Dabbling

While I waited for The Stone of Farewell to arrive, I picked up Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind. It is ever on my to read list, and my husband really loved it. After reading the Dragonbone Chair, with its descriptions of Osten Ard and its denizens, Name of the Wind seemed almost Hemingwayesque with it’s short sentences. I’ll get back to it after finishing the Tad Williams tales.

This afternoon, because I was in the mood and my other books were way downstairs, I read the intro to a short story collection Ghosts by Gaslight: Stories of Steampunk and Supernatural Suspense edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers. I’ve had it for awhile, but that’s the lovely thing about having your own books rather than always borrowing them, they are right there for you when you’re ready to read them. I have a long history of loving short stories. I have so many old collections of science fiction, fantasy and horror tales. Those particular genres really suit the short story form, for me. This one, in it’s wonderful introduction (I always read Introductions, Forwards and Prefaces) talks about the Victorian era and how it’s modernization of the wide world actually gave rise to many new tales of horror and “scientific romance”. I have read so many of the authors they mention. The book is full of tales by modern authors setting their tales in Victorian times, and I’m hoping they are successful in making new stories in the manner of the old. Since I love the era and have read so many of the best the times had to offer, I’d love new stories set there.

Stone Of Farewell came this afternoon and I just sat down and began to happily read it. It picks up right were the last novel left off and our heroes and heroines are heading into ever more danger. There are so many great characters in these books, when I write up Stone of Farewell, I’m going to be sure to mention my favorites. I got an edition that is larger than my Dragonbone copy. I’m delighted that it has more maps, and they’re much easier to read. I couldn’t make out the details even with a magnifying glass in the first paperback of the series. I love maps.

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately, happy times. I want to list them on Goodreads, but because I signed up for the goal of 50 books, when I log in there they blast me with a message “You’re (insert number) books behind on your goal! Eek! Reading Goal Shaming…

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The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams

Coming very soon is Tad Williams new Osten Ard book The Witchwood Crown, first in a new series by him titled The Last King Of Osten Ard.

Sometimes there are holes in my science fiction and fantasy reading, not having read the Dragonbone Chair is one such hole now filled. I felt that it started off really slowly, and I had trouble liking the main character Simon, surely the laziest and most inconsiderate boy in any world. Then events occurred which sent him alone out on the road, running for his life. Slowly, slowly the boy matured. At the end of the Dragonbone Chair he’s still somewhat clueless, but his survival skills have been honed thanks to companions he meets, and he has come to care very much about the fate of his world and his friends and allies. I mention his character development at some length because I have to have someone to root for and admire in a book, and it took awhile for Simon to be that person.

Luckily, he is surrounded by great companions and allies. The troll Binabik and his wolf mount/friend Qantaqa travel with Simon. From them Simon learns much about survival, loyalty and friendship. It almost seems that Binabik is the first person Simon has ever cared about besides himself. Opening that door in selfish Simon is everything, and it makes Simon befriend others and give loyalty where none existed. He comes to travel with runaways, royalty, and impossible creatures from the world’s past.

Simon is that core character who is an unwitting and reluctant hero who can help shape the fate of the world. He chooses a side in a seeming war between brothers which is the unloosening of something much darker in the lands of Osten Ard.

The story is full of battles, bravery, treachery, shining good and darkest evil. At 766 pages, it’s a wonderful tale that for that last 600 pages or so, you truly don’t want to put down. I ordered the sequels The Stone of Farewell and To Green Angel Tower as soon as I closed the cover. I already have the Witchwood Crown On Order 🙂

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

I read some superlative reviews of the new Netflix version of A Series Of Unfortunate Events, and found a copy of The Bad Beginning on my shelves. I used to buy the first book in a series that all the Avid Readers were pouring over for my son, thinking he might also like them. Some he did, some not.

Although the book is easy reading, I loved that it was filled with vocabulary, both the word itself and an arch description of what it really means. Seldom do you read a book with so many words describing villainy in so many ways.

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The way these children loved books and libraries and reading endeared them to me immediately. Their own home “had an enormous library…a room filled with thousands of books on nearly every subject”.

Moving to the dirty, depressing home of their relation Count Olaf, they’re without books entirely in addition to the other privations of life with Olaf. Klaus says “I miss reading very much. We must go out and look for a library sometime soon.”

Next door lives a Judge who agrees to lend them a cookbook for a large dinner they’re to prepare. She has an entire cookbook section in her library. “There were shelves and shelves of them, on every wall from the floor to the ceiling, and separate shelves of them in the middle of the room. The only place there weren’t books was in one corner, where there were some large, comfortable-looking chairs and a wooden table with lamps hanging over them, perfect for reading.” Paradise! Particularly compared to the barren squalor they now lived in. They’re invited to borrow books at any time, which gives them a bit of happiness to hold onto.

The book contains a great deal of absurdity, beginning with every single thing about Olaf, continuing with a man with two hooks for hands, a banker who loves their fortune and vows to protect it while offering them nothing to hold onto, and a baby in a birdcage hanging in a tower window.

I understand after reading The Bad Beginning why the Avid Readers who came to the library loved these.

Babylon’s Ashes by James S. A. Corey

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Once again a world in which almost everyone lives in space is brought successfully to life.

The format of the books which switches constantly between characters can be a problem when you just want to see what happens next to a set of characters, but cliff-hanger-like, you have to wait a few chapters for that story to continue. Those shifting views make it possible to create a believable society in the stars. You know how it all fits together and what lives are like in a way that wouldn’t be as effective with a single narrator point of view.

For someone like myself who has been reading and dreaming about societies with space travel for a lifetime, this is spectacular. It is not only a living breathing society, but the people are so varied and so well written that I’m able to root for strange potentially deadly characters like Clarissa Mao. I know Avasarala so well now, that I laugh out loud in all her chapters. And somewhere towards the end of the story I had tears in my eyes, and that isn’t something that I’d ever expect to see from a hard science fiction novel.

If you read my previous post about Babylon’s Ashes as I was reading it, I was wrong in how things would play out, but also right in a way. Onward, Rocinante!

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Reading Challenges For 2017

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While beginning my search for blogs and sites with Reading Challenges for 2017 I found a spectacular list from girlxoxo.com called The Master List of 2017 Reading Challenges.

I personally will be looking at the challenges for Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Children’s and Young Adult since those are where my reading interests lie. I may also start reading some Historical Fiction this year since I have become such a fan of Historical Mysteries, perhaps I can enjoy history in yet another fictional way.

girlxoxo linked to another site Reading Challenge Addict, so if you find yourself immersed in all of the possibilities of these challenges, you can get even more ideas.

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Note: I signed up for the Goodreads Challenge to read 50 books, and I’ve placed the Goodreads Widget on my sidebar. Let the reading begin!

Currently Reading: Babylon’s Ashes by James S. A. Corey

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The most recent novel in the Expanse universe is Babylon’s Ashes. Released in December 2016, I’m nearly to the halfway point. As usual, many stories are told from a wide variety of viewpoints, so you always see what is happening in all sectors of the solar system, with all of the different players.

The self proclaimed Free Navy led by Marco Inaros has all but destroyed Earth and has taken over the Medina gate to the new worlds, capturing any colony ships that try to go through and commandeering their cargos and resources. They’ve gutted Ceres Station and are destroying ships throughout the system whose owners seem to oppose them.

The tenuous society which existed before with Earth and Mars well situated and the Belt stations barely surviving is gone, but it’s hard to see what will replace it since the supplies and resources for everyone are now dwindling quickly, with no way to even start producing enough to save those who remain. In many ways the war has just begun.

As I say, I’m not finished, but I could see it ending up with a small group who survives making their way through the gates and abandoning our system altogether. That would strand all of humanity on the thousand new worlds full of alien technologies which could activate and destroy the last of them at any time.

Let’s hope things don’t get that bleak, and that our hero James Holden can somehow get everyone to see they’re all one people who need to work together to survive.

Season Two of the Expanse starts on the Syfy channel February 1st. http://www.syfy.com/theexpanse

Sleep Well, 2016

This was a good year for books in my corner of the universe.  I wish I had done what people do, and kept nice little notes about what I was reading as I went along.

As you’ll recall, blogs were originally described as “online diaries”.  Although I like reading novels sometimes that are told in the format of a personal journal, I am not necessarily interested in reading or writing diaries.  Unless they’re garden diaries. Those are fascinating.

I think this blog needs a little more personality, or something.  One of the reasons I don’t write here often is because it seems as if has to be sort of formal. A “review” site.

The blog was started because an author whose books I love sent me an advance copy of a new book, and I wrote about it, but when the next in the series came out, the publisher asked the author to only send copies to “Book Review Blogs”.  Awkward for the author who had already promised copies to bloggers of not necessarily book blogs.

Anywho.

I created a Merlyn Perilous Goodreads account today, and I’ll link to it in the sidebar once I get it set up just so.

It was a little weird, the setup, as it had me check off a bunch of reading categories, then popped up pages of children’s and YA books for me to rate. No mysteries or science fiction or historical novels.

I was having fun, and only checked things I loved and had read, giving each five stars.  In my Facebook days, when I followed a ton of wonderful authors, I’d see them feeling bad that someone had given their book four or eek, three stars, and it made them feel awful.  As we know, Authors Are My Heroes, so it’s going to be five or nothing from me.

Look for a more casual Merlyn in 2017, more DOA-ish, more me-ish.

Happy Reading, Happy 2017

Merlyn Perilous