31 October 2005

October's Reading

Here goes..

See also Make Tea Not War.

Total this month: 9.5, which I'm going to round up to 10. Total this year: 130.

The Eagle's Conquest, When The Eagle Hunts, The Eagle and the Wolves and The Eagle's Prey by Simon Scarrow. The other four books are just as good as the first one. The plots get a bit more outlandish as they go - he's definitely after thrilling adventures more than historical accuracy.

Hello Laziness by Corinne Maier. Amusing book about why and how to slack off at work.

Newton's Wake by Ken McLeod. Excellent, fun space opera. Perhaps his best book since The Star Fraction.

The Terror by David Andress. A history of the French revolution. Didn't finish this due it needing to be returned to the library. Very interesting but really dense - needs a lot of time to read. If I see another copy I would like to finish it someday.

The Algebraist by Iain M Banks. Initially this seems to have all of the things that I don't like about Banks (detailed descriptions of atrocities, in particular). However, once the story gets going it is exciting and fun. One of the things he seems to do best is alien societies, and the Dwellers who are the main focus in this one are just great. They're like the eccentric grand-uncles of the galaxy and quite hilarious. Probably one of his best (not quite as good as Excession or The Player of Games, though).

Thud! by Terry Pratchett. Very funny, very good. Pratchett at his best, aided by the fact he is writing about Vimes, dwarves and trolls.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. A fun story about how difficult it is to be Anansi's son in the modern world.

The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell. Second in the series about Alfred the Great. Excellent - I felt like the first book was just setting things up really and the second takes off. Uhtred, the narrator, is also interesting in that he absolutely hates Alfred. This leads to some good stuff in this book and I look forward to the rest of this series.

01 October 2005

September's Reading

Another month, another bunch of reading. This month: 8 books, This year: 120. Make Tea Not War read this other stuff.

The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins. A nice idea for a book, executed very well indeed. Dawkins traces the entire history of life framed as a pilgrimmage back to the beginning. Each chapter relates the story of a common ancestor of ours and whichever group is next. A lot of interesting biology essays and the most current analysis of which bits of life are most closely related to which other bits made this an extremely enjoyable read for me. Lots and lots of information in this book - probably requires a second reading.

How To Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson. A fun little book. Mainly made me jealous of the guy for managing to have already arranged his life to be really quite enjoyable while I'm still on the early stages of my own plans that way. Bah, humbug.

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde. Not as good as the Thursday Next books, but still good. Jokes are mainly about nursery rhymes and detective stories.

Under The Eagle by Simon Scarrow. I finish one series of historical novels just in time to be introduced to another. This one follows two soldiers in the Second Legion at the time of Claudius' invasion of Britain. Reminiscent of Bernard Cornwell (in fact the book has "I don't need this kind of competition" as a publicity quote from him), but I found them an easier read. Scarrow doesn't seem to dwell quite so much on all the horrors of war and there's a few more characters with warmth and humour to them. The characters are a lot of fun, too. The centurion Macro is a hard-bitten soldiers' soldier. His optio (second) is Cato, previously a scholarly slave in Claudius palace. He is posted to the second legion as an officer by imperial decree in honour of his father's work for Claudius, something that pleases neither Cato nor the soldiers he is in command of. The interactions between these two are a lot of fun.

The Cross of St. George, Sword of Honour, Second To None and Relentless Pursuit by Alexander Kent. Well, that's finished off that series (kind of). Stayed good until the end, although it did become a bit more formulaic again in the later parts. Overall, very good.

Spoilery bit follows:
Note that Richard Bolitho actually dies in the novel Sword of Honour and the following books are centered on his nephew Adam (a long time character in the books in his own right). There is actually another two novels I have yet to read - one following on there and another set early in Richard's career. However, I am deeming the series finished and not seeking those two out in particular.