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Old 2006-02-10, 01:41   Link #41
Lady Yanami
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You like scary books? Read any of Clive Barker's books. Not only does he have a great imagination for creating awesome monstars and demons per se, it allows your imagination to run free. But never be embarassed because you like to read. There is nothing wrong with that. I read all the time. But for Clive Barker, one book I HIGHLY recommend is Weaveworld. That and Imajica.
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Old 2006-02-10, 06:15   Link #42
Loniat
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I am currently reading Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger. If you are interested in politics and history, this book is worth every page.
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Old 2006-02-14, 05:50   Link #43
Retsoor
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Dorothy Dunnett - The Lymond Chronicles (The Game of Kings, Queen's Play, The Disorderly Knights,
Pawn in Frankincense, The Ringed Castle, Checkmate)

The titular character of the series - Francis Crawford of Lymond - seems to me to be the very definition of a larger than life character. A polyglot, leader
of men, swordsman extraordinaire and possessing a rapier quick wit, the rogue Lymond is a worthy protagonist. Simple he is not, and ofttimes he encounters trouble because he refuses to explain himself, considering his actions self-evident and is content to being misunderstood. The series incorporates numerous historical characters but the Crawford family and some near friends of theirs are fictional.

The story begins a few years after King Henry VIII's death in 1547 and includes settings such as England during the reigns of Edward VI and Queen Mary, Francis' native Scotland, France during King Henri II, Russia with Ivan the Terrible, the Ottoman Empire with Suleiman the Magnificent, Malta with the Knight Hospitallers etc.

Dunnett's writing is masterly and her research shows clearly here, describing things to such detail that conjuring your own image while reading isn't hard at all. She incorporates the fictional Lymond ingeniously to the threads of history making the readers believe that such a person truly existed. All her characters are well-crafted, I don't believe I disliked a single portrayal of anyone in the series and there are numerous memorable characters, including one of my very favourite female characters in literature, Philippa Somerville.

While the series is not without it's faults (e.g. Queen's Play does drag a little during the middle) and it isn't the easiest series to get into - given Lymond's massive predilection to quotes - it is in my opinion one of the finest pieces of literature existing and if I had to find one singular flaw it is that I'm loathe to begin her Niccolo series since I know Francis Crawford is not included therein. Maybe in a few years time.

Rating: Excellent.


Cecil Smith Forester - The Horatio Hornblower Saga (Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, Lieutenant Hornblower,
Hornblower and the Hotspur
, Hornblower During the Crisis, Hornblower and the Atropos, Beat to Quarters,
Ship of the Line, Flying Colours, Commodore Hornblower, Lord Hornblower, Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies)

The above is the chronological order for the series.

The books depict the life of Horatio Hornblower from his first days at sea to an old sea dog. There's not actually much to say about this. They are just damn good swashbuckling sea tales. There characters are memorable and some of the fights pack a real punch (Lydia v Natividad and the end of Ship of the Line which had me on the edge of my seat). I managed to read the first eight novels almost back to back before I ran out of steam. Have to save the last three for some nice holiday.

Rating: Highly Enjoyable.


Arturo Pérez-Reverte - The Fencing Master

Aging swordmaster Jaime Astarloa is inured in custom, though self-aware of it and quite content. Vainly attempting to perfect his master stroke of fencing, Don Jaime can't quite grasp the fire with which to uncover it's secrets and immortalize himself in the annals of the sword. One day a beautiful noblewoman, Adela de Otero, comes to his door asking him to teach her his secret sword thrust. Thus is set in motion a plot that will get the self-contained old fencing master in the move.

A refreshing change of pace. The 50+ years old, highly traditional Don Jaime is an interesting protagonist with his strict views on honour and how things should be. The setting is 19th-century Spain when Queen Isabella's hold on her nation is weak and revolution is brewing amidst the people.

The narration is strong and gripping and will leave you enthralled. The few fencing bouts are described in detail and are convincing as well as engrossing. The novel advances apace and there's hardly a dull moment in the 200 odd pages.

Rating: Very good.


Robert Jordan - The Knife of Dreams

The Wheel of Time sequence likely doesn't need an introduction anymore. Jordan seems determined to complete the series in the promised twelve books by forgoing a gentle transition to the end of times by reintroducing the bubbles of evil as prominent elements in this book, seemingly out of nowhere. The Wheel of Time hasn't exactly been a tour de force lately, seeing as I skipped the previous book and was entirely on top of things once I started KoD, but Jordan does manage to somewhat return to form here, completing numerous side and major (debatable) plots.

One has to wonder on the rationale some of the characters here work though. Some of the antagonists make infantile mistakes, Perrin's pining became tiring as soon as it began and is untolerable half a decade later, Rand's most deeds of consequence happen behind the scenes and Elaida seems intent on being her own hangman.

The story is moving forward though, and with some major time consumers finished here the last book could be an enjoyable experience. KoD did it's job, it wasn't great by any means but it did manage to rekindle my interest in the series, and with the end near A Memory of Light will find it's way onto my bookshelf as soon as it is published.

Rating: Mediocre.


Jacqueline Carey - The Sundering (Banewreaker, Godslayer)

Banewreaker is the start of the new series by the author of the lauded Kushiel Saga, and first roused my interest by being from the point of view of the bad guys. Haomane, chiefest among the seven gods, is playing his hand through his immortal lackey who tries to fulfill Haomane's prophecy of his brother Satoris' destruction. The misunderstood Satoris and his immortal Three try to stop their plans. Tanaros, a member of the Three goes to capture Cerelinde, whose marriage to the last King of Men augurs the destruction of Satoris.

At least it sounded promising. Carey really dropped the bone in characterisation here, how am I to believe that even the thousand-year-old humans have virtually changed not at all during their long years? Tanaros is still angsting over the betrayal of his wife and king like it happened yesterday and not a millennium before, what's-his-name is still a seemingly savvy politicker and Lilias is an insecure, middling girl. I am rooting for the "bad guys" but only because of what they are, not who they are.

Carey does have some interesting tidbits here, the story of the fall of Satoris, the interaction between Tanaros and Cerelinde and the conflict between Haomane and Satoris is interesting, all-in-all. Too bad the "bad guys" are shafted throughout the story though, like how an archer manages to kill three elite hunters before they have a chance to react is beyond me. At least now I know how it feels when the good guys get all the breaks and the baddies are left standing slackjawed.

Since the Sundering should've been one book all along, I'll read the sequel, but I'm not hurrying about it.

Rating: Readable.


R. Scott Bakker - A Prince of Nothing (The Darkness that Comes Before, The Warrior Prophet, The Thousandfold Thought)

In the world of Eärwa, the Shriah of the Thousand Temples announces that a holy war shall begin. Speculation abounds whether the target of the holy war are the sorcerous schools of Eärwa or the pagan Fanim. The Great Names convene to march for their faith and into all this steps Anasûrimbor Kellhus...

Bakker, who is a complete newcomer to not only to the genre, but to writing in general, has created an amazingly detailed world and a horde of impressive characters. Eärwa most resembles Europe during the Middle Ages, and as such is very gritty and unforgiving. Women's only bid for power is through men and the two prominent female characters in the series are a concubine and a whore. Eärwa is almost completely devoid of "Nice Guys", or even nice people, but that doesn't make them any less compelling. Bakker's meticulously detailed world becomes even more evident with the 100 page glossary at the end of the third book and his attention to the metaphysical aspects of Eärwa in the same book.

The characters do not lose even an inch to the world though. They are far from cardboard cutouts, Achamian ("Akka") is not only a powerful sorceror, but timid in the face of the future. Esmenet is not only a whore with a heart of gold, but a whore. Cnaiür is not only a mad barbarian, but completely bonkers. Kellhus is not only a saviour, but a monster.

While Cnaiür is fantastic character in all his mad glory, I believe the series true triumph is Kellhus. He is perhaps the most convincing portrayal of a superhuman man I've ever seen. The way he manipulates men's hearts and desire is disturbing as well as riveting. Kellhus, a Dûnyain monk, is trained in the ways of limb and thought, to believe in Logos, that to know what comes after you must know what comes before. While it could sound boring to read about a man who to all practical extents has no emotions his very amorality is one of the finer points in his character. He uses men without a thought to only further his goals.

The books are definitely not for everyone though. If you thought Martin's world was gritty, it doesn't hold a candle to Eärwa. It's been a long while since I read Glen Cook, but the Black Company books more resemble this in grittiness. The books have sex in them and death abounds, and Bakker doesn't shy from describing either. To me, it brings authenticity and ... newness but I realize some might feel repulsed. Bakker, a student of philosophy, also really, really likes to incorporate philosophy into the series, and it works surprisingly well. The tidbits in the characters' conversation are every bit as interesting as the rest.

The author and one anonymous person have nicely compressed what draws me into the series in one sentence (taken out of context), respectively:

"This is a war story about the rise of a master manipulator." and

"The story is mostly about a immensely intelligent sociopath let loose in a world where noone can really match up to him."

The first book may be hard to get into, especially in the beginning (upto 200 some pages, I'd say it really begins in the introduction of Cnaiür and reintroduction of Kellhus), but I highly recommend bearing with it to the end. If you don't like it then, odds are you won't like the rest.

While epic fantasy doesn't exactly hold the highest of regards in people's hearts nowadays, this is epic fantasy at its finest.

(You might want to read some of Bakker's interviews if you're unsure to pick this up, the man is damn smart and really lets go in those interviews, or you might want to read the first books prologue at the series website.)

Rating: Excellent. (derived mostly from enjoyment level)
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Old 2006-02-14, 11:11   Link #44
Ending
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Just started reading Dragonlance's "War of Souls" -a later sequel to the Chronicles saga. Have to see if it is as good as its supposed-to-be predecessors.
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Old 2006-02-15, 00:23   Link #45
Princess Serena
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Book: The Little Book Of Philosophy.
Author:Andre` Comte-Sponville.

It is such a great read. Obviously I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in Philosophy.
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Old 2006-02-15, 07:39   Link #46
Rutle
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I just finished reading Althalus by David & Leigh Eddings. It was kinda average book. For some reason it reminded me of The Belgariad series quite a lot. It might be the thing that in both books they gather the group and then they strike against the "evil". Anyway, I liked The Belgariad series more than Althalus.

Planing to read The Tawny Man series by Robin Hobb again. That's a great sequel for The Farseer Trilogy.
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Old 2006-02-15, 07:59   Link #47
physics223
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Join Date: Feb 2006
I was reconnected to the Internet since January 20, 2006. From then, I have not finished any books except The Crescent Moon of Rabindranath Tagore, thus the title of my blog.

I am an avid fan of reading for pleasure, though, and I like tackling on difficult books deemed 'difficult' by students. When I read them I find more pleasure than those brainless Princess Diaries or Wheel of Time series ... (but that's just my opinion)

Before The Crescent Moon I've read an African-American classic, The Sable Cloud, which was not really great but gave an insight on the other side of slavery.

Before these I've read thirteen books in two months' time. Among the best of them was William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (definitely recommended if you are up for a formidable challenge and will persist no matter what) because of his streams-of-consciousness. I know Lawrence Sterne started it first; I know it was formally used by Edouard Dujardin; I know it was popularized by Joyce. I also know that William Faulkner set it in stone. It was an extremely difficult book with a reward corresponding to its difficulty in the end. I can't erase it from my mind, and perhaps will you, even if you will eventually trash it. (I trashed it one time before I set my mind to finish it, and was totally amazed with Faulkner's serpentine yet powerful technique, especially in the Quentin chapter.)

I, however, like a lot about Japan. I've read some Mishima, Kawabata, Murakami (Haruki, not Ryu), and Tanizaki. I've pretty much read the greats of their country, and I like its culture.

I can't disregard these magical authors, either: Hemingway, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Pessoa (The Book of Disquiet). I may be a book-snub in that I only like reading classics, but that helps me. I hope I can get into the mood to read again even amidst this cool Internet connection.

More power to those who love to read!
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Old 2006-02-15, 14:10   Link #48
Shay
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I'm half way through Catch22 and to be honest I hate it. I don't know why I started this book because it's completely the opposite to what I'm into. I don't think I'll finish it. >.<
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Old 2006-02-15, 14:21   Link #49
wingdarkness
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Damn Shay you read?? XD

Hehe...Last Book I read was a few weeks ago i read Phil Jackson's "The Last Season" ...It was basically memoirs and journal entries from Phil Jackson turmoil filled final season as Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach (Yeah it was so bad he came back this year )...It was actually an easy read and quite interesting to say the least... I actually have a new respect for Phil jackson because he really is a pretty brilliant person and he's extremely philisophical about every aspect of his life...Basically the book talks alot about the whole Kobe-Shaq fued and makes Kobe look like the selfish prick he really is...Don't know how Kobe could forgive Phil after the stuff he said about him which included telling managment, "It's either him or me!!" Nonetheless good book...

I don't read many books...I'm more of a newspaper, net-blog, and magazine article person, but maybe that'll change...
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Old 2006-02-16, 22:13   Link #50
Sakura-chan
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I'm currently re-reading Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome.
I love that book
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Old 2006-02-17, 10:39   Link #51
Thyrz
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Hey guys, I'm looking for a good book to read as I haven't done it in an ever so long time.

Anyone want to recommend me a book that's as fun and interesting as Ocean's Eleven or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang ( seriously watch this awesome movie )?
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Old 2006-02-17, 10:42   Link #52
Hiko Seijuro
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Hmmm lets see, Star Trek Titan 2nd book, i doubt anyone has read the Titan series, or any star trek series
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Old 2006-02-17, 13:57   Link #53
physics223
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I'd like to recommend The Sound and The Fury. It simply takes over your life, once you get into it and finally finish it. Though difficult, it really is worth it (for me, anyway).

It didn't get to the Random House ranking of Top Six in the 20th century if it were bad. It's really great, just notoriously difficult.
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Old 2006-02-24, 23:44   Link #54
BriteDarkness
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I just finished reading 1984 and rereading Catch 22.
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Old 2006-02-25, 21:39   Link #55
Diodati
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Quote:
Originally Posted by physics223
Before these I've read thirteen books in two months' time. Among the best of them was William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (definitely recommended if you are up for a formidable challenge and will persist no matter what) because of his streams-of-consciousness. I know Lawrence Sterne started it first; I know it was formally used by Edouard Dujardin; I know it was popularized by Joyce. I also know that William Faulkner set it in stone.
It seems that many people these days denote any interior monologue as stream of consciousness, which isn't correct to me. Laurence Sterne never used the technique because his thoughts are 'deliberate' spontaneous patterns. It's not a sincere thought representation because he 'wants' to digress. That isn't stream of consciousness in the original sense. It's easier to note the difference when comparing it to Joyce, Woolf and Faulkner (who I would say *do* use the technique) - but they all credited it to Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage. And she hated the term.

However you get major points for mentioning these great authors in the first place.

Quote:
. (I trashed it one time before I set my mind to finish it, and was totally amazed with Faulkner's serpentine yet powerful technique, especially in the Quentin chapter.)
Faulkner is an excellent author - the novels he did between 1929 and 1939 are all standouts in 20thcent fiction imo - my fave is probably Light in August, although I'm not sure it would be his 'best'.
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Old 2006-02-25, 21:58   Link #56
Maceart
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Waiting for Godot by Beckett. Worst piece of Frenchman crap ever. If you ever pay to watch the play, you fail at life.
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Old 2006-02-25, 22:17   Link #57
physics223
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diodati
It seems that many people these days denote any interior monologue as stream of consciousness, which isn't correct to me. Laurence Sterne never used the technique because his thoughts are 'deliberate' spontaneous patterns. It's not a sincere thought representation because he 'wants' to digress. That isn't stream of consciousness in the original sense. It's easier to note the difference when comparing it to Joyce, Woolf and Faulkner (who I would say *do* use the technique) - but they all credited it to Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage. And she hated the term.

However you get major points for mentioning these great authors in the first place.

Faulkner is an excellent author - the novels he did between 1929 and 1939 are all standouts in 20thcent fiction imo - my fave is probably Light in August, although I'm not sure it would be his 'best'.
Technically speaking, many critics agree that The Sound and the Fury was his best work. Even Faulkner attested to that by saying before writing TSatF that 'I will write a book on which I will stand or fall as a writer.' After some time he published The Sound and the Fury. These are grave words from a master author, and indeed, many share the belief that he stood as a writer when he finished The Sound and the Fury.

I agree with you. Those books are ALL standouts: Light in August, Absalom, Absalom!, The Sound and the Fury, Go Down Moses, and As I Lay Dying. I have only read The Sound and the Fury (for now) as it is difficult to read while having classes. I only read Faulkner's works when it is vacation time so as I could give enough thought about what he wrote, and so as I could understand what he wrote more.

Light in August, as far as I know and remember, was the only work by Faulkner that wasn't difficult [relatively straightforward, that is]. TSatF was full of streams-of-consciousness (as I could tell), AILD similarly was also full of this; Absalom, Absalom! was a masterpiece of complex language and ingenuity, whereas Light in August was his simplest masterpiece (and I'm not saying it's among the least of his books. It's a masterpiece nonetheless.)

Why do I know so much about this guy? I read about him after my first failure in reading TSatF so I could also understand what he wrote more. I researched, and it helped me in appreciating that superb masterwork of complexity: The Sound and the Fury.

What is also more amazing is where he got the sonorous title: Macbeth. In one of the most celebrated Macbethian passages ... bah. Here it is:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing...
Internal monologuing is a technique in literature that seems to let the reader perceive the character talking to oneself - I agree that it is deliberate and non-spontaneous. (Billiards at Half-Past Nine by Heinrich Boll is a great example.) Streams-of-consciousness is the RAW thought of the character himself, and among the masters I only like Woolf and Faulkner (To the Lighthouse and The Sound and the Fury).

The last book I've read, which I finished just yesterday, was Malcolm Lowry's October Ferry to Gabriola. Although a more honest and more allusive book than his masterpiece Under the Volcano (and a more difficult one at that with all the foreign phrases and the hazy thoughts [this man also likes to use thought processes, though they aren't pure streams-of-consciousness or internal monologues at that]), I am thankful that I was able to read a classic once more.
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Old 2006-02-25, 22:23   Link #58
physics223
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maceart
Waiting for Godot by Beckett. Worst piece of Frenchman crap ever. If you ever pay to watch the play, you fail at life.
On the contrary, it is one of the towering plays of 20th century literature. Samuel Beckett won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969. It's quite difficult, because his mentor was James Joyce, the half-insane genius who wrote even more difficult novels, such as Finnegans Wake and Ulysses (which I haven't read).

I read Joyce's Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, and some of his Dubliners stories. Just read The Dead to be able to say that he was a genius indeed, and not some half-assed avant-garde writer.

Beckett - forgive him. Please?

I plan to read it ... after our two exams.
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Old 2006-03-02, 08:29   Link #59
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Currently for school I have to read "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker.
I've only gotten to page 50 at the moment. Though I think it relatively boring, and the wording are very old, much like the mid 1800. Finding quotes for the book is even harder, since the manner of the languages is without much grammar or puncuation at all, and no quotation marks.

Second I have to read "The Hot Zone." I heard from the teacher it's a pretty decent book to read. I remember that there was a movie that seems to fit the storyline quite accurately. I think it was called "OutBreak." Yes!, i'm right. Gotta love the search engines. Well back to reading.

ps: I have to read these 2 books for my core classes.
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Old 2006-03-02, 08:50   Link #60
Thyrz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maceart
Waiting for Godot by Beckett. Worst piece of Frenchman crap ever. If you ever pay to watch the play, you fail at life.
http://imdb.com/title/tt0276613/

Look at that, 8+. Don't worry though, you probably have crap taste.
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