Results 1,981 to 1,990 of 1990
Thread: What book are you reading?
23-02-2014, 08:12 PM #1981
Finished the third book in Steve McHugh's Hellequin series: With Silent Screams
All in all, I like the series but it is definitely flawed.
The first book (Crimes Against Magic) introduces the world in the context of the protagonist having lost his memory a few decades ago what happens as he needs to regain them to stop the bad guy of the book.
I definitely like the magic system. Every mage can wield three types of magic, one from each of three schools (Fire or Water, Air or Earth, Blood or Necromancy). Learning one/being able to learn one locks them out of the opposite school. Similarly, mages generally aren't limited by the amount of magic they have stored and are instead limited by the amount they can safely use: Use too much magic and it takes over the mind and transforms them into a monstrocity.
That basically sets things up to allow the protagonist, Nate, to be Wolverine meets Harry Dresden. He wields fire magic (because everyone, deep down, is a pyromaniac), air magic (which he uses to basically craft brass knuckles to let him hit harder), and blood magic (healing factor). And it works pretty well. The system justifies the urban fantasy "Noir-esque hero detective fights against overwhelming odds for a week straight" while still allowing for those "Crap, the protagonist needs to save the day without any magic. Oh no!!!" moments
Also, I like the structure of the narrative. Each book alternates between the present and the past. First book was medieval times (I want to say the hundred years war), second book was the wild west, third book is 70s USA. Obviously, the narrative of the past has to do with who the baddy of the present is, but it also does a good job of explaining a lot of the concepts without feeling like exposition. The first book explains the limitations of magic and what werewolves are in the context of Nate explaining to his new friend that he is a werewolf. The second explains necromancy by showing a necromancer in action. And so forth.
That being said, the shift between the first and second book kind of show that the author has a way to go. Pretty much the entire setting of the first book (outside of two characters) is scrapped (including what had the potential to be a very interesting recurring villain), and Nate somehow becomes a necromancer (probably because blood magic was deliciously squicky and McHugh realized he wanted a more noble protagonist). That being said, the baddies of the second book definitely work well and are wonderfully evil and horrifying, and it sheds a lot more light on what the deal with "Hellequin" is.
The third book was a fun read, but it definitely feels like a pretty big misstep. A major character is suddenly introduced as one of Nate's best friends and a paragon of virtue, only to be depicted as a horrid asshole, then a paragon of virtue. Similarly, I can't help but think McHugh forgot about the whole "magic takes over the mind" angle as he missed a wonderful opportunity to play it up (Nate used magic in a place where magic is amplified and hard to turn off...) and it seems like he just completely forgot it existed. I realize he probably didn't want to use the same angle as the previous book, but even a simple "Wow, if I hadn't been training so hard to learn my Necromancy I would totally not be able to control this and would be transformed into a monster" would be appreciated. And too much of the plot is dependent on a lack of information to the reader AND the character, which is something I never like.
That being said, I am still looking forward to the inevitable fourth.
24-02-2014, 11:48 AM #1982
- Join Date
- Nov 2013
I found the first Dresden File to be a bit shit. But, the writing and characterisation definately improves in the next couple of books. I ended up really enjoying the character and the stories. But... I only got about 5 books in. Really should continue.
24-02-2014, 09:04 PM #1983
The Use and Abuse of History by Marc Ferro. It's pretty interesting seeing comparative historiography of different countries' history curriculum, but I think it is necessarily a bit shallow as it covers ~12 countries in a 350 page book. Still lots of food for thought.
26-02-2014, 10:51 AM #1984
Also a collection of Lovecraft Stories which I'm finding hilarious as they are so over wrought and remind me of the Simpson's Treehouse of terror so much. Still jolly good fun though!
04-03-2014, 11:51 AM #1985
- Join Date
- Jul 2012
- UK, Derby
Finally got started on Miles Cameron's The Fell Sword, which took me a while at first because I was all "Why is this introduction to his second book focusing on characters I don't recognise in a place this series has never been to? I don't like change! I'm scared!" plus the writing started out a little weak for my taste (sorta felt like a B-list knockoff of Guy Gavriel Kay's Sarantium Mosaic books), but then I pushed through it to the point where it explained why I should be interested and all of a sudden I was all "Oh! Oh, I see now. Oh, Christ, that's cool. That's very, very cool." So that's good.
I tried the Kindle sample of the first of the Hellequin books since it was on sale the other month, but... sorry, just didn't grab me at all. Competent, inasmuch as I'm any judge, but I didn't see anything in the first two chapters to make me think it was going to be any more than generic grimdark urban fantasy with a sardonic hero.
Oh, and one book I recently finished that's worth mentioning - picked up David Thomas' Ostland on the last Kindle sale and thought it was absolutely stunning. All you people who continually wonder why we don't get a blockbuster wargame from the Nazi perspective should really give it a shot. Based on a real-life detective in Nazi Germany who helped solve a notorious serial murder case but subsequently went on to become a war criminal in occupied Russia (some details and supporting characters made up but apparently an awful lot of it is pretty much true), I found it an absolutely fucking terrifying exploration of the question how "normal" people get sucked into something so overpoweringly horrible.
A tangent, but it bears repeating for me what with 12 Years A Slave getting praised at the Oscars - while I haven't seen the film I'd stand by my opinion that the book is - for the most part - really, really god damned dull. Yes, obviously the things it describes are awful, the man showed more bravery and courage than I'll ever be called upon to display, he wasn't writing it for the amusement of sheltered white folks more than a century later, I'm not denying any of that... but for me the fact remains that there are books which present similarly horrific explorations of humanity's darker nature but do it in a far more nuanced, far more haunting and thought-provoking way, and they'll get ignored because of the one that got made into a critically acclaimed Hollywood film. Eh, such is life, I suppose, and it's not like having that film made doesn't do a whole lot of good. Pretty sure it does. But would I recommend 12 Years for any reason other than it being A Thing You're Supposed To Read? Christ, no.
04-03-2014, 01:08 PM #1986
Finished Making Money, very schizophrenic plot to be honest doesn't really know what to focus on, the bank storyline that is I thought supposed to be the main plot gets sidelined by a lot of other things. Entertaining but I put it in the ok category for Pratchett and not one of his best and definitely not as good as Going Postal.
04-03-2014, 02:47 PM #1987
Read Jay Posey's "Three" the other day. It was okay. I definitely like the world (it is an after the fall setting where pretty much everyone is hooked up to the internet biologically and people augment themselves for Reasons), but it felt very underdeveloped. Also, the author spent way too long focusing on a character who probably won't have much to do with his overall arc.
Overall: Okay, but I'll probably read the next book in the series when I am REALLY bored
Then I caught up on comics for a few days because tonight I am starting...
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. So, yay!
04-03-2014, 02:53 PM #1988
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
04-03-2014, 03:54 PM #1989
I am trying to read the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe but it's really tough. Half of the stories are just plain boring and it's even worse when he recycles his own ideas. The often needlessly verbose (think Lovecraft but more so) writing style does the rest. I guess it's another case of Seinfeld Is Unfunny. How unfortunate."Reason is the madness of the strongest"
04-03-2014, 03:59 PM #1990