Monday, January 29, 2007

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

This book opens with one of the great lines. "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."

It’s also based on a ship, unsurprisingly called The Dawn Treader. I’ve always liked sea-faring books and I think this book has something to do with that. Just like I think The Silver Chair has something to do with my claustrophobia.

At any rate, this is a very good entry in the Narnia Chronicles. Eustace is a complete moron until he learns his lesson. Aslan doesn’t take it easy on Scrubb, just like he doesn’t take it easy on anyone, and in the end, Scrubb is a good character, falling in line the same as Edmund did in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

It’s pretty easy to see the values that Lewis sneaks into his writing. He doesn’t beat you over the head with it, but it’s pretty easy to see he’s a Christian and wants you to act like one too. And that’s fine. If everyone acted the way Christians were supposed to, the world would be a nicer, more patient place. As it is, most Christians I know don’t act like Christians. But that’s a rant for a different time.

Nicholas enjoyed this book, especially the chapters with the Monopods/Dufflepuds/invisible people. I’ve always been a big fan of Reepicheep, so it was kind of sad to see him go, but he’s always there when I read the series over, so it’s not too sad.

We’re onto The Silver Chair now, and it won’t be long until we’re done the entire series. It’s kind of sad, but there’s always Prydain and Taran’s adventures to look forward to.

I’m just over half-finished the fourth book of the year, The Prince of Dreams by Curt Benjamin. I’m also part of the way through Exile’s Return but that’s coming very slowly. I’ll have write-ups on those when I’m finished. Also, I’m going to insert Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman because it’s on a reading list for a forum I’m on.

Finally, on another note, I was accepted late for a short-story workshop in a fantasy forum. I figure that one of my 101/1001 goals is to finish the dragon story, and the theme for the workshop is dragons, so it’s a marriage I can’t skip out on. As of right now, I’m two-thirds of the way finished, with the plot complete and just the writing to finish by Wednesday. That means 2000 words over three days (two-and-a-half, I suppose). Wish me luck and I’ll let you know how it goes. The goal is to get this story published in a magazine, so I won’t post the story here – at least not unless/until I get a rejection letter. If it’s accepted, I’ll also fill you in then.

Until more later on…

Date Night: Wee Book Inn

The potential for a date night with my wife does not come along very often. When it does, we like to live it up to the fullest.

Take this past Friday, for an example. We found ourselves temporarily childless and with the world as our oyster. The itinerary:

-Get Liam fed
-Get Kim cheese
-Go to Wee Book

As you might expect, there was a little more to the 3+ hours we spent on the date than the three lines above. I got a new ring. It spins. (Don't ask – better yet, ask, and I'll show you!) Kim also got a ring. (Does that make up for Christmas?)

Yes, we are truly a live-life-on-the-edge-of-our-seats couple.

Okay, in all seriousness, it was a fairly tame date-night but it was a welcome change to have Kim to myself for a couple of hours. Kim's really like a rock star within the context of our family. If anyone has something to say, something to show, or something to fix, Kim's the first person they go to. I guess it's not too romantic to call her “Lynchpin” but it doesn't mean it isn't true. I'm actually pretty lucky, though, because I'm the only person in the family that she actually CHOSE to be with. Yeah, yeah, she chose to have kids, but who they were going to come out as was out of her control. I was fully formed (okay, mostly) and she decided to marry me. And now she has the adulation of at least three people, and a dog. Don't forget the dog.

Anyway, back on topic: Here's to date-night!

Oh, and I still owe a writeup on Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I'll do that a little later.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


A rant.

Not entirely language or age appropriate.


Monday, January 08, 2007

House of Chains

Whenever I read a book by Steven Erickson, I do so with the awareness that he is an anthropologist by training and I always worry that his books are going to contain extremely rich but extremely dry history that I'll have to fight through. I'm always happy to find his world's history and the depth of the cultures to be very full, with mysteries unexplained and a seemingly-never-ending parade of peoples as diverse (and more) as the cultures of our own world. It comes, however, without the history lesson. It comes, in fact, without any lesson whatsoever.

What I perceived as a weakness in Erikson's writing has come to be a bonus, now that I'm not faced with the headlong plunge into confusion that came with the first 150, no 200 pages - well, actually, all of the first book. Like my old Computer Science professor, Stephen Wismath, used to say, "Let's just assume it all works by magic and move on." Not a very satisfying answer for a reader used to having explanations spoon-fed to him, any more than it is to a bright-eyed university student. However, I persevered, and now, I get impatient wading through redundant explanations that are offered in all but a very few fantasy series. Some authors, it seems, use this method to get their word-count to an acceptable level.

Not so with Erikson, whose pages are filled, each and every one of them, with tensions, battles, senseless gore, realistic horror as a reaction to that senseless gore and characters which feel like they not only could fit on the page, but also feel like they could fit in our world. Book 4 deals with the aftermath of book 2, both the Chain of Dogs and Felisin storylines. The pacing is slow, at first, dealing with a new character, but as usual, that character draws you in and soon, you realize you you're 200 pages in and the main story isn't even started. There aren't a lot of surprises in this volume, nothing that will make you gasp and worry that nothing will ever be right again, but things continue to resolve themselves and you begin to understand a little more about the Malazan Empire. I'm looking forward to Midnight Tides but I need a bit of a break from Erikson's epic-ness.

Next up, Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

King of Foxes by Raymond E. Feist

One of my favourite series in Fantasy is the Serpentwar saga by Raymond E. Feist. It is set on Midkemia, just like all the other Feist books in this very long line of stories. King of Foxes mentioned some characters from the Serpentwar saga and that may have been its best moment.

I like Feist as an author, and I hope that he continues to write good stories, but if the stuff that he’s going to write is like King of Foxes, I’m tempted to say he should just turn in and call it a career.

Feist’s main character in King of Foxes is Talon of the Silver Hawk (which was the name of the first book in this trilogy). Through some amazing circumstances, he becomes the best swordsman on the planet, a culinary master, a musician, the world’s best hunter, lover, man’s man and all around good guy as he disguises himself as Talwin Hawkins, a squire, so that he can take his revenge on the person responsible for the destruction of his people.

I get annoyed by super-characters who never need to do any growing, outside of the “training” section of the novel. Everything goes right for Talon, all the way through the novel, and the only hardships he ends up having are fixed by magic. I had hoped that the story would go another way, but it didn’t, and while I’m not sorry I read the book, and I’m currently reading the one after it, I’m reading them to get to the next story, which, to hear tell, is built up fairly significantly by this trilogy.

One book on the books, 49 to go!

Next up: House of Chains by Steven Erikson

The 2007 50-book goal

So, I was unsuccessful in completing my goal of 50 books last year.

Big deal, you say. Well, I don’t like failing at things I genuinely try at. Last year’s 50-book goal was something I took very seriously for the first four months. Granted, it became obvious very soon that I would not be able to do it, because of a change in jobs, but it honked me off, even in November, as I still kept track of the books that I read, that I had fallen so short.

With that said, and hopefully soon forgotten, this year is another year where I will attempt the reading of 50 books. Fortunately, I have already finished one.

Without further ado (that’s right, ado, not adieu, not Cadieux, not adios, but ado) I present the candidates for the 2007 “50 books to be read”. Please note that his list is subject to wild fluctuations, depending on the availability of better books, or just books that I get more excited about.

The books:
King of Foxes - Raymond E. Feist
The Grand Design - John Marco
House of Chains - Steven Erickson
Child of the Grove - Tanya Huff
The Last Wizard - Tanya Huff
Exile's Return - Raymond E. Feist
Lord Valentine's Castle - Robert Silverberg
Prince of Shadow - Curt Benjamin
The Darkness that Comes Before - R. Scott Bakker
Ship of Magic - Robin Hobb
Mad Ship - Robin Hobb
Prentice Alvin - Orson Scott Card
Alvin Journeyman - Orson Scott Card
Prince of Dreams - Curt Benjamin
Gates of Heaven - Curt Benjamin
Farewell My Lovely - Raymond Chandler
Newton's Cannon - J. Gregory Keyes
Uther - Jack Whyte
The Darkness and The Dawn - Thomas B. Costain
GeoMancer - Ian Irvine
The Face of Apollo - Fred Saberhagen
A Canticle for liebowitz - Walter M. Miller Jr.
The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien
Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
Runelords - David Farland
Brotherhood of the Wolf - David Farland
Wizardborn - David Farland
The Wounded Land - Stephen R. Donaldson
The One Tree - Stephen R. Donaldson
White Gold Wielder - Stephen R. Donaldson
Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
The Summer Tree - Guy Gavriel Kay
The Wandering Fire - Guy Gavriel Kay
The Darkest Road - Guy Gavriel Kay
The Magi'I of Cyador - L. E. Modesitt Jr.
The White Order - L. E. Modesitt Jr.
Wellspring of Chaos - L. E. Modesitt jr.
The Demon Awakens - R. A. Salvatore
The Demon Spirit - R. A. Salvatore
The Thief Taker - T. F. Banks
The Emperor’s Assassin - T. F. Banks
Eye of the Labyrinth - Jennifer Fallon
Lion of Senet - Jennifer Fallon
The Long Orbit - Mick Farren
Battlefield Earth - L. Ron. Hubbard
The Waterborn - J. Gregory Keyes
BlackGod - J. Gregory Keyes
Good Omens - Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Heroics for Beginners - John Moore
A Song for Arbonne - Guy Gavriel Kay
Protect and Defend - Richard North Patterson

51, you say? Oh, frickin’ well. It’s my goal, and I’ll do my OWN math, thank you very much.

Later: King of Foxes by Raymond E. Feist

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

More than halfway

Despite giving up on my books for the year, I made it more than halfway. 26, to be exact, with jPod finishing up 2006's reading.

This year, I plan on doing it again. Stay tuned for a more in-depth post about this very thing.