Book Thread 2018^H9


Should we keep doing monthly threads? Or should it be a yearly thread with the new forum software?

Anyway, from the August thread of last year…

I just finished this book and it was fantastic. Sharpe did a great job of summing it up in the quote above. It’s the debut novel by Nicholas Eames. It’s got a bit of that gritty feel a Joe Abercrombie novel has, but it’s light-hearted and really a lot of fun.

Joe Abercombie -- Maybe time to re-listen to this great series.

Just finished the first three books of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives. The first book The Way of Kings, was extremely good, with an interesting magic system, some great battles, and the awesome story of Bridge Four. BRIDGE FOUR!

The second book, Words of Radiance, was good but not great IMO. It didn’t have a single great hook plot line like Bridge Four IMO and some of the battles and magic use started to feel a tad repepitive.

The third book, Oathbringer, was only OK. Not bad, but somewhat scattered, going a bit far afield IMO, and lacking some of the punch of the first book. A good series overall, but I’ll have to wait and read some reviews when the 4th book comes out.

Continuing my current epic fantasy binge, I started the first book of Daniel Abraham’s The Dragon’s Path, The Dagger and the Coin. Still getting into it, but it looks promising thus far.

PS - I think yearly threads would be good. The monthly threads are not overly long.


Ok. I changed the title. We’ll see if others concur.


Agreed. I was always annoyed hopping between all the monthly threads. A year seems to be good for QT3.

I love the Stormlight Archives and would mostly concur with each book being a step down from the previous, but it’s hard to match up to all the novelty in the first book. I am 100% OK with more books like Oathbringer, and will be eagerly buying the next.

I recently completed wildbow’s twig and loved it as well. If you liked Worm then I think it’s a must a read (you can skip Pact, it’s just OK). It’s really long, just like Worm, so take that into account. It’s very much a Steampunk novel, except instead of Steam & Gears it’s Flesh & Blood. Very inventive and interesting world that doesn’t skimp on the characters either.


I have just started Hot Zone by Steven Konkoly. It is about a pandemic attack on the USA and so far it’s pretty good. Characters seem interesting enough and the story is moving along at a good pace. There are now thousands of books like this so it isn’t easy finding decent ones to scratch that itch when you get it.


So I finished the first book in Daniel Abraham’s The Dagger and the Coin series, The Dragon’s Path. I’m enjoying the heck out of this series thus far. So far, it’s a low fantasy setting with a lot of politics and a fairly interesting look at banking and economics in a medieval setting. Some interesting characters, some good set pieces. A bit of a slow burn but I’m halfway into the second book and it’s building up nicely.


I got the first book of that series as a freebie when I purchased the first book of the Expanse series (totally by surprise… I got to the end of the Expanse book and there was still 50 percent left on my Kindle and I thought ‘what is going on here’… Turns out I got a second book for free). Turns out it was written by the guy who wrote the expanse… because Daniel Abraham is a pen name used by James Corey. At any rate it got me hooked on the series and I read all except the last one I think ( when I read them the last book had not yet been published). I got to get back to the series!


Daniel Abraham is one part of the duo that writes the Expanse under pseudonym. I’ve read the first three books of the Dragon’s Path, fun series. Planning on finishing it.


Me as well. Due to my schedule I may not read any books through for a month or two, then knock out 8 in a month (hello November and travelling for work!)


I tried starting The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu, but the book is too over-the-top. Hard to explain. Does he dial the volume down a notch later on in the book?

Started The Night Land, A Story Retold instead. It was originally written by William Hope Hodgson in 1912, then rewritten (“retold”) recently by James Stoddard. The beginning is good, since the world the author describes is very vivid and horrifying. But midway the protagonist and his girlfriend start to get annoying. I remember really liking a story by John C. Wright that I read a long time ago set in the same setting. Moreso than the original (or this retold version) I guess.


Just started A Confederate General from Big Sur, man could Brautigan write. I like to switch around between sci fi / fantasy and literary fiction, and any time I come back to the latter it just makes me lol at the quality of dialogue and general writing in the former styles. Still love a bit of escapism but every time I read something literary that blows my mind it just makes it that much harder to put up with the sci fi / fantasy genre foibles.


Not really. I also found The Grace of Kings a tough read to start, but I think the story does make up for it to some extent and it gets less distracting as you grow more familiar with the characters. It doesn’t help that I think he’s deliberately trying to ape (translations of) classic Chinese literature such as Journey to the West and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. And yet Liu does it poorly; Kim Stanley Robinson does a much better job in The Years of Rice and Salt.


I enjoyed this series a lot. It’s a cool fantasy setting with a really great explanation for why there are so many sentient races (dwarf, elf, orc, troll, etc.) on one planet.

Abraham’s books tend to drag a little in the middle, and these are no exception… but the later books move a little snappier than the early ones.


Most of my reading is now historical, for research purposes. I bounce around a lot but have read chunks of:

A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman – only a hundred pages in but this is probably the best general history of the Middle Ages that I’ve read. Granted, I haven’t read many.
Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire by Jason Goodwin
Osman’s Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire by Caroline Finkel

I’ve also developed some interest in the surprisingly-vast subgenre of Ancient Roman detective books, and am working my way through Ruth Downie’s Medicus. While I appreciate the persuasiveness of the ancient-Britannia recreation, the mystery is taking its sweet time to materialize.


Have you tried the Roma Sub Rosa series by Steven Saylor? Those are IMO the high point of the Roman detective sub-genre. I love Gordianus the Finder, and the way Saylor weaves his mysteries in with the politics and history of the day. Highly recommended.


I started reading the Seven Wonders, but it didn’t super grab me. It seems like the structure amounts to 7 mini-mysteries, one for each Wonder, and I didn’t love that approach. Perhaps it’s exceptional within the series.


Seven Wonders is a prequel/collection of shorter works he wrote later. It’s enjoyable, but only as an afterthought to the meatier books. The series proper starts with Roman Blood.

If you just want the high points of the series, it is:

Roman Blood: to set the stage and tone, introduce us to Gordianus the Finder
A Murder on the Appian Way: a fictionalized version of Clodius and Milo
A Mist of Prophecies: set in Rome while the conflict between Caesar and Pompey is raging elsewhere, this is a story about Roman women more than anything, and arguably the best in the series.
The Judgment of Caesar: Caesar, Cleopatra, etc. Lots of fun.


Wow, haven’t heard that name in a long time. I liked that book and one called In Watermelon Sugar. I also had Trout Fishing and Revenge of the Lawn at one time.


Thanks, that’s very helpful.


What you need to read, is the entire SPQR series by John Maddox Roberts. Its a story about a noble, Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younge (Fictious, but the family is real), and all 13 books details his cursus honorum (the expected rise through roman politics), with the backdrop of some of the most well-known incidents in Rome, in the time from around 80 BC and the next 60 or so years.

Its amazingly well written, its funny, its interesting, and it describes the roman world quite well, if you have any kind of interest in that. I wish John Maddox would write another 13 of these. SO good.

I enjoy Gordanius the Finder as well, but those books takes themselves far to serious for my liking. Read one of these - I’m certain you’ll love it!