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The Book Thread

Matt79

Global Moderator
Best book you've read recently

I've been reading George R.R. Martin's excellent Songs of Ice and Fire series - having finished "A Feast for Crows" I'm now stuck until he finishes the next installment.

I've enjoyed it because of the way he successfully developed the characters and built such a complex and interesting world, without getting himself so bogged down in details/complexity that it gets paralysed, like Robert Jordan did with his once promising Wheel of Time series.

I'm now reading the autobiography of an American J.P. Craven, who was the Chief Scientist on naval projects like the Polaris nuclear missile submarines and the mini deep-sea rescue sub (which was made famous by the book/movie Hunt for Red October). Very interesting piece of history...
 

benchmark00

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I haven't read a fictional book since year six (I'm currently in my second year of uni) and I don't intend on reading another for a long time. However, I've just finished reading Cricket's Greatest Scandals by Ken Piesse, good read. Definately worth a once-over.
 
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Matt79

Global Moderator
I found that since I started work, I get more than enough non-fiction to read in my job - hence I've got back into fiction as a way to unwind a bit...
 

Craig

World Traveller
benchmark00 said:
I haven't read a fictional book since year six (I'm currently in my second year of uni) and I don't intend on reading another for a long time. However, I've just finished reading Cricket's Greatest Scandals by Ken Piesse, good read. Definately worth a once-over.
I certaintly agree.

Getting a good way into Beyond a Boundary.

One I finished recently was Flying Scotsman by Graham Obree. One of the most moving and at times the saddest books I have read.
 

pasag

RTDAS
Most recent book I've read was The Beatles by Bob Spitz, I've read it twice now and its over a thousand pages but it great biography. I'm currently in the middle of 'The Age of Reason' by Sartre but it's bloody boring.
 

BoyBrumby

Englishman
Currently reading On and off the field by Ed Smith. It's a diary of his 2003 season & is really insightful, far more so than sportsmen's books usually are.

As befits a man with a double first from Cambridge in History he equally has one foot firmly planted in academia (he pens reviews for The Times Literary Supplement & namechecks Vikram Seth as easily as Rob Key) and turns his daunting acuity to the often unexplained fluctuations of a sportsman's form and pulses of a cricketer's season. He may not be the best batsman, but is probably the best qualified to write about it.
 
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pug

U19 Vice-Captain
Matt79 said:
I've been reading George R.R. Martin's excellent Songs of Ice and Fire series - having finished "A Feast for Crows" I'm now stuck until he finishes the next installment.

I've enjoyed it because of the way he successfully developed the characters and built such a complex and interesting world, without getting himself so bogged down in details/complexity that it gets paralysed, like Robert Jordan did with his once promising Wheel of Time series.
I disagree. Robert Jordan could add great feeling but not the same depth as GRRM can.

Wonderful series. Excellent character development and so many of his characters are just amazingly original and not merely fantasy stereotypes.

But The Kite Runner by Khaled Hossini earlier this year was the latest realy good book I've read as well as a few by Kazuo Ishiguro.
 

Clarence

U19 Cricketer
Autobiography of this who joined the French Foreign legion by the length of a ****star's wang. Then Lance Armstrong and Michael Slater's was alright to.
 

Magrat Garlick

Global Moderator
Matt79 said:
I've been reading George R.R. Martin's excellent Songs of Ice and Fire series - having finished "A Feast for Crows" I'm now stuck until he finishes the next installment.
I keep wanting to read A Game of Thrones - bring it with me every holiday and then promptly don't dare to open the book. :D

Read a fair bit recently: Heralds of Valdemar trilogy by Mercedes Lackey, Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny (which was very weird), Web by Tor Åge Bringsværd (similarly weird but at least understandable). If I can go three months back, Doll's House by Neil Gaiman was frighteningly good (although that's comics :p )
 

Matt79

Global Moderator
pug said:
I disagree. Robert Jordan could add great feeling but not the same depth as GRRM can.

Wonderful series. Excellent character development and so many of his characters are just amazingly original and not merely fantasy stereotypes.

But The Kite Runner by Khaled Hossini earlier this year was the latest realy good book I've read as well as a few by Kazuo Ishiguro.
SPOILER ALERT - this might give away some aspects of the plot of book 10 of wheel of time, but its so bad, that shouldn't matter to anyone anyway!
----------

don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Jordan is terrible, or rather, has ALWAYS been terrible, but he lost his way majorly in the Wheel of Time.

Up until around book 6 it was absolutely brilliant, as good as anything I've ever read in the genre. Books 7,8,9 represented a slide in form comparable to your favourite sporting champ as they entered they're late 30s - he was still doing enough to be worthwhile and remind you of why you enjoy his stuff so much, but not as good as his previous stuff and continuing to deteriorate. Book 10 (Crossroads of Twilight) was a disgrace. Book 9 ended on the best note the series had managed for nearly 4 books, and then the next volume was nearly 500 pages of filler - crap that any good editor would leave on the cutting room floor - with no major plot developments whatsoever and the main character not present at all. For 500 pages.

Book 11 was something of a return to form, and I'd like to think he can give the series the finale it deserves - although the 12th and last book will have to be huge for that to be the case. Somewhere along the line, the minor, supporting cast of his series mutinied and took over the series, leaving you with hundreds of pages of description of women's dresses, the thoughts, feelings, times and schemes of Windfinders, various sects of Aes Sedai, and the Seanchan, but NO BLOODY Dragon Reborn, and to top it all, an unhealthy obsession with women being spanked (for those unfamiliar with the book, I'm talking at least one reference to a different episode of spanking every chapter. EVERY chapter)

Sorry - here endeth the rant. It just hurts me because I loved the first half of the series so much.
 

pug

U19 Vice-Captain
Matt79 said:
SPOILER ALERT - this might give away some aspects of the plot of book 10 of wheel of time, but its so bad, that shouldn't matter to anyone anyway!
----------

don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Jordan is terrible, or rather, has ALWAYS been terrible, but he lost his way majorly in the Wheel of Time.

Up until around book 6 it was absolutely brilliant, as good as anything I've ever read in the genre. Books 7,8,9 represented a slide in form comparable to your favourite sporting champ as they entered they're late 30s - he was still doing enough to be worthwhile and remind you of why you enjoy his stuff so much, but not as good as his previous stuff and continuing to deteriorate. Book 10 (Crossroads of Twilight) was a disgrace. Book 9 ended on the best note the series had managed for nearly 4 books, and then the next volume was nearly 500 pages of filler - crap that any good editor would leave on the cutting room floor - with no major plot developments whatsoever and the main character not present at all. For 500 pages.

Book 11 was something of a return to form, and I'd like to think he can give the series the finale it deserves - although the 12th and last book will have to be huge for that to be the case. Somewhere along the line, the minor, supporting cast of his series mutinied and took over the series, leaving you with hundreds of pages of description of women's dresses, the thoughts, feelings, times and schemes of Windfinders, various sects of Aes Sedai, and the Seanchan, but NO BLOODY Dragon Reborn, and to top it all, an unhealthy obsession with women being spanked (for those unfamiliar with the book, I'm talking at least one reference to a different episode of spanking every chapter. EVERY chapter)

Sorry - here endeth the rant. It just hurts me because I loved the first half of the series so much.
No, I'll disagree again. A slump in form in any series should be restricted to 2 books or at the most 3.. When I think of WoT, I don't recall the memorable first 5 (for me book 6 was where he started losing it, I think) books as vividly as the next 5. Book 11 was a laudable attempt at undoing his slump, and not a great book as such. Good, but not good enough to allow him to return to his original level in book 12. Either it will leave too many lose ends and only focus at the main plot or it will contain all the unneccessary side plots as well.

And why I don't like WoT anymore... He went through a stretch of 5 good books followed by a stretch of 5 bad ones. That's a bit too much of bad for my liking. Truth be told, I haven't bought any books since book 7, just been reading at the store or borrowed from a friend. About why his last few books were bad, you've put it quite well. Anyone who's read it doesn't need to be told, it's blatantly obvious. He simply lost track of his story is what happened.

Ok, so far that's not particularly helpful in any way. About his first few books, they were good. Almost as good as it comes, but I still prefer GRRM's first few as compared to RJ. There's something about GRRM's style that builds up perfectly and then leaves you flabbergasted at what happens.

---spoiler for those who haven't read at all---

Ned Stark's death at the very beginning. Still can't get over it. He just took the noblest person in his entire world (even till now) and killed him. Looking back, it was inevitable for his kids to become what the are becoming.

---spoiler ends---

Something big is happening. You can really feel it in the story. Can't wait for the next one and know what's up with Jon Snow and Daenerys.
 

Matt79

Global Moderator
I think we're actually in agreement, I think Martin at least as good as early Jordan and obviously in a different league to late Jordan.

I have a terrible suspicion with Jordan that having set up the central dilemma of the series - what do you do when you find out you're prophecised to be the saviour of the world, and confront the Lord of all Evil in the ultimate fight to the death, a fight you know will cost you your own life - he now has absolutely no idea how to fulfil that prophecy while bring the story to a satisfactory conclusion. He started this story, and he doesn't know how to end it. That's why he resorted to writing prequels and new installments with no plot development...
 

Matt79

Global Moderator
Spoiler Alert:


I love how Martin, at the point when it was becoming almost unbearable because everyone likeable in the story was dying managed to turn Jaime Lannister from utter villian to admirable hero on quest for redemption, in a plausible manner. Just an example of how he DOES have an understanding of the arc of his series and is prepared to make things happen.
 

Beleg

International Regular
A Princess of Roumania - Paul Park
Veniss Underground - Jeff Vandermeer
The Prestige - Christopher Priest
 

Beleg

International Regular
Martin is about 1000000000000000000000000 times as good as early Jordan and infinitely better then late Jordan.
 

Jungle Jumbo

International Vice-Captain
Suketu Mehta's Maximum City: Bombay, Lost & Found

Probably the best non-fiction I've ever read. A mix of spine-chilling journalism into the shadows of Bombay and a philosophical deconstruction of both an Indian city and the human metropolis of the world. Stunning.
 

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