Books

THE THIRD SECTION: Russia, 1855 by Japser Kent is the third in a quartet of historical vampire novels, as a running scheme by a master vampire to take control of the Romanov bloodline takes its latest turn during the Crimean War, only to run afoul of a younger vampire’s ambition and an idealistic Russian soldier. This is one of those historical novels that spends more time than I care for describing the historical settings and historical events (made even stronger by all the info-dumping about the first two books) so i can’t say I cared for it.
While I wasn’t impressed with Scalped, I went ahead and picked up the sequel TPB, SCALPED: Casino Boogie by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera, in which we learn more of the backstory on corrupt Chief Red Crow, self-destructive undercover agent Dashell Bad Horse, and the enigmatic would-be liberator Catcher. Competent, but not at all to my taste (and one issue portraying poverty life on “the Rez” could just as easily be inner city Detroit or the backwoods of the South).
FRANZ KAFKA: The Complete Stories is an interesting collection for a fantasy writer to read, as several of his stories fit into a magical realist mode (even if the term didn’t exist at the time) such as the man-into-bug transformation of “The Metamorphosis” and the oddity of “Blumfeld, an Elderly Batchelor,” a man haunted by two bouncing balls that want to follow him everywhere, all described with a matter-of-fact realism that makes them even odder. Like a lot of Complete Stories, this includes plenty of material that isn’t very good, but still well worth reading for Kafka’s tales of strange (and possibly imaginary) relationships, talking animals and an coldly hostile universe.
THE WOOD BEYOND THE WORLD by William Morris is the story of a cuckolded husband relieving his pain by sailing off on a trading voyage only to encounter in the far-off eponymous realm a beautiful young damsel enslaved by an evil but beautiful queen and a grotesque dwarf——a situation the hero of course sets out to right. A good, old-fashioned tale, and Morris’ ability to use faux-medieval prose without going over the top impresses me more now than it did then (having seen it flop when done by others). That being said, the evil queen dies awfully easily and I’m surprised Morris hints at the damsel’s mysterious past but never explains it.
Jim Butcher’s GHOST STORY: A Novel of the Dresden Files strikes me as a series entry that works better as a standalone. The story of Harry returning to Earth as a magically powerless ghost after being fatally shot in the last book is quite entertaining as he learns that his six months’ absence has emboldened the dark forces, left his friends falling apart and given a ghost-master a chance to seize tremendous power in the world of the living. As a series entry, though, it’s frustrating that nothing really changes: The destruction of the Red Court vampires hasn’t really altered the threat level, Harry’s relationships with Molly and Murphy remain unresolved (Butcher did much better with the romances in The Alera Codex) and while this confirms Harry’s of interest to Great Powers, it still avoids any revelations about them. Despite all that, this was a fun read, though way too heavy on pop culture references——I don’t remember Harry being such a big X-Men fan before, and I don’t for one second believe he’s read the Evil Overlord List (hell, I don’t think any character who actually fights evil overlords would pay any attention to the list).

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Filed under Comics, Reading

5 responses to “Books

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