February 5th, 2012

Dead Dog Cat

#22, 23, 24

Over the last few days, I've finished a few books.

The first was Rex Mundi: Book 5: The Valley at the End of the World. This carries the saga to its climactic moment.

Second was Rex Mundi: Book 6: Gate of God. The final battle and epilogue.

Now this graphic novel saga is basically an alternate history series, with the added bit of magic to really make it differ. It's with reading this that I've come to the realization that I like alternate history books that deal with the effects on well-defined characters of the change in history, not with such books that deal with the effects on the world of similar changes. The effects on characters is much more engaging.

Lastly, I read an ebook of Osprey Campaign #83: Corunna 1809: Sir John Moore's Fighting Retreat, the campaign in the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. Pretty solid piece of work, for its small size.


To do even a simple plot summary would spoil this series, I think. Basically, its about two people in Japan in 1984, that shared a connection and now , unknowing, try to seek each other out. 
This book (actually, 3 put together) by Haruki Murakami, is a lot like life. A lot of waiting around and hoping something will happen. A lot of lingering and thnking, interrupted by tiny moments that change your life forever. And then lingering and savoring these moments once again. This is the first Haruki Murakami book I have read. I found it long and redundant at times, and this padding hurts when you are trying to finish. It sucks you in and givs you surprise after surprise, but then kind of sags in the middle. 
I like the metatextual aspect 
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 I find this book hard to rate, however. for one thing, it is so repetitive that, while not painful to get through, I don't think I'd ever want to read it again. (also because half of the enjoyment is the suspense.  A lot of bizarre thing are never really explained are resolved, leaving you with an uneasy feeling after you finish it. 

so, anyone else want to offer up their opinion? I know at least one person on here has discussed it before, but i didn't want to read that post because of spoilers...
  • cat63

Book 9 for 2012

The Briar King by Greg Keyes. 552 pages.
I actually read most of this book last year. At first I found it quite engaging - the world building is original and interesting and the characters are individuals with decided personalities and foibles. Then, for some reason, a few chapters from the end and in the middle of what was actually a fairly dramatic scene, I put the book down and didn't pick it up again until yesterday. I'm really not sure why - I seem to have just lost any impetus to read the book at that point.
The plot is an intricate one, involving the royal family of a country called Crotheny in a world which humans have won from another species which enslaved them centuries before. But to defeat their former masters they made use of a form of magic, which, it is prophesied, will eventually bring about their own destruction. And at the time this book is set it seems that forces are at work to bring that prophecy to fruition.
I've enjoyed all of Keyes' previous books that I've read - this one is set in a different world, but has his trademark cliffhangers and unlikely solutions, so I'm truly puzzled as to why I lost focus on this one. I think I'll need to get the sequel and see how I get on with that.

Four and Five

Books four and five of the year were Bloke Miles (he's got to earn them) by Matthew Ravden, and Rebelion en Milagro by John Nichols. The latter was The Milagro Beanfield War in English, and apparently was called Un Lugar Llamado Milagro in the Spanish film version.

Bloke Miles dealt with the idea of some blokes who did favours for their wives in order to earn miles, to be redeemed against fun bloke activities. I had some problems with some of it; personally I don't see it as my right to go out to the pub on a nightly basis, and haven't since my first born was born. He is now in university. Secondly, to plan to go off to Sydney (Australia)... Hell, I don't have enough money for that and I live in New Zealand, right next door! Some good points, and some very good analysis of the interaction between couples. It often seems that women's writing ignores men, except as objects to win, and men's writing is about aggression, so it was great to read about guys struggling with babies, work, and free time. Even if they had way too much money.

I have always liked Rebelion en Milagro and have read it several times. It seems to me that the lot of the Hispanics in New Mexico and Arizona has actually got worse since this book was written in 1974, but I could be wrong. Certainly it made me think about the number of golf courses and the cost in terms of the loss of livelihoods of the people who previously lived in that part of the world.
So five books, 2252 pages.