Archive for the ‘Purchases’ Category

Weber quartet

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Recently I’ve gotten back into the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. Today I visited the bookstore, and surprise surprise, it had some David Weber novels on discount and the paperback version of the latest Honor Harrington novels that I didn’t have yet. In fact, they were the first two novels of the Safehold series, Off Armageddon Reef (2007) and By Schism Rent Asunder (2008), which was quite convenient as I already had books 3 and 5 of the series, and the other two were Mission Of Honor (2010) and A Rising Thunder (2012). So I had a nice foursome of two pairs and a small recovery of my read pile which I have been hitting the last few months. However, one cannot read too much of one author so I do plan to put in a break, because, in all honesty, Weber is not that a versatile writer and his prose does get repetitive. His novels are well structured and do not contain flaws so you only obtain a dislike if you read several novels in a row. That said, I should not change into reviewing mode here.

Words in pieces

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

In older times there were no standards set for the length of a story or a book. Because of that there exist some massive works spreading many volumes and it is only the loss of material due to lack of copying (everything) over time that many are reduced to more manageable sizes.

Recently I had a lengthy vacation in China and this roused by interest in the classics of Chinese literature. China invented bookprint some centuries before the West did so there must be some stuff around. I selected two works, partially because they were quite extensive as mentioned above. Luckily these were complete stories. However their length also meant that the work had been cut into separate volumes. Of course this happens all the time these days but with such old works there is always the question if the place where the work is cut into pieces is not random and does allow for a break. I have no idea so I will have to wait and see.

The first work is a historical novel called The Romance Of The Three Kingdoms (ca. 1400) by Guangzhong Luo. It is an abridged version, although this was done in the 1660s, in which non-relevant material (for the story) was removed and some passages were improved. So technically the story is still complete. It’s total length is about 1300 pages so the novel is cut into two parts. The novel is an adaptation of a set of oral tales about a period in history from 184 to 280, telling about the events that lead to the fall of the Han dynasty and the breakup of China into three rival kingdoms which warred with each other. The story has been adapted into modern versions a lot so it is nice to read the original tale.

The second work is one of the first modern Chinese novels, written in 1760, although the work was still incomplete by that time as the author, named Xueqin Cao, died in that year. It took until 1791 before the work was actually published and the publisher, named Gao E, used the working manuscript of the author to complete the story. The work I am talking about is published under two titles. Its most common name is The Dream Of The Red Chamber, although my edition carries the alternative name, The Story Of The Stone. Its total length runs to about 2500 pages. I have obtained the complete version of the novel and this edition has been cut into five pieces: 3 books of 600 pages, compromising the original works by Xueqin Cao, and 2 books of over 300 pages which have been completed by Gao E. Unlike The Romance Of The Three Kingdoms the five volumes each carry a title of their own: The Golden Days, The Crab-Flower Club, The Debt Of Tears, The Warning Voice, and The Dreamer Awakes. As the last two versions were not completely written by the author I intend to review each novel separately, although that may give me some headaches on giving each something new to say about.

So far about the background of this work. As I’ve mentioned it is a modern novel, which means it has a story that takes place in about the same time and reflects events that take place. So when it was published it was a contemporary novel: It told about people, society and culture that were fairly familiar to the readers and as such the work reflects and depicts mid seventeenth century life and just for that it makes a very interesting work as very few of such works can be found from the past and this one belongs to the earliest in which authors began to write about their own society and life (not counting autobiographies) in a story they made up themselves.

I don’t know when I will pick up these works but they will be attracting my eye on my bookshelves for the time to come.

 

Fantastic forage

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

One thing that make me hesitate sometimes to buy a second-hand book or a book with a discount is that they are often second or third novels in a series. Even if it’s the first novel there is sometimes the question if one can find the next novels, or at least the same edition. Nowadays with the internet this has become much easier, although finding the other novels at a discount as well can be much harder.

Occasionally I like to browse on the web for some online bookstores and see if they have some nice offers. Recently I bumped into one that sold second-hand books really cheaply with no send costs. They had a large number of books and it took me some time to collect a nice set of books including two complete series. They are all fantasy novels, and 10 in total. First were two novels which I wanted because they completed two series which I had only partially. Among these was the first novel of Legends Of The Red Sun, Nights Of Villjamur (2009) by Mark Charan Newton. I reviewed the next two installments recently. And the other was In The Red Lord’s Reach by Phyllis Eistenstein, a sort of story collection around the minstrel Alaric, of which I had the first novel for some time. I hadn’t been looking for the next installment, but coming across it for a cheap price made me decide to get it.

The biggest of the two series is by Juliet E. McKenna. The Tales Of Einarinn contains 5 novels: The Thief’s Gamble (1999), The Swordsman’s Oath (1999), The Gambler’s Fortune (2000),The Warrior’s Bond (2001) and The Assassin’s Edge (2002). One can image finding a complete set of the same edition on a discount at once it not easy. The series itself seems to have had a relatively limited number of publications as I have looked around for it in the past as I’ve come across singular novels here and there. The second series is the Crossroads Trilogy by Kate Elliott: Spirit Gate (2007), Shadow Gate (2008) and Traitor’s Gate (2009). I have reviewed the seven book series she wrote before this one, The Crown Of Stars. My opinion was mixed, there being good and weak novels among them, but there was sufficient good stuff to give this series a try.

Now that I notice it, 9 of the 10 novels have a female author. Not that that’s strange, but it is peculiar, at least for me. I have in the meantime already started with the Crossroads Trilogy, so more reviews will follow soon.

 

The first one is not there

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

The downside on finding cheap discounts that in many cases, if the book is question is part of a series, it will not be the first one but the second or third. Partially that is troublesome because often starting with a second or later book will disclose details from the earlier books which will make them less appealing to read. On the other hand, chances are reasonable that sufficient time passes before one manages to find that first book also for a cheap price. In this day and age of internet (second hand) bookshops the waiting game is much less of a big deal. Finding cheap discounts is fairly easy. To make it less easy for me I try to get the same edition so that the books match.

Anyways, I got my hand on three new (and cheap) second hand fantasy novels. The first one is How Firm This Foundation (2011) by David Weber. This is actually book five of the Safehold series of which I previously purchased (also as a discount) the third book, By Heresies Distressed. Obviously this series will take a while before I decide to get into it. I will just see where it will go before I will be tired of waiting and just start looking on the internet for the other books.

The next two books make completion a little easier as they are books two and three of the Cycle Of Fire trilogy by Janny Wurts. The novels are Keeper Of The Keys (1988) and Shadowfane (1988). I’ve been reading her Wars Of Light And Shadow series for some years now so it shouldn’t be that bad to get one of her older works. Somewhere in the back of my head a voice is saying that I’ve read one novel of the Cycle Of Fire a long time ago, but I can’t remember anymore. It was probably when I still lived at my parents’ place and went to a library often.

So some more books for my read pile, which has only seen some moderate progress lately due to other activities. At some point I will be heading ahead again.

 

Middle books

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

I got two new purchase and both have the particular attribute that they are sort of middle books of a fantasy series. Both were cheap on the discount and having them doesn’t mean I should start reading them already. The earlier books were not there, so if I see them on discount later on I can still get them. I just like getting things cheap if I would consider reading it some time.

The first is David Weber‘s By Heresies Distressed (2009). It’s the third book of the Safehold series. I recently read his first Honor Harrington novel and I like it enough to give this other series a try. While the Harrington series is military science fiction, this series seems more fantasy than science fiction, although there have been more series where those genres were blurred. The second is House Name (2011) by Michelle West. It’s the third book of the House War series. Michelle West was tipped by a friend of mine and it looked okay enough to give it a try. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, if the discount is big enough and the novel seems not too cliché and the concept interesting enough, I’m willing to step over the threshold of doubt. As they are both later books I have no idea when I will pick them up. Either I wait to find the earlier novels or I will just go right in.

 

First haul of the new year

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

It’s been a while since I got myself some new books and in my first haul I managed to update my Wanted Books list, as I found Honor’s Paradox (2011) by P.C. Hodgell in the store, the sixth and latest novel of her epic fantasy Kencyrath novels. Helped by them being on discount I also picked up two novels of two other series. The first are books 1 and 3 of the Honor Harrington military science fiction series by David Weber, named On Basilisk Station (1993) and The Short Victorious War (1994) respectively. A friend of mine had tipped them to me long ago and although I had gotten digital versions I disliked reading from the screen so much that I never started on them. Now that I found a novel in the store and on discount I had to give it a try now. As there was another novel of the series on discount I decided to get it as well, as I don’t go shopping that often and it could be sold before I get there again. The same reasoning I applied to books 2 and 3 of the Necromancer Chronicles, a fantasy series by Amanda Down, named The Bone Palace (2010) and The Kingdoms Of Dust (2011). I had read and excerpt of book 1 (promotion excerpts for other books in pocket editions are quite common these days, I do say it has its uses, but it rarely helps), and had thought it decent enough. Finding a discount then helps crossing the threshold for trying them. The downside is that I don’t have the first novel. I am somewhat inclined to wait and see if I can get the first book cheaply before starting on the series. My experiences from the past few years have been mixed when not starting as series with the first novel. At least I have 2 novels I do can start on while I’m currently also reading others. It’s better to have something you’re reading than not getting to decide on what to read next.

Indian mythology renditions

Monday, November 12th, 2012

I’ve bored into a new source of literature in the form of Indian mythology (not the native American one, but the real Indian one). The Indian writer Ashok K. Banker is working on a modern rendition of the mythology of his country as it, for me at least, has not really been introduced to popular culture. One of the series he is working on is the Ramayana. Of the 8 books he has published until now I found 4. The were second-hand and cheap so the choice to buy them was easy as this series has found critical acclaim and has been translated in other languages. So there is a good chance I may like it. The titles of the first four books are Prince Of Ayodhya (2003), Siege Of Mithila (2003), Demons Of Chitrakut (2004) and Armies Of Hanuman (2005).

The rule of reverse arrival

Monday, October 15th, 2012

One of the things that have left me resigned over the years that when I order multiple books of a series I’ve decided to read I always receive the first I want to read as one of the last, especially when I have ordered them at the same time, which is usually the case. This time it was again such a case, luckily I still had some other books to read before. The aforementioned series is the so-called science fiction/fantasy steampunk Jackelian series by Stephen Hunt. I had first picked up Secrets Of The Fire Sea, which had no reference of it belonging to a series as it read like a standalone one. Only when I looked on the web for more I discovered it was the fourth book of the series, of which until now 6 have been published. So now I’ve begun reading the first book, The Court Of The Air (2007), which will be followed by The Kingdom Beyond The Waves (2008), The Rise Of The Iron Moon (2009), Jackie Cloudie (2011) and From The Deep Of The Dark (2012). So plenty of reading and reviews to come for the coming weeks.