Book Thread 2018^H9


I think all of the follow on novels are superior to any of the books in the original trilogy. Abercrombie got better and better as he wrote. Red Country is one of the best novels to come out of the grimdark tradition.


So there’s 7 books set in that universe? What kind of a world is this “First Law” world? Some kind of generic fantasy world with humans and elves and such?


The First Law trilogy themselves are a pretty direct deconstruction of traditional heroic fantasy tropes. Red Country is more of a western, The Heroes is a scathing indictment of the notion of heroes, especially in war, and Best Served Cold is a revenge thriller. IMO The Heroes is his best work.


More like barbarians and wizards. There is something kind of like goblins, if I recall correctly, but I think maybe they are more like feral humans? Maybe someone else remembers better. No elves or dwarves that I can remember.


None. It’s low fantasy with little magic, though it’s there. It’s gritty stuff, grimdark I guess it’s called now.

What it is, it is well-written compared to most fantasy. Not that most fantasy isn’t well-written, but this stuff is a cut above. That’s why I appreciate it so.


Ah, I see. So basically a medieval Europe during the dark ages type of setting.


My book wishlist is starting to get too large because of the books mentioned here. Is anyone else here a horribly slow reader like myself? I tend to only read right before bed, and I’m slow so it takes forever to get through a book - even if I like it.


Yeah, I’m the same way. If I had coffee too late in the day, then when I read before bed, I might stay awake for over an hour, and make a lot of progress. But if I didn’t have coffee late in the day, I usually fall asleep 10-15 minutes after getting to bed, and the phone starts falling out of my hand.


I keep thinking I’ll catch up by listening to books. But when I try to listen to books, there are basically two circumstances: One where I can’t really pay attention to the book, so I realize after a while that I have no idea what has happened (example: when driving); and the other, where I do pay attention and then quickly fall asleep (example: also when driving).

I don’t really drive much anymore, so you’re safe. But I really do fall asleep and miss the book, or ignore it and miss the book.


Pretty good descriptions. I have enjoyed them all, but with the first Trilogy especially you need to be ready to adapt to the story as Abercrombie likes to take his characters out of the usual fantasy molds. The way a character starts is not usually how a character ends.

And the stand alone books are very good. While they might have someone from the main trilogy in them or mentioned you can read one of them first without spoiling anything in the trilogy, which was written first.


I read two ways, at the gym and at home, usually late in the evening. Lately I will have two books going, at least until one gets near the end when I may just work on it. But the book I read at the gym has to be a standard paperback format or it is just to heavy to mess with, thus the before bed book tends to be the heavier paperbacks/hardbounds and the more serious material.


I do read on Kindle right before bed, but most of my reading is just on my phone, every time I have a minute or two to kill while standing in line, microwaving my lunch, etc. Over the course of a day, it really adds up. And speaking of which, my last couple of books were both great:

Turtles All the Way Down is the next book by the writer of The Fault in Our Stars, and has a similar basic setup (teen girl dealing with a severe health issue). In this case it’s mental illness in the form of intrusive thoughts and compulsions rather than cancer, but similarly winds up as an affecting and sympathetic portrayal of characters fighting through to find some moments of peace and happiness while facing tougher situations than most. 4.5/5

Word By Word explores the world of lexicography (dictionary editing). The throughline is daily work for an editor at Merriam-Webster, but that’s used as a springboard for fascinating discussions into philosophies of definition, the history of the first English dictionaries, tracing the changes in a few words over time, the dog-eat-dog 19th-century ad wars between Webster and their chief rival, intersections with politics, dictionary use in Supreme court opinions, and more. Always very readable and frequently quite humorous. Highly recommended to anyone who likes words. Between this, and how much I loved The Great Passage, I’m wondering if I missed my calling in life. 5/5


Have you read this? Very loosely related, but I enjoyed it.


No, but I’ll check it out. Thanks!


I slogged my way through The Winter Boy on and off over the last few months.

It’s not that this is a bad book. The components are there…post apocalyptic dystopia, coming of age story, intriguingly odd social structures, menacing threat to society. I like most of the characters and Grotta’s writing style is reasonably clear.

But holy cow, is it boring. For chapter after chapter, nothing happens in the plot. It takes forever for anything to happen beyond “boy learns some things” - which is important and all, but we needed maybe a dozen pages about it, not endless details. The occasional history lesson does not break up the monotony. About 2/3 of the way in stuff finally starts happening, still moving slowly, and eventually the book ends with basically nothing resolved. It’s all just setup, and as far as I can tell there’s no sequel.

Now, I’m not averse to wordiness. I’ve read Neal Stephenson and the Malazan novels and lots of other ridiculously long stuff. But there needs to be a reason to push through it, some payoff along the way. Maybe Grotta will end up writing an amazing series that starts with The Winter Boy… I might feel much differently at that point. But as it stands, I wish I’d picked something else off my to-read lost.


Life is short. I dump books like these after a bit, or do a rapid skim to condense 8 hours of reading into a single hour.


Anyone here read Infernal Devices by KW Jeter? Seminal 1987 steampunk. Highly recommended.


Just finished the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold from start to finish. They’re all enjoyable though not very deep or serious. The main character is kind of like a hyperactive 11 year old, and gets into all sorts of amusing predicaments. I look forward to more books in this series, but I think the characters are getting kind of old. Not sure where she’s going to go with this.

I read Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. Like her previous novel, Uprooted, this book feels a lot like an old European fairy tale. It’s a bit dark/bleak at first, but is still enjoyable. I liked Uprooted more though.

I started reading Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, but could not get past the first few pages, the writing is so bad. Maybe it is a good story, but I wasn’t able to keep reading.

I read the Riverside series by Ellen Kushner. It’s very good, but reading three novels in a row with gay protagonist(s) is kind of difficult. Will read Thomas the Rhymer next.

I tried reading The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland. I got pretty far into it, but realized I wasn’t enjoying the book and put it down.

I read the Broken Earth series by N. K. Jemisin. I read all three books but did not enjoy them. The main character spent too much time ruminating and bitching about stuff.

I read The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor. It was okay, but her earlier book, Who Fears Death, is much better. It has this really fresh foreignness and mythological feel to it, which I liked.

I read The Beginning Place by Ursula Le Guin, which was okay but short and kind of tame. Maybe it was meant for young adults?

I started The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North, but got bored with it and quit. I don’t like contemporary fiction so much, and prefer reading more typical science fiction and fantasy.

I read several of the Star Wars Legends books. These aren’t great fiction. The enemy in this series is also kind of boring/cliched, but I liked seeing Luke, Leia, etc. again.

I read Nightwings by Robert Silverberg which was nice.

I read The Peripheral by William Gibson, which I liked a lot. I wish he would write a series, because I like his characters. I forgot he has written series in the past, or at least some books with recurring characters.

I tried reading Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds. I think he is considered a “hard” science fiction writer, and books of this type have this sort of condescending attitude about them.

Well, I think that’s all the recent stuff.


One more note. With the passing of Gardner Dozois it’s going to be a lot harder to find good book and author recommendations.


What a list! Wow, all of those are great choices. I’ve read a surprising number, but will put a few more of those on my to-read mountain.

North’s pacing is idiosyncratic (full disclosure: she’s my favorite author), but that book really does pick up lots in the second half. At one point it descends into full-on horror. When I started it, I thought it was her weakest, but by the time I finished I thought it was her strongest. The social media stuff is really spot-on, and the conceit (a main character who is literally utterly forgettable) is unlike anything else I’ve ever read. Maybe the closest is the cat-and-mouse stuff between L and Light in Death Note.


I picked up Blindsight after seeing a few people rave about it in this thread. I’d be less effusive in my praise, but still found it to be well worth reading. As an exploration of speculative ideas in biology, philosophy, and neuroscience, it’s top-notch, utterly fascinating. As a piece of fiction, judged on its characters and narrative, it’s merely adequate. Still a solid 4/5.