The Book Thread - February 2017


C’mon folks! It’s been February for a while, no need to bump the January thread when you could have a fresh and shiny new one!

Recently finished The Necromancer’s House by Christopher Buehlman. A strong urban fantasy entry with a lot of style and a great hand for description and creepy imagery, as well as a fairly original approach to magic. And the titular necromancer is a recovering alcoholic who met his apprentice in AA, so that’s atypical as well.

Currently working on Promise of Blood, the first Powder Mage book by Brian McClellan, which I think has been recommended here a few times in the past. I’m quite enjoying the worldbuilding and characters, and that opening is very strong.


So I took the opportunity provided by spending the last two days at the hospital with my newborn to read a book. Been a long time since I read a book in two days.

Anyhow it was Ready Player One. Cyberpunk 80’s mash up, and it was a pretty good read. Very much a book that targets a very specific demographic, but one I fall at the edge of myself. So I was drawn along quickly, and was able to guess the events with the POV character frequently. Though, clearly, the author has a much greater affection for some terrible 80’s music than I do.

But that one of the final twists hinged around Rush and Schoolhouse Rock made me happy.


I am currently listening to The Devil’s Evidence by Simon Kurt Unsworth his sequel to The Devil’s Detective which was superb. About an Information man in hell investigating a series of fires and murders.

I am also reading 13 Bullets by David Wellington about a series of vampire attacks. Only on the first 2 chapters but plenty of action and seems a step up from pop corn style book.


The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman isn’t bad. Moderately lighthearted multiworld fantasy taking place mostly in a sort of magical steampunk world. Speaking of which, Cogman is a good name for a steampunk writer…


I’m two thirds of the way through the latest expanse book, Babylon’s Ashes, and holy crap is it great. Unsurprising really, but I should be done with it by the weekend. I’ll then be moving onto the Star Wars TIE in novel, Ahsoka, which I got as a gift and cannot WAIT to read, as she’s become one of my favorite characters in the canon.

Yeah, such a great book, and the 80s references were pure love. I think every one of them hit me right in the face.


I’m reading Dance of Death, an agent Pendergast novel. I’ve enjoyed this series but this one is a bit depressing.


Finished Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. I thought the worldbuilding was a little scattershot, but found myself liking the main character of Mercy Thompson by the end. Right now I’m finishing up Jim Butcher’s Grave Peril.


Sanderson’s Words of Radiance, the 2nd book in his Stormlight “I gots to be the next Jordan” Archives series. Surprisingly good, though I think his prose is mediocre. But the story, its pacing, the characters, even the world he’s built have been pretty engaging thus far.


January was pretty packed so not much reading. Finished Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee yesterday. Interesting read. Sets up an interesting universe, and does not get too bogged down with minutiae of how everything fits together. When I first started it I thought “Oh no, it’s military sci-fi” but luckily that feeling passed pretty quickly. Has some interesting ideas, and it should be of interest to those who like the Culture and Imperial Radch series.

Again I have managed to read a book that is the first in an intended trilogy without realizing it was part of a series, but I might return to this one when it is done.

Onwards to Babylon’s Ashes.


I really enjoyed this one as well. There is a feeling of resolution, but enough things left open to fuel future books.


TOTALLY. I wasn’t ready to leave that universe just yet though, so I’m going through the novellas as well. The Churn was excellent (LOVE Amos) and Gods of Risk was great (I need as much Bobbie in my life as possible). Now I’m off to read The Butcher of Anderson Station, then The Vital Abyss.

And then I have no idea what I’ll read next. I’ve a massive backlog, so I’ll likely scroll through and pick something at random.


Just finished Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology (audiobook version)

This was surprisingly fantastic. I wasn’t entirely sure what this was going to be: a re-writing by Gaiman of the old stories; a bunch of original stories based on the myths; or maybe something weird like “American Gods”.

Turns out it was the first one: Gaiman has always enjoyed the Norse pantheon and has regularly had them appear in a lot of his fiction (e.g., Sandman), and he is obviously well-read on the subject. In this book he takes the Norse stories and re-writes them with his own excellent prose, keeping the relevant names, events and details, but wrapping them in excellent language. In his forward he explains his sources and where he pulled the stories from - turns out that he eschewed other modern takes on them and went back to the two Eddas and other early writings, which I thought was cool.

The stories themselves are actually quite complex and involved, albeit saddled sometimes with a myth’s loose grasp of continuity and reason. I found myself entertained not only by Gaiman’s great writing style and narration (in the audiobook version, Gaiman is also the voice talent) but by the stories and characters themselves.

I’m not sure the book is for everyone, because I’m not sure that everyone read and enjoyed Bullfinch’s Mythology like I did as a kid. But if you are the kind of person that poured over Deities and Demigods as a kid and who enjoys reading about pantheons and gods and maybe hearing the pre-echoes and mirrors of Christian myth in them, you’ll find a lot to like in this (short) book.


Started another Peter F. Hamilton series,with Pandora’s Star. Good stuff, even with the Turtledove size cast of POVs…


Amblerlough by Lara Elena Donnely.

This is a secondary-world presentation of a city like Berlin in a country like the Weimar Republic as it descends inevitably into fascism. The whole book is like a slow-motion catastrophe for the city and for the characters. It’s extremely well-written, a brilliant first novel, but if you are upset at current political events you may want to give it a miss. And if you’re not upset, you’ll despise the book.


The first two Commonwealth books are some of my favorites.



The Republic of Thieves (3rd Gentlemen Bastards/Locke Lamora book)

Pretty good, with the way it swapped between the past and present, which solved the problem I had with so many of the fun characters in Lies not being present in Red Sails. He did seem to leave a lot of fun stuff with the political race on the table, and I would have liked more shenanigans. Was hoping the story would end as a trilogy, but no such luck after the epilogue. Will need to wait for reviews on book 4.


A fun homage to both Star Trek: TOS, and the fourth wall. A bit scattershot, but fun.


Lynch has said the Gentlemen Bastards series is planned to be 7 books in length. Of course at this rate Martin may finish A Song of Ice and Fire before he gets there. (And that does not mean I think Martin will be done anytime soon.)


I am only about 30 pages in Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders, and I can feel it’s going to be one of my all-time favorites. An absolutely stunning work. It’s going to be one I re-read once a year, easily.


Do you know the reading order on these? The Amazon listings are confusing…


Pandora’s Star, then Judas Unchained.

After that, the “Void” Trilogy takes place in the same universe, but a couple thousand years after the first two books: The Dreaming Void, The Temporal Void, and The Evolutionary Void.

After that, you’ve got the Chronicle of the Fallers series, which is also in the same universe: The Abyss Beyond Dreams, followed by A Night Without Stars.