Yearly Reading Targets 2020

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Madness

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« Reply #30 on: March 19, 2020, 01:08:31 pm »
The Legend of Bagger Vance - Steven Pressfield (3)

Very impressed by it but I think that's mostly because I was once hit and miss with perennial philosophy and I've resumed being an avid and terrible golfer in the past half decade. I've been convinced in the past two years that everyone needs to find and read at least a handful of Pressfield's books in their lifetimes though, even if I don't necessarily agree with his underlying esoterics.
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BeardFisher-King

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« Reply #31 on: March 20, 2020, 04:52:16 pm »
Smoke, by Dan Vyleta

Very enjoyable. The setting is an alternate Victorian England, with some strange metaphysics involving the physical manifestation of good and evil. Recommended.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2020, 04:57:32 pm by BeardFisher-King »
"The heart of any other, because it has a will, would remain forever mysterious."

-from "Snow Falling On Cedars", by David Guterson

The P

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« Reply #32 on: April 07, 2020, 12:27:55 am »
Men At Arms by Terry Pratchett

I liked it much better than Guards! Guards!  The clown funeral actually gave me an audible chuckle.  Pratchett seems too be too coy at times with the movements of minor characters.  Having a section where a character is doing something important but not introducing the reader to that character until much later kind of jars me out of the flow.  It would probably work well if i was reading the book over the course of a couple days instead of a couple weeks, but so it is.

Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen Donaldson

Ugh.  What a tedious book.  I actually attempted to read it long ago (19 years actually, made it to chapter 3 according to the bookmark).  I persevered this time.  Am I getting old because i found the most interesting part to be the beginning before Covenant goes to The Land?  Once there, it's just a tiresome succession of boring events mainly showcasing what a jerk the main character is.  I don't mind unlikable characters, and I suppose this was revolutionary 40 years ago, but I really had to force myself through this.  I did not care at all what happened.  Maybe I just don't get what Donaldson is trying to convey through it all.  There was one interchange between Covenant and the Giant I really liked, the rest was forgettable.  Maybe I'll add the quote to the Quotes thread.

Update: Ah, I knew it was familiar from somewhere when I read it.  It was actually already posted here:http://www.second-apocalypse.com/index.php?topic=768.msg17388#msg17388
« Last Edit: April 07, 2020, 01:34:12 am by The P »

Wilshire

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« Reply #33 on: April 07, 2020, 12:28:06 pm »
I think i can quote myself in this instance, from 2018 when I read Lord Foul's Bane. It is, I have to say, one of the worst fantasy books I've ever read.

To me, what Donaldson appears to have done is taken wholesale some (now) worn out Tolkien tropes. He doesn't so much re-purpose them as recycle. From the Ring, to the names, quasi sentient horses... the entire thing reads like all the fantasy I've read from that era - unimaginative derivations of Tolkien.

You can follow the link to the rest of the discussion. BFK does quite like it, and I tried to figure out why... But I don't recall ever coming to an understanding.

I really liked Donaldson's Gap Into Conflict, but read the second book and it seemed to somehow be following the same path as Lord Foul's Bane. He's just not the author for me.


A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab (9)

This was a pretty fun book. The magic was interesting and used well, the characters a bit tropy but still entertaining. It definitely felt like it was setting itself up for some sequels, and I'll probably check them out. Worth the read if you're looking for some quick and fun English/London Magic type books with a darker shade to it.

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BeardFisher-King

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« Reply #34 on: April 07, 2020, 03:14:50 pm »
I think i can quote myself in this instance, from 2018 when I read Lord Foul's Bane. It is, I have to say, one of the worst fantasy books I've ever read.

To me, what Donaldson appears to have done is taken wholesale some (now) worn out Tolkien tropes. He doesn't so much re-purpose them as recycle. From the Ring, to the names, quasi sentient horses... the entire thing reads like all the fantasy I've read from that era - unimaginative derivations of Tolkien.

You can follow the link to the rest of the discussion. BFK does quite like it, and I tried to figure out why... But I don't recall ever coming to an understanding.

I really liked Donaldson's Gap Into Conflict, but read the second book and it seemed to somehow be following the same path as Lord Foul's Bane. He's just not the author for me.

I remember trying to persuade Wilshire to give the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant another chance. He essentially responded, "Too many books, not enough time." The link presents my case for Donaldson, so no need to repeat it. Hey, at least Wilshire thought Donaldson was better than Brooks! And I seem to have persuaded MSJ to give Donaldson a try.

The quote that The P mentions by itself lifts "Lord Foul's Bane" into the precincts of literature.

ADD: This goes back two years! Tempus fugit ...
« Last Edit: April 07, 2020, 03:32:49 pm by BeardFisher-King »
"The heart of any other, because it has a will, would remain forever mysterious."

-from "Snow Falling On Cedars", by David Guterson

The P

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« Reply #35 on: April 14, 2020, 01:57:06 pm »
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

This was a good one.  Ann Leckie dips into fantasy and continues to play with unusual narrative framing, in this case the story told in second person to one of the characters.  It was immersive and worked out well.  She also plays around with gender, but again manages to do it without being preachy or agenda-driven (I mention this mostly because I recently read Kameron Hurley's The Mirror Empire).  With Leckie's books, it is just part of the character/world/story, whereas Hurley seems to constantly be shouting, "Look how woke I am!"

In any case, I certainly recommend this and any other Leckie (with less emphasis on Provenance).  I hope she writes more fantasy in the future.

Wilshire

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« Reply #36 on: April 14, 2020, 02:13:11 pm »
I like Leckie. Well, kind of lol. I read Ancillary Justice and thought it was pretty good. Ideas were interesting, the prose was pretty unique, and the execution of al it fit nicely together. Shes an interesting author, but not someone I can read a lot of. I think Raven Tower will make it onto my list though - it should be interesting to see what she does with a fantasy setting.
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« Reply #37 on: April 22, 2020, 02:54:07 pm »
I don't even have a realistic target for the year.  But I did finish The Last and First Men yesterday.  It was a pretty interesting book.  Honestly, it was a bit long, in the sense of drawn-out, but it is interesting especially in the beginning, to see how someone writing in 1930 saw humans progressing historically in the future.
I am a warrior of ages, Anasurimbor. . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury. -Cet'ingira

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« Reply #38 on: May 12, 2020, 01:57:44 pm »
I finished The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco a couple weeks ago.  It is a decent book.  The setting and world are pretty unique.  The chapters are framed by some guy seeking out the bone witch, with the bulk of the story consisting of her telling him about her past.  I was pretty interested by the "present" story, as it seemed the bone witch was gearing up to do some crazy cool stuff.  But that part of the story was only a few paragraphs every chapter.  Her training was a lot of dresses and jewelry and dancing and a little witchery; very "geisha-ey."  The writing was fine, and the world was unique, but I just wanted to get through to the interesting things happening in the "present."

The last couple weeks, I've been reading the sequel The Heart Forger.  It's more of the same.  More interesting things are happening in the "present."  The related "past" bulk of the story is more interesting, too, but I reached a point (about halfway) where I realized I didn't care much at all about most of the story.  I doubt I'll finish it.

Wilshire

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« Reply #39 on: May 12, 2020, 08:23:38 pm »
Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames (10)

Much humor, a standard fantasy book in the theme of "old guys get the band back together and save the world". It doesn't stray very far from well worn fantasy tropes, but the writing is good and the humor is spot on - I found myself actually laughing out loud from time to time. The world is well imagined, with some classic heroes and monsters as well as some well-imagined new comers.

I'll probably skip the sequel(s), but I wouldn't turn them down if I happened upon one by chance.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2020, 12:23:48 pm by Wilshire »
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Wilshire

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« Reply #40 on: May 26, 2020, 12:29:48 pm »
Blade of Tyshalle by Matthew Stover (11)

This was a really good book. A bit strange right now to be reading a book set (partially) in Earth future where a pandemic directed the course of human history. Stover explores a lot of the same themes as Bakker throughout his books, and does a good job all around. The two worlds he has built (Future Earth and Overworld) are both well imagined. The intertwined histories are explored more in this sequel, and the woldbuilding for both is interesting. His writing is compelling, though I think  at this point in my reading career a lot of the "horror" elements kind of just pass by. Theres only so many times you can read descriptions of rotting corpses and dying men before they all kind of run together. The writing seemed to improve between the books, not that the first one was bad, so I'm definitely going to keep Stover near the top of my list. I'm looking forward to continuing this series and his other books, and highly recommend him to anyone looking for a good fantasy to read.
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« Reply #41 on: May 26, 2020, 12:58:49 pm »
You've come a long way since Salvatore ;).

Glad you read it, though I've tried to start the third book a number of times now and I'm feeling a Hyperion/Endymion split, as far as my appreciation goes.
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« Reply #42 on: May 27, 2020, 06:59:59 pm »
The Masters by Ricardo Pinto

This is a reworking and tightening of the trilogy Stone Dance of the Chameleon, which I hadn't heard about until recently.  The setting is pretty unique, kind of a Mayan stone-age vibe.  The society is pretty brutal, with the ruling elite treating all the other races/people as no better than animals.  I am very interested to learn more about the world, specifically what makes the elite the way they are.  Hopefully it goes in a more supernatural/mysterious vein.  Going forward, I expect there to be a strong theme/plot of the "lesser" races rising up against the oppressive ruling class.  I hope there is more to it than that.  There are certainly hints of some supernatural oddities, though it remains light on the magic and mysticism so far.  More to come; the first three are out, and the remaining four are scheduled to come out over the course of the rest of the year.

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« Reply #43 on: June 08, 2020, 03:39:38 pm »
These were both finished in May, I am just lax in updating.

John Dies at the End by David Wong

I blitzed through this in two days, not because it was particularly gripping, I just had a long weekend and some rare time to myself.  It has a pretty informal conversational style to it, and any lack of plot cohesion can be attributed to the partial madness of the narrator.  It was fun and enjoyable to read, and while I'm not clamoring to read the sequels, I am not opposed to it.

The Thousandfold Thought by R. Scott Bakker

Continuing my reread in between other things.  I also reread The False Sun.  I might get around to posting some further cogitations.

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« Reply #44 on: June 12, 2020, 07:14:45 pm »
Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike (12)
Kind of a silly book, but its a satire so I guess its fine. Not my first choice, but filled with allusions to other works which makes it pretty amusing if you're familiar. Also some basic exploration of economics in a fantasy setting, which is unique, and a nice take on some aliments that might affect heroes. Altogether it was a fine book if your looking for something short and simple with a lot of humor.

The Raven's Tower by Ann Leckie (13)
This was a great book. Split into two timelines which might be described as 'current' and 'past'. The Current timeline is a retelling of Hamlet, apparently, and done quite well. Very enjoyable. The Past is a story giving the history of the world and the life of a god. I enjoyed the prose and the setting, and the perspective of the God telling the story. Both parts of the story were interesting, and told woven together, painting a nice picture of everything as the story progressed. I recommend this one from Leckie, probably enjoyed it more than her scifi.


This is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (blue/red respectively)  (14)
A scifi epistolary novel. How about that. Unique, and a fantastic read, written as letter correspondence between two agents on opposing sides of a war fought through time and space. A unique premise, well executed, and full of references/allusions to everything from art to shakespear, scifi and opera. Another one I heartily recommend if you're looking for a quick read.


An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard  (15)
This has been on my shelf since it came out a few years ago (received for free via Subterranean Press' email for being the first to respond). I'd have to say, it deserves the accolades it got and the advertisement that SP was doing for it. Kat Howard built a tidy little novel here. Urban fantasy, hidden wizard world (modern times), going through some kind of magical tournament to decide the ruler of the hidden world. While fairly generic sounding, the magic is done and described beautifully, and the novel is as long as it needs to be. It does drag on unnecessarily, it doesn't have sequels, and it ends before it gets stale. Everything is balanced nicely from prose to worldbuilding and characterization. Another good one to recommend.


To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers  (16)
Another amazing book. This is a hard scifi, ie no magic masquerading as technology (beyond a machine that can induce a coma and a spaceship engine that can travel between stars slowly), it details the journey of 4 scientists exploring exoplanets around other stars. Its a beautiful exposition of prose and description. Alien worlds being gently explored by very realistic feeling characters. Highly recommended.
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