Some random book thoughts for September 2013
With the unofficial end of summer just behind us we’ll jump right into this month’s random look at all of the books I’ve read since my last update. I guess by definition looking at something specific isn’t random, but that’s the motif I use here so we’ll just have to go with it.
As I ended last month’s post I had just started Crucible of Gold, the seventh book in Naomi Novik’s “Temeraire” series. The first five books of the series were really, really good and I gave each of them a four out of five rating on Goodreads. Unfortunately, just as her sixth book Tongues of Serpents missed the mark so did Crucible of Gold.
All fiction is contrived, that’s sort of the whole concept of “fiction”. But while Novik was able to have a rational basis for the actions of the characters in the first five books the last two were really about placing Captain Will Laurence and Temeraire in situations that didn’t really match what had come before. It was as if Novik had a bunch of cool ideas for stories but had no way to logically place either of them in the locations she wanted the action to take place. And for me that really detracted from the story.
Based on the ending of Crucible of Gold it appears Novik has done it again in the next installment, Blood of Tyrants. That won’t be out in paperback for a long while, but as I’ve hung on with the series this long I will undoubtedly be buying it. Who knows how long it will sit on the to-read shelf though.
I then moved on to the second book on the “Wayfarer Redemption” series, Enchanter. Just like the first book in the series I gave Enchanter five out of five on Goodreads because that’s the maximum it can be given. I’m kicking myself for not having read this series earlier. I bought both The Wayfarer Redemption and Enchanter years ago, an educated guess says it was in the fall of 2002. I got them at BJ’s Wholesale Club, along with the first two books in Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel’s Legacy” series, Kushiel’s Dart and Kushiel’s Chosen, off a paperback remainders table.
I started Carey’s books within a couple weeks (my to-read shelf was very small back then, just about always under 15 books) and my wife started reading Douglass’ series. I picked up the next two books in the series soon after and my wife raved about them, but for some reason despite seeing them sitting on the shelf all this time I never got around to reading them.
After reading Enchanter my plan was to read Power Down by Ben Coes and then jump right back to the third “Wayfarer Redemption” novel, but I was absolutely sucked in by Coes and his protagonist Dewey Andreas. Without a doubt Coes is not yet in the class of Brad Thor or Vince Flynn, but in Andreas Coes has created a superhero–literally missing only the cape–whose actions are so over the top and implausible that it reads more like a science fiction novel than thriller/action-adventure. And I loved every single minute of it.
Coes keeps the action up in Coup d’Etat, where Andreas–who technically isn’t even in the employ of the US or its agencies–is sent into Pakistan to topple their government. Oh yeah, and he has less than 48 hours to accomplish this. The story continues in The Last Refuge as Andreas is once again thrust into an unbelievable situation involving Iran, a kidnapped Israeli commando, and a nuclear weapon. That almost sounds like the beginning to a bad joke, but what it turns out to be is a page turner.
A fourth novel by Coes is out in hardcover, Eye For An Eye. It will be a long time before it hits a paperback release, but if Coes keeps the pace up like he did in the first three it will be worth the wait.
With the Coes three out of the way it was back to Douglass’ “Wayfarer Redemption” series and the final book in the first trilogy, Starman. This book is a little different from the first two as all the plot lines begin their convergence into a single story where eventually the Starman takes on his evil half-brother Gorgrael. What’s surprising about the novel is many things that seem like fantasy to the characters turn out to be reality, and vice-versa. Like the other two books it’s incredibly well written and once again I gave it five out of five. Starman is a great ending to a great story, a story that took nearly 2,000 pages to tell. And even down to the last page Douglass holds her readers’ attention.
It’s a shame that Douglass left us far too early because I suspect she had lots more great stories to share. And if I’d only started those books sooner I could have let her know how great they were.
And just before post time I finished The Last Man by Vince Flynn, another great author that was taken from us at a far too young age by cancer. From the press releases it sounds like this may be his last book as The Survivor, which was supposed to be released this fall, is incomplete. Presuming Flynn left notes about the ending of the book the number of thriller/action-adventure writers of his caliber is very, very small and I can’t see any of them taking the time to finish his book. It appears that the bad guys may have finally found a way to kill Mitch Rapp.
Sitting on my desk waiting to be cracked open is 13 Million Dollar Drop by David Levien. The first two by Levien, City of the Sun and Where The Dead Lay, were well done pulp-style crime novels featuring detective Frank Behr. Levien’s main character is a stereotypical detective working through his own flaws while solving crimes. We’ll see how 13 Million Dollar Drop works out next month.
After not buying a book for two consecutive months I more than made up for it in August by adding 13 books to the collection. I just about never order books from Amazon, but because I couldn’t find copes of some stuff elsewhere I decided to just bite the bullet and buy them online. I got the last two of Douglass’ second trilogy under the “Wayfarer Redemption” banner, Pilgrim and Crusader. Last month I mentioned my twitter conversation with Rachel Aaron about the last two books of the “Eli Monpress” series not coming out in mass market editions because they were so long, so The Spirit War and Spirit’s End both arrived from Amazon in the trade paperback format. Aaron wasn’t kidding, these books are HUGE.
A stop at BJ’s yielded four books; the previously mentioned The Last Man, Neil Young’s autobiography Waging Heavy Peace, and two by Simon Toyne, Sanctus and The Key. At Barnes and Noble I bought the first two in Mark Lawrence’s “Broken Empire” series, Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns. In another stop I saw a large amount of remainder paperbacks and grabbed three of the recent “Star Trek: The Original Series” novels, which I may leave in the car for when I need to kill some time waiting somewhere.
September sees four books being released that I’m looking for. King Rolen’s Kin: King Breaker by Rowena Cory Daniels hits the shelves later this month and that will be a “must buy” for me. The rest of the series has been outstanding and I have little doubt this one will be great too. Once again Larry Correia hooks up with Mike Kupari for the second book in the “Dead Six” series Swords of Exodus. If you’re into the kind of books I read and are not reading Correia’s “Monster Hunter” and “Grimnoir Chronicles” series, you should be. It’s some of the best stuff out there.
In the mystery genre Sue Grafton has W is for Wasted coming out in hardcover next week. Grafton is one of the few writers that I buy in hardcover, so that will likely never hit the to-read shelf and will be next up after whatever I’m reading when it comes out. One other new fantasy book looks cool, Hunter of Sherwood: Knight of Shadows by Tony Venables. It’s not a guarantee I’ll be buying it, but I most certainly will be lifting it off the shelf for a closer look.
Until next time…