December book purchase

Hooray! The monthly book shipment arrived at my door. Only the best!

Chronicles of The Black Company – Glen Cook (704 pag.)

This one is the omnibus of the first three books of the series that was released in November and that I’ve mentioned before. The edition is lovely and huge, with thick pages. The only complaint I have is that chapters continue in the same page where the previous ended. It’s slightly annoying because of an original quality of the first book, it’s divided into seven chapter and each one reads like a standalone novella. So I would have liked more if these chapters were better indented. The cover is also different from what appears in the image, it has a kind of “bleached” look so what you expect as black is instead a kind of dusty gray. No idea if it is bad print or wanted, but it looks cool.

Since I’ve read already the first book I already know what I bought and I love it so far. I haven’t read all that many fantasy books compared with other book review bloggers, but The Black Company is competing as my very favorite. I was planning to write a comparison review, where I would take other reviews on the book and comment them, but then it never happened. This series is considered as the precursor of Erikson’s work. I love the dark, gritty setting but I’ve read critics that the world isn’t well defined. It’s true, but as with other aspects, it’s part of the effect. You know exactly what you would know on the “soldier” level. Interested in your mission, but then not looking too far. The writer gives the reader only what’s indispensable. It’s a small book (300 pages in the standalone edition) but feels extremely condensed. Lots of action and intrigues. It’s absolutely original with characters that will remain in your memory for a long time. Despite the gritty setting and war realism it’s still viscerally fantasy, with plenty of absurd magic and powerful beings (powerful beings would need a separate discussion because they are one of the best quality of the book, the way the walk among normal men and interact). In the end you also get one massive siege battle (if I remember correctly 20.000 vs 200.000) that closely reminds Minas Tirith.

For those who tried to read Erikson, liked the setting, but couldn’t get into it, try read this series. It’s far more accessible, less pretentious, and probably even more accomplished for what it wants to be. Far from the stereotypes of classic fantasy.

Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb (432 pag.)

While Robin Hobb is one of the most popular writers in fantasy, this is the first book I’m going to read and without knowing much about it.

The elements I have are: it’s written in first person, it’s written well, it’s part of a trilogy and the trilogy is part of another two set in the same world (so three trilogies with separate stories for a total of nine books). This last aspect the one who pushed me to the purchase as I’m looking exactly for that, as explained in detail. Something emergent and slowly building up through the books. Small book, but the following will be plumper. Funny font used (by the way, Bantam manufactures better books than Tor, imho).

The Dragon Reborn – The Shadow Rising – Robert Jordan (700 and 1000 pag.)

Goes without presentation. Book 3 and 4 in the series. Bought when I thought I wouldn’t go further, but I so (unexpectedly) loved the second book that I was waiting for these two to arrive more than the rest.

Book 3 is the smallest yet. It has thicker pages and more spaced font. I like it less by holding it in my hands, feels like a different book. Book 4 weirdly has no prologue but it is huge and densely written. Considered that it’s the peak of the series and that I like huge books that I can read for a long while, I have very high expectations about it.

Up here I wrote that The Black Company may be my favorite book. Oddly enough I like less Jordan, while I have more fun reading it. Jordan is just so much more readable, flowing and immersive. For something “cool” you read The Black Company, for something carrying you away mindlessly and easily you read Jordan.

THIS DAY ALL GODS DIE – Stephen R. Donaldson (688 pag.)

A so badass title can only be typed in CAPS. BADASS!

It’s not fantasy but it’s Epic! So gets my attention. Book 5 of 5, Gap series. Recommended on various forums. Weird edition as it’s the smallest book (excluding the first), while being the most densely written and with the most pages. Bantam again. Note: Order and Chaos (book 4) is out of print, so you only find it used on e-bay or (and you most likely can get an AWESOME hardcover edition for about $4, like I did).

I read the first book, that is supposed to be very different from the next, but I liked it so much that decided to buy all of them before continuing to read. I don’t like much Donaldson writing fantasy and didn’t like Covenant. Too whiny and stiff character. This series is far more brutal and unpleasant for many readers. For me it is far, far more enjoyable than Covenant. The main character of the first book is more disagreeable and perverse than Covenant, but he isn’t whiny, and isn’t stiff.

The whole thing starts very small (three characters playing a cat mouse game. Villain, Victim, Rescuer switching roles to Victim, Rescuer, Villain), then opens up with the second book to the “epic” level. The first book is almost like a prologue and the story takes up from the omissions in it. As if Donaldson started to build around the book instead of on top of it (in fact he explains clearly that the idea of the series was separate from the idea of the first book, then he joined the two to obtain the explosive recipe).

This series wasn’t so successful and not well known, even if usually readers think it’s the best thing Donaldson has ever written. Both in writing and plot.

Just watch out for the kinky mindcontrol in the first book, if you find the theme excessive.

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged:

Leave a Reply