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What are you Reading Now?


toujours gai, archie
I've read Lord of the Rings a dozen times or more. I've read it aloud three times. But it has been easily twenty years since last I read it, so I'm sitting down with the physical book (single volume), doing a chapter or two of an evening. It's been pleasant. I feel like I'm reading it with my eyes full open this time around, seeing the little bits of foreshadowing. I'm even stopping long enough to read the songs. (did you know Tolkien did an album of elvish and dwarf songs?)

Anyway, this is definitely reading for pleasure.


After watching Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime, I'm now on book three of Wheel of Time....very well written, easy to read and wonderful...shoulda read this ages ago!


Myth Weaver
Currently working my way through the 'Chronicles of the Black Gate.' Interesting characters, plot twists that are both surprising and logical, and a magic system that is intriguing, plausible, and dangerous.


Myth Weaver
Time for a bit of a comparison. 'Servants of the End' by Shawn Finn, and 'West into Ruin' by John Lockwood, along with its continuation, 'North into Deeping Dark.' The books feature similar settings and antagonists, putting me in mind of the old 'Iron Pen' and 'Top Scribe' challenges on this site.

Both books are set in severely isolated nations bordered by al but impassable mountains in at least one direction, a mostly unknown forest in another, and a wasteland making for a barrier in another direction. In both books, the lands beyond these barriers are utterly unknown.

There is also a psychological/magical component to this isolation in both tales: those in Servants of the End who spend too much time in said mountains, forest, or wasteland find their orientation shot and afflicted with psychological disorders. Said effects can set in anywhere from a couple of days to a few months. The people in Servants of the End - or at least the leadership, is downright desperate to locate other civilized nations, and have sent forth repeated (failed) expeditions to find them.

In West into Ruin, the 'mental barrier' is partly social - discussing or speculating about the lands beyond the borders is a major social taboo that can result in imprisonment or more likely social disfavor. Some of the border regions are 'cursed' for want of a better term in addition to being difficult to traverse. There is also the 'memory issue' - history basically started about two hundred years ago. and as the tale progresses, it becomes clear there was a major systematic effort to erase the past - all books from the before time are destroyed, almost regardless of their location, and even members of longer-lived races are unable to recall more than fragments from the 'before time.' Three of the principal characters are from the before time - but their memories of that period are pretty much gone. This contrasts with the situation in Servants of the End where there are histories going back several thousand years - but detail nothing beyond the kingdom.

Hostile races stalk the borders in both books, occasionally attacking the kingdoms in question. The ones in 'West into Ruin' are a diverse bunch (gnolls, from AD&D), with individuals ranging from 'malevolent' to 'almost decent.' The creatures in 'Servants of the End' are not merely uniformly evil but are in thrall to a darker overlord.

Hidden evil overlords are another feature both books have in common. 'Servants of the End' features a few depictions of this being and his principal servant race (distinct from the ones plaguing the kingdom), but said overlord is always at the edge of the tale. The dark entity in 'West into Ruin' does have a few POV chapters, but these shed almost no light on the being or its core motivations. Both entities are playing psychological games with the denizens of the kingdoms: the dark lord in 'Servants of the End' is playing a long game of madness and terror, while its counterpart in 'West into Ruin' is insinuating itself into the minds of large numbers of people, making them maddened killers.

Both books feature a character with 'tainted ancestry,' with at least one parent who would normally be counted as 'evil' or (literally) 'demonic.' In both cases, these characters possess substantial magical ability and eventually a willingness to embrace their darker natures.

'Servants of the End' has only a couple of magic users, though there may be others not mentioned. The other characters, at least, accept that magic is a 'thing.' Magic is more abundant in 'West into Ruin,' though my impression is most of the wizards don't amount to much. That said, most of the MC's possess considerable magical skill.

Then there is the matter of Fate. Fate, and attempts to deal with it or thwart it are key elements of both books. In Servants of the End, it becomes clear that pretty much everything that transpires is part of the Fate willed by the hidden evil overlord. The kingdom fights valiantly against this fate but are ultimately part of it. In West into Ruin, Fate is tied in with a sort of psychic awakening - large numbers of people start having visions or desires to 'make things better' for want of a better term. In Servants of the End, this 'make things better' vision/agenda appears to apply only to the kingdom's leadership.

So, yes, the two books do share similarities. Yet, in my view, 'West into Ruin' is better done. The reason being characterization.

Many of the characters in Servants of the End are almost like robots: they unquestioningly follow orders, show no introspection, and fail predictably. There are exceptions...but they're not much better done. One takes a predictable path into evil without ever reflecting upon the consequences of that path, and another begins and ends as a formidable warrior with set loyalties and little else to round him out. A third has good intentions but is weak and overwhelmed.

Despite being 'chosen by Destiny' and spending much of the book(s) associating/traveling with each other, the MC's in 'West into Ruin' are a diverse bunch with depths of character. One is shocked to find he was what amounts to an assassin with occult abilities in the 'before time,' while another MC struggles with his demonic heritage. Another MC is a sort of 'ranger' of mixed human and elf ancestry. The central female MC appears human, but is actually only human-like, a discovery which comes as a shock to her. It is worth noting that most of these MC's have past and current 'hidden mentors' with agendas of their own.


Having some fun reading Crooked Kingdom, The sequel to Six of Crows.

Great lore and characters and enjoy it’s insane solutions to seemingly inescapable problems.


Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, the famous 16th century samurai swordsman.
Also a rather long history of the Karliner Hassidim, in Hebrew, which is far more interesting than I expected.

I Am A Stick

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Debating on trying out some Stephen King since I’ve never really tried out horror before and am getting curious.
Apparently orcs doing chef and cafe things is a thing. I have read Cleaver's Edge and Legends & Lattes lately. Both are quite a good take on orcs not wanting to go out and kill things and just go a bit more domestic. Even if the first is still a part of an adventuring party.

S J Lee

I recently read the graphic novel of "The Giver" - all the way to the end in one day. I'd never read it before, I loved it, and above all I was delighted with myself that I actually found something I didn't feel the urge to turn my nose up at - I've been doing a lot of that since I learned something about "good vs bad" writing and started writing tales of my own, and was wondering when I would ever get GRIPPED by a tale again. Meant a lot to me, that something can still grab me. Some bits of it that made no sense - eg, "lack of colours" - are people programmed not to "see" colours, or is even people's blood magically turned gray? But the "holes" in the story were minor enough not to detract from my will to read on.
Finished Stormlight 4: Rhythm of War. Now reading Harrow the Ninth. The second(?) person voice is definitely confusing to read at first. But I liked the first book well enough to muddle through.


I'm trying a new concept of focused reading as I'm blasting through books on the topic of (Greek) Thebes and the region of Boiotia.

I've already finished "Thebes: The forgotten city of ancient Greece" by Paul Cartledge and "Thebes: A history" by Nicholas Rockwell. Right now I'm working on "Politics of Power in the Fourth Century BC" by Hans Beck and John Buckler. I've got "Boiotia in Antiquity" by Albert Schachter and "Boiotia in the Fourth Century" edited by Samuel D. Gartland on my self along with Sophocles three Theban plays, "Seven against Thebes" by Aeschylus and Euripides three Theban plays. And more to borrow from the library, get the historical fiction about this subject and so on and on.

Once I'm done I should have a pretty good grasp about ancient Thebes and Boiotia, and be so sick of them I never want to hear about it again. ;)


toujours gai, archie
I just finished Who by Algis Budrys. A Cold War novel, but it has a really interesting premise. A top-secret Western project explodes and its chief scientist is captured by the Soviets. He's in their hands for a few months, then is returned in a deal. The story opens with the return, the classic crossing over a bridge scene.

But the returned scientest was horribly maimed in the accident. The Soviets fixed him up, but he now has an artifical arm and what is basically an artifical head. Wholly encased in metal.

The puzzle for the Western spy folk is this: who is this guy? Is he a Soviet plant? Is he the scientist but has been turned? Or is he really the original? All the usual means of identification are denied, through one explanation or another, so we're right there with the spy chief trying to decide whether this guy can be trusted or not.

Then, in what I think is a really brilliant choice by Budrys, we start getting flashback chapters in which we learn about the scientist--his youth, his first love, how he discovered science, his strengths and weaknesses. So Budrys is giving us evidence, clues, and inviting us in the current-day chapters to try to figure this out for ourselves.

I won't say how it turned out. I'll just say this is a fine example of silver-age SF.
I'm currenly reading The Culture Map by Erin Meyer. Non fiction. It's mainly aimed at people working in multi-cultural settings across countries. Which in itself is facinating enough. But I think there's also a lot of world building lessons in there when it comes to cultures. If you're planning to add a lot of different cultures and you want to make them distinct then it can really pay to consider how people view leadership, or how decisions are made or how people work together or a dozen other things.


Went back to classics.

Recently finished portrait of dorian grey. Not much to say other than oscar wilde seems the type of writer the english teachers are teaching for. Seems like every line was meant to have some profound twisty meaning. Initially it was neat but by the end i was worn out on it.

started thus spoke Zarathustra, which is a lot of book to say there is no god, think for yourself. Mr neitzche seems an angry dude. The world must have disappointed him.

i have some lined up. Also half way through paradise lost which us most remarkable for its use of language.


Felis amatus
Just finished Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse. Both are excellent. May have liked To the Lighthouse best of the two.
I finished the Stormlight Archives, and I read The House on the Cerulean Sea in 4 days, then I started reading the first book in the Broken Earth trilogy two days ago, I'm almost done now. The author of the Broken Earth Trilogy is amazing, she has such a unique way of crafting narrative via an unusual conversational style of prose, lots of unexpected twists, and a compelling plot. I may be slightly redundant with my wording, sorry. Also, the House on the Cerulean Sea is heartwarming and has a cast of lovable characters. Both books disappointingly have only one bearded character each, but hey, no book is perfect!
The Stormlight Archives is the Stormlight Archives, pretty sure all of you have read it by now haha.