After taking a brief thought about it, I realized I haven’t made an update about the books I’ve been reading in a while. So it’s about time I did something about that. My 2018 Reading Challenge is coming along, although actual progress is halting because more books have been added. (Sorry . . .? I don’t think I’m actually sorry about that . . .)
We’re going to wind back the clock a couple of months and pick up where we left off. I know the list doesn’t look particularly long, considering the time lapse, but there ARE two trilogies in there, so that has to count for something, right?
Firelord ─ Not entirely sure if this one really counts, since I only managed to get sixty-some-odd pages into it before having to put it away. That was a bummer because I’d been pretty excited about it, being a first person view on Arthurian legend from the man himself, but I got so confused with the narrative that I couldn’t keep straight what was actually happening and what was an illusion and what was a dream. I found myself avoiding the book because I didn’t know what was going on anymore, and after realizing that I decided there were too many other books to read to slog through something I wasn’t really enjoying. But I’m keeping it, because you never know. Maybe someday . . .
Prince of Darkness ─ I picked this one up because I’d never heard of a medieval mystery before. It wasn’t a fantasy medieval mystery, it was an historical fiction medieval mystery. I liked it. Albeit, turns out this is the last book in a series of four that follow the exploits of dear young Justin, but the biggest thing I lost was the privilege of knowing the adventures the characters alluded to in conversation. It was interesting, though rather slow to start, and I enjoyed a good share of the characters.
The Hunter’s Blades trilogy ─ A fellow writer suggested to me this world of Drizzt Do’Urden by R. A. Salvatore for the author’s technical skill in describing battle scenes, particularly for the dual sword wielding of the main character. And so of course I had to jump into the middle of the story instead of doing the sensible thing and starting at the beginning; I’ve been making a bad habit of that lately, it seems. That aside, I have to say that Salvatore is rather good at writing battle, the strategic and tactical choreography is thorough, which I can appreciate because I’ve never been all that swell at strategy. I always lose those games. I can’t say too much about the characters, since I met them fourteen books into the series, but I find them energetic, loyal, and almost obscenely enthusiastic about killing orcs. The entire theme of the dwarves, humans, and elves enjoying that so much kind of took me aback. Not that the orcs were helping their own case, though. Of the entire cast, Pikel Bouldershoulder might just claim the spot as my favorite character; he’s such a fun, unconventional little dwarf. The trilogy ended on a note practically sweeping into the sequel, with more of a respite from the challenges of current events than any real resolution, and I can’t decide if I’d rather continue from here or go back and start from the beginning.
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher ─ Confession: this book wasn’t a part of my reading challenge, either. But, it is such as lovely little read that I couldn’t help spending an evening with it. Aimed toward newer readers who are just getting into the hang of chapter books, it has a delicious simplicity to the narrative ─ without sacrificing the heart of the main character and his problems. It’s a story of love (found in strange places!), integrity, loss, restoration, and the troubles of being a sixth-grader. For me, this book is a classic.
The Reapers Trilogy ─ I know, this sounds dark, doesn’t it? And you would be right. This is a dark and gritty dystopian fantasy that I’ve had my eye one for a while now. The concept of the story, portraying the ‘grim reaper’ in a way I hadn’t encountered before, in a crumbling society struggling to survive in a post-nuclear fallout. And yet, for however dark and frustratingly unjust the world and its people are, there remains a sliver of hope, and for all the brutal trials that glimmer of light has been put through, it’s still glowing. Phoenix is a pretty great guy, a refreshing protagonist that’s neither cocky in his skills nor moody and self deprecating. He’s an average guy just trying to do what he can for the people under his care, and when he finds that threatened, he goes on the offensive. The second book took me longer to get through; sequels are usually hard to make as great as the first, and I felt like that in Beyond the Gateway. Yes, it deals a lot with questions of morality and faith ─ both very good subjects ─ but at times it felt awfully preachy, some things dragged out a bit too long, and the dialogue didn’t always feel natural. But the greatest take-home point for me was that Alex is, beyond a doubt, a vixen. A snake. A crawly, icky thing. I think her character has been well played. The final volume, Reaper Reborn, was a good and fitting end to the tale, as hopeful as it was grim, happy as it was grave. With a twist in there that I could fully appreciate, because it’s not something you see too often these days.
And that’s about where we are right now! I just finished the last book last night, so we’re as up-to-date as we can possibly be. So how about you all? Has anyone else taken up the challenge to read through their collection of unread books? How’s it going so far? What books has everyone been reading of late? I’d love to hear about them!