Having been on a trip, I did manage to squeeze a few reads in. So, I figured to share some of that — and quite probably start ranting about how fantasy series go down the drain after a few books. They do, you know :)
Anyway, on my recently finished list:
- The Summer Tree – Guy Gavriel Kay
I still cannot believe I didn’t pack the other two parts… it was good, as usual :)
- Wizard Squared – K.E. Mills
Karen Miller brings us the third instalment of the “Gerald” series. Where the first one was a humorous variant on your every-day fantasy story, the second broke away and was a bit weird… but that one turned out alright in the end. This third instalment, however, doesn’t. Where the first can be said to be a humoristic view on fantasy, and the second may perhaps be said to be sort of a fantasy parody of detective stories (take “sort of” broadly here), the third book is reminiscent of The Sword of Truth series. This means: there is an all-powerful bad guy, and even though the good guys aren’t bad themselves, they have really no hope of defeating them… or do they? Naah, not really. I didn’t like the Sword of Truth series that much, and I don’t like mrs. Miller’s take on it either. The fun seems to have dried up, and willingness to submerge yourself into its worlds is tested (vivaciously) time and again. Too bad, I don’t think I’ll read another instalment. (Rant on fantasy and endless series coming below!)
- Transition – Iain Banks
Iain Bank’s version of “Amber“. It’s not as good as (the first books of) Amber. Zelazny did this before, and better. ‘Nuff said.
- Duel – Joost Zwagerman
The bookweek-gift. I finally got round to reading it… and finished it too.
This book exemplifies why I hardly read Dutch literature. It just doesn’t captivate me as much as English books can. It’s okay, and there’s food for thought in there. But that’s not what I’m looking for in a book. I liked “transition” better, in the end.
- The Brain that Changes Itself – Norman Doidge
Reread. It’s still interesting. By the way, this is not fiction, but more of a popular science account. (Cheating a bit with including this, finished this a while ago)
- The Emporer’s New Mind – Roger Penrose
Again a popular science reread for me. Second time around it was more understandable than the first. I’m still worried I’ll need a third time to get to the core, though I find myself disagreeing more and more with him :) (again, cheating).
- De tranen van Kuif den Dolder – Nico Dijkshoorn
Bought it for the trip Schiphol-Luxembourg (6hrs by train). Bought it because I’ve read some of Nico Dijkshoorn’s columns, and generally, I like them. Even though I may disagree, I appreciate the style and the levity. In this case: good choice, the book was fun enough. (Finished it on the train)
So there’s still a stack, with amazingly enough 3 books dealing with philosophy in there:
- Dus Ik Ben – Stine Jensen & Rob Wijnberg
Reread. It’s still good :)
- 50 philosophy ideas – Ben Dupré
Got it for the trainjourney Schiphol-Luxembourg (but got another book too, and managed to finish that one… what was that again… Aah yes, De tranen van Kuif den Dolder, let me add that to the list above). Again a high-level popular science book. It’s fun, though not so deep (isn’t that a funny thing to write about a book on philosophy? ;-)
- Justice: What’s the right thing to do? – Michael J. Sandel
Apparently based on his “famous” Harvard lecture. So famous, a chap I met from Harvard had never heard of him. The name of the lecture vaguely rang a bell. Anyway, not that far in yet and find myself vehemently disagreeing – so it’s going to be a fun read :)
Bought it in the UK for the Bertinoro-Swiss part of the trip.
- Snow – Orhan Pamuk
Recommended by a turkish friend. Apparently this book won a Nobel Prize for literature. Somehow that sounds too heavy for my tastes – I can’t bring myself to begin reading the book just yet.
Bought it in the UK as well for the Bertinoro-Swiss part of the trip.
- The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho (borrowed)
Borrowed this from Ragga for my trip, but then was too scared to damage it, so didn’t take it :) Still intend to read it.
- Der Schwarm – Frank Schätzing (borrowed)
Borrowed via Ragga from Danielle, not got round to it yet (well gosh jolly no, will you look at the books I have recently read? No surprise there, or is there?). Was interested, because I have actually read another book by Frank.
That concludes the reading list and the “done” list. I also promised you a fantasy rant, so here in a nutshell: Any fantasy series with over 5 books will have at least one book that sucks. Supporting circumstantial evidence: Harry Potter (book 5? Please. Or, for that matter, most of book 7). The Wheel of Time series (any book beyond 3 still good?), Amber (2nd series starts with the sixth book – enough warning for you?), The Sword of Truth series (we got the whining after three books, thankyouverymuch mr. Goodkind), etc. etc. Actually, the fantasy books I have read that do make me happy tend to be the ones that actually end (eg. The Fionavar Tapestry, and the Night Angel trilogy).
So there you have it: if you ever start to write fantasy, stick to three books or less (yes, Eddings managed a series of 5 decent books – not deep, but decent. You’re not Eddings.)