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[Reading Group] July 2014: Swords and Dark Magic Anthology

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Philip Overby, Jun 25, 2014.

  1. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    So after a close vote, we had an influx of votes for Swords and Dark Magic at the end so that will be what we read for July. Being that the summer months are generally slower (vacation, BBQs, and the like) we will be reading this anthology. Since we'll be reading multiple stories, you can obviously skip the ones that don't interest you.

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    For this month, here is a list of what we'll be reading:

    Week 1: ◦Goats of Glory — Steven Erikson
    ◦Tides Elba: A Tale of the Black Company — Glen Cook
    ◦Bloodsport — Gene Wolfe
    ◦The Singing Spear — James Enge

    Week 2: ◦A Wizard of Wiscezan — C.J. Cherryh
    ◦A Rich Full Week — K. J. Parker
    ◦A Suitable Present for a Sorcerous Puppet — Garth Nix

    Week 3: ◦Red Pearls: An Elric Story — Michael Moorcock (I believe this is the longest story in the anthology, so we'll give more time for it)
    ◦The Deification of Dal Bamore — Tim Lebbon
    ◦Dark Times at the Midnight Market — Robert Silverberg

    Week 4:
    ◦The Undefiled — Greg Keyes
    ◦Dapple Hew the Tint Master — Michael Shea
    ◦In the Stacks — Scott Lynch

    Week 5: ◦Two Lions, A Witch, and the War-Robe — Tanith Lee
    ◦The Sea Troll’s Daughter — Caitlin R Kiernan
    ◦Thieves of Daring — Bill Willingham
    ◦The Fool Jobs — Joe Abercrombie

    I've read some of these stories already (The Sea Troll's Daughter, Goats of Glory, The Fool Jobs) and they're mostly quick reads. I always like picking up anthologies because it allows you to find both classic writers and talented new ones that may have passed under your radar.

    Discuss only the stories you wish. I'm going to attempt to read all of them myself and make some comments about them. Feel free to jump in at any time.
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Looks interesting. I've read every author in this anthology except Bill Willingham. Hard to go wrong with the like of Wolfe, Erikson, Lee, Kiernan, Moorcock, &c.
     
  3. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    I've read a few of these authors, but I'm looking forward to James Enge since I know him through one of his students on Facebook. I might be busy during Week 3, so I'll probably just read the Moorcock one that week, but I should be able to read everything else! I love Nix and Kiernan's short stories, usually, so I'm quite interested in reading those too.
     
  4. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I've read Erikson's (for a second time) and am reading Cook's at the moment. I'm most looking forward to reading some authors I haven't checked out before, such as Parker, Lee, Shea, Keyes, etc.
     
  5. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I'm finding the stories read pretty fast so far. I've finished Erikson's story, which I think it quite different than his Malazan work. It's not quite as dense, but still has his trademark weird characters. Cook's Black Company story is good, but as with most of the Black Company stuff, I like it even though I don't know what's happening sometimes.

    I'm halfway through Gene Wolfe's story which is pretty short. I find I like Wolfe in short bursts. I really like what I've read of his Book of the New Sun, although I can't sit and read it for a long time for whatever reason. His style definitely harkens back to an older time. It's cool to see his story with some of the current crop of "it" people in the genre.
     
  6. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Well, went to the library last night and found that none of the libraries in our system have this book. Had to put it on hold from another library system. So I'll be late joining the party but I'm a fast reader so I'll catch up at some point. Happy reading!
     
  7. SM-Dreamer

    SM-Dreamer Troubadour

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    I'm going to be a bit late, too. My library doesn't have it, nor does my local Barnes & Noble or used book store. Had to order it, but it'll be a few days.
     
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    E-readers! :)
     
  9. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I don't buy ebooks that expensive. ;)
     
  10. SM-Dreamer

    SM-Dreamer Troubadour

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    And I really, really prefer having a book in hand.

    Plus I'm clumsy and the less technology for me to drop, spill on, or break, the better <.<;
     
  11. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I bought it a while back in a book store, so I'm not sure how much I paid.

    I finished James Enge's story this morning. Overall, I enjoy the first week's batch of stories. Of the ones I read, I liked Erikson's the best. Enge's story made me want to read something longer from him. I like Morlock as a character. Kind of a drunk Geralt of Rivia in a way.
     
  12. MFreako

    MFreako Troubadour

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    Glen Cook is one strange cookie. Enough said.
     
  13. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Anyone have any thoughts on the stories this week?

    I know many of you will be behind due to waiting on books to come in, but feel free to discuss the earlier stories whenever you like. I'm reading the Wizard of Wiczecan by C.J. Cherryh right now. It's a little longer than the other stories so far, and I'm not sure what I think of it yet.

    So far, I really liked Erikson's story, especially after the second read. Cook's story was interesting, but not really for me (although I really like his Black Company novels). James Enge will be someone I continue to look out for. And Gene Wolfe is one of those "I have to be in the mood" kind of writers. Sometimes I love his writing and other times it just doesn't click. This story was obviously masterfully written, but I guess I like my fantasy a bit more linear (maybe that's not the right word?)
     
  14. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    Ended up having to buy a new laptop (a Chromebook, there's something new), so I only just got all my keyboard configurations set up and my passwords transferred over. But I'm back now.

    Erikson, definitely my favourite of the first four and perhaps just because it is a fantastic introduction to the genre. Very classic in tone and story, kind of similar to CAS. I also tend to like siege stories. Not exactly a character-heavy one, but for what it's worth, I liked Captain Skint.

    Cook, I've never been a fan of from his various short stories and the one novel of his I've read. We're continuing the theme here. Might have made more of an impact with me if I'd read further in the series, since this is related to the Black Company.

    Wolfe, an author I generally like, didn't stun but didn't disappoint. I like his prose, I like his disregard for offering clear/any explanation. Those elements were in this story, but the story itself was a little weak. I'm not sure if I've ever read another one of his short stories, off the top of my head, so it may just be that he is better suited for novels.

    Enge, had a bit more humour than the first three stories, and in some ways was a bit more swords & sorcery-ish than Cook or Wolfe's. Nothing too new here, but I liked his dialogue and the story held my interest well enough.
     
  15. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    @Ophiucha

    Do you have any recommendations of Gene Wolfe's work? I have the Shadow of the Torturer (I think that's what it's called). I like it from what I've read, but I tend to put it down pretty quickly. I'm not sure why, but I really, really want to like him. I think he's one of those that if I spent time with his work, he'd be a new favorite. This happened with me when it came to Erikson. I found his work difficult and inaccessible, but now he's one of my favorite authors.

    I do like Cook's novels, but again, this short story felt kind of rushed or something.
     
  16. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I would recommend The Sorcerer's House by Gene Wolfe. So far it's the only Wolfe book I've tried that I breezed through easily. Not that I have any real idea what actually happened. I don't think you're ever supposed to know what actually happens in a Wolfe book.
     
  17. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    Of the ones I've read (most of which were in the same series as Shadow of the Torturer), I don't know that he really has a nice, accessible book to jump into. Strange stories with Nabakovian prose is just sort of his standard. The Knight has an easier story to follow, and a lighter tone overall, but maintains his style of prose (this one is first person epistolary). Could be useful to read it just to get used to his writing?
     
  18. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I find it interesting that Wolfe is a writer who has won almost every award under the sun in the fantasy genre, but most people I talk to about his novels can't really explain what they like about him. I'm going to give one of his books an honest go one more time and maybe I can peg something down.
     
  19. SM-Dreamer

    SM-Dreamer Troubadour

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    Finally got the book yesterday.

    I like the first one. Definitely introduced the genre well, set the tone. I liked how it read, liked the fighting. Felt classic, which was nice.

    Second one... Meh. Didn't do anything for me. Maybe because I'm not familiar with the Black Company. But it just felt really disjointed to me, and I kept stopping and coming back to it.

    Third one, I kind of liked it. I liked the premise, though, that was interesting.

    Fourth one I also liked. I think I like this character, and I liked the writing, and I liked how it read. I enjoyed this one.
     
  20. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I liked each of the first four stories. Erikson and Cook are two of my favorite authors, and their stories didn't disappoint. I'm not sure which one I liked better - probably give the edge to Erikson in this case. I found the Cook story to be written in a way that is characteristic of Black Company stories, and I enjoyed it as I tend to do all of those tales.

    Wolfe is always interesting. I thought the story was well-written and poignant at the end.

    Enge's story was the only one of the four that struck me as in the vein of traditional sword-and-sorcery. I found it to be well-written and entertaining, and I liked the use of humor in it.
     
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