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April 2nd, 2021, 17:12
Finished Call for the Dead, by John le Carré. A short novel (160 pages), atmospheric, an interesting plot though not very complex. I recommend to anyone who likes post-WWII era spy novels (so old-fashioned, Moscow-rules type, not the modern, gadget type).

I think I'll go on with the George Smiley series, I even spotted an old BBC mini-series, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (the 1979 one, not the more recent movie).
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April 10th, 2021, 18:22
This morning I finally finished A Dance With Dragons, the fifth volume in the Ice and Fire saga, and with Martin's current age, size, and living habits, maybe the final. I find this the weakest of the novels, though it has two of my favourite characters in supporting roles (Belwas and Wylan Manderly, who will possibly go down as one of the greatest heroes of all time). There is just so much exposition, and I know this and the fourth volume were written parallel, so that has much to do with it. Perhaps some of this will all pay off in an upcoming book, yet without that, we'll not know. While the last two volumes are weak and unworthy, the first three are solid, enduring and classic, so I know I'll be back to read them all in another decade or nonce. Should there be folks that actually stomached the show on television yet not tried the novels, I implore you to give them a go. You'll thank me later.

And while I was flailing around this morning for what to read next, I stumbled upon my copy of It, the King novel. I remember the first time I read this book, I think it was late September, 1986, after coming home from work when I lived in Augusta, Georgia. I picked it up after supper, sitting on my porch enjoying a lovely fall evening, and reading until the light was gone and I realized I must needs get to bed so I'd be rested for work the next day! I've since read this book maybe ten times, yet haven't touched it in a decade or more, so I think I'll enjoy it once again.
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April 16th, 2021, 21:45
The Black Company by Glen Cook

Recommended by a friend, this is actually giving me Tyranny vibes.
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April 16th, 2021, 21:53
Oh man, The Black Company series takes me way back, to those glorious eighties, when most book series seemed so new and novel. This is another series that I tend to re-read every five years or so, and sits comfortably in my top ten of all time for sheer greatness. Really good stuff here.
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April 16th, 2021, 21:59
You know, at first I was kinda rolling my eyes at some of it. "Soulcatcher", some the names and stuff like that just had me thinking it was pretty trite and overwrought. Like games workshop goons sitting around coming up w/ ludicrous names like Skullmuncher or Bloodslurper or something.

It's growing on me tho.

What my friend said about that, is this really was the beginning of "grimdark", if you will. This was a pioneering series of books dealing w/ dark, grim fantasy and antiheroes. So yeah, it's over the top, and by today's standards it may seem a bit trite, but back then it was pretty different. Like comparing how we looked at corny heavy metal acts back then (which were badass and scary), vs how we chuckle when we look back at them now
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April 16th, 2021, 22:09
So many novels owe their very existence to what Cook penned forty years ago, similar to how folks like Zelazny, Eddings, and Cook himself owe to the master himself, Tolkien. Cook took the genre, turned it upside down and punted it several leagues, to a point most people still don't understand. At a time when things seemed so mundane, Cook proved that there was still much to explore and understand about dark fiction/fantasy. He really opened my eyes a few decades ago, what a keen intellect he must have!
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April 20th, 2021, 14:42
Finished A Murder of Quality, by John le Carré. It's the 2nd in the series, 160 pages.

Mixed feelings, it's a detective story about a private affair and not a spy novel. It is as good as the first, the intrigue is well designed, the characters are convincing, but I was expecting a larger setting, not a murder story in a secluded community. It's only a personal preference, objectively the book is very good.

One point of interest to me was the part related to the England school system. Boarding school was a bad experience for le Carré and the intrigue stemmed from there. I have read a few summarized descriptions of this medieval-looking social system of boys / house masters / headmasters, and find it so alien. One article even praised the system, arguing that it forged the foundation of any successful future career. I haven't been through that system - I'm not even sure it still exists, but I really doubt it's a sane foundation for anything
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April 20th, 2021, 15:18
Originally Posted by Redglyph View Post
One point of interest to me was the part related to the England school system. Boarding school was a bad experience for le Carré and the intrigue stemmed from there. I have read a few summarized descriptions of this medieval-looking social system of boys / house masters / headmasters, and find it so alien. One article even praised the system, arguing that it forged the foundation of any successful future career. I haven't been through that system - I'm not even sure it still exists, but I really doubt it's a sane foundation for anything
The English public school system (named "public", but actually meaning "private") has always been a madhouse. I got kicked out of it, and went energetically off the rails, which I don't think I would have done if I'd gone to some nice, sane school.

One of my favourite movies is If… (1968). Well before my time, but in many ways not much had changed in my day. I'm told they've become much more humane and civilised now, and one that a relative of mine has got into is definitely a very different ballgame - all about mental and emotional health, and supporting each other. I do hope the old school (literally) has become extinct.
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April 20th, 2021, 17:17
I like the le Carre novels, some are better than others yet I find them all enjoyable to certain degrees. He does characters in a way I really like, and the stories/intrigue parts are often fascinating. It's been quite some time since I read the whole series, might have to do that soon, perhaps over the summer.
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April 20th, 2021, 18:10
Originally Posted by Ripper View Post
One of my favourite movies is If… (1968). Well before my time, but in many ways not much had changed in my day. I'm told they've become much more humane and civilised now, and one that a relative of mine has got into is definitely a very different ballgame - all about mental and emotional health, and supporting each other. I do hope the old school (literally) has become extinct.
Found a, err… backup, I'll watch it later

I hope so too. I'm quite impressed by the mature approach they have now, even at early ages of 6. My kids learned how to manage stress and anger, how to assess a situation and resolve it peacefully, along with other modern tools such as being critical on the information they get, mandatory in our Internet-based world. It still happens, but it's rare to hear about a teacher getting angry at a pupil. There's no more hitting them with a ruler, I'm afraid
Originally Posted by Carnifex View Post
He does characters in a way I really like, and the stories/intrigue parts are often fascinating.
Those are strong suits of his, indeed! I started with The Constant Gardener, long ago. Probably an easier introduction, more mature style I'd say, but the two Smiley's I've read were more subtle and complex in the intrigue. More packed, maybe.
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April 22nd, 2021, 21:20
This morning I completed It, a fine novel from Stephen King. One of those books that I can still vividly recall the first time I read, because the initial impression was so memorable. Coming almost a full decade after The Stand, this novel tells of a fictional town harboring a nasty space critter. The Stand was my all-time favourite King novel until It came along, now they share that honour jointly. Two rather exceptional books, well worth reading in the dark.

Next up for me will be the Expanse novels. I've only ever read the first three, and that was six or seven years ago, this time I believe I'll read them all.
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April 22nd, 2021, 22:12
Originally Posted by Carnifex View Post
This morning I completed It, a fine novel from Stephen King. One of those books that I can still vividly recall the first time I read, because the initial impression was so memorable. Coming almost a full decade after The Stand, this novel tells of a fictional town harboring a nasty space critter. The Stand was my all-time favourite King novel until It came along, now they share that honour jointly. Two rather exceptional books, well worth reading in the dark.

Next up for me will be the Expanse novels. I've only ever read the first three, and that was six or seven years ago, this time I believe I'll read them all.
Oh yes It and The Stand are my King's favourites, with It far ahead on 1st position (but unlike you, I started with this one). The atmosphere I feel in this book is second to none of the books I've read, for some reason I cannot explain. Have you read the Dark Tower series? I never could complete the first one, maybe that time has passed. Or maybe I wasn't patient enough.
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April 23rd, 2021, 03:22
Yeah, I've read all of the Dark Tower books and while I know people that really like them, they just didn't grab me. Unlike several other King novels, I doubt that I'l ever re-read any of the Tower series.
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April 23rd, 2021, 17:38
Just finished The Black Company

It was a fun grimdark read, I'm thinking about doing the next book (since it leaves off on sort of a weird note)
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April 23rd, 2021, 17:45
You must read the next few books, it only gets better. The Black Company lives and endures!!
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April 25th, 2021, 23:36
I've been doing a full reading of Brandon Sanderson's 'Stormlight Archive' books, now that the fourth novel is out. I finished Oathbringer late last week, and read the interstitial novella Dawnshard yesterday. So now it's on to Rhythms of War.

It's interesting to me how a number of Sanderson's viewpoint characters in this series are mentally ill. Kaladin is bipolar depressive. Shallan is fighting with dissociative personality disorder. Since this is a fantasy setting none of the characters have the psychological concepts to understand what they're experiencing, but the problems are no less real. Sanderson has obviously put a fair amount of effort into researching this, and it's not something you usually see in an epic fantasy.
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April 26th, 2021, 11:21
Currently reading the Daevabad trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty, because my wife recommended them. I'm about halfway through book 1, City of Brass, and the jury is still out. Haven't decided whether I like it yet. The setting is a bit atypical for a fantasy story -- well, for the fantasy I usually read at least -- in that its more of a Middle-Eastern/Persian setting.

Originally Posted by Carnifex View Post
This morning I completed It, a fine novel from Stephen King. One of those books that I can still vividly recall the first time I read, because the initial impression was so memorable. Coming almost a full decade after The Stand, this novel tells of a fictional town harboring a nasty space critter. The Stand was my all-time favourite King novel until It came along, now they share that honour jointly. Two rather exceptional books, well worth reading in the dark.

Next up for me will be the Expanse novels. I've only ever read the first three, and that was six or seven years ago, this time I believe I'll read them all.
Yeah, they're both awesome, but The Stand is probably my favorite King novel. If I have to pick a second one I'd probably go with The Shining.

I'll probably read the Expanse series next after I finish with the Daevabad books.
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April 26th, 2021, 21:47
I finished Leviathan Wakes this morning, the first novel in the Expanse series. What a terrific read, good sci-fi fare, and then some! Solid characters, a plot that starts off with a bang and only gets better, memorable events, and plenty to wonder about what might go down in the next installment. Instead of diving right into the second book, Lonesome Dove grabbed my attention this morning, so I'm already into that one. I will get to Caliban's War, never fear!
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May 2nd, 2021, 00:39
The Picture of Dorian Gray, listening on Audible

So many great Oscar Wilde quotes during this one. The narrator is perfectly, properly, and snobbily English accented, and it's downright funny to listen to at times. Reading Wilde is one thing, hearing him performed is quite another.

“Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is by far the best ending for one.”

“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”

“Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late, that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.”

“Nowadays people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”

“Men marry because they are tired, women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.”

“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.”
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May 2nd, 2021, 03:22
Picture of Dorian Gray is a most excellent read (or listen to), enjoy! I'll have to re-read that one for myself sometime soon.
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