June 17, 2019, 10:24:14 PM

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Messages - Elfy

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I'm reading Changes, the twelve book in the Dresden Files series. After such a long journey that we the readers have come through with Harry Dresden, I'd already got attached to his battered Blue Beetle, his dingy home and underground lab, and all the routine things in his life. It's a hard feeling to swallow that after this book, things are changing to a point of no coming back now. As some people had said, I'm going to miss the villain-of the week Dresden with all the things we've grown to love.  :'(
I still think Changes was the most epic of the 15 novels out this far.

Stiehl Assassin was one of Brooks' best books in years. Absolutely loved it.

Now I'm heading back in to Peter Grant territory with Broken Homes. I've got the rest of the series on my windowsill including October Man now. Hopefully I can get up to date in time for False Values. Even though I've had a few issues with the series, there's no denying it's addictive reading.
I read October Man in a day. It’s a novella. Slightly different direction for the series, although I think it’s only an interlude. Highly enjoyable addition, though.

General Discussion / Re: Member birthday calendar
« on: June 15, 2019, 12:04:19 PM »
I would absolutely love to get some of those! Thanks!

Has anyone mentioned the Temeraire books by Naomi Novik?

It's not really a question of 'bad ending', though.
The premise is very good (Napoleonic era, they fight with dragons) but after the 3rd or 4th book they're super repetitive: even in part of the world X, they fly there, problems with natives, problems with dragons, situation solved.
We've had China, Africa, Australia, and I think there's one about America that I haven't read yet.

I still like to read them as a sort of calm/comfort read where you know exactly what you're getting, but I'm not buying them anymore, rather reading from the library.
I really only finished the series out of sheer bloody mindedness. It really should have wound up after 4 or 5 books. Jasper Ffiorde’s Thursday Next series has gone the same way. The last couple have been a big disappointment. 4 books again would have been about right.

General Discussion / Re: Member birthday calendar
« on: June 15, 2019, 02:35:59 AM »
Happy Birthday @Elfy May your day bring you good company and cake.
Thank you, Rostum. It’s started off well with a few books.

The conclusion: Amnesty, is also out. Excellent series.
My local library has a copy of Amnesty as well, which I'll probably also read too unless Armistice some how disappoints me. Which feels unlikely given how much I'm enjoying Amberlough.
I doubt that it will disappoint if you are liking Amberlough

Picked up Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly from the library last week. Not my usual kind of read, but I'm enjoying it enough I'll probably borrow the second book, Armistice, from the library later.
The conclusion: Amnesty, is also out. Excellent series.

The Mists of Avalon is one that stuck out to me.

I was too young to really pick up on it when I read it but with retrospect, yeah, there's a very loud message here.
I was also quite young when I read it, and thinking back, I can't really tell what it's preaching... is it the christianity thing? But isn't that the basis of all arthurian legends?

Like you said in a previous post, I think it only bothers me if it's preaching something I don't agree with, which tends a bit towards hypocrisy, doesn't it?

For me, it's less the anti-Christianity (although that is present) and more the very heavy pro-feminism slant. At the time I was just "Oh hey, this book has a lot of female characters, ooh next page", but looking back, it is very  heavily pro-feminist. And hey, why not?

And on the anti-Christianity part - I think it's more anti-organised religion as Christianity has become, than anti-Christianity's message. Well, I definitely think that now that I've looked at the book's wiki page and seen this:

"About the time I began work on the Morgan le Fay story that later became Mists, a religious search of many years culminated in my accepting ordination in one of the Gnostic Catholic churches as a priest. Since the appearance of the novel, many women have consulted me about this, feeling that the awareness of the Goddess has expanded their own religious consciousness, and ask me if it can be reconciled with Christianity. I do feel very strongly, not only that it can, but that it must... So when women today insist on speaking of Goddess rather than God, they are simply rejecting the old man with the white beard, who commanded the Hebrews to commit genocide on the Philistines and required his worshippers daily to thank God that He had not made them women... And, I suppose, a little, the purpose of the book was to express my dismay at the way in which religion lets itself become the slave of politics and the state. (Malory's problem ... that God may not be on the side of the right, but that organized religion always professes itself to be on the side of the bigger guns.) ... I think the neo-pagan movement offers a very viable alternative for people, especially for women, who have been turned off by the abuses of Judeo-Christian organized religions."
The author was a neo pagan when she wrote it and that's the book's very heavy handed message. I would have been as equally turned off if it had preached anything else.

The Mists of Avalon is one that stuck out to me.

Distinct lack of Pritchett on that list.

The early adventures of Father Chains, as written by Scott Lynch, now that would be epic.

Heck yes!

Actually, this reminds me of a prequel story I did really enjoy: Brian Staveley's Skullsworn, which is the origin story of a supporting character in his Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series. I actually wasn't that into the main series (totally meh about The Emperor's Blades and I didn't read further) but the prequel was a really great book, in part because it takes the known ending as a challenge - the reader knows where Pyrre ends up (as a bad-ass assassin) but the whole book is a "how the hell is she going to pull this off in the circumstances?" and deeply seated in the character and her choices, which I found really satisfying.
I’m actually retreading a trilogy of prequels that I do enjoy. Brian Daley’s Han Solo books. They’re set not long before. Han meets Luke and Ben. They were written back in the late ‘70’s early ‘80’s, so they’re now totally non canon, but they are fun. It does help that Han is not only one of my favourite genre characters, but favourite fictional characters ever.

I agree what the Star Wars prequels demonstrate is how NOT to do a prequel. The tension when the audience already knows the ending is not what, and it's not "watching it happen", it's the how and why. And the prequel trilogy missed a lot of that out. We see the start and end of Anakin's journey to the dark side, but the slow inexorable slide is largely in the Clone Wars material between the second and third movies (and, I understand, covered in the comic books and cartoon series, but I simply cannot deal with emotional stuff from non-human faces). Similarly, they cut out the rise-of-the-Rebellion material from the third movie, thus removing that element of how-and-why. I think the prequel story would've been better served by not having the first movie (however much I appreciate the Obi-Wan arc there; it could be recycled into backstory and reference) and including more of that how-and-why in the middle.

I think it's generally true that the vast majority of the time, backstory has been given sufficiently in reference within the main story that simply fleshing it out isn't that interesting. (This is a prequel problem, but I actually see it more commonly manifest when an author gives flashbacks within a book that are unnecessary because I already understood all of what is shown.) To be successful, I think a prequel needs a burning question to answer, just like a sequel does.

All that said, if Joe Abercrombie were to go, "Here's the backstory of Bayaz," I'd be well up for it. Or Ben Aaronovitch wanted to write youthful adventures of Nightingale.
Especially with Nightingale, it could work, because while the audience know where he ends up, there’s an awful lot that they don’t know. I’ll go you one better @cupiscent. The early adventures of Father Chains, as written by Scott Lynch, now that would be epic.

It depends on what the prequel addresses. If it’s covering a story that we already know the ending to (Star Wars 1, 2 & 3 are a good example) then I find them largely pointless, because they lack tension. If the cover a section if the story, or people the audience don’t know then they can be as good as any sequel.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What did you read in May 2019
« on: June 02, 2019, 05:42:47 AM »
I started the thread, so I'll kick this one off.

It was a big month, I managed 10 this time.

That Ain't Witchcraft by Seanan McGuire. The 8th book of the InCryptid series. This was very Stephen King, it was even set in Maine. I think this has wrapped up one of the character's story arcs. Interesting enough ghost story, but not enough of the cryptids for mine and it also suffers from a lack of mice as did the last one.

Vultures by Chuck Wendig. The conclusion to what I think is one of the best urban fantasy series released in recent times. It started strong and it finished strong. Hard not to be drawn into Miriam Black's story in all it's foul mouthed glory and how she deals with her curse.

Skin Game, Side Jobs and Brief Cases by Jim Butcher. Yes, I reread the entire Dresden Files including the 2 short story collections. Seen Skin Game come in for a bit of criticism here, but I can't really see why. It's a fairly standard Dresden, admittedly the series has never quite recovered since Changes. The two short story collections are interesting for different reasons. The best stories in Side Jobs are the first and the last. The first because it was the first Harry Dresden story written and takes place before Storm Front. The last because it gives readers a view between Changes and Ghost Story and it also uses a different POV, not Harry. My favourites in Brief Cases were the 3 Bigfoot stories and the last which features 3 different first person POV's.

Amnesty by Lara Elena Donnelly. The triumphant conclusion to her Amberlough Dossier. The war is over, but the fight continues. It was good to see an old character return and centre largely around them. The whole thing was a stunning piece of work and brilliantly imagined and written.

The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School by Kim Newman. It started off well and I was glad to see a return to the weirdness of the school, but it veered off track and I found it a struggle to complete.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. This was awesome! One of the most fun and thought provoking things I've read this year. A girl who can speak to animals and a child genius who invented a time machine before his teens meet and become life long friends. Delightful.

Mun Mun by Jesse Andrews. Its meant to be YA, but it's quite deep at the same time. The concept is fairly simple, but has complexity. The more money you have the bigger you are physically. The story follows Warner, a littlepoor smaller than a rodent and his struggle to be bigger.

Gemini Cell by Myke Cole. Part of my reread project this year. I loved this the first time I read it and I enjoyed it every bit as much, if not more on a reread. The trilogy that this begins is easily the best thing Cole has written. Part super hero fantasy and part military thriller.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / What did you read in May 2019
« on: June 02, 2019, 05:19:55 AM »
Here it is: The what did you read this past month thread.

Come share your list and what you thought of the books you read last month. We're not looking for full out reviews, just a brief couple of sentences that sum up your impressions.

This is also not a contest for who read the most books, I know some of us struggle to find time to read one book a month, and others manage a dozen. That doesn't matter, so don't feel reluctant to post if you have read less books (or way more books) than others. This is all for sharing, and if you read anything, come let us know what it was and what you thought of it.

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