Books at my door – Late March

I really need a camera so I could post porn pictures of books. Anyway:

The Judging Eye – R. Scott Bakker – 420 pages
I diligently bought all the books part of this series even if I’ve yet to read one (a matter of time ans subjective reading pile order). This one is the first volume of the second trilogy set twenty or so years after the previous. Usually Martin’s fans prefer Bakker to Erikson and all three together can be considered the apex of epic fantasy today. This book was well received from the first reviews on the internet, but I also read more moderate, less enthusiastic opinions. Surely Bakker aimed high, as he said a while ago that his first trilogy would be like “The Hobbit”, while this one following would be his “Lord of the Rings”. Those reviews say that the book is interesting and well written as always, but it also reads like an introduction to what may come later, so it looks like even this year Abercrombie is going to steal the spotlight.

That cover is from the Canadian paperback edition, the one I got. This as a protest to the American publisher (Overlook). This book had one of the coolest covers ever made. I was anxious to buy the book just because of the sexiness of it. I already commented that I love books with covers that makes them look like books and not like b-movies billboards. This one was perfect but about two months before release the publisher decided that it was TOO cool, and switched it with the UK version with some slight changes. So I stubbornly went to and bought a different version. The book ends with a few pages of glossary, some more pages of summary about the previous trilogy, and an updated map reasonably printed, this time.

NOTE: Even the cover you see there is not correct. The book I received has a slightly different cover, more elegant. The horns appear more ornate and inscribed, the tone of the colors is more toward light brown than yellow, and at the very bottom there’s a vague representation of a landscape.

Reality Dysfunction – Peter F. Hamilton – 1225 pages
Oh, I love these fatty books. Mass market UK edition, also first in a trilogy, but a trilogy that ended and that didn’t originate sequels. The format here was a constant. All three books have the same number of pages. 400k words for a total of 1M 200k. Reading comments around it seems that this series is, along with the Gap by Donaldson, the very best among the space operas (then comes Banks). Something like epic fantasy in space, with huge cast of characters, proliferation of plot lines and usual big scale conflict. It was also described as a true page-turner. So I expect to have fun reading without the fear the fun being over too soon. This book not only part of the series considered by far his (author) best, but also the best volume in the trilogy. The other two seem slightly more predictable and less involving, even if they continue to play well the same cards that worked in this first one, and play them well. Or so they say.

I always said that I’m not interested in the “science” part of science-fiction (hard SF), in this case Hamilton is obviously favoring the spectacular side, but is also known because he crams a shitload of geeky ideas in his books, so working toward consistence. But I really want a true page-turner. That’s the main reason behind the purchase.

Bleak House – Charles Dickens – 1040 pages
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens – 510 pages
I never read Dickens, so along with the purchase of Drood came the curiosity. I didn’t know what to pick, so I gave a glance at the various books he wrote and picked these two. Dunno if it was a decent choice, but I expected to find something popular and relatively easy to read, instead it was the opposite. The writing here is incredibly dense and not easy at all to read for me (second language and all). The style is more like D F Wallace. Long phrases with plenty of commas and tangents within. It’s easy to get lost and have to go back at the beginning of the phrase to put everything together properly. Even quite ornate, with plenty of carefully picked adjectives everywhere. The writing is absolutely beautiful and researched. Deep, insightful, perfect. But it’s definitely not something “fun” to read. It’s like work. Great work, but still work. So I’m not expecting anymore to enjoy this. This about Bleak House. I don’t know if it’s just that book, Great Expectations seems to flow better and it’s also a leaner book. There are also plenty of notes in the middle of the text, so I read and then have to flip over to the appendices, it’s not fun at all. But then I’m stubborn and will try to go further.

You can understand my choices, though:

Like most Dickens novels, Bleak House is a wonderfully overpopulated work, crammed to the seams with grotesques, eccentrics, amiable idiots and moral monstrosities.

On the surface at least Bleak House is a ramshackle, dishevelled book, a centrifugal novel that spins off a whole galaxy of hermetic social worlds.

It is held to be one of Dickens’s finest and most complete novels, containing one of the most vast, complex and engaging arrays of minor characters and sub-plots in his entire canon.

Great Expectations is the most understated work by a writer not usually known for understatement: ”compactly perfect’, Shaw called it and its virtues from its compactness.

It is regarded as one of his greatest and most sophisticated novels, and is one of his most enduringly popular

Btw, Bleak House has illustrations, and Great Expectations a map ;)

Next time I’ll get David Copperfield.

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