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The Athenaeum - Reading updates and Literary Review from the Obsidian Elite (this means you)


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Sanderson, Lynch, Abercrombie, Rothfuss. I've read most of their books up until a couple of years ago, but I think that's actually what turned me away from fantasy fiction. They're all talented in their own way, but I feel they lack the "gravitas" of the best writers in the genre. In a way they remind me of the Marvel films, they're good fun to watch, offer cheap laughs but not much beyond that. Of course, you can also get too much "gravitas", like the Malazan series where everything has to be meaningful and every character has profound reflections on the world or themselves.

 

A fantasy writer I really like is Guy Gavriel Kay. I always try to buy his newest novels. GRRM is great, but frustratingly slow and wrote himself into a corner. Other than that, Tolkien is still the Grandmaster.

 

Any recommendations on where to start with Gavriel Kay?

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The interesting thing about Paul Atredies is he is the messiah who does not want to be followed. 

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Get off my lawn!

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The interesting thing about Paul Atredies is he is the messiah who does not want to be followed. 

 

He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy.

"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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Sanderson, Lynch, Abercrombie, Rothfuss. I've read most of their books up until a couple of years ago, but I think that's actually what turned me away from fantasy fiction. They're all talented in their own way, but I feel they lack the "gravitas" of the best writers in the genre. In a way they remind me of the Marvel films, they're good fun to watch, offer cheap laughs but not much beyond that. Of course, you can also get too much "gravitas", like the Malazan series where everything has to be meaningful and every character has profound reflections on the world or themselves.

 

A fantasy writer I really like is Guy Gavriel Kay. I always try to buy his newest novels. GRRM is great, but frustratingly slow and wrote himself into a corner. Other than that, Tolkien is still the Grandmaster.

 

Any recommendations on where to start with Gavriel Kay?

 

 

Under Heaven (Tang Dynasty), The Lions of al-Rassan (medieval Spain) or Tigana (reneissance Italy) are all good starting points. Depends on what kind of period and place in history you want to start with. Just avoid The Fionavar Tapestry (his weakest work) and his "sequel" novels and you'll do fine.

 

As for Dune, I definitely recommend reading all the Frank Herbert books. The first one is definitely the best, but I really enjoyed 4-6 as well.

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Finished the Foundation series, not including the prequels. Great series, still not sure on the "ending". He left a hook at the end but he never wrote a sequel. Other than that a great science fiction series and I now fully understand why they call him a pioneer of that genre.

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Speaking of churning out truck loads of dreck what was the last Stephen King novel that you guys actually thought was good? For me it was the Shining. It was all downhill after that. And a steep hill at that.

I didn't actually enjoy The Shining much, possibly because I saw the film first and the book being 11 years older than I am. :lol:

 

Stephen King's novels are really hit and miss for me. I enjoy a lot in a pulpy way, but the only ones I'd consider good are probably "Misery", "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" and "It". Lots will disagree with that last one, but I feel like it's one of the few books that captured the essence of Lovecraft's eldritch horror trope in a long-form story while being simultaneously something unique.

 

I generally prefer his short stories. Wait, does " On Writing" count? That's surprisingly good.

 

Let me get some opinions here. If you have read Dracula what did you think of Stoker's narrative device, presenting the story in the form of letters and journal entries? I was a little put off by it at first but the more I read the more I appreciated it. I don't think anyone else has done that.

I really enjoy this framing device, but I think it actually works better on the internet. Before the "Slender Man" blew up after that indie game there were lots of people writing super creepy narratives combining blogs, journals, letters and snippets of YouTube clips. I think it's a great way to create that 'dawning realization' style horror. I miss that version of the now cartoonish gaunt gentleman. :lol:

 

At the very least, writers of video games with journals and such should all be required to read Dracula for inspiration.

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I've never been a big fan of the epistolary format of Dracula.  It feels like you're distanced from the proceedings so while it can be creepy, it's not really goosebumps hearing-sounds-at-night paranoia inducing.

 

RE: Stephen King, I think Needful Things was the last book I read from Stephen King - and I did enjoy it.  Most of his plot hooks after this period didn't hook me enough to pick up the book so I can't say if they are good or bad, but there are a few I'll eventually read (Desperation/Regulators and Dr. Sleep for example).  Mind you a lot of his work seemed to get lost in the Dark Tower, the first book of which I found unreadable.

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I read a book a long time ago that was a fantasy-ish setting that described the story of a rebellion in the form of dispatches and letters between political figures like kings, military leaders and soldiers. The story reminds me a little of the Skyrim civil war. It may even have been one of their inspirations. There are tons of literary Easter eggs in ES games. Can't remember who wrote it or the title. This was back in the '80's

Get off my lawn!

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Dean Koontz is another one like King that churns out tons of horror/suspense novels. Most of is pulpy trash but like King every now and then he comes up with a really good one. Watchers and The Bad Place come to mind as some of his best work.

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Get off my lawn!

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Please Don't Tell My Parents You Believe Her

 

Because sometimes, you just need pulpy entertainment.

 

 


“Okay, but the teammate part is what I really need. I want you, Marcia. We could make beautiful banter together.”
She lowered her face, and coyly fluttered her eyelashes.
“Oh, stop. I bet you say that to all the super-powered lunatics.”
Straightening up, I pulled her hand to my chest.
“Only you, Marcia Bradley. Only you, because everybody else is too busy standing back like mature, reasonable people who understand that maybe I’m right, or maybe my evil parasite clone is.”
Eyes smoldering, Marcia whispered,
“Oh, Penny. I’ve always wanted to be someone’s desperate last resort.”
“Say you’ll be mine, Marcia. Let me selfishly exploit you as a battering ram and distraction, because my regular teammates are out of town.”

"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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About to finish re-reading the Wheel of Time series, which means I'll have to find some new series to read. Been thinking about getting started with either the Dresden files, The Black Company, or Altered Carbon. If anyone's got a recommendation, they're more than welcome.
 
I have to say, on a second read, WoT is even better. The foreshadowing is really well done, like how

Rand's moments of fever/weakness/odd recklessness are so obviously the result of a wilder channeling

yet you'd never notice on a first read. And the crazy politics and plotting shines even more when you already have a gist of what  the characters are planning.

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The Black Company is basically Malazan the Book of the Fallen before Malazan. Having read Malazan first and then later read the Black Company, its amazing how much Steven Erikson rifted off of Glen Cook's writing style. (Both good books, by the way.)

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So I've been reading in Nicholas Jubber's Timbuktu school for Nomads. I loved his previous books and this one is no different.

 

If you like adventure stories, travel writing and history, this is the author for you. His first book, The Prester Quest follows his backpacking journey from Italy overland to Egypt and ultimately Ethiopia, while he retraces the steps of a letter from the pope to the mythical Christian king Prester John who supposedly reigned over a powerful kingdom below Egypt, with the ultimate goal of delivering the letter he found in Jerusalem.

The book alternates from recounting the journey of the original bearer, a physician to the pope who left writings, and his own experiences with culture and politics of the regions he travels.

 

Jubber's second book Drinking Arak of an Ayatollah's beard, describes his time in Iran and Afghanistan, on a similar quest to travel through rough and dangerous terrain against the backdrop of Iran's most famous literary work, the Shahnameh, or Book of Kings ("Kingnames") giving insight to present day culture as well as celebrating the history of a ruined empire.

 

The Timbuktu School for Nomads show that Jubber pursues his passion despite his fears, aiming to travel by Camel through the ancient nomad trade routes from Timbuktu, learning passable Arabic, and experiencing how nomads live today versus at the hight of the Malian Empire.

 

His works are deeply personal and you can see that a history nerd is living his dream and growing through his challenges as, if not to T.E Lawrence levels, at least a more than competent reporter willing to go the extra mile, or 1200 miles.

-

And my manager dropped a bunch of her books on me before going off on holiday, so my stack is back up to 10+ "to do"

 

But I'm looking forward to reading The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro and The Golden House by Salman Rushdie, I think For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway will take a while longer for me to get to, and I don't know if I want to make time for Karin Slaughter, but she lent me Indelible as well.

 

I don't know how fast she thinks I can read but I'm making it a priority to read at least one of those soon, after I finish Jubber's book.

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
---
Pet threads, everyone has them. I love imagining Gods, Monsters, Factions and Weapons.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is something incredibly decadent and luxurious about sinking into a hot bathtub of water, laying back, and reading a few chapters. Or  a few dozen.

Just be careful of losing four hours and getting to the end of the book and realising it's now stone cold water and you've gone all prune-face....

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"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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Now reading this:

 

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It's ok so far. Murder mystery, nothing special. Interesting enough to keep me from putting it down, vanilla enough not to really like it.

 

Started this one last night. A bit more my speed

 

61UZiYo3NFL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Get off my lawn!

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