Thursday, October 9, 2014

Recent reads and such

Let’s see if I can get into a blogging groove around here again.

In the last few months I have started and stopped a handful of books. Not that any of them were bad. For one reason or another, nothing grabbed me enough to continue past the first few pages, or sometimes chapters.

Then last month I made the conscious decision that I was going to step away from the older paperback books I have been amassing, and try to read something new and fresh. I had a few options that I really wanted to read, so I started looking around. Right now money is kinda tight, so shelling out $15-20 for a brand new hard back (or even $8-10 for a paperback) is not really an option. Which, of course, takes me to the public library.

What I settled on was Thrones and Bones: Frostborn, by Lou Anders. Lou is very active on Facebook, and a cool guy. This is his first novel (though he’s probably written more articles and short pieces than I have started), and it’s a YA Fantasy. He’s been doing a book tour specifically targeting younger readers, appearing at schools and such, and I’ve been following his progress with that with interest.

Anyways, the book is really good. It’s an exciting juvenile adventure without being condescending or overly “kiddy.” The characters are all pretty real, and the adventure they have keeps you guessing. The action is exciting, the dangers feel real. One thing I noted was that, even though some of the story elements were kind of predicable, that was not a bad thing. I found that when I knew something was going to happen, it made me more excited to see when and how it did. For a YA fantasy novel, I give it 5 stars, and eagerly await the next one.

After a few more false starts with books, I recently settled on yet another RA Salvatore novel set in the Forgotten Realms. I’m currently reading The Companions, the first book in a series called "The Sundering" (which I believe will be written by multiple authors). This book grabbed me right away because it picks up right after a couple of the short stories I listened to in The Legend of Drizzt audio book. I’m sure that was a marketing ploy, and you know what? It worked on me.

This book is interesting because it involves Drizzt’s companions that he adventured with in the early books (and throughout his long-running series), but at a time long after they have each passed away in the timeline of the story. How this is accomplished is pretty cool, and totally not what I expected when I started reading it. As always, Salvatore’s action and details are great, and the characters are very familiar, yet refreshed. You have to read the story to understand.

One thing this Drizzt book reminds me of is that I have a special place in my heart for RPG-based fiction. Admittedly, it’s not all good. But a lot of it certainly is. And it’s always interesting to see how the various authors work the tropes of the game into a fictitious narrative, without it sounding like gamer fanfiction. Salvatore has been doing it for years. And even though a couple of his outings have not been so good, overall, he has mastered the art of blending gaming and fiction.

Once I’m done with this one, I plan to tackle Jon Sprunk’s Shadow’s Son (the first in a trilogy). I wanted to read his latest, Blood and Iron, but the library didn’t have any copies available yet. Eventually, though.


Charles Gramlich said...

I've got several of Salvatore's books around here but haven't read 'em. Some day.

Tom Doolan said...

I'd be interested in hyour takle on his book, Charles. As a D&D player, it seems pretty natural to me. And I'd be curious to see how it comes across to a non-gamer.