked on for a long time before it gets published.  Book two is pushed out before it is ready.  Or is more concerned with setting the stage for another sequel.  Or the author just can't handle the larger scope of the story/world.

On to better things.

Wilshire

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« Reply #31 on: June 27, 2022, 01:45:00 pm »
Always a shame when that happens. It does make me slightly more sympathetic towards publishers wanting/expecting new authors to show up with complete series now, with the drop in quality so apparent for second books I can really see why. I'm sure a better publisher with better editors and support for authors would help workshop a lot of those issues away, but obviously this doesn't happen.
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Wilshire

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« Reply #32 on: July 01, 2022, 01:22:25 pm »
 The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip (10)

Meh. This was recommended along side her more widely read Od Magic, and I am very glad I read Od Magic first. This one didn't have nearly the same spark of wistful fantasy. Largely about a witch who could talk to magical animals, the concept was entertaining but it wasn't enough to make a whole book out of. Despite being pretty short, it still seemed to drag. Honestly the whole thing could have been a short story, maybe a novella, with just the first two chapters, one in the middle, and the last one. Instead it goes on for about 12, and that's just too many to get the point across. Pretty disappointed with this one, considering how whimsical and satisfying Od Magic was. If you want to try McKillip, because she does have great prose, I'd avoid this one.
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« Reply #33 on: July 05, 2022, 12:23:31 pm »
The Heart of What Was Lost by Tad Williams (18 )

I read this because I intend to read his sequel Osten Ard "trilogy."  It was enjoyable, but not the top form I'm used to getting from Williams.  It's also kind of a coda to Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, so the whole book being falling action from the trilogy keeps it from reaching the heights the author usually achieves.  I've been trying to decide why he felt the need to write this bridge book, and I think the main purpose of it is to introduce an inside perspective on the "bad guys" from MS&T (and presumably the following series).  There is also a little appendix here that gives kind of an origin/history of the Sithi/Norns.  I'm not sure if it has any new information (been a while since I read the trilogy), but it was good to get a refresh on the lore.

It was nice to dip my toes back into the world before I dive into the new series.  I will revisit how important I think this book is after I read further.

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The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip (10)

That's disappointing.  I feel like I see it on all time great lists, and planned on reading it someday.

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« Reply #34 on: July 06, 2022, 12:09:27 pm »
She deserves to be on a great many lists because the prose is interesting to read. Leaning towards purple, but it fits her fantasy settings. Its possible I was just not in the mood for this type of book, because its not substantially different plot-wise than Od Magic, meaning it has a relatively generic plot with predictable outcomes that are not at all the focus of the story. This is definitely something to be aware of when picking up any McKilip, but not necessarily a demerit. Forgotten Beasts specifically didn't do it for me though. It uses a lot of magical/fantasy animals and/or animal tropes, which is also something I've never been too interested in either.

I'd still recommend Od Magic to anyone who reads fantasy. The internet is full of requests for fantasy with "good writing", and while that means a lot of different things to different people Od Magic is probably a good recommendation most of the time.
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« Reply #35 on: August 15, 2022, 02:17:55 pm »
Blindsight by Peter Watts (19)

I read this not long ago (2020), but I convinced a friend to read it so I audiobooked it so we could discuss.  Not bad, this was my first audiobook experience.  It was nice being able to listen while I did boring stuff at work or drove, but I don't think I'd want to multitask if it wasn't a book I was already familiar with.  In that case, I'd just read.

The Darkness that Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker (20)

For the slog reread on discord.  Really slowing down my reading of The Last King of Osten Ard "trilogy," which are massive books of course.  I'll get through it when I get through it.  The reread has been enjoyable.

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« Reply #36 on: September 21, 2022, 12:28:13 pm »
The Warrior Prophet by R. Scott Bakker (21)

Great, of course.

The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams (22)

This is pretty standard Tad Williams fare.  Solid writing, meticulous pacing.  For those who've read MS&T, this sequel series starts slower.  It has a much broader scope than The Dragonbone Chair, which is mostly a singular pov character with occasional chapters of ancillary characters.  This one has something like 15 pov characters, which is maybe a bit much, but I trust Williams's plotting that they'll all be significant, though some don't have much of an arc in this first novel.  Williams does a great job of organically referring back to pertinent events of MS&T.  He also does well at aging up the returning characters and making it feel like they've grown/changed in the intervening 30 years, while still being recognizable to their younger selves.  While a lot happens in this book, it mostly feels like set up and establishing the pieces needed for the greater story.  Things really ramp up in the last 100 pages or so, and I look forward to the next book.

As far as the necessity of the bridging novella I read earlier this year...  probably not required to enjoy this series, but I think it helps connect better with the Norn ("bad guys") povs, which were mostly absent from MS&T.  There are several references to significant events of the novella, but you could get the gist without having read it.

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« Reply #37 on: September 26, 2022, 02:20:41 pm »
Among Others by Jo Walton (11)

This book was great, but I didn't actually enjoy it. The writing was easy get lost in, but the story itself just wasn't that appealing. The life and times of a Welsh14 year old in 70's England just never hooked me, but despite that I still wanted to read it to the end. There are some well imagined fantasy elements, including magic and magical creatures, and it is something of a love letter to the genre as a whole as much time is spent discussing many well-known names in the SFF genre at the time.
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« Reply #38 on: September 28, 2022, 12:00:42 pm »
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay (23)

I liked this one well enough.  It was highly praised by a friend of mine, and they're making a movie sometime next year.  I figured I'd read it to see how much M. Night ends up making it worse.  About 50 pages in, I was worried the book was just going to end up being a 300 page elaborate Trolley Problem.  It ends up being more than that, but really drops the ball on some other more interesting concepts it gets close to but then ignores.  Maybe that was chosen with a view to keeping it short and quick.  What I really think is the author came up with a "wouldn't this be cool/crazy/intense!" scenario and just churned out a story without taking the time to think through some implications.

It was enjoyable to read, plenty of tense moments like any thriller.  And there is some good character work; although every pov, of which there were 7 or so, pretty much spoke with the same voice, so I never really felt like I was seeing through different peoples' eyes.  It's mostly written in present tense, which is fine I guess.  Flashbacks are in past tense.  I always feel there needs to be a good reason to choose a present tense narration, and often times it seems it's chosen just to be "different."  There was an excessive amount of unnecessary positional descriptions, like the author wanted to write a screenplay or stage directions at points.  I don't need to know the detailed layout of the cabin and positioning of everyone in a scene.

That's a lot of criticism for something I ultimately liked.  I read it in about a day.  And it should make a better movie, but....  we've seen what M. Night is capable of.