Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Books Read Lately

I've fallen way behind with books I'm supposed to read for friends and reviews etc, I have yet to catch up with technology.  I can't read ebooks at work like I can the typical paperback, so here is what I have caught up on for the moment...

Among Thieves, by Douglas Hulick

I think I first heard about this from Keith West at the Adventures Fantastic and it looked interesting. I liked the premise of fantasy gangsters (I've mentioned I'm doing something along those lines).

Told in the first person POV (very popular these days) we follow Drothe, a Nose=an information gatherer for the Kin = the fantasy mafia, as he uncovers a series of strange events, coincidences and murders relating to an ancient book. A book rumored to contain unspeakable magic that can threaten the very foundations of the empire, and everyone wants it.

We meet a great cast of characters and the action and intrigue never let up. Hulick pulls off a grand tale in a standalone novel, though we are supposed to get a trilogy. We never get bogged down in world building or a unintelligible magic system (man, I hate those). I'll be on the lookout for Hulick's next book.

Hellboy 11: The Bride of Hell and others, by Mike Mignola and others

This book like the Chained Coffin, Strange Places and the Crooked Man, is a collection of unrelated tales across of a variety of time and place-and while it IS good, especially the title tale, I can't help but feel a bit disappointed and anxious-because the regular linear? time line of Hellboy is reaching such a powerful conclusion and while I wait for that big confrontation, I get a handful of tales outside that ever growing whirlpool of destruction. So yes I'm angsty.
That said, most of these shorts are wonderful, the last being in my opinion the weakest-Buster Oakley gets his Wish. If only because it makes light of a serious situation-granted this a Hellboy comic, but still, just my opinion.
In conclusion, its good, but perhaps not as good as the previous Hellboy shorts.

Conan Chronicles vol 18. Isle of the Dead and others, by Bruce Jones, John Buscema and more

I took a long time to pick up another of these reprint collections of Marvel's heyday Conan's after #17 The Creation Quest proved to be such a disappointment. So giving another go, I find myself not caring about any of these particular Conan adventures-I started pondering that these were exactly the type of tales where the public at large gets it so wrong about Conan.
At one point not only is Conan getting drunk to "deal" with the horror of some monster, a bar fight breaks out and somebody knocks Conan's ale over and his response-you ready? "Sweet Mitra! My ale."

Give me a break, does Conan ever lament in his cup over some monster? Does he ever lament over spilt ale? This was so weak and I blame Jones for not giving us a valid reason to put Conan to work in these tales. The one high point for the book was Buscema's work was at the top of his game. I have the next Conan 19 cued but glancing at it it is also a Jones, so it moves way down my priority list of reading material.

Full Black, by Brad Thor

I heard about this last summer, when I listened to a radio interview with Brad Thor and the interviewer said the book scared him. It is a current events thriller that fictionally ties together a number of likely scenarios-fictional characters are obviously real people-the main bad guy James Standing is obviously George Soros. But did anyone involved go Full Black? not really.

This was my first time reading Thor and while it does what it is supposed to - be a military thriller, I kept expecting something bigger, something more sinister ~ YES, there are terrorist bombings on U.S. soil, multiple attacks and lots of people die in the book.
the ending was too simple, too easy.
The good guys for a private intelligence group partly contracted by the CIA and NSA (this is plausible enough) figures out who is behind everything and take care of him-WAY too easily. IF things were this simple we wouldn't be in the state of affairs we are in at all.
And make no mistake we are.
My problem is things wrapped up too well-this book despite what are scores of true (yet fictionalized) military intelligence ops just lets the good guys win and ride off into the sunset.

This was not Full Black this was Warm Afterglow.

And I say that after actually enjoying the book as a whole-but the interviewer saying this book scared him?

Come on, I had all kinds of terrifying visions of things to come...that never did-so many things I envisioned that would lay open the maddening immensities of night, guess I'll have to write that book.


Paul R. McNamee said...

As much as the Marvel Dark Horse reprints were (are) a boon, I stopped at volume 10. Somewhere in there Conan got a teenage sidekick for a while. "jumped the shark" came to mind.

Seeing a later volume with Conan riding a giant flying insect for a mount further nailed that coffin. Surprised they chose that image for the cover, unless they were warning away, or saying "this wasn't a great phase" with a nod and a wink.

Even my completist gene couldn't compete with that.

Funny you mention being disappointed with a novel (Full Black) and maybe you'll just write your own. Since reading Southern Gods and being somewhat disappointed, I'm half toying with my own "blues & the Devil" idea.

Among Thieves and Hellboy 11 sound like takeaways. Thanks.

David J. West said...

Hi Paul, my name is David and I have a Conan completist problem.

I always thought they were going to leave off right where Roy Thomas did but...

I would love to see what you do with a Blues and the Devil theme-I've always been fascinated with that myself ever since I got into Led Zeppelin and started hearing the crossroads rumors.

Keith said...

Thanks for the shoutout, David. I'm like you; eagerly awaiting Hulick's next book.

David J. West said...

You bet Keith, its a great read.

Charles Gramlich said...

I actually know Brad Thor's agent, at least at one time his agent.

David J. West said...

Cool Charles, I hope I gave the impression that I did like the book-I just kept expecting the menace to amp up even further (It is probably pretty high for the lay reader) and again my beef was with the all too quick and concise ending.