Friday, March 28, 2014

Read Somewhat Lately

King of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence

The second in a marvelous grim dark fantasy trilogy, this really had me turning pages and I only took so long finishing because of how topsy turvy life has been the last few months.

Set in a almost familiar realm, we follow Jorg (now a king by his own hand) as he is beset by two seemingly insurmountable foes in two timelines. We know that he makes it out of one to be telling us about the current predicament but nonetheless we are transfixed with all the brilliant setbacks ferocious young Jorg is dealing with.

I read Prince of Thorns last summer and was very pleased at his setting (which I can't reveal-but needless to say it is gratifying and intriguing).

Things come to a spine-tingling head and I wondered how it would end, alas its all set up for the third book Emperor of Thorns - but at least that is already available. Very recommended for dark fantasy fans.

Space Punisher, by Frank Tieri and Mark Texeira

This came out a couple years ago and I meant to read it back when I was writing Gods in Darkness for Space Eldritch 1 - I was envisioning in my head some of the same brawling action in space.
Space Punisher is a little over the top (its an alternate universe rather than a space mission for Frank Castle) but its got a lot of great one liners and cameo's of Marvel favorites. I especially liked that the Punisher is handling the big bad space mafia better than the Avengers.

I enjoyed the twists and found it interesting but not quite the book I hoped for. Mark Texeira's art is always great and I am excited for Frank Tieri's return to writing Wolverine very soon - he was my favorite writer for that series next to Larry Hama's run in the 90's.

Inside is also Galactus: The Real Story = the greatest hoax ever pulled on mankind, a parody of all the conspiracy shows revealing the real story about perceived threats - I enjoyed it more the second read through.

Some Freaks, by David Mamet

A selection of essays and thoughts by brilliant playwright David Mamet. I always enjoy his insights into drama and human nature, he displays a rare quality of looking at whole subjects and having the wit to put into words some dynamic metaphor to bring it all together in a way I never thought of before.

I enjoyed one section so much that I had to bring in a new chapter into my shortly forthcoming Bless The Child in part based on his little essay The Laurel Crown, simply because I was so moved and had to share a little bit of that same essence.

Red Sonja: Beserker, by Nancy A. Collins and Fritz Casas

I have not bought a Red Sonja book in a very long time, but have been hearing good things about the current run by Gail Simone so I've meant to check it out and I also heard about this one shot Beserker, so having finished this one first (one shots are just easier that way) I'm kinda on the fence about it.
Sonja befriends a polar bear cub (that grows up way too fast in one winter) and then says goodbye.
Years later Sonja is accosted by some dinks that think she is a whore-that chainmail bikini-and what I have hated as an over used premise in too many Conan tales, she is far too easily bested by the local authorities and put in jail. Then thanks to a crooked judge she ends up in an arena for savage amusement. She is to be fed not to the lions but the bear - but its her old bear so they turn and fight their way out. The bear dies to save her and later she returns to enact vengeance.
The art by Casas is great and the look of Sonja wearing the bearskin in the end is cool -very Herculian/Nemeian Lion, but its just a so-so story. Not bad, but not great.

City of the Saints: Part One Liahona, by D.J. Butler
Steampunk old west with a very healthy mix of political intrigue and great twists on historic personages. This is only part one of four and I love it. Again if life wasn't so crazy busy right now I would be all the way through this series-absolutely my favorite read so far this year!

Set in 1859 on the verge of Civil War, multiple characters are converging for the sake of getting in on that Mormon madman Orson Pratt's wonderful inventions. Mark Twain, Richard Burton, and the long thought dead Edgar Allen Poe each vying for either the Union, England and the soon to be Confederacy as well as mysterious forces at work from within the Utah Mormon camp as well - Porter Rockwell and Eliza R. Snow.
All the side characters have me enthralled as well, Butler's writing is the perfect mix of action and drama and has that great way of making you root for all these people that are opposing each other.

The only downside for me was the cliffhanger ending, luckily all 4 of the City of Saints are available ad I'll be continuing on that very soon. If you like historical action and steampunk, I can't recommend this enough.


Keith West said...

I really liked Prince of Thorns and need to read the rest of the series.

I've never really been a Red Sonja fan, and your description of the story in this one doesn't do much for me, but I must say the cover art is spectacular.

David J. West said...

Yeah, I really look forward to reading Emperor of Thorns. I probably like the idea of Red Sonja more than the usual execution, my favorite stories of her (the Hyborian Sonja rather than the REH Sonya) are all paired with Conan.