Reading Railroad

vorpWith so many projects going on in my life, I’m finding it increasingly helpful to make lists and schedules, even if I don’t strictly stick to them.  One of those areas, oddly enough, was reading.  I’ve started to feel like my approach to reading was getting scattered.  I have a lot of half-finished books that I really should wrap up, and I kept thrashing around for new book ideas without any sort of plan.

So I took an hour the other day to dig through several book recommendation lists and create a list of about 20 novels that I’m going to try to read this year.  Since many of those are the first books in series, that could end up being a lot more than 20 books if all goes well.  So I’ve got my reading list lined up, and my new rule is that for every new book I read, I’m going to finish up one of those half-read ones.

Anyway, if you care for a few recommendations, here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

  • Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold — I was really excited to finally read a new book in the Vorkosigan universe, although it was a bit disappointing that Ivan, not Miles, is center-stage in this one.  It’s still a pretty entertaining read that actually comes in the timeline before Cryoburn (which was the previous book released in the series).
  • Devil’s Lair by David Wisehart — An interesting revisit of Dante’s Inferno as a group of Dante’s contemporaries journey to Hell to recover the Holy Grail.
  • Spirit’s End by Rachel Aaron — A solid end to the Eli Monpress series.  I highly recommend these books: the characters are quite engaging and the fantasy world is definitely different than the norm.
  • Red Country by Joe Abercrombie — The latest book in his First Law universe, Red Country is more of a Western than anything else.  It’s still pretty brutal, but actually not as dark as his previous books.  It’s also not as good, in my opinion, but I still enjoyed reading it.
  • Prince/King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence — Now talk about dark, here you have a series where the main character is as anti-hero as you get.  He’s a prince-turned-assassin who travels with murderers and is hell-bent on revenge.  And yet, he’s a guy you end up rooting for, because there is something about him that is redeemable.  And as an added bonus, the fantasy series takes place in a far-future earth, so there’s a bit of post-apocalyptic vibe going on.
  • The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks — I love Weeks’ stuff, and this second book in his color-magic series picks up steam from the first.  It’s still a weird magic system and world, but I’m kind of on board with the concept.  The prison escape sequences were my favorite.

As always, I’m up for more recommendations from you guys!

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7 thoughts on “Reading Railroad

  1. Nice choices.

    Just got done with Red Country and Prince of Thorns. Liked them both. Agree Red Country wasn’t Abercrombie’s best work –though I was happy to see the return of one of my favorite characters. Prince of Thorns was a nice switch-up, and I’m looking forward to reading King of Thorns next.

    Here’s a recommendation in turn if you like fantasy: The Castings Trilogy by Pamela Freeman.
    (three books, or buy the trilogy as one big book, on sale: http://www.amazon.com/The-Castings-Trilogy-Pamela-Freeman/dp/B007K4HY58 ). It’s long — 1200 pages — but it has a well-thought out and believable world (even with ubiquitous ghosts and elemental magic), and really well-crafted characters. Many very minor characters (NPCs ) get their own 1-5 page tales — you’ll find out why at the very end of the series — which breathes even more life into the world. I especially liked that — like Red Country and Prince of Thorns — characters’ motives and actions aren’t simply black and white, as they struggle with issues like freedom, family, revenge and justice.

  2. I just finished up Jim Butcher’s latest in his Harry Dresden Series. Cold Days, it’s called. But don’t read it if you haven’t read the rest of the Dresden Files. This one wasn’t his best, but it was still fun overall.

    I also read “Ruins” by Orson Scott Card. It’s the 2nd in his new “Pathfinder” series. I’ve very much enjoyed both of them.

    Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia was a fun read. It’s $7.99 on its own, but you can get the 1st 3 (MH: International, MH: Vendetta, and MH: Alpha) in an omnibus for $9.99, but I didn’t find that out until after I’d already bought the 1st one. Ah well. I still plan to get the rest of the series and look up more of Correia’s work. I’d never heard of him until recently, so I’ve got his entire collection to work through now.

    Brandon Sanderson’s got a couple of novellas out — “Legion” and “The Emperor’s Soul.” Both quite fun reads that were easily done in a couple of hours.

    Vox Day just released “The Throne of Bones” and says it’s somewhat inspired by Abercrombie. I thought it was pretty good. He’s also got “A Magic Broken” which is a novella length prequel, of sorts. I read it after “Bones” and it was nice to have a little more backstory on some of the characters.

  3. I haven’t been following your blog very long, so forgive me if this has been suggested before, but if you’re taking recommendations, I have to mention Ian Irvine’s “Three Worlds Cycle.” Irvine is, IMO, this generation’s Tolkien, and I’ve just been utterly blown away by his books.

    Most authors I know are good at one or two things, but Irvine’s good at everything. His characters are deeper than any I’ve seen before, his action is non-stop and thrilling, his world-building is second to none. He’s incredibly original, with a very grounded and scientific take on a fantasy universe and little black and white morality. I really can’t say enough about how good these books are.

    It’s a very long series, but it starts with the “View from the Mirror” quartet, the first book of which is called “A Shadow on the Glass.”

    I’ve also been really enjoying Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Shadows of the Apt” series. It’s a steampunk/fantasy hybrid with a great cast of diverse characters and some incredibly original world-building. Tchaikovsky’s universe is based on these sub-races of humanity (called “kinden”) who draw powers and traits from totemic insects.

    My personal favourites are the Mantis-kinden. They’re sort of like savage, bloodthirsty Elves — terrifying and elegant and tragic all at once.

    “Apt” also features one of the most frightening villains I’ve seen in fantasy, who’s all the more interesting because we’ve seen them go from someone utterly powerless to the most ruthless and powerful person in the world.

    Oh, and you owe it to yourself to check out “Greatshadow” by James Maxey. It’s funny, it’s exciting, it’s heartfelt. It’s just completely fantastic.

    …Yeah, I read too much. You’re probably regretting asking for recommendations now.

  4. I finished “The Rook” last night – great recommendation – and then started “Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End” by Manel Loureiro. It got great reviews on Amazon and I was able to check it out for free from the Amazon Prime Lending Library. It’s very very good, a real page-turner. I had to force myself to stop reading or I would’ve pulled an all-nighter. It’s been a very long time since a book hooked me so completely. In fact, I’m off to continue reading as soon as I post this! I think you’d like it too.

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