Book Thread: October 2017


So I just read the initial book of two different trilogies.

I enjoyed them, so went to Amazon to order books 2 and 3 of each.

In both cases the Amazon order page for the third book contained a spoiler for the 2nd book, one a massive one.

Seriously, Amazon??


They are meh. Utterly fail to capture the righteous christian tone and style. Which is funny considering what Randall Garrett was like a person, but anyway, no, the original stories are way better.


Quillifer by Walter Jon Williams was a meh. I like a lot of WJW’s stuff, but this was a plain old rogue’s journey story that could have been written by anyone 50 years ago, or even 75 or 100. Very much old hat. Well written, but dull. If you want to read witty alternate-world roguery, Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint series (and the current Tremontaine serial) are far superior.


Thats why, when I saw what was shown when I posted the amazon link to book three in Prince of Thorns, I changed it back to book one.


Ok, thanks!


Read The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch. It’s a novelette that takes place between book 5 and 6 in the PC Grant/Rivers of London series. It was okay, about on par with the series. Not completely sure what the intent of it was, though. It did add more texture to the world, but I wonder if it is meant to set up something for the next books.


I just finished the second Wheel of Time book, The Great Hunt. Only like 17 left! It’s turned into more of a harem thing than expected.


May have to try that series.

Just ordered this from The Book Depository.


Finished Vallista, Steve Brust’s latest in his long-running series. Very good, with Vlad’s usual fun Travis-McGee-like voice, the mystery-house plot addressing a number of cosmic issues about the world. But of course if you want to get in on the fun you should probably start with Jhereg and work your way forward in book-publication chronological order.


I was disappointed with Vallista. There was barely any interaction with other characters, most of the book Vlad was wandering about alone with his familiars. Not all that much fun to be had as we’ve gotten used to.


Oh, it gets more and more like that later on. Jordan must have had a thing. I finished the first 6 books. I missed some of the subtle and overt Eastern influence when reading it during high school.

I most recently finished The Lost City of the Monkey God:

Interesting, because I recall reading about the Honduran Lidar research referenced in the book at the time it was happening in the American Geophysical Union’s Eos magazine.

I’m now working on Jaynes’ Bicameral Mind:


I need to see if I’ve missed any of these lately and order this one. Thanks.


The Wolf at the End of the World by Douglas Smith - Modern fantasy based on Native American (or since it’s in Canada, First Peoples) stories.

Solid story, though the idea of “take an old cultural legend and make it modern” isn’t exactly new ground. Well executed, though, I enjoyed it.


Read Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. It was okay. Entertaining, but I found it annoyingly soulless. At times it read like a checklist of sci-fi homages, if that makes sense.

I think I liked it better than Redshirts, though. Might be that Scalzi’s style of humor just is not my thing.


Finished the forth book of the “Expeditionary Force” series by Craig Alanson: Black Ops.

Probably the best book of the series so far in terms of plotting, though the character growth and… really any meaningful character interaction whatsoever was lacking. It’s pretty much the poster-boy for plot-driven sci-fi adventure.

BUT, I still found it very entertaining and I’m looking forward to the next book… especially as it ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger.


I haven’t read much for a long time, but there was a power cut the other night, and I found myself unable to do much but read ipad via candle light. So I cracked through the following over the next couple of days.

Angel Stations. Final Days, The Thousand Emperors. Stealing Light, Nova War, Empire of Light. All by Gary Gibson.

Pretty good stuff. In some ways, I preferred his first book Angel Stations over the rest. But they’re all still pretty solid sci-fi reads.


Blazed through The Land: Founding by Aleron Kong today:

I don’t know if I recommend it. The writing is fairly clumsy, and the conceit is a touch silly - basically, demons want to destroy The Land because it’s the lock to their prison, and they think that bringing modern humans to it will accomplish this by sowing chaos (hence the title of the series being Chaos Seeds). But they can’t just abduct people - they have to come by their own free will. So they create an MMORPG version of The Land and then establish a link between the MMO and the real version. Except apparently the real version functions mostly by MMO rules, complete with stat readouts and quests and other similar mechanics and UI features. Which is…weird?

And yet…something about following a journey of levelling up and amassing virtual power works on my brain almost exactly like actually playing the game would and I’m probably going to read all the rest of the series. And I guess I’m not alone because apparently this series kicked off a whole cottage industry of “LitRPG” novels with a similar approach. I can’t vouch for those either. Probably don’t follow me down this rabbit hole.


I read the first four volumes of the Chaos Seed series (aka the four that are offered on Kindle Unlimited). Nothing great, but loads better than almost every other example of LitRPG that I’ve found.

Something I’d recommend along those lines is the Magic 2.0 series by Scott Meyer. The first book is Off to Be the Wizard. It’s not explicitly RPG-focused, but there are spells, quests, and nerds in a Medieval setting. The author has a Whedon-esque penchant for wordplay and loving subversion of tropes.


I inadvertently read a “LitRPG” book last month, and I had a very similar reaction: it was objectively bad and yet it kinda checked a box for me. Not going to continue in the series though.


Almost done Pen and the Sword and this one is loaded on my phone and ready to go. It seems that the 4th book, released last week in print, should be ready to go in Audible format around Christmas time or shortly thereafter.

Look, I don’t disagree with your “guilty pleasure” admission. This isn’t Game of Thrones. It’s not even The Black Company, The Witcher, or Wheel of Time.

But the more I listen to this, the more I think it would be a very successful cable TV series with a good show runner and a moderate budget. Indeed, I think it would be a better TV series than it is a book. It wouldn’t even be all that expensive. Admittedly, the larger battle would require resources, but this is well tilled earth in terms of costumes and military props. This is very doable for a budget about the same as Outlander’s. And if you strike the right balance, I think you’d attract a lot of female viewers as well as male ones. Unlike, say, Turn, it would not be a series which principally appeals only to Americans. You’d have heavy European interest in this as well.

Seriously, this thing is ripe for TV series development.