What have you read recently?

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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby maddz » 8:14am on 31 Mar 17

Joy Chant The High Kings

A re-telling of stories from The Matter of Britain, interspersed with essays on Celtic life and culture. Readers of The Science of Discworld books will be familiar with the format. Some annoying OCR errors, and was Vortigern originally Vortigem? That spelling was consistent throughout, and a quick search suggests it may be the Scottish version of the name. I'm not sure which set of legends Chant was using, there seemed to be elements of all the pre-medieval British/Welsh sources, but none of the later sources like Malory or the Breton accretions like Lancelot.

The rather loose linking plot was Arthur's story, with bardic tales and illustrative essays at various junctures. How it works:

Chapter 1: story - The Winning of Britain, essays - The Bard, Women
Chapter 2: story - The Two Queens of Locrin, essays - The Warrior, Religion
Chapter 3: stories - The Blemished Prince, Leir and his Daughters, essay - Warfare
Chapter 4: story - The Mighty Brothers, essays - Druids, Head-Hunting, Marriage
Chapter 5: story - The Children of Lir, essays - Bans and Biddings, Ornament
Chapter 6: story - The sons of Troy, essays - The Feast, The King
Chapter 7: story - The Sovereignty of Britain, essay - Story-Telling
Chapter 8: story - Vortigem the Traitor
Epilogue: story - Chief Dragon of the Island

An enjoyable read, and of interest to anyone planning a Dark Ages Celtic campaign (or even a Sartarite campaign) and who wants an accessible background source for their players to read.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby Dom » 7:08pm on 02 Apr 17

# Books in December 2016

## *Magician’s Gambit* (David Eddings)
Book 3 of the Belgariad. The pursuit of the Orb continues, as did my trip down memory lane. Eddings' series isn't the best written fantasy out there, but it keeps going with energy and plot that hooks you along for the ride. He isn't a Guy Gavriel Kay, but - like David Gemmell - he knows how to engage on a story.

## *The Hanging Tree* (Ben Aaronovitch)
PC Peter Grant Book 6 was great fun. I quickly got back into the plot and enjoyed the romp through a London where the supernatural walks and magic is real.

## *Babylon’s Ashes* (James S.A. Corey)
Book 6 of the Expanse. Once again I dipped into the story of the crew of the *Rocinante*, which deals with aftermath of the cataclysmic events in the previous book. I enjoyed this a lot, and found it very hard to put down. It has to be said that - like the Peter Grant books - I've now invested so much time in this series that any comments are likely to be very biased.

## *The Corporation Wars: Insurgence* (Ken MacLeod)
Book 2 of Ken McLeod's return to future SF (called the 'Second Law Trilogy' according to GoodReads). The conflict continues in the DH-17 system between AI, emergent robot intelligence and reincarnated human mercenaries. The use of virtual realities leaves you wondering if the whole story is perhaps running in a simulation somewhere! I'm looking forward to the last part of this(fn).

## *The Iron Tactician* (Alastair Reynolds)
First in a series of novellas published by NewCon Press, this sees Alastair Reynolds return to the character Merlin who has been seen in a number of short stories before. I've liked all the previous stories, so couldn't resist this. Merlin stumbles upon an older human vessel - a Bussard ramjet (or swallowship) - which has been destroyed by the Huskers, the enemy of humanity. Humanity is aligned against them in an organisation called the Cohort, but because of the time and technology spread caused by some of the war being fought with slower-than-light vessels, there is no central coordination of the conflict. Merlin decides to board the vessel to see if there is anything onboard that could help him - for example better charts or details of the faster-than-light Waynet access points. I really enjoyed this, and hope that a full novel will follow.


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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby Dom » 7:08pm on 02 Apr 17

# Books in January 2017

## *Things that Can and Cannot Be Said* (John Cusack)
A book that writes up the meeting between Cusack, Arundhati Roy, Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowdon in Moscow in 2014. It's a combination of verbatim interviews with narrative, well worth a read if you're interested in transparency and the ways that governments work.

## *Necrochip* (Liz Williams)
A short story (and I can't remember what put me on to it) in a cyberpunk world. Ties into the possibility of technological life after death (the female character in this is offering sex after she dies with her animated corpse, which sounds possibly worse than it actually is)! Weird, but interesting.

## *Castle of Wizardry* (David Eddings)
## *Enchanter's End Game* (David Eddings)
I'm going to lump these two together. The first of these (Book 4) tells of the recovery of the Orb, and the successful return of Garion (now Belgarion as he is becoming a sorcerer) to Riva. The second picks up what happens as the fallen god Torak emerges from his sleep and war breaks out with the West facing Torak's followers. It's interesting in the sense that the war is not a fundamental part of the story; it is a backdrop against which a desperate mission is attempted. This is the part of the story that most echoes 'The Lord of the Rings', but fortunately it's sufficiently different to come to a satisfying conclusion. And my conclusion? Thirty years on I still like these books.

## *Stories of Your Life and Others* (Ted Chiang)
This collection is excellent and includes the short story - "The Story of Your Life" that the film "Arrival" is based upon. I recommend these wholeheartedly.

## *The Great Silence* (Ted Chiang)
A short story that asks questions about Fermi's Paradox. Enjoyable.

## *Suldrun's Garden: Lyonesse Book 1* (Jack Vance)
How did I miss Lyonesse? I'm not sure, because I devoured the whole of the Dying Earth sequence as a kid, and Vance's SF books. I was triggered to read this after it was covered in one of the Christmas Episodes of the podcast 'fictoplasm'. I really enjoyed it. I've always enjoyed Vance's style and this doesn't disappoint. This is a tale of knights, fairies, magic and more, all set on an island off the Atlantic coast of France. I'm looking forward to savouring the next part of the sequence later in the year.

# *At the Speed of Light* (Simon Morden)
The second of the NewCon Press Novellas. Set in starship travelling close to the speed light, the pilot discovers that he is not as alone as he thought. I can't really describe this without spoilers, but the story does develop very interestingly and I was impressed. Recommended.




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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby Dom » 7:23pm on 02 Apr 17

# Books in February and March 2017
I didn't finish any novels in February (I read some roleplaying books though) as I was ploughing through an excellent anthology of SF short stories that took nearly the whole month, but March has been more productive.

## *Galactic Empires* (Ed. Neil Clarke)
I enjoyed this collection, edited by Hugo winning Clarkesworld Magazine editor Neil Clarke. This focuses on the theme of empire, and what kind of shape it will take. There's a lot in this, and it took a long time to work through it as I'm slower with short stories but I can honestly say that I enjoyed all of it.

## *Saga, Vol.1* (Brian K Vaughan)
Graphic novel that Pookie pointed me at. Two soldiers on opposite sides of an ongoing galactic was find themselves in love, and fleeing both sides with a young child. Refreshingly different.

## *Rivers of London: Body Work* (Ben Aaronovitch)
Graphic novel in the *Rivers of London* sequence (I didn't bother locating it in the sequence but it's after Peter gets together with Beverley) featuring haunted cars and other complications. I enjoyed this, but it doesn't float my boat as much as the proper novels.


//qThe only defense is to cease all communications. Shut all systems down, receive no messages. Further rep p p sqdr ....................//
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby dr_mitch » 7:05pm on 03 Apr 17

Warning...mega post coming! (Non-RPG) books read so far in 2017.

(1) The Silmarillion (J.R.R. Tolkien): I thought it time for a reread of this beauty. Even as a Tolkien nut, I'm not sure how to categorise it still. Invented myth and mounting tragedy, and as wonderful as ever.

(2) The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000 (Chris Wickham). A broad yet detailed overview of Europe (including Byzantium, with necessary diversions further east) during the dark ages. It's beautiful, thorough, and rigorous, and extremely dense. Highly recommended if you know something of the history already, though not for a first excursion.

(3) Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (Jonathan Howard). A comic novel with a horror theme. I liked parts of this immensely, though the start was very clunky. But once the silly tone at the start died down and the book seemed to know what it was doing, it was rather good and entertaining. A fun read.

(4) Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden (Jack Vance). I went into this book expecting historical fantasy. What I got was closer to high fantasy, though with plenty of dismal political notes, and as fine a depiction of the Fae as I've ever come across in a novel. One comment is that there's a definite note of cruelty, and unfairness, in the story, with some very grim events. Still, it's something very special, and I will be reading the other Lyonesse books.

(5) The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Karen Armstrong)
An easy but heavy read, and Karen Armstrong has thought and researched deeply about the issues here. The history is great and thorough, and opened my eyes to a lot of things, especially the Jewish diaspora. My only criticism being her reaching a little too far for sympathy with understanding some of the more reprehensible figures. Her analysis of when fundamentalist thought occurs and the basis of its form is also great, though I have some quibbles with her historical view of religious thought.

It's from 2000, so the modern part feels incomplete; a lot has happened since then!

(6) A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine l'Engle)
A children's book (and I certainly mean children rather than young adults). Science fiction of sorts, starring odd but benevolent aliens, children who really don't fit in, a world enslaved by mind control, and a cosmic and theologically themed struggle between good and evil. I had to read it after +Tom Hillman​​ mentioned it, and liked parts of it a good deal.

(7) Venus in Copper (Lindsey Davis)
Another of the author's series of hardboiled private detective novels set in ancient Rome. These are excellent, and now have really found their stride. Likeable and varied characters, an odd streak of romanticism, full of period details and atmosphere, and oh such a smooth read.

(8) A Wizard of Earthsea (Ursula Le Guin)
Reread of the first of the Earthsea novels. It's a coming of age tale of Ged, a naturally talented and arrogant wizard. It's interesting for the style of magic, just how unloved the protagonist is as he grows up, and the fact that the fundamental challenges for Ged are moral ones, some of which he succeeds at, some of which he fails.

(9) The Tombs of Atuan (Ursula Le Guin)
More Earthsea. This time the story of Tenar, a girl taken away from her parents to serve the Nameless Ones as their priestess. The labyrinth, the priestess's domain always in darkness, is oh so claustrophobic and hits on some primal fears. That's clever, and so is Tenar's story and teaming up with Ged. She has her own big moral challenges to face. It feels at the end like Ged can't help her needs.

(10) The Furthest Shore (Ursula Le Guin). The last of the original Earthsea books. Bleak, with Archmage Ged and a young noble battling a force causing magic to depart the world, and leaving despair and violence instead. It's a bleak book, as well as the obvious themes dealing with when action is necessary and past mistakes.

(11) Tehanu (Ursula Le Guin). Another Earthsea book, nearly two decades after the others. It's different in tone. Magic seems less a part of the world, and gender politics is important. There's none of the quest material of earlier books, but some interesting character material focusing on Tenar (from the Tombs of Atuan) many years later, and Ged (spoiler- after he loses his magic). It also goes quite heavily into gender politics. It's interesting, but very different to the original trilogy. I'd judge it more of a curiosity than anything else.

(12) The Golem and the Djinni (Helene Wecker). This was superb. The tale of a newly created golem and a newly freed djinni in New York at the start of the 20th century. It's a tale of immigrant communities there, and brings a really strong sense of place. Of particular note are the secondary characters- everyone has a past, an inner life, and their own story, and all are compelling. My favourite book of the month.

(13) Last Colony (John Scalzi). The last of John Scalzi's Old Man's War trilogy, though I believe there are later books presenting different points of view. Fun space opera, not too deep, and a definite subversion of the fascist elements sometimes present in military science fiction. I have one complaint- nobody got suspicious when the colony which was soon to vanish was called Roanoke.

(14) Leviathan Wakes (James Corey): The first of the Expanse series, now of course on TV. It's a really fun bit of space science fiction set in the solar system. It's not hard science fiction in the sense of any emphasis on science or engineering, but the space travel and technology feels grounded and plausible. The two contrasting protagonists are what make it work.

(Comparison with TV series:

I'd have flat out loved Leviathan Wakes if I hadn't seen the TV series first. As it was, I couldn't help comparing the two. Each has strengths the other lacks. The TV series presents some of the secondary characters better, and presents the point of view from Earth, as well as feeling more diverse. The big gripping moments of tension in the book, I'd already seen on TV. On the other hand, the TV series has steady pointless arguments and scraps which are fortunately missing in the book, which lacks that fake tension, and makes the crew of the Rocinante feel plausibly loyal to their captain. And the relationship between the two protagonists is better in the book.

Still, I'll read more of the books and watch more of the TV series.)

And as a bonus...short stories!

(A) Down on the Farm (Charles Stross). A short story in the Laundry series of the civil service battling a Lovecraftian cosmos. This was fun but without the room to breathe of the novels felt a bit gimmicky.

(B) The Mercy We Make (Michael Miller). The author sent me this short story after my ramblings in an online book club about what I see as the shortcomings of swords and sorcery fiction (I have a really conflicted relationship with it. I like some fun pulpy stuff but I can't stand the "classics" of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs).

Anyway, this was fun, with a nice dose of black humour (a necessary ingredient in my view) which didn't overwhelm it, and fun concepts in the two halves of the story.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby maddz » 7:16pm on 03 Apr 17

I got rid of my copies of The Belgeriad (and sequel series) quite a while back, but I kept The Elenium and Tamuli series. Generally, I seem to have grown out of coming of age stories although I liked them enough back in the day. The others I find more to my taste; there's still an element of Mary Sueism and more than a bit of Cook's Tours, but the characters generally are older adults and the focus is on them not the younger adults.

I won't call them a comfort read, but they're light enough to qualify.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby maddz » 10:16pm on 03 Apr 17

Mindy Klasky Rebel Lost (book 2 of The Darkbeast Chronicles)

I got this book via the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in exchange for a review.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06X92BMN9/ ... players-21

In all honesty, I'm not sure if this book was my cup of tea. It's the second in a series where I've not read the first, it's a YA title, and generally I don't much like YA titles, and the young heroine comes across as rather whiny and self-centred (although probably it's just because she's a teenager). However, it's well written, the story seems to hang together, and although it's book 2, there were enough references to get some idea of the plot of book 1 so the storyline didn't seem too much <i>in media res</i>. If this was a physical book, I would pass it onto my niece to see what she made of it, but she doesn't like ebooks.

I own The Glasswrights series, and I get the feeling that this new series may be following the same theme - something happens to young teen which is overcome and we then follow the teen as they grow up. From memory, The Glasswrights series starts when the teen is around 12 or 13, and finishes when the teen is in their 20s. It looks like book 1 of Darkbeasts starts when the teen has reached their 12th birthday, and this one is set 6 months to a year later, so still a lot of growing up to do!

The premise of the series is that everyone is bonded to a Darkbeast at a very young age, which acts as a moral and emotional guide, taking negative emotions away. However, on their 12th birthday, the Darkbeast is meant to be sacrificed to the gods. I can see this working as a life stage ritual; the darkbeast having fulfilled it's purpose.

The story is about a young teen who does not carry out the required sacrifice and leaves home. After various vissicitudes, she falls in with a troupe of travelling players. Book 2 starts with the heroine and 2 of the players having escaped the religious authorities travelling to find the darkers - a community of people who do not carry out the sacrifice and keep their darkbeast. Eventually, they find and join this community.

If this was a physical book, I would rate this as a keeper if the heroine started out older and developed more. As it is, I'm unlikely to want to bother with looking for book 1.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby maddz » 8:41am on 08 Apr 17

Lindsey Davis: The Third Nero (Flavia Albia bk 5)

Moving on fron the original Falco series, we are now into the next generation in the person of Flavia Albia, the orphan from Londinium adopted by Falco and Helena Justina in the second half of the original series. Vespasian and Titus are both now dead, and Rome is ruled increasingly autocratically by Domitian. Flavia is a widow; she was married to Lentellus (one of the legionaries from The Iron Hand of Mars who became a client of Helena's younger brother, Justinus.). She has just remarried to the plebian aedile she worked with in first book of the series: The Ides of April.

The story opens just after the wedding; in the course of it, Helena's new husband was indirectly struck by lightning and is trying to recover. (This was the climax of the previous book: The Graveyard of the Hesperides.)

Flavia is called on to assist the Imperial Secretatiat (in the person of Philippus, the son of Claudius Laeta - again from the original series.) The Secretariat wishes to confirm that they were correct to execute 2 serving governors by interviewing their widows, and as they are not officially under suspicion themselves, they decide to commission Flavia to carry out these interviews. Alongside these events, another fake Nero has appeared in the East to trouble Rome; this one took refuge with the Parthians.

It is the usual blend of history, detection, and a good story. Oddly, I didn't do my usual trick of reading it at one gulp; although I finished it in a day, I was dropping in and out. I'm not sure why: perhaps the story didn't hold my attention as it usually does because I had other things on my mind. There were the usual LD set pieces: the Keystone Cops sequence as the Praetorians try to arrest the Parthian embassy in a hostage exchange on the Palatine, vignettes of Roman life, especially the wife of the spy who spies on the Parthians in the East, setting up a Roman home etc.

Still, the usual recommendation from me: this is one author I'll buy at full price.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby satbunny » 7:10am on 11 Jun 17

The PhD has stopped me reading fiction, but I am on a break so read Last Act in Palmyra by Lindsey Davis, the 6th Falcon book. Set in what becomes Arabia Petra in the 2nd century CE, Marcus Didius and Helena tour the Aramaic Hellenistic city states of the Decapolis with a touring theatre company whilst trying to find the murderer in their own company!
Yup, you've played this one in an RPG.
It's good fun, more self mocking than the others, and a fun exploration of what the mix of Aramaic, Arabic, Greek and newly arriving Roman cultures might have been like. It's a perfect travelogue as well, I enjoyed reading it, and could easily run it as a short campaign!


Sent from my SM-G901F using Tapatalk
Tom Zunder: tom at zunder.org.uk
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby Dom » 12:05am on 03 Jul 17

A bit of a huge post as I haven't done this in a while...

# Books in April, May & June 2017


## *The Enclave* (Ann Charnock)
This was incredibly hard work to read for me. The story is well written, but the plot and the characters just didn't engage with me. Set in a future were refugees live in enclaves out side cities in Britain, the story focuses upon a young boy - Caleb - and his employer in alternating point of view chapters. He works in the rag trade, fed food and board for his work, and is promoted to become the supervisor in a world he doesn’t really understand.

## *Snowblind* (Ragnar Jónasson)
Set in the north of Iceland in an isolated former fishing town, the story tells the tale of a just graduated police officer as he takes up his post four hundred miles away from his girlfriend back in Reykjavik. As the snows of winter close in, a woman is found bleeding and half naked in the snow, and an elderly famous writer falls to his death. I liked this - it was quite terse and claustrophobic in parts, but a good whodunnit.

## *The Memoirist* (Neil Williamson)
Fourth of the NewCon Press Novella sequence, I approached this with trepidation after the difficulties that I had with *The Enclave*. Fortunately, this one engaged me very quickly. It’s set in the near future, in a world with near pervasive surveillance. It explores the idea of the Panopticon(fn) through the impact of the complete loss of privacy by the lead character. I found it interesting and engaging.

## *Jesus Christ, Reanimator* (Ken MacLeod)
A couple of short stories by Ken MacLeod, including speculation on what would happen if Christ returned in our modern world. A short read, but excellent as ever.

## *The Last Wish* (Andrzej Sapkowski)
I’d been vaguely aware of the video game *The Witcher*, but didn’t realise that it was based upon a series of novels. Someone posted the cinematic trailers for the next instalment of the video game, and I was intrigued enough to follow it up on Wikipedia, which led me to the book. Set in a mid-late middle ages type world, Gerald is a Witcher, a hunter of Monsters. Taken as a child and genetically modified, he travels across the lands taking payment for ridding the countryside of evil through a combination of combat prowess, magic and wits. The author is Polish, so the feel of the book has that Mittel-European vibe that I associate with the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying game, and a distant flavour that is recognisable and different. The book is really a collection of short stories with a carefully constructed narrative link, and it manages to avoid repetition and predictability. I look forward to reading the other books.

## *The Man from Berlin* (Luke McCain)
This was an impulse buy; I suspect Amazon showed it to me following the various ‘Station’ novels that I read last year. The novel is set during the Second World War, and the protagonist is a German officer serving in the Balkans as an investigator. He is a former police officer, and is conflicted with the abuse of due process. He has also lost his wife, and most likely his sone. He’s assigned to investigate the murder of a Serbian fascist film star, partly as one of his unit was also a victim. The plot twists and turns with the tensions between the Germans and the local authorities and the ongoing in-fighting for position between the German forces. In the background, there are hints of the German resistance and a growing conflict with the partizans. I enjoyed this and will return to read the next of the sequence.

## *Troll Bridge* (Neil Gaiman)
I can be a sucker for Neil Gaiman stories; this one looked intriguing, and nicely illustrated. A young boy meets a troll, who is going to eat him. Instead, he strikes a bargain that he has no intention of keeping.

## *The Travelling Bag: And Other Ghostly Stories* (Susan Hill)
A collection of Susan Hill ghost stories; enjoyed this, but none of them have stuck in my mind as well as collection with the Woman in Black did. Would happily read it again though as they are well written and darkly evocative.

## *Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire* (Neil Gaiman)
Amusing story about genre writing from Neil Gaiman. Very different illustrative style to the first book.

## *Veins of the Earth* (Patrick Stuart & Scrap Princess)
This one is a gaming book; nominally for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, it is usable with pretty much any D&D clone. It’s all about underground adventures, fitting into the same niche as the old AD&D *Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide* but it’s so much more. It feels more like an art project the way that the writing and the illustrations come together. There are huge numbers of ideas here that could easily enrich a gaming campaign.

## *Prisoners of Geography* (Tim Marshall)
I bought this on a whim from WH Smiths on the last train journey that I did before I left Unilever, and I’m glad that I did. The book takes and runs with the impact that geography has upon the growth of states and that there is a certain inevitability to how the various continents have developed. I found the European, North American and Asian parts the most interesting, probably as there is much more recorded history in Europe and Asia, while the North American entry documents the growth of the USA. Overall, there are parts where I think the author tries too hard to make the connection but it’s an interesting and coherent read that gives great hints into geopolitics.

## *Saga Vol 2* (Brian K Vaughan)
The second part of the future SF story of two soldiers from opposing sides falling in love. This one deals with a visit from the in-laws. This is clever and strangely enticing work.

## *The Coldest Winter* (Antony Johnston)
Prequel to *The Coldest City*, which I read some years ago and has now been filmed as *Atomic Blonde*. An operation goes wrong in Cold War Berlin and SIS tries to resolve it. This is the backstory for one of the key characters in the later book. The book is illustrated in stark black and white style which is very thematic. I enjoyed the story but I’m not certain that the graphic novel format adds a lot extra over text.

## *Ghost in the Shell Vol 1* (Masamune Shirow)
I stumbled on this at *Destination Venus* in Harrogate. It is a reissue of Shirow’s classic manga. Hardcover, with some extra colour, this one runs right-to-left back-to-front as it was originally published. Reading it made me realise just how unfair some of the criticism for the live action movie was.

## *Ghost in the Shell Vol 1.5* (Masamune Shirow)
This one wasn’t from *Destination Venus* as they didn’t have it. I bought it from Amazon, and enjoyed a selection of tales about Section 9 after the Major leaves.

## *Ghost in the Shell Vol 2* (Masamune Shirow)
The other book I picked up at *Destination Venus*; it has to be said that the gentleman selling the books to me was relieved i bought them as it kept him out of being in trouble with his wife. Enjoyable, but very mixed up, complex and at time nearly impenetrable.

## *The Coldest City* (Antony Johnston)
The follow up to *The Coldest Winter* chronologically, but the first book published. A female British SIS agent is sent to recover a list with critical information that could be lost if the Soviets or East Germans obtain it, after the agent who had it was killed. Events ensue over a backdrop of late Cold War Berlin. Once again, it is beautifully illustrated.

## *Beacon 23: The Complete Novel* (Hugh Howey)
I’ve had a soft spot for Hugh Howey since I read *Wool* but this one failed to hit the mark. An injured soldier who was part of a key battle against aliens retires to man a lighthouse, a remote station that generates gravity waves to warn off and manage shipping around dangerous locations in space. The story is interesting but it never really hit the mark for me and it felt like Howey was trying too hard to get a message across.

## *Lyonnesse: The Green Pearl* (Jack Vance)
The second of the Lyonesse books. I can’t read these quickly due to the beautiful richness of the prose. These books are superb, and the style is still recognisably that of the author of the Dying Earth. I still can’t believe that I missed these when they came out. Anyway, I recommend this wholeheartedly.

## *The Watcher in the Shadows* (Carlos Ruiz Záfon)
One of Záfon’s young adult stories, but none-the-worse for that. Some years before the Second World War, a family moves from Paris to the Atlantic Coast to so the mother can take up a role as a housekeeper after her husband passes away with debts. The family settle into the seaside village, and encounter the fascinating automata that Lazarus Jann, the mother’s employer, has created once he retired from toy manufacturing. But there is a darkness to this place that soon becomes apparent against the blossoming of new love. I really enjoyed this; it’s not quite at the same level as the three Barcelona books but it’s very good.

## *Elidor* (Alan Garner)
As I’d just finished one young adult novel, I decided to try another that I originally read at school. I guess that the would be classified as ‘urban fantasy’ now, but at the time it really felt far more unique than that. Set in Manchester, a group of siblings stumble upon a fantastic world. Less overt than stories like CS Lewis’ Narnia books, the children fleetingly become involved in a conflict against evil, then return home and try to forget that Elidor ever existed until it forces itself back into their lives. I’ve read better, but the wistful, light and deft touch that Garner brings to his stories remains a favourite of mine.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby dr_mitch » 11:38pm on 03 Jul 17

I've just finished reading the Lyonesse books (I finished the third one a few days ago). Very fine stuff.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby Dom » 12:56am on 04 Jul 17

I can't read a lot of Vance together; it's too rich for me. Great stuff though.


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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby dr_mitch » 12:39am on 05 Jul 17

Dom wrote:I can't read a lot of Vance together; it's too rich for me. Great stuff though.


Yes-I had to read other things in between parts of the trilogy.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby satbunny » 9:40am on 06 Jul 17

I find Rohan rich and slow to read but I can lap up Vance all day...

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What have you read recently?

Postby Dom » 12:32pm on 06 Jul 17

Michael Scott Rohan?


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