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March 10th, 2021, 04:28
I completed book three of Ice and Fire today, Storm of Swords. This is where some of the biggest resolutions to date in the series land, the book has five kings seeking to reign over the kingdoms at one point, and at the finish we are down to just two surviving. And way too many new branching threads begin here to even count, leading straight into a Feast for Crows!
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March 10th, 2021, 10:59
Originally Posted by Carnifex View Post
And way too many new branching threads begin here to even count, leading straight into a Feast for Crows!
I really don't know how you do it. A Storm of Swords is amazing and is probably one of my favourite fantasy books of all time but Feast and Dance are almost unreadable - even the first time you read them. There are just so many better books out there that it really isn't worth allocating the time to read them. The plot in both books is achingly slow with little payoff. Some characters are introduced with entire chapters dedicated to them and then they are simply abandoned. I'm of the opinion that the genius has long since faded and Winds of Winters is highly unlikely to be able to salvage all the weak plotlines introduced by the last two.
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March 10th, 2021, 14:20
Originally Posted by Carnifex View Post
I completed book three of Ice and Fire today, Storm of Swords. This is where some of the biggest resolutions to date in the series land, the book has five kings seeking to reign over the kingdoms at one point, and at the finish we are down to just two surviving. And way too many new branching threads begin here to even count, leading straight into a Feast for Crows!
Good books, I remember liked them very much
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March 10th, 2021, 18:31
Oh I agree completely, as a matter of fact instead of picking up Feast For Crows, I instead seized Bully Pulpit, a biography on Theodore Roosevelt, a book I've only read once before when it first came out some years ago. I'm not sure if I'll go back for the final two entries in Ice and Fire afterwards, as I concur that the series reached its zenith in the third volume.
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March 10th, 2021, 21:12
Originally Posted by xSamhainx View Post
AC:Odyssey got me wanting to get back into studying ancient Greece (who says games are good for nothin)

reading A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War

Brutal. I've known cursory information about the Peloponnesian war, but this goes in-depth on just how truly insane this war was, and the people, politics, geography, religion, even agriculture's role. Wracked by plague that kills nearly a quarter of the population, Athens is nearly brought to it's knees right at the outset. Even claiming Pericles himself, and his family.

The methodology and tactics of the war evolved is pretty fascinating: the evolution of the hoplite phalanx, fighting "honorable" battles, to the descent into lightly armored mercenaries, guerilla tactics, and wholesale slaughter of combatants and non-combatants alike.

I'm about halfway, and while it's an exhaustive account of the history, I'm still pretty gripped. It definitely helps to know a bit about the region, factions, and personalities of the era, as there's a lot of names being dropped. I've had to stop and google more than once!
I think that reading Thukydides would be a good idea here. He wrote everything from his own perspective, trying to be as objective as was possible at that time … - he is regarded as the first real historian.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thucydides
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March 13th, 2021, 23:55
Perfect timing! I finished it this week.

Yes, the author quotes Thucydides almost constantly throughout the book, as he is the most comprehensive source of information on said events. I'm definitely going to get into his works, to get a first-hand account. This book really opened my eyes, and turned my old assumptions around, quite starkly.

First - for some reason, i always sort of assumed that Athens were the "good guys" in the conflict. A democratic society, the cradle of liberal arts, science, and culture. Sparta - an oligarchic, militaristic society that existed on the backs on it's indentured helot slaves.

Yeah, no. There were no good guys in this war. 30 years of slaughter and destruction, untold thousands of innocent people killed, simply because they were in the crossfire of the 2 warring sides, or chose to not pick sides. The sections on siege are particularly brutal - people starved until they surrender, then summarily executed / enslaved. By the end, when Athens was utterly defeated in it's foolhardly attack on Sicily, I felt very different indeed.

The analysis of naval warfare, triremes specifically, very comprehensive and fascinating. The progression of warfare: The death of the hoplite, and the beginning of irregular troops, to the growing art of cavalry in warfare, is a really fun read.

And Socrates was a badass soldier! Yeah, it's a great book, solid analysis.

Now, starting Wuthering Heights…
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March 14th, 2021, 19:09
I#m currently reading a book containing scientific articles about the Vikings.
I learned so far that, apart from having a warrior's ideal, their culture was a bit more diverse than press and video games usually say.
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March 14th, 2021, 21:07
As viking was a profession, not a race/nation, I'd have to ask, on which nation were you actually reading on? I find those cultures totally absorbing, from the basics on how their day to day lives were so different from the ordinary, to how they thought things out, even simplistic things could be regarded quite differently.
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March 14th, 2021, 22:08
Absorbed in Wuthering Heights

I've been listening to the Audiobook for around ten hours, almost at the end.

At first, I was a bit confused, and needed to pull up an Earnshaw/Linton family tree on the internet. Since that time, and as the book has progressed, one has formed in my mind of all of these characters (and their respective estates) done in a grim Edward Gorey style.

Read by a woman w/ a nice British accent, it really suits the Victorian nature of the literature. I've been chuckling aloud at some of the passages, old Joseph the servant is nearly unintelligable at times, and Heathcliff is such a bastard.
A dreary glimpse into a society I've never known, or really ever been interested in. I'm glad I've invested the time tho, it's quite entertaining to hear the performance of this bizarre assortment of characters, locked in their hateful struggle.
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March 14th, 2021, 22:11
Originally Posted by Carnifex View Post
As viking was a profession, not a race/nation, I'd have to ask, on which nation were you actually reading on? I find those cultures totally absorbing, from the basics on how their day to day lives were so different from the ordinary, to how they thought things out, even simplistic things could be regarded quite differently.
Well, it turns out that there were Slavic warriors within the Viking culture as well, I read. This is one of the aspects I didn't know about.

The book is, however, a special press of a regular Archaeology magazine, so it isn't about the basics, rather about newer findings.

Originally Posted by xSamhainx View Post
Absorbed in Wuthering Heights
… And now you'll need to listen to the song by Kate Bush …
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March 15th, 2021, 03:23
Yeah many different nations had people turn to viking as a profession, as the overhead startup costs were fairly light, if you had a weapon, transport, and inclination to rob people, you were pretty set! The Rus were especially talented at the job, and often get overlooked, which isn't fair.

And oddly enough, when I typed this out I was listening to Placebo doing a cover of "Running Up That Hill". Scary coincidence!!!
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March 15th, 2021, 11:45
Re-reading my favourite Neal Asher Cormac book - Brassman. Still amazing.
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March 15th, 2021, 23:07
I finished "Three Body Problem." I thought the writing was a bit dry and unemotional. Was it the translation, the Chinese style, or just the author's style? The ideas presented were captivating, and I really want to find out what happens next, so I decided to buy and read the 2 continuation novels. This book made me really wonder about a great many things, so I would highly recommend it!
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March 16th, 2021, 05:29
I finished Rhythm of War - extremely good book, as expected. It's starting to get a bit difficult to keep track of all the powers, though. Had to go on the web to try and help remember who could do what - and that's a bit dangerous as learning more about what all the types of powers can do is one of the fun parts of Sanderson's stories so you can get spoiled easily. But the characters were great, the plot was great, the twists were expertly twisted… the Stormlight Archive is really becoming the best epic fantasy I've ever read. (Even though the first three chapters of the first book had me totally annoyed.)
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March 16th, 2021, 11:35
After the highly divisive Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (wonderful to me though), it is time for another Suzanna Clarke opus: Piranesi.

If you dig surreal fantasy (more Zelazny than Martin), I highly recommend this book.
Oh, and it is short, about 300 pages - again, a proof that great fantasy does not need thousands of pages and dozens of books to be epic.

(Interesting tidbit: my personal epicest fantasy evar is Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, a mere 10 page long short story by Jorge Luis Borges. Give it a whirl if you are short on time, yet want to blow your mind)
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March 16th, 2021, 12:39
Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
I finished "Three Body Problem." I thought the writing was a bit dry and unemotional. Was it the translation, the Chinese style, or just the author's style? The ideas presented were captivating, and I really want to find out what happens next, so I decided to buy and read the 2 continuation novels. This book made me really wonder about a great many things, so I would highly recommend it!
I am just about halfway through Death's End at the moment. I didn't care overly much for Three Body Problem, but the story really picked up in the second half of The Dark Forest and I did end up liking that one. Death's End so far seems to continue that trend, so I usually find myself reading one more chapter even though it's way past my bed time.

I still think that a lot of the mass behavior exhibited is absurd, but I can live with it.
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March 17th, 2021, 17:34
And a week later, on St. Patrick's Day, I've wrapped up the Bully Pulpit. This is such a great read, detailing lots of history behind Taft, Roosevelt (TR being the superior one, I care a bit less for Franklin), and a golden age of journalism that is likely never to be repeated. They cover what a scoundrel Rockerfeller was back in the day, the transition from convention picking nominees to primaries (a huge mistake, imo), and many other facets and personalities from that spectacular era. A must read, if any of those folks or events are of interest, which they should be, to anyone currently living.

And now I'll get back to Ice and Fire, by picking up Feast For Crows later today.
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March 18th, 2021, 15:27
I finally saw the end of Commodore: A Company on the Edge by Brian Bagnall, that I was reading "in background".

In a nutshell: great 100-150 first pages, after which the author got obviously very bored with it so don't bother reading the rest, it's messy. Lots of interesting and correct facts, and very good story of the early days of personal computers (Tandy, Commodore, Apple, …).
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March 28th, 2021, 06:52
about 70% thru the Odyssey.

I'm enjoying it far more than the Iliad. The Iliad was just mind-numbingly repetitive at times, and I'm sorry - Achilles was just not a very likeable hero, in my opinion.

Far more of the classic mythological characters & creatures, and it just flows way better. Circe, Scylla & Charybdis, Calypso, the shouting match between Odysseus & and the cyclops Polyphemus - great stuff, loved it. Being the follow-up to the Iliad, we get to visit a lot of characters again from it, Nestor, Menelaus, even the dead Achilles and poor Agamemnon (bummer, man) make an appearance when Odysseus summons their ghosts.

Odysseus, by contrast to Achilles, is (for the most part) very cunning, principled, and heroic, at least when it comes to keeping his word, his devotion to his family and comrades, etc. That said, "heroism" of the era is not necessarily ethical - for instance, at one point he's casually going on about how they needed provisions, so they stopped and sacked a city and put all the inhabitants to the sword. Just another day in the life of a hero, you know.

But man are these guys a bunch of crybabies! Every other paragraph they are weeping, falling to the ground and rending their garments, sobbing and inconsolable for hours. I guess maybe it's a period thing, but still it's pretty funny
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March 28th, 2021, 17:42
I'm a huge fan of the Odyssey, haven't read that in a few years myself. I enjoy the Iliad as well, just not as much.

Last night I completed A Feast For Crows, book four in the Ice and Fire series. For me, this is where the quality of the writing seems to diminish a bit, or perhaps the author wasn't as focused, distracted maybe. The first three entries are solid, each having a nice momentum of their own, while sustaining a narrative drive that just seems to get better. I find it still a worthy read, just not as good as the prior volumes. I'm about twenty pages into book five now, A Dance With Dragons, a book I've only read once before, almost ten years ago when it was first released.
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