Monday, July 18, 2011

Books Read Lately

Conan: Iron Shadows in the Moon Robert E. Howard, Timothy Truman, Tomas Giorello, & others

Despite Iron Shadows not being classified as "great" Howard I still find it to be an excellent tale and so much more enjoyable than say Dark Horses's previous collection Free Companions. Giorello's art is fantastic and Truman gives a faithful rendition to the original tale.

The downside to this collection is the the two parter short "Weight of the Crown" I suppose part one wasn't too bad, but part two was terrible. We are supposed to believe Conan finally becomes King of some backwater valley and lets it go to ruin because he has no more common sense than to just kill whatever comes his way. A year later and the princeling returns (aged multiple years somehow) and demands what is his right...and Conan just gives it to him and says 'sorry'!

Sorry Dark Horse, but the back cover said 'fan-favorite' "Weight of the Crown" and I just don't believe that could possibly be true-no fan I know of thats for sure.

B.P.R.D. vol. 4 The Dead, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Guy Davis

I'm not a big fan of Davis's art, it may be reminiscent of Mignola but it just seems sloppy to me. On the story front, I'm still totally hooked. we get another addition to the team a Benjamin Daimio or Captain Zombie as Liz calls him because he came back to life-why and how we still don't know but he is a no-nonsense military captain and a good foil for the rather loose team of oddballs.

The B.P.R.D. team also moves into their new headquarters which appear to be haunted, great mystery keeps the story moving.

Save the Cat! Strikes Back, by Blake Synder

This is the third installment of screenwriter Blake Synders Save the Cat series, I still need to read the second.

Like the first Save the Cat, this bombards you with so many great storytelling techniques-even if you are not working on a screenplay-I'm not. But the list of hooks, beats and other catalysts make this a must for anyone interested in thinking about story structure. I love this series and I am not even a guy who ever writes so much as an outline.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey, by Thorton Wilder
I do try and read outside my preferred genre just to keep the balance up and catch up on classics that I burned from my memory of High School English. I've meant to read this for years and just never got around to it, but its fairly short and I found it to be a quick read for one evening.

I would have liked it to have some action, there really isn't any, but I was drawn into following the characters world. Wilder creates a compelling tale on why do bad things happen to good people? Father Juniper investigates the deaths of five souls who died when the bridge collapsed. Ultimately, Wilder leaves it up to the reader to decide the theological answer for themselves.

Bloodstone, by Karl Edward Wagner
I would say Bloodstone is probably the weakest of Wagner's works I have read and yet it is still magnificent.
Kane, yes that Cain, finds a great bloodstone ring--and this tale may be the S&S take on the Tolkien dilemma better than any other. The difference being our protagonist, an anti-hero if ever there was one, is seeking the way to engage the dark power of the ring and have dominion over all rather than destroy it.

Of course things don't go as planned and the force of evil is too wicked and deceitful even for the first murderer.

I love Wagner's prose, his gift of action and character, but a few spots seemed needlessly added to extend the novel-hence my thoughts that this is the weakest of Wagner's books, but also bear in mind this was still good enough that it is a reread. I return to Wagner quite often.


Th. said...


I just read about the Wilder novel somewhere. Someone plagiarized it, I think. Can't remember. Does this sound familiar? Anyway. I should read it. All I've ever read from him is Our Town.

David J. West said...

That sounds familiar but I can't place where I heard about it either.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Yay! I enjoy your 'Books Read Lately' posts, even if I am jealous that you're reading more than I. ;)

Thanks for the Conan review. I need to work more graphic novel reads into my schedule.

Screenwriting is great for structure, if nothing else. Techniques can definitely be applied to other writing forms.

'Bloodstone' is a wild ride. I am wondering if novels just weren't Wagner's strong suit. His shorts are tight & excellent, and the novels-as good as they are-definitely have some patch work (especially 'Dark Crusade') going on. Like you , though, I wouldn't mind re-reads at all. KEW was that darn good.

David J. West said...

I'm not sure Paul, I think 'Darkness Weaves' and 'Road of Kings' were pretty darn good, maybe its because also I think his shorts are among the best ever, and its a tough act to follow even for oneself.

Charles Gramlich said...

Agree with you absolutely on Bloodstone. I thought it was a bit slow in places, but a wonderful story for all that.

David J. West said...

Right on Charles, it was good but that whole chapter early on with the cat/angel demi-goddess was kind of huh?

Christopher Heath said...

I thought Dark Crusade was the weakest of the Kane novels (although it was still a very strong effort), mainly due to the atypical ending not indicative of other Wagner tales--no real payoff for the reader. Was there meant to be a sequel, but Wagner died? Haven't heard anything about the background on Dark Crusade, but it almost seems like it ended abruptly and there was meant to be a second book.

David J. West said...

Christopher-my understanding is the ending segment In the Lair of Yslysl was actually a short story first and it seemed like Wagner tied it into Dark Crusade.

I don't know if that was how he always intended it or not. But I know what you are talking about, I like Darkness Weaves the best out of the Kane novels and more were intended but he never got around to them (damn shame)