Monday, August 3, 2009

Book's Read This Week

Noble and Great Ones, by Kris Cooper

Kris is new friend of mine, that I found online when I googled Nephite art. Heres a guy doing awesome art relatively just down the road and I am only now discovering him. The book was printed in 2005. I especially like his stuff because we have some similar tastes in art and reading, we both like Frank Frazetta's art and we both like Robert E. Howards book's and of course we are both well into the Book of Mormon and that is what Kris's book is all about, the Noble and Great Ones of the Book of Mormon. He has done a variety of portraits and scenes of events from the Book of Mormon, covering almost any notable person you can think of as well as giving his own uplifting commentary about such. Including references to his youth and his mission. I heartily recommend it to art-lovers and those with an interest in faith promoting tales.

The book is hardback and is just over a hundred pages long. The book is self-
published but of a fine quality for his art's sake. Kris's blog can be reached on my sidebar, click the Spartan/Mulek or drop me a note and I will relay it to him. I don't know if he wants me to advertise his number yet. You gotta make yourself easier to find Kris.

The Sword and the Mind, translated by Hiroaki Sato

Speaking of art, this new English translation contains photos of the original seventeenth century scrolls detailing proper sword technique. Such as "Itto Ryodan; Splitting the opponent in two with a single stroke" How's tha grab you? I have always like reading Japanese strategies and techniques books from the age of samurai. My all time favorite is Musashi's "Book of Five Rings" but this one is also very good. It details a variety of differing viewpoints from leading and oft times opposing members of the Shogunate. Here is an especially good line of advice and or philosophy from the book (it is full of them) "Weapons are unfortunate instruments. Heaven's Way hates them. Using them when there is no other choice-that is Heaven's Way" I like that because I read this after writing Heroes of the Fallen but it captures exactly what I have some characters say in an early chapter about why they fight.

Why Nations go to War, by John G. Stoessinger

This was written by a man who decided to analyze the causes of war, at least throughout the twentieth century (this was written in 1971 and updated in 1981) and his last predictions of war in the Persian Gulf have been proven correct. He looks in depth at economics and a host of other typical reasons given for war and comes away with the conclusion is that while those all affect things it is still the human condition specifically of the leader and his ego that drives nations to war. I thought about this a lot and found I think I agree with him. The populace put a man in charge and expect him to tell them what to do and oft times this is not to their benefit, the studies point out men who allow ego and drive to pursue events that lead to war when there are much more rational things that could be done. I am not sounding academic at 2 in the morning I know, but still the books logic seems sound to me when looking at megalomanical world leaders of the past. I especially found I agreed when thinking in terms of the ancient world, whether they be Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Amalikiah and on and on.

War Commentaries of Caesar, translation by Rex Warner

Love this book. The insights into Julius Caesar's mind are fantastic and while there us no doubt that he is serving Rome and himself, he is not without mercy and goodness. He uses a multitude of natural born strategies that would make Sun-Tzu proud. And has wonderful observations of philosophy and wit to boot. You will see a variation upon this soon "When the gods wish to punish mortal men for their crimes, they often allow them for a time a more than usual prosperity and an even longer impunity, simply so that they will suffer all the more bitterly when their fortunes are eventually reversed."

The Sword-Edged Blonde, by Alex Bledsoe

I heard about this just recently and liked the concept of a fantasy private eye, called a sword jockey here. This is not urban fantasy but a high middle ages perhaps early Renaissance type world. Therein lies the problem. Bledsoe's writing is tight, its good he captures your attention well, you want to find the mystery because this is every bit a mystery as much as a fantasy. Twists abound but the one thing
that kept throwing me out was the language and I'm not talking the swearing though there was some but the anachronistic manner of every ones speech, as if this was all happening in our day. It's funny but in my novel I wanted things to be clear for my reader and I wanted the characters speech to be easily understood enough to the point of I considered making them speak close to how we do and my editor caught just a handful of things that were too anachronistic to stay. This book would give her nightmares in comparison. As much as I didn't think it would bug me it really does, but I think that's exactly what Bledsoe was going for. A noir take on fantasy which needs that shot in the arm of something new under the sun.

So good writing, great characters and great mystery, though it may not sound like it I think it has a relatively original storyline, my one beef is with the manner of speech. Bit of violence and sex too, if that bugs you, Melanie. I don't want anyone to say they weren't warned. I can't say its a great book but I think I liked it enough that I will get the sequel that is coming out in a couple of months, so that means it is above average.


M. Gray said...

Your list here is a good resource for books I can get my brother-in-law. He loves any book on war--he's an officer in field artillery in the army and very well read--so your suggestions would be spot on for him.

I think he'd especially be interested in the Caesar one and Why Nations Go the War.

Th. said...


Have you seen Jim Butcher's this-world fantasy PI books? I've read the first two and liked them muchly.

(1, 2)

David J. West said...

Thanks Mary, I highly recommend Caesar, great insigts there.

Th, I'm aware of Butchers stuff I just haven't read any of it yet. I'll have to check it out. I'd been considering picking it up the last couple years and am limited to so much, but I will put it on the to grab list.

Anonymous said...

You ask on your site whether an LDS book can "cross over" into the general population. Part of the hindrance is not just the book itself, but the fact that LDS publishers tend to target only their narrow niche market. Promotion to non-LDS bookstores must be done by the authors themselves, who are too busy or don't really know how. Large chain bookstores are not given the same discounts as Seagull or Deseret Book that would encourage them to order the book. Until the few LDS publishers want to reach the larger outside market, it won't happen on any big scale.

Having said that, Barnes & Noble have picked up The Ties That Bind by Kristen McKendry, and the majority of its sales I've seen up here in Canada are to non-LDS readers. I think it's because of the topic (family history, a huge hobby in North America), which appeals to general readers and not just LDS. I'll be interested to see where it goes.

David J. West said...

I've been away from the civilized net for w few weks now and just noticed your comment and I appreciate it-I would love to hear more about whether Ties that Bind can cut itself loose from the limiting scope of the LDS market-I hope so-Its exactly what I plan on attempting.