Books in July ’12

Well, there goes the idea of separating romance from other books. It’ll be back, don’t worry, but this month’s post is embarrassingly short as it is and doesn’t need to be chopped up. And when I say embarrassing… In a way that’s not true, but you’ll see why. On with the show!

Brent Weeks: The Way of Shadows

I’ve been giving Weeks’s Night Angel Trilogy for years, and finally made the decision to tackle it. And I liked the first book. It was good.

However, it didn’t blow my mind. The beginning was my favourite part: we witness Azoth’s first meeting with the “wetboy” (an assassin but better, and with Talent) Durzo Blint, just before we’re familiarized with Azoth’s life as a street rat in the bad side of town. And it’s very enjoyable. We then follow along as Azoth grows up, and the main plot point reveals itself as we go on. The prose is easy to read and the chapters are short, so this is not a long read despite the amount of pages. The characters are interesting, although I had a hard time trying to remember who is who and why exactly are they important, which means I didn’t get as invested in the story as I would have liked to. Another turn-off would be the classic Chosen One business, which has never sat well with me.

I’m afraid this series will suffer the same fate as Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy did with me: I’ve read the first one and kind of liked it, but haven’t gotten around to continuing the series. It’s a pity, but not everything can please. Give it a shot! I’m pretty sure a year ago I would have loved this, and maybe I will continue next year and wonder why I didn’t get the brilliance at once. Timing is all.

Published: 2008 Orbit

Pages: 645

Georgette Heyer: The Nonesuch

Now this is a prime example of a book where absolutely nothing happens but it still keeps you reading. Brilliant. I’ve probably said it before, but let me say it again – Heyer is as close to Austen as you can get without actually reading Austen. In this book, it took some time and effort to tell apart the characters – there’s a myriad of them, and then you have to remember first names and surnames and titles – and the ending came so suddenly I was a little baffled, but other than that, a very enjoyable read. The language is just wonderful, and there were a lot of Regency insults! (My particular favourite is ‘vulgar mushroom’.)

First published: 1962 Heinemann

Pages: 297 (Arrow Books 200 edition)

Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace

You won’t believe how I proud I am of myself for having read this. Seriously. War and Peace is one of those books I’ve always thought I’ll read when I’m old and smart – and I promise you, I consider myself neither.

The most interesting thing about this book is the fact that it’s not hard. Not even remotely. It’s just long, and among the interesting stuff there are boring bits, no matter what kind of stuff you like. I was interested in the main characters and what happens in their lives, and so I found all the philosophy of history and war tedious, but you might find it the other way around. Anyway, if you want to get a nice picture of what went on in Russia during the Napoleonic Wars, this is a good book to read. Tolstoy kept repeating names of people and places, so you’ll remember people like Kutuzov, Caulaincourt and Barclay de Tolly, and places like Borodino and Bagration. There are dates and very detailed descriptions of what went on, and a whole lot of Napoleon!

As I think most of my readers are fantasy oriented, there’s something I really want to raise up about this book. It’s a lot like Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Seriously. Short chapters, usually following a character. Cliffhangers. You can’ be sure who dies, so beware of becoming attached. Much less scheming and virtually no incest, though, unless you count cousin/cousin. The characters are very well rounded, so you’ll end up hating the ones you initially liked and vice versa. A couple of characters mysteriously disappeared, not to be heard of again.

On Goodreads, I gave this book three stars. It’s a very nice book, and I recommend it. Not the most mind-blowing thing I’ve ever read, but decent. (And the translation I read was excellent.) The edition I had was very approachable, too – four 400-500-page volumes in total.

If you’re for some reason interested in what went on in my head during this monster of a read, you can take a look at my reading diary.

First published: 1869 (original title Война и миръ – Voyna i mir)

Translator: Esa Adrian 1975

Pages: 432+495+492+446=1865

So that’s all I managed this month. In a way it seems pathetic, since it’s only three books (actually four, but as the fourth is part of an omnibus I’m not counting it here), but on the other hand, one of them was almost 2000 pages long. I think that evens things out nicely.

Bought this month:

I may have gone a little crazy. Most of these books were really cheap, though. The Lives of English Rakes was so so so cheap I just had to get it! The one to the right of it is Master and Margarita, by the way – I’m not sure I like the translation, because it’s not the same one my brother has, but we’ll see when I get to it… sometime next year maybe. Redshirts I actually bought in June, but it didn’t arrive until July.

Currently (re)reading:

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (<3)

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