hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
Books 2008: 159

159. Janny Wurts, Stormed Fortress.

I've been reading Wurts's The Wars of Light and Shadow books since I was ten? Eleven? For at least the last decade, anyway. I have a very great fondness for them, from the fraught, occasionally overwrought language, to the very real characters and the vast landscape of Athera, to the insoluble ethical dilemmas that arise when people of good will and intentions are forced into conflict.

Stormed Fortress is the crowning volume to the sub-series The Alliance of Light. It's huge, complex, and full of fabulous moments. Every triumph is bittersweet. But for the first time since the beginning, it seems possible that the conflict between Arithon and his half-brother Lysaer might one day end without the death of one or the other. All things considered, it is a hopeful book. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. (And continue to wonder at how Wurts can juggle such a vast cast over such an immense story.)

I hope, however, that the interval between this and the next volume is shorter than the interval between Traitor's Knot and this. I understand books take time to write, but in excess of two years seems a rather lengthy interval.

(I know I shouldn't complain. But this is one series where the but I want more! is hard to set aside.)



A long walk with seven minutes of running in the middle yesterday. An even longer walk with six minutes of running in the middle of it today. (It would have been seven minutes, but the tide was farther in than it was yesterday, so I had to slow down to pick my way across some rocks.) I am now capable of moderate optimism, provided I don't think too much.

(Nothing is either good nor bad but thinking makes it so.)

My essays proceed. Progress is like wading through waist-high treacle. But it is some progress, nonetheless.
hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
Books 2008: 159

159. Janny Wurts, Stormed Fortress.

I've been reading Wurts's The Wars of Light and Shadow books since I was ten? Eleven? For at least the last decade, anyway. I have a very great fondness for them, from the fraught, occasionally overwrought language, to the very real characters and the vast landscape of Athera, to the insoluble ethical dilemmas that arise when people of good will and intentions are forced into conflict.

Stormed Fortress is the crowning volume to the sub-series The Alliance of Light. It's huge, complex, and full of fabulous moments. Every triumph is bittersweet. But for the first time since the beginning, it seems possible that the conflict between Arithon and his half-brother Lysaer might one day end without the death of one or the other. All things considered, it is a hopeful book. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. (And continue to wonder at how Wurts can juggle such a vast cast over such an immense story.)

I hope, however, that the interval between this and the next volume is shorter than the interval between Traitor's Knot and this. I understand books take time to write, but in excess of two years seems a rather lengthy interval.

(I know I shouldn't complain. But this is one series where the but I want more! is hard to set aside.)



A long walk with seven minutes of running in the middle yesterday. An even longer walk with six minutes of running in the middle of it today. (It would have been seven minutes, but the tide was farther in than it was yesterday, so I had to slow down to pick my way across some rocks.) I am now capable of moderate optimism, provided I don't think too much.

(Nothing is either good nor bad but thinking makes it so.)

My essays proceed. Progress is like wading through waist-high treacle. But it is some progress, nonetheless.
hawkwing_lb: (No dumping dead bodies!)
Books 2008: 153-158

Notice: Spoilers included free of charge.


153. Jim Butcher, Princeps' Fury.

In the Codex Alera series thus far, Butcher has provided reasonably juicy entertainment. Princeps' Fury, alas, is possibly the weakest of the series thus far, involving a lot of sound and fury, and very little Actual Character Development (tm). The sections concerning Isana, the mother of the main character, Tavi, are perhaps the strongest and most interesting - most true to the tone of the series thus far. Unfortunately, they also take up the least amount of space.

Tavi, now recognised as Gaius Octavian, and the Princep's grandson, sets sail for the land of the Canim to help his Canim allies/enemies do battle against the Vord, a scary monstrous danger introduced in previous volumes. When they get there, they discover matters are worse than they thought: the last Canim state is almost overrun. But, meanwhile-back-on-the-ranch, the Vord have invaded Alera. Oh noes! Tavi's uncle Bernard and his wife, the former Cursor (crown agent) Amara, are pushed back into service to discover why the Vord can now wield furycraft - Aleran magic. In the third strand of the narrative, Isana must convince the Icemen and an Aleran High Lord to declare a truce, so that more legions can be devoted to the fight against the Vord.

Matters play out a mite predictably. I will be reading the next in the series, but I will not be in half as much a hurry to get my hands on it, and I hope Butcher manages to wrap things up (or freshen things up) in the next book or two, because otherwise, I fear, this will start to be wearying.


154-156. Kat Richardson, Greywalker, Poltergeist, and Underground.

There's a very nice lady from somewhere Down Under who works in Hodges Figgis. Practically every time I encounter her in the shop, she points out another book or author she thinks I might find fun. This time it was Kat Richardson. And man, was she right.

Harper Blaine is a private investigator. Due to an accident that left her dead for a couple of minutes before the EMTs revived her, she can see ghosts. Among other things. Blaine is not exactly thrilled with this, and the books manage to balance her initial discomfort/disbelief with and in her newly acquired abilities with a gradual development towards being more comfortable with them.

This is urban fantasy, it's true, but despite Greywalker having vampires, it has several major good points:

1. No hot werewolf boys. In fact, no werewolves at all. 2. Vampires have bad breath and are scary, not sexy. 3. Blaine spends a lot of her time out of her depth and irritated. 4. There are (potential) relationships, but no love triangles. Especially not with vampires. 5. There is eerieness and creepiness and atmosphere.

Poltergeist has a psychology experiment gone wrong. Underground has zombies(!) and an indigenous monster, and lots of really cool worldbuilding of Seattle. Although Greywalker's a little jumpy to start, they have pace and good tension and interesting characters, and pretty good atmosphere, too. I like them. Quite a bit.


157. Tamora Pierce, Melting Stones.

Tamora Pierce's books are second to none where my comfort reading is concerned. I found them late, and only wish I'd had them when I was nine or so. Melting Stones is her latest, and it stars a young stone mage, the heart of a mountain, and a volcano about to blow. I liked it a lot, and, in fact, I'd love to get my hands on the audiobook version. Oh, well. Some year.


158. Karen Traviss, Star Wars: Republic Commando: Order 66.

Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire trilogy was my introduction to science fiction. Traviss's Republic Commando novels are the only halfway decent thing to come out of Lucas's prequels Star Wars universe. They're grim uncompromising books about special forces operations and the ethics of running what is essentially a slave army, not your warm fuzzy space western heroics.

In short, in Traviss's view of Star Wars, the Jedi are the bad guys. And instead of a Dark Side and a Light Side, there's a whole lot of grey.

Order 66 is the bleakest of the lot to date, but it's still a damn good read.
hawkwing_lb: (No dumping dead bodies!)
Books 2008: 153-158

Notice: Spoilers included free of charge.


153. Jim Butcher, Princeps' Fury.

In the Codex Alera series thus far, Butcher has provided reasonably juicy entertainment. Princeps' Fury, alas, is possibly the weakest of the series thus far, involving a lot of sound and fury, and very little Actual Character Development (tm). The sections concerning Isana, the mother of the main character, Tavi, are perhaps the strongest and most interesting - most true to the tone of the series thus far. Unfortunately, they also take up the least amount of space.

Tavi, now recognised as Gaius Octavian, and the Princep's grandson, sets sail for the land of the Canim to help his Canim allies/enemies do battle against the Vord, a scary monstrous danger introduced in previous volumes. When they get there, they discover matters are worse than they thought: the last Canim state is almost overrun. But, meanwhile-back-on-the-ranch, the Vord have invaded Alera. Oh noes! Tavi's uncle Bernard and his wife, the former Cursor (crown agent) Amara, are pushed back into service to discover why the Vord can now wield furycraft - Aleran magic. In the third strand of the narrative, Isana must convince the Icemen and an Aleran High Lord to declare a truce, so that more legions can be devoted to the fight against the Vord.

Matters play out a mite predictably. I will be reading the next in the series, but I will not be in half as much a hurry to get my hands on it, and I hope Butcher manages to wrap things up (or freshen things up) in the next book or two, because otherwise, I fear, this will start to be wearying.


154-156. Kat Richardson, Greywalker, Poltergeist, and Underground.

There's a very nice lady from somewhere Down Under who works in Hodges Figgis. Practically every time I encounter her in the shop, she points out another book or author she thinks I might find fun. This time it was Kat Richardson. And man, was she right.

Harper Blaine is a private investigator. Due to an accident that left her dead for a couple of minutes before the EMTs revived her, she can see ghosts. Among other things. Blaine is not exactly thrilled with this, and the books manage to balance her initial discomfort/disbelief with and in her newly acquired abilities with a gradual development towards being more comfortable with them.

This is urban fantasy, it's true, but despite Greywalker having vampires, it has several major good points:

1. No hot werewolf boys. In fact, no werewolves at all. 2. Vampires have bad breath and are scary, not sexy. 3. Blaine spends a lot of her time out of her depth and irritated. 4. There are (potential) relationships, but no love triangles. Especially not with vampires. 5. There is eerieness and creepiness and atmosphere.

Poltergeist has a psychology experiment gone wrong. Underground has zombies(!) and an indigenous monster, and lots of really cool worldbuilding of Seattle. Although Greywalker's a little jumpy to start, they have pace and good tension and interesting characters, and pretty good atmosphere, too. I like them. Quite a bit.


157. Tamora Pierce, Melting Stones.

Tamora Pierce's books are second to none where my comfort reading is concerned. I found them late, and only wish I'd had them when I was nine or so. Melting Stones is her latest, and it stars a young stone mage, the heart of a mountain, and a volcano about to blow. I liked it a lot, and, in fact, I'd love to get my hands on the audiobook version. Oh, well. Some year.


158. Karen Traviss, Star Wars: Republic Commando: Order 66.

Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire trilogy was my introduction to science fiction. Traviss's Republic Commando novels are the only halfway decent thing to come out of Lucas's prequels Star Wars universe. They're grim uncompromising books about special forces operations and the ethics of running what is essentially a slave army, not your warm fuzzy space western heroics.

In short, in Traviss's view of Star Wars, the Jedi are the bad guys. And instead of a Dark Side and a Light Side, there's a whole lot of grey.

Order 66 is the bleakest of the lot to date, but it's still a damn good read.

Books

Dec. 14th, 2008 01:24 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2008: 151-152

151. Justina Robson, Selling Out.

Robson writes marvellous books. Unfortunately mostly they leave me feeling quite lost and baffled. But still with the sense that there is something excellent going on.

152. E.E. Knight, Valentine's Resolve.

Yet another all-American after-the-apocalypse book. Entertaining enough.

Books

Dec. 14th, 2008 01:24 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2008: 151-152

151. Justina Robson, Selling Out.

Robson writes marvellous books. Unfortunately mostly they leave me feeling quite lost and baffled. But still with the sense that there is something excellent going on.

152. E.E. Knight, Valentine's Resolve.

Yet another all-American after-the-apocalypse book. Entertaining enough.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2008, 144-150

144-145. Dave Duncan, Children of Chaos and Mother of Lies

Entertaining, if not particularly so.


146. Mike Shepherd, Kris Longknife: Intrepid

Brainless, but very entertaining.


147. Kelley Armstrong, Living With The Dead

I'm not as fond of Armstrong's books as I used to be, but this one is still okay light entertainment.


148. Celine Kiernan, The Poison Throne

An Irish author, with a YA debut. The milieu is not exactly medieval Europe, the characters are very real, and Wynter's growing struggle to define the right thing to do in her situation is deeply compelling.


149. Jo Walton, Half a Crown

Excellent. Atmospheric. Marvellous. Note-perfect.


150. Guy Gavriel Kay, Ysabel

I understand why it won the World Fantasy Award. It is goddamn bloody good. Seriously.

#

I appear to be recovering. *crosses fingers*
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2008, 144-150

144-145. Dave Duncan, Children of Chaos and Mother of Lies

Entertaining, if not particularly so.


146. Mike Shepherd, Kris Longknife: Intrepid

Brainless, but very entertaining.


147. Kelley Armstrong, Living With The Dead

I'm not as fond of Armstrong's books as I used to be, but this one is still okay light entertainment.


148. Celine Kiernan, The Poison Throne

An Irish author, with a YA debut. The milieu is not exactly medieval Europe, the characters are very real, and Wynter's growing struggle to define the right thing to do in her situation is deeply compelling.


149. Jo Walton, Half a Crown

Excellent. Atmospheric. Marvellous. Note-perfect.


150. Guy Gavriel Kay, Ysabel

I understand why it won the World Fantasy Award. It is goddamn bloody good. Seriously.

#

I appear to be recovering. *crosses fingers*
hawkwing_lb: (Prentiss disguised in Arthur's hall)
Books 2008: 142-143

142. Elizabeth Bear, All the Windwracked Stars.

The list of books that have made me weep is a very short one. The list of books that have made me heave great damned sobs is even shorter.

This book is on it. Oh, god, is this book on it. It is beautiful, and terrible, and painfully full of wonder, and I am impressed and in awe.

It seems that [livejournal.com profile] matociquala keeps writing books that hit me where I live. Damnit.

#

non-fiction:

143. Tacitus, Agricola and Germanies.

One ancient biography, that of Tacitus's father-in-law, a governor of Britain during the reign of Domitian; and one ancient ethnographical inquiry, quite unusual. Interesting for the useful sources that they are, and also slightly weird for a modern reader.
hawkwing_lb: (Prentiss disguised in Arthur's hall)
Books 2008: 142-143

142. Elizabeth Bear, All the Windwracked Stars.

The list of books that have made me weep is a very short one. The list of books that have made me heave great damned sobs is even shorter.

This book is on it. Oh, god, is this book on it. It is beautiful, and terrible, and painfully full of wonder, and I am impressed and in awe.

It seems that [livejournal.com profile] matociquala keeps writing books that hit me where I live. Damnit.

#

non-fiction:

143. Tacitus, Agricola and Germanies.

One ancient biography, that of Tacitus's father-in-law, a governor of Britain during the reign of Domitian; and one ancient ethnographical inquiry, quite unusual. Interesting for the useful sources that they are, and also slightly weird for a modern reader.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
I spent an age last night sitting waiting for my laptop to connect to the internet. I keep getting 'limited or no connectivity: this problem occurred because the network did not assign a network address to your computer' messages, or sheer inability to detect the network. I am pissed about this, and no mistake: not least because it has been happening on and off for the better part of the last two months. (Always before, eventually it would come right. It might take ten or fifteen minutes, but it would come right. Not so much, tonight. Curse you, eircom broadband. I will rearrange your guts with coathangers. I will. Also, it is useless if you tell me I am connected, and give me consistent 'page not found' messages through my browsers.)

Now it is Wednesday, and I am posting this on a college PC. (My blood pressure, it is not happy with this, you understand?)

Books 2008: 137-141

137, 138, 139. Tim Pratt, Blood Engines, Poison Sleep, Dead Reign.

I read these in the order thus: Dead Reign, Blood Engines, Poison Sleep. That's third, first, second, for anyone playing along. I had Blood Engines to hand, but I brought Dead Reign back from Calgary, and only recalled Blood Engines when I was nearly done with it. (Immediately on finishing Dead Reign, I read Blood Engines. Immediately on finishing that, I sought out and bought Poison Sleep. That should tell you something.)

These are taut, fast, driven contemporary fantasy - urban fantasy, but without all the vampire/werewolf/love interest stuff that clings to most urban fantasy now, dragging it down into sameness. No. This is fresh, intelligent, and grimly funny in parts. Oh, they have flaws, but minor ones. The characters are interesting, even the insane or amoral ones. Everything's pretty well thought out, and I found them very enjoyable. Looking forward to number four.

140, 141. David Drake, The Mirror of Worlds, Some Golden Harbor.

I like Drake's long-running Isles series perhaps a little too much. I also like his O'Leary & Mundy space opera stuff more than a little. Respectively, that's what these are, and while there's nothing particularly new about either of these instalments, what's there is certainly well-done.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
I spent an age last night sitting waiting for my laptop to connect to the internet. I keep getting 'limited or no connectivity: this problem occurred because the network did not assign a network address to your computer' messages, or sheer inability to detect the network. I am pissed about this, and no mistake: not least because it has been happening on and off for the better part of the last two months. (Always before, eventually it would come right. It might take ten or fifteen minutes, but it would come right. Not so much, tonight. Curse you, eircom broadband. I will rearrange your guts with coathangers. I will. Also, it is useless if you tell me I am connected, and give me consistent 'page not found' messages through my browsers.)

Now it is Wednesday, and I am posting this on a college PC. (My blood pressure, it is not happy with this, you understand?)

Books 2008: 137-141

137, 138, 139. Tim Pratt, Blood Engines, Poison Sleep, Dead Reign.

I read these in the order thus: Dead Reign, Blood Engines, Poison Sleep. That's third, first, second, for anyone playing along. I had Blood Engines to hand, but I brought Dead Reign back from Calgary, and only recalled Blood Engines when I was nearly done with it. (Immediately on finishing Dead Reign, I read Blood Engines. Immediately on finishing that, I sought out and bought Poison Sleep. That should tell you something.)

These are taut, fast, driven contemporary fantasy - urban fantasy, but without all the vampire/werewolf/love interest stuff that clings to most urban fantasy now, dragging it down into sameness. No. This is fresh, intelligent, and grimly funny in parts. Oh, they have flaws, but minor ones. The characters are interesting, even the insane or amoral ones. Everything's pretty well thought out, and I found them very enjoyable. Looking forward to number four.

140, 141. David Drake, The Mirror of Worlds, Some Golden Harbor.

I like Drake's long-running Isles series perhaps a little too much. I also like his O'Leary & Mundy space opera stuff more than a little. Respectively, that's what these are, and while there's nothing particularly new about either of these instalments, what's there is certainly well-done.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2008: 134-136

134. Sean McMullen, Souls in the Great Machine

Oh, my. This is a fascinating book. Oh, the writing is occasionally uneven, and at times the characterisation could be a little more consistent, but there is a whole damn lot of stuff packed in here. It's idea-heavy, but whoa, hell of a lot of cool shit, man.

Australia, two thousand years from now. No electricity, steam power is anathema to all major religions, librarians fight duels, people are subject to a mysterious 'Call' that leads them to their deaths... and Zarvora Cymbelline, ruthless librarian, mathematician, and political leader, is determined to preserve the world from a second 'Greatwinter' which she believes is coming.

None of the characters in this book are very pleasant people. It covers a long span of time, deals with many people, and much happens that is not reported on screen. It is, however, a very interesting read.


135. Ann Aguirre, Wanderlust

The sequel to Grimspace, I suspect it stands fairly well on its own. Sirantha Jax has just about survived the events of Grimspace. She's out of a job and out of funds due to being declared prematurely dead, so when the government asks her to head a diplomatic mission, she agrees.

Unfortuantely for Jax, man-eating aliens, unpleasant criminals, and a small planetary war stand in the way. Not to mention her own damaged body, and some serious problems with her pilot. A very decent, fast-paced book, with interesting and complex characters.

136. Marjorie M. Liu, The Iron Hunt

Definitely one of the better urban fantasies I've read in recent years. Good dark atmosphere, tight writing, and interpersonal relationships that do not revolve around a love triangle (or quadrangle, or, god help us, male harem).

That said, having practically every character turn out to be some kind of supernatural being became old quite fast. Otherwise very decent.


Every time I turn around and see [livejournal.com profile] matociquala's All the Windwracked Stars on my shelf I get the most savoury feeling of anticipation. Alas, I must save it. It will be my reward to myself when all my essays are done and nothing remains to interrupt me.

So about mid-December, then.

Most unfortunate, the number of books I have on my shelves. The fictions are (mostly) all catalogued, but next time I have a month or two free, I should probably start on the others.

But now, to essay.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2008: 134-136

134. Sean McMullen, Souls in the Great Machine

Oh, my. This is a fascinating book. Oh, the writing is occasionally uneven, and at times the characterisation could be a little more consistent, but there is a whole damn lot of stuff packed in here. It's idea-heavy, but whoa, hell of a lot of cool shit, man.

Australia, two thousand years from now. No electricity, steam power is anathema to all major religions, librarians fight duels, people are subject to a mysterious 'Call' that leads them to their deaths... and Zarvora Cymbelline, ruthless librarian, mathematician, and political leader, is determined to preserve the world from a second 'Greatwinter' which she believes is coming.

None of the characters in this book are very pleasant people. It covers a long span of time, deals with many people, and much happens that is not reported on screen. It is, however, a very interesting read.


135. Ann Aguirre, Wanderlust

The sequel to Grimspace, I suspect it stands fairly well on its own. Sirantha Jax has just about survived the events of Grimspace. She's out of a job and out of funds due to being declared prematurely dead, so when the government asks her to head a diplomatic mission, she agrees.

Unfortuantely for Jax, man-eating aliens, unpleasant criminals, and a small planetary war stand in the way. Not to mention her own damaged body, and some serious problems with her pilot. A very decent, fast-paced book, with interesting and complex characters.

136. Marjorie M. Liu, The Iron Hunt

Definitely one of the better urban fantasies I've read in recent years. Good dark atmosphere, tight writing, and interpersonal relationships that do not revolve around a love triangle (or quadrangle, or, god help us, male harem).

That said, having practically every character turn out to be some kind of supernatural being became old quite fast. Otherwise very decent.


Every time I turn around and see [livejournal.com profile] matociquala's All the Windwracked Stars on my shelf I get the most savoury feeling of anticipation. Alas, I must save it. It will be my reward to myself when all my essays are done and nothing remains to interrupt me.

So about mid-December, then.

Most unfortunate, the number of books I have on my shelves. The fictions are (mostly) all catalogued, but next time I have a month or two free, I should probably start on the others.

But now, to essay.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
We're not going to count the Pentateuch. That was work, and while it could have been less pleasant, you can't really say much about origin myths, ancient law codes, and how these things go together. Not unless you're writing a thesis, and that I will not do here.

Books 2008: 127-133

127. Patrick O'Brian, Desolation Island.

Probably the best O'Brian I've read to date. A nice balance of Aubrey and Maturin, and some excellent writing. Sea battles, storms, natural philosophy.

128-129. Patrick O'Brian, The Fortune of War and The Surgeon's Mate.

I guess O'Brian books need to be read in small doses. I wasn't particularly impressed with either of these, although The Fortune of War is perhaps the better: too much takes place on land.

130. Jack McDevitt, Ancient Shores.

A good book, although not one that really exercised me one way or the other: I still think Polaris and Engines of God are the best of his that I've read, with the other Alex Benedict books close after, and a rather sharp drop-off from there.

Discovery of inexplicable buried ship made from advanced materials leads to the discovery of strange ancient installation buried under Sioux land. Complications both archaeological and political ensue. Interesting concept, but indifferent, in my opinion, execution.

131. Violette Malan, The Sleeping God.

I picked this up at WFC, and stayed up perhaps later than I should have reading it Thursday night. It's not anything incredibly new, but I found the characters to my taste, and the plot rocketed along with pretty good pace, twists, and tension. I'll have to look into the sequel.

132. Mike Carey, Dead Men's Boots.

I'm glad I left this one as long as I did. It turned what could have been a miserable long plane flight (7.5 hours, overnight) into something a lot more bearable. A dead (but not entirely) American serial killer, complications with the death-and-burial of an acquaintance - another exorcist - and a legal battle for the disposition of his possessed friend Rafi - Felix Castor has interesting problems. And, including the gay succubus, the paranoid zombie, and the children's librarian, interesting friends.

A good book, with Carey's deft touch for a dark tone, dark atmosphere, and dark humour.

non-fiction:

133. C (or P) Cornelius Tacitus, The Histories, Penguin edition, translated by Keith Wellesley.

Technically, I haven't finished this. But I'm six pages from the end, and I suspect I have a decent handle on Tacitus as a source.

The Histories recount the events of the civil war of 68/69 from shortly after Galba's decision to become emperor to Vespasian's victory, and Titus's prosecution of the siege of Jerusalem. Along the way some time is taken to deal with the Batavian revolt in Gaul and the Germanies.

Tacitus is very readable, although the civil war gets... wearing. As does Tacitus's disapproval of damn near everyone's actions and motivations. A useful source, and an insight into a number of ways in which the Romans thought and acted very differently to us.


I came back from WFC with books. (You should have seen airport security look at me, when I carried them through. The Are you insane? look non-bibliophiles give a person who is carrying twenty books.) Bought, and free. The free include some that look very interesting, including an ARC of R. Scott Bakker's The Judging Eye. I hated The Darkness That Comes Before, but other people raved about that trilogy, so I guess I'll give this one a shot.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
We're not going to count the Pentateuch. That was work, and while it could have been less pleasant, you can't really say much about origin myths, ancient law codes, and how these things go together. Not unless you're writing a thesis, and that I will not do here.

Books 2008: 127-133

127. Patrick O'Brian, Desolation Island.

Probably the best O'Brian I've read to date. A nice balance of Aubrey and Maturin, and some excellent writing. Sea battles, storms, natural philosophy.

128-129. Patrick O'Brian, The Fortune of War and The Surgeon's Mate.

I guess O'Brian books need to be read in small doses. I wasn't particularly impressed with either of these, although The Fortune of War is perhaps the better: too much takes place on land.

130. Jack McDevitt, Ancient Shores.

A good book, although not one that really exercised me one way or the other: I still think Polaris and Engines of God are the best of his that I've read, with the other Alex Benedict books close after, and a rather sharp drop-off from there.

Discovery of inexplicable buried ship made from advanced materials leads to the discovery of strange ancient installation buried under Sioux land. Complications both archaeological and political ensue. Interesting concept, but indifferent, in my opinion, execution.

131. Violette Malan, The Sleeping God.

I picked this up at WFC, and stayed up perhaps later than I should have reading it Thursday night. It's not anything incredibly new, but I found the characters to my taste, and the plot rocketed along with pretty good pace, twists, and tension. I'll have to look into the sequel.

132. Mike Carey, Dead Men's Boots.

I'm glad I left this one as long as I did. It turned what could have been a miserable long plane flight (7.5 hours, overnight) into something a lot more bearable. A dead (but not entirely) American serial killer, complications with the death-and-burial of an acquaintance - another exorcist - and a legal battle for the disposition of his possessed friend Rafi - Felix Castor has interesting problems. And, including the gay succubus, the paranoid zombie, and the children's librarian, interesting friends.

A good book, with Carey's deft touch for a dark tone, dark atmosphere, and dark humour.

non-fiction:

133. C (or P) Cornelius Tacitus, The Histories, Penguin edition, translated by Keith Wellesley.

Technically, I haven't finished this. But I'm six pages from the end, and I suspect I have a decent handle on Tacitus as a source.

The Histories recount the events of the civil war of 68/69 from shortly after Galba's decision to become emperor to Vespasian's victory, and Titus's prosecution of the siege of Jerusalem. Along the way some time is taken to deal with the Batavian revolt in Gaul and the Germanies.

Tacitus is very readable, although the civil war gets... wearing. As does Tacitus's disapproval of damn near everyone's actions and motivations. A useful source, and an insight into a number of ways in which the Romans thought and acted very differently to us.


I came back from WFC with books. (You should have seen airport security look at me, when I carried them through. The Are you insane? look non-bibliophiles give a person who is carrying twenty books.) Bought, and free. The free include some that look very interesting, including an ARC of R. Scott Bakker's The Judging Eye. I hated The Darkness That Comes Before, but other people raved about that trilogy, so I guess I'll give this one a shot.
hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
Books 2008: 126

126. Steven Brust, Jhegaala.

This is nothing like the book I'd hoped for, and yet, for all that, quite excellent.

It's set shortly after Vlad leaves Dragaera (between Teckla and Orca, I think, although I could be misremembering). He's gone East to look up his mother's relatives and avoid the Jhereg, but since this is a Vlad Taltos novel, it doesn't work out quite that simple.

It's Vlad. It's Brust. Really, is there much else to say?


I should probably finish my packing. Gods, I hate travelling. Why do I do it?
hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
Books 2008: 126

126. Steven Brust, Jhegaala.

This is nothing like the book I'd hoped for, and yet, for all that, quite excellent.

It's set shortly after Vlad leaves Dragaera (between Teckla and Orca, I think, although I could be misremembering). He's gone East to look up his mother's relatives and avoid the Jhereg, but since this is a Vlad Taltos novel, it doesn't work out quite that simple.

It's Vlad. It's Brust. Really, is there much else to say?


I should probably finish my packing. Gods, I hate travelling. Why do I do it?
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2008: 125

125. David Mattingly, An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire 54 BC-AD 409, London, 2006.

Mattingly's title is entirely apt: this is not a book on "Roman Britain", but a book on the relationship of Britain - or rather, the inhabitants of these islands out beyond continental Europe - to the Roman empire.

Actually, the relationships: he places an awful lot of emphasis on how different groups of people related in different ways to imperial power. Thus the experience of empire was different in different regions within Britain, and different also between urban and rural, military and civil zones, and different again in the fourth century to what it was in the first.

He highlights the ways in which Britain's economy (economies) was dependent upon the empire and manipulated for imperial benefit. He integrates regional archaeologies and assesses them in the context of Britain-and-the-empire: he also discusses questions of resistance, accommodation and assimilation, and the extent of possible Iron Age cultural continuities down through the Roman period into the sub-Roman period. He also considers the effect of Roman Britain on what he terms 'Free Britannia' and Ireland in what I found a very interesting chapter, and also spends some time discusses the identities with which Britons could, well, identify.

He spends some time also on pre-conquest contacts with Rome, and a very interesting chapter or so on some possible effects of the Boudiccan revolt.

He's big on context, and on the divergent experiences of empire had by different communities of people. As a critical historian, he is indeed very good: he emphasises diversity and the possibility of reaching different conclusions from the same evidence, whilst presenting clear and thoughtful interpretation and analysis. Where there is, in his opinion, insufficient evidence to form conclusions, he notes that also.

It's a long book, some fifty hundred thirty pages and an extensive bibliographical essay, but comprehensive. Also clearly laid-out, well written, and with thematic/topical divisions that make sense as discrete units and proceed logically from one to the next.

I was, however, somewhat annoyed by the amount of analysis of patterns of pottery consumption in the last forty pages. I don't find pottery fascinating at the best of times: however, the information is again useful and clearly divided.

A very solid book, and one I'd recommend without hesitation to anyone in want of an introduction to the history of Britain in the Roman empire.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2008: 125

125. David Mattingly, An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire 54 BC-AD 409, London, 2006.

Mattingly's title is entirely apt: this is not a book on "Roman Britain", but a book on the relationship of Britain - or rather, the inhabitants of these islands out beyond continental Europe - to the Roman empire.

Actually, the relationships: he places an awful lot of emphasis on how different groups of people related in different ways to imperial power. Thus the experience of empire was different in different regions within Britain, and different also between urban and rural, military and civil zones, and different again in the fourth century to what it was in the first.

He highlights the ways in which Britain's economy (economies) was dependent upon the empire and manipulated for imperial benefit. He integrates regional archaeologies and assesses them in the context of Britain-and-the-empire: he also discusses questions of resistance, accommodation and assimilation, and the extent of possible Iron Age cultural continuities down through the Roman period into the sub-Roman period. He also considers the effect of Roman Britain on what he terms 'Free Britannia' and Ireland in what I found a very interesting chapter, and also spends some time discusses the identities with which Britons could, well, identify.

He spends some time also on pre-conquest contacts with Rome, and a very interesting chapter or so on some possible effects of the Boudiccan revolt.

He's big on context, and on the divergent experiences of empire had by different communities of people. As a critical historian, he is indeed very good: he emphasises diversity and the possibility of reaching different conclusions from the same evidence, whilst presenting clear and thoughtful interpretation and analysis. Where there is, in his opinion, insufficient evidence to form conclusions, he notes that also.

It's a long book, some fifty hundred thirty pages and an extensive bibliographical essay, but comprehensive. Also clearly laid-out, well written, and with thematic/topical divisions that make sense as discrete units and proceed logically from one to the next.

I was, however, somewhat annoyed by the amount of analysis of patterns of pottery consumption in the last forty pages. I don't find pottery fascinating at the best of times: however, the information is again useful and clearly divided.

A very solid book, and one I'd recommend without hesitation to anyone in want of an introduction to the history of Britain in the Roman empire.

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