Monday, August 22, 2016

A Dent In the Summer Reading Pile

The Death of Kings, by Bernard Cornwell

The Saxon series, following Uthred of Bebbanburg is one of my all time favorites. I even got my wife to enjoy watching The Last Kingdom with me. I highly recommend it.

Death of Kings is the sixth book in the series -yes, I'm a little behind for something I enjoy so much but there is an element of savoring it here. Overall I would say the pace is slowed on this one compared to Sword Song and The Burning Lands. It is a big watershed in the sense that King Alfred passes in this one too. The whole Alfred/Christian vs Uthred/Pagan was a big drive for the previous books - and that is going away but nobody is going to fill Alfred's shoes. And that is part of the problem with the politics in this book - the Dames are going to be that much worse for the English.

So Death of Kings is slower book in many ways and I have to say its been the least enjoyable of the series so far - that said - the finale was a great climax and was most excellent, its was just a little more of a wait to get there than Ive been used to in the series.

Dead Pact, by Craig Nybo

Caveat, Craig Nybo is a friend of mine and I truly enjoy his work! He has a wonderful imagination and does some of the most far out concepts of anyone I know!

Now about Dead Pact which is a stand alone kindle selection from Craig's bigger anthology - Terrifying Lies. This tale is a gritty weird western in the grandest tradition.  Nybo throws some great loops and douses the reader in dark shadows before bailing them out again. We're thrown into the action of Galen Waite investigating some demonic possession near the town of Bannack. Think cross between possession and the Walking Dead. This one had me on my toes. And as always I look forward to more from Craig!

Murder at the Kinnen Hotel: A Powder Mage novella, by Brian McClellan

I've heard good things about McClellan's Powder Mage series and I've been meaning to get to it, so when I saw that he posted this novella for free I snagged it.

But I think it was a bad place to start. It is set years beforehand and while I could see that interesting world building was being set up and such, I didn't feel the grasp of what all of it meant nor was I impressed with some of the characters even though I was told they were intimidating. I'm sure I missed things that would be a thrill IF I had read the trilogy already, but as a standalone tale I thought it went a little weak. The climax especially felt limp for something that is a mix of mystery and fantasy and I just would have liked a little more punch.

I still intend to read the trilogy and I'm sure I may have new found appreciation for this prequel tale of sorts afterward, but as a starting point for me it was too shaky.

Pride of the Traveler, by Bryce Beattie

This is another short - I read all three of these at work -shhhhhh.
This low magic fantasy follows Key, a young swordsman who goes to a carnival of sorts and to fortune teller to ask about his destiny. She tells him pride will be his downfall. He also gets a warning about the possible collaboration of dark magic and vampires with the powers that be in the city. So, he goes into town and joins in the dueling matches therein. He isn't humble and promptly defeats all comers until he has to take on the captain of the guard who has some of that dark magic on his side.

It is a predictable enough tale but it is enjoyable and really feels like a prologue to something greater. I would definitely read that follow up of Key's adventures because I like Beattie's storytelling and prose.

The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent by Larry Correia

Larry always has a good dose of humor in his works and with this one he really lets loose, firing off all guns at the usual suspects. Poking fun at all the social justice warriors, Fox execs who cancelled Firefly, and Joe Biden is almost too easy. The R. Lee Ermey type secretary of defense was also welcome touch.
For just sheer entertainment this novella is good, not too long, not too short its in the just right size for this type of tale - any longer might be a bit much. But its nice to see a place where you can still poke fun and throw in the planet destroying aliens side walled by a smooth talking Insurance adjuster.

As yet this is only available as an audio book and Adam Baldwin's reading knocks it out of the park.


Keith West said...

I need to get back to the Cornwell series. I'm further behind on it than you are.

David J. West said...

It had been a long while between my reading The Burning Land and this one - I even reskimmed The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman with my wife when we were watching the BBC - because I was cross-checking a few things and saying how much I wished they had filmed this or that and hey they merged this character etc.

The books are always better but I was pretty happy with the BBC.