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 PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:36 am Reply with quote  
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  Darth Skuldren
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Finished reading Michael A. Stackpole's new book Pathfinder Tales: The Crusader Road. Really good book. It's about goblins and ogres and this group of people trying to start a town after being banished from their homeland.

Last night I started Timothy Zahn's Soulminder. It's interesting cause there is sort of a horror vibe to it without it being a horror story. It's about scanning and trapping souls to keep people from dying. Kind of cool so far.
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 PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:21 am Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Life Is The Path wrote:
I didn't know that it was more black and white than the legends, and that's rather interesting. I've only got the films to go by, and they're not very good, in my opinion, so I don't think I can compare them.

I'm still pretty new to Arthurian legend, but the movies I have seen (i.e. Knights of the Round Table, Sword in the Stone, First Knight) have underwhelmed me. I've heard Excalibur was good.

Life Is The Path wrote:
Also, I think it's arguable that the Holy Grail quest is the re-imagined one, historically Razz . It's plausible that the Holy Grail stories were based on stories such as the thirteen treasures of Britain (which were 'real' - I use the term loosely, of course - things). But I understand what you mean.

Haha, fair enough. Wink

Life Is The Path wrote:
Sorry to go slightly off topic, but Cornwell wrote a series of 4 books centred around a Grail Quest - aptly named The Grail Quest series. Set in the 14th century, during the Hundred Years' War, with the main character being an archer named Thomas of Hookton. I can't give any more information, though, because those are some of the few Cornwell books that I haven't read. Just putting it out there Wink .

Interesting. I can see myself reading more Bernard Cornwell books in the future. Smile
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 PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:30 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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I loved First Knight as a kid. I'd watch it at least once a week; but now? I tend to cringe when it's on. Okay being absolutely honest, I do cringe, but I also love it, mainly due to nostalgia.
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I am a Star Wars fan. That doesn't mean that I hate or love Jar Jar. That doesn't mean I hate or love Lucas, or agree or disagree 100% with him. That doesn't mean I prefer the PT over the OT, or vice versa. That doesn't mean I hate the EU, or even love all of it. These are not prerequisites. Being a man is not a prerequisite. Being a geek is not a prerequisite. The only prerequisite is that I love something about Star Wars. I am a Star Wars fan.


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 PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:13 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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Finished A Storm of Swords. Now onto A Feast For Crows. I've taken to carrying the book around with me, for fear of it being stolen and others reading it before me.
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I am a Star Wars fan. That doesn't mean that I hate or love Jar Jar. That doesn't mean I hate or love Lucas, or agree or disagree 100% with him. That doesn't mean I prefer the PT over the OT, or vice versa. That doesn't mean I hate the EU, or even love all of it. These are not prerequisites. Being a man is not a prerequisite. Being a geek is not a prerequisite. The only prerequisite is that I love something about Star Wars. I am a Star Wars fan.


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 PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:55 am Reply with quote  
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  Darth Skuldren
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Finished Soulminder by Timothy Zahn. Very interesting concept. Zahn explores how an extremely innovative invention can go horribly wrong. It's a book worth checking out, but don't expect strong characterization. It's a plot driven book.

Now reading Shattered by Kevin Hearne. Fun as always. I also just realized that all of Hearne's books are 1st person, so no wonder his Luke book is first person.
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"I believe toys resonate with us as humans, we can hold them them, it's tactile, real! They are totems for our extended beliefs and imaginations. A fetish for ideas that hold as much interest and passion as old religious relics for some. We display them in our homes. They show who we are. They are signals for similar thinking people. A way we connect with each other...and I guess thats why I do toys. That connection." -Ashley Wood


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 PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 11:13 am Reply with quote  
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  Mara Jade Skywalker
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Finally finished Wizard's First Rule. Currently reading The Thursday War by none other than Traviss. I miss reading Republic Commando. Sad
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 PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 11:37 am Reply with quote  
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  Alan Skywalker V
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Currently reading

Treasure Island
The History of the American Presidency
White Fang
The Edge on the Sword

I've already read

The Call of the Wild
One Nation: American Remembers September 11th, 2001
Covered with Glory: The 26th North Carolina Infantry at Gettysburg

since the start of the month.


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 PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:18 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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@Alan: I remember not liking Treasure Island as much as I thought I would.

I finished Excalibur. I think this one might have been my favourite of the three. Cornwell had lots of good bits of writing in this book.

Even before this book, I think Guinevere was my favourite re-imaging of the Big 3 (Lancelot, Guinevere, Arthur), but the development she went through in this book made me sure. She isn't the most likable character in these books - that would be Derfel Wink - but I think she was the most interesting.

I have to ask about the magic though. You said earlier that it would be explained, but I'm not sure what you mean. To me Nimue's otherbodies confirmed that magic was real in these books. Ceinwyn's illness and recovery and Merlin's reaction to his otherbody getting stabbed in the feet being a coincidence seemed like quite a stretch to me. Maybe I'm missing something.

Overall, these books basically hit me in three ways (I'm probably repeating myself, but I feel the need to write a final send off):

1) As a very clever weaving together of history and myth. I wish Cornwell would write a book about his writing process, research etc. I think it would be a fascinating read. I liked that he included the notes at the end of each book, but I want more! Just looking through Wikipedia articles, I'm amazed at how many characters and places are based in reality. And then weaving a retelling of Arthurian legend hrough that was a really impressive feat.

2) A really good standalone Dark Age epic. Without even considering the legends it's based on, there was a lot to like in these books. Characters are important to me and these books had complicated and compelling characters. The setting was authentic and well-researched. The plot was also relatively fast moving for a 1500 page story (when you read them back-to-back). Although there was times when I wanted the book to be over simply because there were other books I wanted to move onto, I think this would happen with any lengthy book and I can't remember any significantly boring stretches.

3) A prosaic retelling of a beautiful story. This usually only came across during the parts that stuck closest - but oh so far - to the legends e.g. the Grail Quest, the passing of Arthur. What can I say, I'm a romantic at heart and during those scenes I couldn't help but think that the stuff that made those moments so compelling in the first place have been stripped away, leaving a less than impressive skeleton. And then there's Lancelot...

Luckily the third voice didn't drown out the other two, and I still managed to thoroughly enjoy this story on its own merits. Thanks for recommending it, Life.
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Where sky and water meet,
Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
To find all you seek,
There is the utter east.


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 PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 4:03 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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Reepicheep wrote:
@Alan: I remember not liking Treasure Island as much as I thought I would.


I was about to recommend another story like Treasure Island, but then I remembered that I was basing my recommendation on Robinson Crusoe, not Treasure Island. Still, it's a good story, and real, too, so I'm just going to leave this here

Quote:
Even before this book, I think Guinevere was my favourite re-imaging of the Big 3 (Lancelot, Guinevere, Arthur), but the development she went through in this book made me sure. She isn't the most likable character in these books - that would be Derfel Wink - but I think she was the most interesting.
Haha, I never imagined there being a Big 3 of Arthurian legend. Generally I don't do favourites, but I do agree with you that she was most interesting, most compelling.

Quote:
I have to ask about the magic though. You said earlier that it would be explained, but I'm not sure what you mean. To me Nimue's otherbodies confirmed that magic was real in these books. Ceinwyn's illness and recovery and Merlin's reaction to his otherbody getting stabbed in the feet being a coincidence seemed like quite a stretch to me. Maybe I'm missing something.


I'm really sorry; even though I'd read these at the beginning of the year, I just can't remember. I do remember there being an alternative explanation for Ceinwyn's illness, though. That much I do remember - but without being able to recall what it is, where, and from whom the explanation is given, that's not much use, and I'm sorry.

I do have a personal theory for Merlin, though. First I'll describe the scene, in case I'm remembering it wrongly (if so, then my theory doesn't hold much water): Nimue was speaking with Derfel in her main chamber, and to demonstrate her power she pulled out one of her little voodoo dolls (fun fact: British and European pagans did have such voodoo dolls in reality) and then puts a pin in it. We then hear a wail of pain, emanating from another chamber. It's later revealed that the wail was from Merlin. If that's true, then the situation very much reads like a modern magician's trick. It's entirely plausible to me that Nimue had planned it out beforehand. So when she said a specific word or did a certain act, that was the signal to one of her followers to injure Merlin in the foot, with a spear or some other instrument. Remember, Merlin was blind, and quite out of his wits by then. Such a person could have gone unnoticed by him.

Quote:
1) As a very clever weaving together of history and myth. I wish Cornwell would write a book about his writing process, research etc. I think it would be a fascinating read. I liked that he included the notes at the end of each book, but I want more! Just looking through Wikipedia articles, I'm amazed at how many characters and places are based in reality. And then weaving a retelling of Arthurian legend hrough that was a really impressive feat.


Indeed, I know exactly how you feel! Sadly, aside from his Historical Notes at the end of each book, he doesn't write much non-fiction - save for recently, when he wrote a non-fiction book on the battle of Waterloo. This gives me room to hope that he may do the same for Arthur. These books, after all, are his favourites.

Quote:
2) A really good standalone Dark Age epic. Without even considering the legends it's based on, there was a lot to like in these books. Characters are important to me and these books had complicated and compelling characters. The setting was authentic and well-researched. The plot was also relatively fast moving for a 1500 page story (when you read them back-to-back). Although there was times when I wanted the book to be over simply because there were other books I wanted to move onto, I think this would happen with any lengthy book and I can't remember any significantly boring stretches.


Agreed. And I don't know what hit me more, Derfel's off-page death or Arthur's on-page ... well technically he was still alive when we last see him, but still.

And a cool thing: Aelle, Derfel's father and Bretwalda, landed not too far from where I live (the exact whereabouts are unknown). My city, Chichester, is named after his son, Cissa. To be one who lives in Chichester is known as a Cissestrian. Aelle was the first king of the South Saxons (a county now known as Sussex, of which Chichester is the county town - essentially the county's capital). So I'm rather a fan of Aelle Very Happy .

Quote:
3) A prosaic retelling of a beautiful story. This usually only came across during the parts that stuck closest - but oh so far - to the legends e.g. the Grail Quest, the passing of Arthur. What can I say, I'm a romantic at heart and during those scenes I couldn't help but think that the stuff that made those moments so compelling in the first place have been stripped away, leaving a less than impressive skeleton. And then there's Lancelot...

Luckily the third voice didn't drown out the other two, and I still managed to thoroughly enjoy this story on its own merits. Thanks for recommending it, Life.


Prosaic? Crying or Very sad It's fine. Really. I've just got something in my eye *sniffles*

Okay, seriously, that's fine. I understand. We all have different tastes and there are other Arthurian stories and elements that interest you. But I am glad that, overall, you enjoyed it Smile .
_________________
I am a Star Wars fan. That doesn't mean that I hate or love Jar Jar. That doesn't mean I hate or love Lucas, or agree or disagree 100% with him. That doesn't mean I prefer the PT over the OT, or vice versa. That doesn't mean I hate the EU, or even love all of it. These are not prerequisites. Being a man is not a prerequisite. Being a geek is not a prerequisite. The only prerequisite is that I love something about Star Wars. I am a Star Wars fan.


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 PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:55 am Reply with quote  
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  Alan Skywalker V
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Finished Treasure Island and The Edge on the Sword.

I've started The Chronicles of Prydain; hoping to finish the first book today. Y'know, it's a real shame no studio has tried to do live action versions of Prydain; I think if more attention was paid to the plotlines of the books and a competent studio did it, then maybe a live action Prydain film series would be a success and erase the taint of Disney's rather shoddy attempt to mishmash the first two books in The Black Cauldron.

Also in the middle of Far Traveler, which is a sequel of sorts to Edge on the Sword. Both books are great, but I think the author made a colossal mistake in the prologue of FT.

The majority of the book, except for the prologue/epilogue, is a story told in the hall of a burgh by the Lady to a weary traveler - a story within a story, in other words, with the prologue and epilogue marking the beginning/end of the Lady's story. Unfortunately, any sense of suspense in the main story is already ruined in the prologue, because the author flat out has the Lady say, "This tale might have turned out differently if I had learned to ride as well as I learned to read."

If the author had just left the last paragraph in the prologue out and then started into the main story from the first person POV of the main character, and then used the epilogue, it would have been far more effective. In the first chapter, we're introduced to our protagonist and we follow her through her journeys; when the last chapter ends and the epilogue starts, readers don't have any idea what happened to the protagonist after she was seen riding away with her lover - until the epilogue quickly and surprisingly reveals that the Lady who was telling the story in the feast hall is in fact the protagonist; it was her own story she was telling all along. But, as I said, that one line in the prologue, ruins any sense of suspense because readers are already told it's her own story.

Long post, I know. Don't mind it, but sometimes authors can be so dense.


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 PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 12:52 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Life Is The Path wrote:
I do have a personal theory for Merlin, though. First I'll describe the scene, in case I'm remembering it wrongly (if so, then my theory doesn't hold much water): Nimue was speaking with Derfel in her main chamber, and to demonstrate her power she pulled out one of her little voodoo dolls (fun fact: British and European pagans did have such voodoo dolls in reality) and then puts a pin in it. We then hear a wail of pain, emanating from another chamber. It's later revealed that the wail was from Merlin. If that's true, then the situation very much reads like a modern magician's trick. It's entirely plausible to me that Nimue had planned it out beforehand. So when she said a specific word or did a certain act, that was the signal to one of her followers to injure Merlin in the foot, with a spear or some other instrument. Remember, Merlin was blind, and quite out of his wits by then. Such a person could have gone unnoticed by him.

It's possible. I think it was Ceinwyn's sickness and recovery that really convinced me though.

Life Is The Path wrote:
Prosaic? Crying or Very sad It's fine. Really. I've just got something in my eye *sniffles*

Okay, seriously, that's fine. I understand. We all have different tastes and there are other Arthurian stories and elements that interest you. But I am glad that, overall, you enjoyed it Smile .

Now I feel bad lol.

It does come down to personal taste... and like I said there was still a whole lot that my personal tastes liked in these books. I generally dislike the idea of de-mythologizing classic stories, but if you're going to do it, this is the way to do it. It was a really interesting read because those three voices I mentioned (not literal voices, you understand Razz ) were competing in my head as I read.

@Alan: I've been meaning to finish the Prydain books. I never got past the first one.

I'm now re-reading what is possibly my favourite book ever: Till We Have Faces.
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Where sky and water meet,
Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
To find all you seek,
There is the utter east.


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 PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 7:44 pm Reply with quote  
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  Darth Skuldren
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Reading Hellhole: Inferno by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson and loving it. I really like this series and the third book is just as much fun as the first two. Very nice story with tons of attention to character and cool sci-fi trappings.
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"I believe toys resonate with us as humans, we can hold them them, it's tactile, real! They are totems for our extended beliefs and imaginations. A fetish for ideas that hold as much interest and passion as old religious relics for some. We display them in our homes. They show who we are. They are signals for similar thinking people. A way we connect with each other...and I guess thats why I do toys. That connection." -Ashley Wood


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 PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 7:34 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Now reading Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away by Rebecca Goldstein.
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Where sky and water meet,
Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
To find all you seek,
There is the utter east.


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 PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 7:49 pm Reply with quote  
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  Alan Skywalker V
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Finished Russian Roulette, Anthony Horowitz' prequel/parallel Alex Rider novel centering on Yassen Gregorovich. Overall, I enjoyed it. It was especially interesting seeing the events of Eagle Strike's prologue and the end of Stormbreaker from Yassen's POV.

However, I do have a few issues with the book, mostly relating to continuity. While I understand that authors can't be expected to remember everything, I think Horowitz could have reread his previous books before publishing RR.

First, Horowitz gets Yassen's age at the time his village was destroyed (14 as mentioned in Snakehead) and the Amazon mission (19 as mentioned in Eagle Strike) correct, but completely flubs his age in the prologue. The Amazon mission occurred only a couple months before Alex Rider was born, so Yassen would have been 33 or 34 in Stormbreaker. The Russian Roulette prologue gives his age as 28 - a good five or six years off.

Second, I find it hard to believe that Yassen could have known that John Rider was a double agent before their joint mission to Mdina as recounted by Ash in Snakehead, which certainly seems to be the implication given by Russian Roulette - that the Mdina mission and John's 'capture' had to have occurred after Yassen discovered the battery in his bag.

If there's anyone who's read all ten books, what do you think? Could Horowitz have read his books to ensure tighter continuity? Or am I making too much out of it?


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 PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:19 pm Reply with quote  
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  Darth Skuldren
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Finally finished Kevin J. Anderson Terra Incognita series. The third and final book in the series, The Key to Creation, was an emotional rollercoaster. Great ending for the series and a very satisfying read. I can't help but marvel at the character portraits of society, of good and evil, of humanity. I definitely recommend it.
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