Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Books Read These Last Couple Weeks

Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie
Thus far this year I would still say Abercrombies Last Argument of Kings is the best book of the year. BSC has many strong points but it doesn't top LAOK.
Because the characters while intriguing are not better characters. Several are side supporters from the First law Trilogy and its cool to see them expanded here but it was not nearly enough to top the earlier series.
Now I must say Abercrombie is still tops for great twists and absolute swashbuckling-that said I must voice warning for you all (Melanie) in the neighborhood of I gave warning for LAOK. BSC is much stronger/worse/graphic etc. More of every vice you can shake a stick at. I thought Abercrombie was upping the ante in LAOK over Before They Are Hanged which was up over The Blade Itself and his stuff has grown exponentially enough to make me worry for the next book and its possible ratings. I do still think him the best new fantasist but I just don't want erotica with it.
Fantastic ending, exactly what I hoped in that I was surprised by numerous twists and turns and great reveals at the end - just gentle readers beware.

Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel,)
by A.B. Sina (Writer) and LeUyen Pham & Alex Puvilland (Art) I have never played the game, never will-I don't have time for video games anymore-and might have not picked this up but that it was on the discount rack at B & N and thumbing it quickly decided it looked like a good S&S romp and it is. Sina who was born in Iran offers up a decidedly eastern style tale detailing a theme of struggling against destiny and he does it from a variety of viewpoints and times. I was quite taken with it.

The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower Book 1, by Stephen King.
Not counting On Writing, this was the first honest to goodness King book I have ever read. Most of the time I have not cared for his movie adaptations I liked Stand By Me (The Body) a lot and the mini-series The Stand was alright. But by and large I have not cared for the movies and thus had little desire to read the books. Finally decided I might as well begin what he considers his opus though. I am mixed about it-at times I think it brilliant and other parts are WTH? I just didn't flow to me to call it a great book. I came away deciding that it must be a chain of dreams that he pieces together. Why do I think that? Because I dream like this and rarely do I think if I wrote it all down would anyone want to read it. I do keep a book of dreams and nightmares which I record dreams in though-maybe someday.

Blood Money, by Elmore Leonard
This is a collection of short western stories by a very respected author who is often praised for his dialogue. I wasn't seeing it in these. Leonard famously said he leaves out the boring parts of stories that people skip, sorry but I felt like this had a lot of it. I thought the writing was good but I just didn't care a lot of the time-there was nothing to make me feel for these desperadoes-which I can like a desperado* see Best Served Cold.

The Lyric Age of Greece, by A.R. Burn
I have a set of these on Greek History and the Lyric Age is the one chronicling the oldest history of Greece. I was reading to brush up on some rewrites for my Spartan/Mulekite novel Bless The Child and Burns does a great job
in presenting a myriad of details on ancient Greece. Its great for source material on Sappho, Solon and others which will be appearing in the novel.

All in all a good collection as far as reading went just for the sake of my kind of variety and weirdness. My reading has slowed down because of all the side projects I am working on---short stories for a variety of fantasy venues and the book trailer for Heroes of the Fallen: very excited about it - extreme thanks to my sister-in-law Erin West artiste.


Th. said...


My one Leonard book didn't really live up to the hype either.

I too came to King in large measure via On Writing, but I have found some excellent work. Both recent tomes Cell and Lisey's Story are good, for instance. He's definitely one to watch.

And even though I had never heard the game, the second I saw that leap, I knew that book was based on a video game.

Melanie Goldmund said...

Oh, dear, thanks for the warning for the Joe Abercrombie books. I think I'll scratch them off my list for now.

I've never read any Stephen King, but I did listen to an abridged audio production of Children of the Corn once. It was a little scary, but not enough to make me stay awake at night -- thank goodness! :D

David J. West said...


I will look intom more King, its just not a priority.
Prince of Persia is being made into a movie right now-post production I think--nothing to do with this graphic though as far as I know.
I'll probably try one more Elmore and if doesn't blow my away I may swear him off as nothing more than hype.

Yeah Best served Cold had the most graphic sex scene I have ever read-but I don't typically read anything that has sex scenes and I wasn't expecting one. Course I don't read romance nor erotica so I don't have anything to judge this against except its the most graphic sceen I have ever read in fantasy and frankly I don't think the book needed it.
I stand by Abercrombie being the best fantasist writing books right now (that I've read) but the Skinemax detailing brings nothing to what is a great tale without it.

For myself-if it wasn't printable in the old pulps of the 30's I won't be doing it either.

Brian Murphy said...

Hi David, I've read a lot of Stephen King, and although he's tailed off in recent years, the guy is a fantastic writer with a lot of good early material.

Do yourself a favor and pick up Different Seasons (a collection of four King novellas), The Stand, Salem's Lot, or Pet Sematary. I'd also recommend Night Shift, his first short story anthology. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

I'm not saying he's a literary giant (though I find a lot of "literature" to be pretentious and boring), but he can write a compelling, scary, and occasionally moving story. His prose is about as readable as I've found, like slipping into an old pair of jeans.

David J. West said...

Thanks Brian. I actually own all of those (well the wife does) I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Ty Johnston said...

Hey David,
King's The Gunslinger was originally a collection of short stories, so that's probably why it seemed disjointed to you. The other Dark Tower books are definitely novels, but not necessarily stand-alone novels.

Brian had some quality suggestions if you want to persue more King. If you are more interested in epic tales, The Stand is probably the best single novel to check out. If you are in the mood for horror, Salem's Lot is a good choice, though it came early in his career and is not quite "King" enough yet (in my opinion).

David J. West said...

Thanks for dropping by Ty. The Stand is at the top of the list next to the Dark Tower series for me to read-that and some of Brians suggestions for short stories.