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What I’ve Read Lately – Nov 2010 Edition

Doing another batch book comment / review since I’ve fallen so far behind again.

In no particular order (except the order in which I spot them on my ‘Finished Reading’ shelf)…

Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs I picked up after a friend of mine told me that the books were far better than the Bones TV show (which is based on the book series). So far, not entirely convinced of that but their are 13 some books out in the series so far and I was told I should start with the 4th… Instead I started with the 1st, Deja Dead, and found it to be a good read and a good mystery. My only complaint was really with the main character, the book version of Temperence Brennan. I ended up finding the character to be a bit high-strung for my taste, that said I still went and bought the next couple in the series and plan to read them in the next couple weeks.

Ghost of a Chance is the first of a new series by Simon R. Green. I picked it up basically because I’ve enjoyed most of his other urban fantasy novels and this had an interesting premise. The characters work for the Carnacki Institute which exists to ‘Do Something’ about ghosts. Imagine the Ghostbusters if they were British, stranger, and played a bit more for horror than for laughs. I won’t say that it was a great novel, but it had some good scenes and has the potential to be a great series depending on what direction the author chooses to take it in. But if you’ve liked anything else Green has written than you’ll probably find something to like and enjoy here.

In the same vein of urban fantasy I snagged Mike Carey’s Thicker Than Water the first day it hit the shelves in America. This is the fourth of his Felix Castor novels and easily the best one of the series so far. I’ve written bits about the earlier Felix Castor novels already on the site, look for the Mike Carey tag, but without spoiling anything this one ended on a cliff-hanger that has me raging about the fact that 5th one (The Naming of the Beasts) isn’t out yet in the US (it came out in the UK in Sept 2009) and has me seriously pondering switching my Kindle’s region to the UK just so I can buy that one book from the Amazon.co.uk store. Good book, good series, can’t wait for the 5th. The 6th (and possibly final?) one is supposed to come out some time next year.

Which reminds me that I still have to pick up the The Unwritten TPBs, great comic that Mike Carey is the writer of.

One of my random whim book purchases lately was A Confederation of Valor by Tanya Huff. It is an omnibus containing the first two Valor novels, Valor’s Choice and The Better Part of Valor. I enjoyed them both, meant to pick up the third Valor novel when I was book-buying the other day but couldn’t remember which one the third one was and didn’t have time to flip through the front few pages to figure it out (impatient people I was shopping with…). They are military space sci-fi but instead of the typical techno-babble and techno-fetishism it really is a grunt-level few of the setting as the main character Torin Kerr is a Staff Sergeant. Which, to those who don’t know, means she is a working woman and earns her pay keeping the soldiers beneath her in line and protecting them from the worse excesses and idiocy of the Lieutenant above her. Basically that niche of military fantasy / sci-fi that I tend to enjoy reading though a bit lighter and less dark then, say, the Black Company novels.

On my Kindle…

The Osiris Ritual by George Mann is the second in that series (I wrote about The Affinity Bridge a while back which was the first in the series). This second Newburry & Hobbes novel was I think a step up in the quality of the writing and showed the characters off greatly, the story was full of wonderful twists, and the ending teased greatly and has me looking forward to The Immorality Engine whenever it gets a US release date (or since it came out in the UK back in Sept of this year if I do switch my Kindle to the UK I’ll pick this book up too).

The Last Wish and Blood Of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski did a great job reminding me of how limited my range of books is. They are two very unique Polish fantasy novels that those of us in the US have only finally heard about because of The Witcher video game. The downside of reading this two books, they are part of a series and are the only two volumes of that series that have been translated into English so far. Apparently the next one, Times of Contempt, has a planned English translation to come out next year but I haven’t seen a solid date on it yet. Still, even though the series is incomplete in English I’d recommend them to anyone who likes his fantasy novels to be a bit gritty rather than idyllic.

And then, finally, the writtings of R.A.Salvatore. With the Neverwinter video game on the way, and the tie-in novels being promoted everytime I look for info on the game or poke at 4E D&D sites, I figured I should get up to speed again.

So I started with Gauntlgrym, the most recent of his Drizzt books and the first of the Neverwinter trilogy that sets up the story and setting for the game. To put it kindly, this is not Salvatore’s greatest work. To put it more harshly, the book reads like a mediocre fan-fic with the characters being relatively inconsistent in their patterns of behavior and story-threads being dropped left and right and scenes ending abruptly and oddly. The combat bits were still well-written, to the point where I have to wonder if his editor decided to cut the book down in length and just editing out some non-combat sections and then finding the book to be too short told him to pad the combats out to be a bit longer again.

Not certain if that judgement was fair I then went and picked up Homeland, Exile, Sojourn, The Crystal Shard, Streams of Silver, The Halfling’s Gem, The Legacy, Starless Night and Siege of Darkness. Every one of those reads better, more coherently, and just plain more consistently than Gauntlgrym does. I’d also already read all of them up to Starless Night back when they were first released in paperback, and even after all these years re-reading them (and being surprised at how little of them I remembering) I found them to be better stories than Gauntlgrym. Still reading the rest of the Drizzt books to catch up, stuck on Passage to Dawn now as I’ve gotten side-tracked with other books.

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