Tag Archive for George R.R. Martin

Kindling

KindleSo, I was gifted a Kindle for my birthday. In accordance with the preference I had expressed, it was the cheapest new Kindle, the one with no touch screen, no 3G, and displays ads when it is idle or in standby mode. I am very excited. And yet, I’m also a little annoyed. Not at the Kindle itself, but the situation I find myself in.

You see, I have a bookshelf, and it is full of books. Understandable, since I do read books. In fact we have a bunch of those. But this particular shelf is full of books I have yet to read. Easily 30 of them, possibly as many as 40 or even 50. Books I’ve been given as gifts for birthdays and Christmas, books I picked up on sale, books I bought at the closings of a couple of Borders locations. I have all these books to read and none of them are on my Kindle.

To make matters worse, I happen to be in the middle of reading George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons, a giant brick of a book that is uncomfortable to read in nearly any position. I’d love to have it on my shiny new Kindle, but the publisher blocks lending, so I can’t even get someone with an eBook copy of it to let me borrow it. (First world problems!)

I suppose, if I were inclined, I could dip into some of the shadier parts of the Internet and find eBook copies of them, placating myself with the justification that I’ve already bought the books. I’d prefer to find some place willing to take my books in trade, maybe for a small fee, and give me eBook copies in return. I don’t know if that exists. If it does, I haven’t been able to find it.

I imagine most people have this problem when they first get a Kindle or other eReader, this lag between reading books and reading on the device. At least it is a problem that should solve itself in time. Until then, I’ve been loading up my reader with the best free books around (perfect for Halloween are Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and even Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow), and I’m heading over to the library to get a card since Kindle supports library lending now.

There will probably be times when I miss books, and no doubt on occasion I will still buy them, especially when authors and signatures are involved, but I am glad to be finally diving into the future.

Sharper Than A Serpent`s Tooth

My guilty pleasure returned with Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth, another book in the Nightside series by Simon Green. As always, it was a fun little escape with interesting characters and plenty of action. I’ve reviewed this series before, so check out those if you want more details on the books.

As a side note to this review and something someone brought up on a message board I frequent… its a shame that books are getting really huge these days. Even kids books like Harry Potter and the Artemis Fowl books are clocking in at over 300 pages, with many books screaming past 500. There is nothing wrong with long books, in fact sometimes good long book like one of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books is exactly what I need. But its also nice to sit down and blow through a 200 page or less book, get in, get down to the story, and get out. The Nightside books drew me in because they were well written and short. One book, a half dozen hours of reading. Is it because there is less of a market for shorter books? Is it editors demanding thick novels? Or is it authors running wild? No answers here, except that I think one of the ideas I’m working on will be a series of short books, not huge bricks.

Dying of the Light, and Fevre Dream

I’ve been a fan of George R.R. Martin for a long time, ever since I picked up the first of the Wild Cards books that he edited and managed. A couple years ago I picked up A Game of Thrones, the first of his ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, and was simply amazed.

Thanks in part to his success with the Ice and Fire books, they have reprinted some of his earlier novels. I’ve just read two of them, ‘Dying of the Light’ and ‘Fevre Dream’, and both of them are very good.

Dying of the Light takes place on a rogue planet, Worlorn. When this frozen planet was found to have a path near a grouping of stars that would thaw it out, the planets of the fringe decided to have a festival. They set up 14 cities, and for ten years, five approaching the stars and five moving away, they held this festival. Now, seven years past the festival, the planet is closing on being too far from the stars. The light is fading, and the world is growing cold. This is where Dirk comes to find Gwen, an old flame, who has sent him a message for help. Abandoned by most of the worlds after the festival, Worlorn is now the residence of a few hundred people who didn’t wish to leave, and Gwen and her team studying the interactions of the plants and animals brought to Worlorn that should have never met. Gwen has a new man in her life, two of them in fact, and they belong to a culture that is steeped in tradition. And its the traditions of those people, the Kavalars, that pushed them all down a dark path.

I have to say that I was wary of the book at first. I love sci-fi films, but sci-fi books have often left me cold. Some times this book was a bear to read, trying to keep in mind all the alien terms used throughout and trying to understand them all by their context. In the end though, I did enjoy it very much. It was a good read.

Fevre Dream was altogether different. If someone had slapped the book in my hands and said I would enjoy this book about Steamboats on the Mississippi, I’d have called them a liar. But George has put together quite an excellent novel. The story is of a river boat captain, Abner Marsh, who’s had a string of bad luck, resulting in all but one of his boats being destroyed. He’s approached by a strange man who offers to pay to build the best boat on the river, all Abner has to do is take him on as a partner and never question his bizarre habits. So begins the friendship of Abner and Joshua York, a man who sleeps by day, lives by night, and has a fondness for a wine of his own private stock… a vampire.

Martin’s take on vampires in this book is very interesting, and his characterization of Marsh and the rest of his crew is fantastic. And without ruining it, this book is home to one the most fascinating and yet slowest chase scenes I’ve ever read. I devoured this book much more quickly that I expected, and in the end I wanted to hear more, even though there was no more to tell. I highly recommend it to just about anyone.

Books!

Normally my Reviews articles are for movies or TV, but I decided today to hit a different frontier… Books.

I read alot of books, not as many as I would like, but alot none the less. And as you may notice from this site (and my subdomains), I also like to write. When I started playing City of Heroes, I got a jonesing for some spandex fiction. Sadly though, there only appears to be two kinds you can pick up at the local books store: Wild Cards by George R. R. Martin and books based on existing comic book characters.

Now, don’t get me wrong… the Martin edited shared world of Wild Cards is probably one of my favorite series of books, but I had read them before… twice… and was looking for something new. I wanted to avoid the books based on existing comic characters because a few of the ones I thumbed through relied too much on prior character knowledge, basically you needed to be a fan of the comic in order to enjoy the book. I asked around for books in a superhero setting that were neither Wild Cards nor existing comics… but all the recommendations I got we more Sci-Fi or Fantasy… lacking that element of the superhero, the comic book, that makes it unique. So finally, after coming to the conclusion that either none had been written or that none had been published, I caved in and bought some books from existing comic book heroes.

And I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.

There is a series of books, four of them so far, for the Justice League of America. One book is about the JLA as a whole fighting the good fight, and the other three (of which I’ve only read one so far) take a single member off on his own, with the occasional backup of the JLA. The first book I read was the JLA book, The Exterminators. And when I got into it, I was very happy to see the author not rely on prior knowledge. He explained as he went the relative parts of each character’s background as it was touched on. His book read like a comic without pictures… well, in my head there were plenty of pictures. The book was very well done, all-in-all a two thumbs up review. The second I read was for the Flash, called Stop Motion. Like the other, this author too didn’t trust you to just know the character, but he also didn’t bog you down with 50 years of history in the lives of speedsters of the DC Universe. He told what he needed, that’s it. The story was tight, and exciting… but it did leave me wanting in the end. The finale was just a bit sub par… it was a mystery, and as sometimes happens, the resolution of the mystery, figuring out who done it and why, was much more satisfying than the final conflict between hero and villain. It was like pushing a boulder up hill, excited the whole way up to the top, not knowing what was on the other side, getting to the top, seeing the other side, heart pounding, pushing the rock over the edge… only to see it roll about ten feet and stop because the hill on that side levelled off. It was like a rollercoaster that took you up a huge climb only to have a pitiful drop off the other side. I enjoyed the book, but just was a little less than fulfilled with the resolution once the mystery was unfolded.

There are two more books in the series so far, Batman and Wonder Woman, with a fifth, the Green Lantern, coming soon. I look forward to them.

When I picked up the JLA books, I also decided to grab the two Hellboy books by Christopher Golden, the Lost Army and the Bones of Giants. The Lost Army was a good solid read, and felt like Mike Mignola (creator of Hellboy) had done much of the writing himself. The sense of humor, the oddity of the situations, Christopher captured the essense of the Hellboy comics perfectly in his prose. And like the JLA books, he didn’t rely on the reader knowing Hellboy, not that Hellboy readers really know everything anyway. He would just hint at the past, and give you tastes of the world Hellboy belonged in that existed outside the scope of the story. Right now I’m about halfway through The Bones of Giants… and wow. It’s better than the first book. Christopher’s writing style and familiarity with the mythos now shines with a much deeper and provacative tale. I can’t wait to see how it end.

Anyway, that’s it for now… I’m glad I was wrong about at least some of these comic book novels. I hope more are on the way.