Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Read Just Lately

The Necronomicon, The Book of Dead Names, edited by George Hay

I reread books I enjoy all the time, whether for research or pleasure, this is a little of both. I am working on something for the Swords & Mythos anthology and decided on a Abdul Alhazerd story. Abdul Alhazerd supposedly wrote the Necronomicon, well Al Azif anyway.
In any case, when I first purchased this book, I was only loosely aware of H.P. Lovecraft and his Mythos at all, I relatively knew nothing.
So of course I start reading the Necronomicon late at night in my grandfathers basement, yes I was very creeped out.
But it started a weird tales fascination that has never gone away. Unfortunately it took some number of years before I realized that DeCamp, Hays, Wilson and other contributors were all having a laugh-while the Lovecraftian analysis is as spot on as anything, all the essays contained purporting to be the authentic truth of the Necronomicon are the literary equivalent of a Mockumentary, and I ate it up a good dozen years ago.
Still, its good for rereading and preparing my own fiction.

Conan: Throne of Aquilonia, by Roy Thomas, Mike Hawthorne, Dan Panosian

Continuing on with the year long run of Roy Thomas and Conan's journey down the Road of Kings, most of this collection takes place in Tarantia, capitol of Aquilonia - hence the title.
We get some interesting side characters, and some nice teases for things that Conan fans know is coning years into the future. I did like the catacombs sequence though it had a few weakness's, and I thought the dragon was dispatched a bit too easily/quickly, but overall it was a decent spot.
Afterward Conan journey's on to Argos and we are given a great set up for Queen of the Black Coast - too bad I already know that arc is seriously bungled and I think I'll be skipping it. For a 1*-5* slot, I'd rate this a strong 3*+.

IRONWOLF: Fires of the Revolution, by Howard Chaykin and Mike Mignola

Thanks to Paul Macnamee for this copy.
I love Mignola's artwork, this had a futuristic steampunk thing going before steampunk was a household word. Granted this is by no means Mignola's best work, but it's still great, depth and shading all his wonderful hallmarks.
Chaykin's tale is interesting with flavors of the age of revolution mixed with somewhat current type drug and crime ridden conspiracies, yet it never really engaged me. I never found myself really drawn into the characters for good or bad, though not for lack of trying. There were a number of writerly tricks to get us interested but they didn't convince me. Good, but certainly not great. If I recall Paul, you said roughly the same thing, right?

By The Sword, by Richard Cohen 

This was an in depth review of all things relating to the history of the sword, from gladiators to musketeers to samurai to fencers and beyond. Cohen speaks from experience as an award winning Olympic fencer himself and the book is full of valuable anecdotes relating to what is truly a warriors art. Highly recommended for those researching more about the use of the sword and the history of great swordsmen.

Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

The header also reads, A Rogue Economist Explore the Hidden Side of Everything.
This was a fascinating book, dwelling on why people do the things they do and how crunching the numbers gives a bigger picture over what people might answer makes them do what they do.
It can be two very different things and they don't even realize.
I sense I can't express this very well in a quick book review, but this is highly recommended.
The insights to life are well worth your time. I will be looking for follow up books by the authors.


Paul R. McNamee said...

Yes, my assessment of Ironwolflines up with yours. Not sure if it would be worth finding the original, earlier incarnation to see if the storytelling was any more compelling. (and, it wouldn't have Mignola's art, either.)

I added By the Sword to my wishlist, thanks. I hadn't heard of that one before.

David J. West said...

Thanks again Paul.

Charles Gramlich said...

Freakonomics was extremely interesting. Really opened my eyes to some stuff.

David J. West said...

Once I started on it Charles, I couldn't put it down.