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I picked up a 1909 copy of the Aeneid. It's an old translation (the one Project Gutenberg has) but it's more readable than most things that old. So far it's like the Lord of the Rings and a super hero movie mashed into one.

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In the last couple of weeks I've been busy keeping myself myself so I've not read too much. I did finally read Catcher in the Rye, though, and thought it neat, if over-rated. I also read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which quickly became one of my favourites. I've loved Blade Runner for years now, but DADoES is superior in almost every way. I plan on writing an actual review at some point, so I won't wax lyrical about it here.

 

Finally, I'm about two-thirds of the way through The Martian Chronicles. I've never read any Bradbury before, and I'm not as sold on SF as other people here are, but by god... The early Martian segments were beautiful, and whilst I've become less interested in the 'plot' ('Usher II' aside <3) as the novel has progressed, I've found myself fawning over Bradbury's prose increasingly often. The homages to Wells, the attacks on realism, the language of loneliness. This is an excellent book, and whilst I am loathe to recommend something I haven't finished, you should read this if you haven't. Bradbury's style of writing alone make it a perfect addition to your mental library.

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I've been spending time running through David Farlands series The Runelords. It's quite interesting even if I think some of his philosophy is quite wonky. His magic system appears to take work in a truly horrible fashion which brings up some truly intense moral dilemmas.

Only issue is that that last book in the series seems to be delayed for several years. I think something to due with his kid being in a serious accident a few years back which you can't ready blame the guy. I just hope his kid gets better so he can go back to writing.

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The Runelords has a very interesting magic system, but I found the books completely hobbled by Farland's lackluster characters, slapdash world-building, and increasingly uninspired plot. If only someone could take the concept of endowments and give it as an endowment to a better series!

 

I've picked up Michelle West (Sagara)'s House War books. I still love her world and her writing, but without a dozen different plots and epic events constantly the writing seems a little overwrought for what's mostly just the very beginning of a coming-of-age story. With demons. If this were the first book of hers I'd keep reading but wouldn't be the enthusiast I am. The Sun Sword is still my very favorite large-scale high fantasy saga.

 

—Alorael, who still laments its apparent relative obscurity. Maybe it's the fact that any description makes it sound like a thirty Mary Sue pileup. Children of gods, last survivors of royal families, prophetic urchin waifs, time-traveling seers, flying bard-assassins with anguished pasts, women so beautiful it makes people go stupid, gypsies safeguarding ancient secrets, demons working schemes within schemes within schemes, grumpy old wizards who can level city blocks... Yes, it's better than it sounds. Alternately, it's even better than it sounds!

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@nikki. One finds like minds in the strangest places. I have to admit I've gotten less capable over the years of suspending my disbelief for Bradbury's stories - perhaps that's the point? - but I still love his prose.

 

(As for PKD, I read part of Androids once and it completely freaked me out, so I know the guy was doing something right... Oh, might I also recommend "Faith of Our Fathers"? Though it's been a while since I've read it, for probably obvious reasons.)

 

Anyway, for mine: I finally caved in and bought The Hydrogen Sonata. So far it's surprised me by being much better than I expected, though admittedly I've only been at it for a couple days (and will probably finish it in another few, har har). I'm entertaining hopes that the Culture will redeem itself a bit in my eyes, but to me it's become a very ambiguous utopia indeed.

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I was never much into short stories, but I did read Bradbury's Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451. He was very supportive of the schools and libraries in LA, and came and spoke at my High School. From what I remember (it was a long time ago), he walked the four miles to our school, because he did not drive.

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I bought a fancy book of Bradbury's short stories from Amazon a couple months ago. I've been picking at it between books.

 

The introduction was interesting. He never had a driver's license. He hated ebooks, the internet, and for the most part computers. He said in an interview about the internet, "Who do you want to talk to? All those morons who are living across the world somewhere? You don't even want to talk to them at home." He seemed really stuck in his own time. Still, he's one of my favorite writers.

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The introduction was interesting. He never had a driver's license. He hated ebooks, the internet, and for the most part computers. He said in an interview about the internet, "Who do you want to talk to? All those morons who are living across the world somewhere? You don't even want to talk to them at home." He seemed really stuck in his own time. Still, he's one of my favorite writers.
This page links to a few Ray Bradbury interviews that touch on this subject, if anyone's interested.

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Just finished: The Left Hand of Darkness (Le Guin). I last read this in high school, and I had forgotten how good it was. I'm just a little sad that it's over now. :(

 

Just started: brain candy, The Rhesus Chart (Charles Stross). Hmm... The Computational Demonology conceit is starting to wear a bit thin, especially now that it's been tempered with more typical magic. Bob Howard is starting to irritate me (I know he's supposed to be very Joe Average, but still). And vampires, feh... Because urban fantasy trends, more feh. But hey, it will probably be entertaining, which will help with the next item...

 

Waiting for it to arrive: anti brain candy, Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies, and Revolution (Laurie Penny). I will read this. Really. The whole thing. Might take a while, but I need to know this stuff. I will face my fear, I will let it flow through me, etc. etc.

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So, Unspeakable Things is an amazing, thought provoking, harrowing, maybe life changing read. And I'm not even halfway through yet. Penny has been there, done that, got the T-shirt; and also happens to be a very skilled writer.

 

If you are over 18, and are not cisgender and/or male, you might want to read this book. If you are over 18, and are cisgender and male, you need to read this book (if you haven't already). The more people who understand the scale and scope of the problem, the better, IMHO.

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I've started reading Way of Shadows from the Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks. I've resumed my reading activities from a two month break of no-reading.

 

Anyway, the book is quite strange as I find it realistic and has a rich although grotesque setting. It reminds me of the Thieves' Guild in Skyrim, yet, the book offered so much more what Skyrim cannot.

 

Wat.

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I finally started Crime and Punishment recently. It's probably the most complex novel I've ever read, but it's still easier to follow than I expected. I'm surprised at how little is happening, considering the size of the book. I read about 1/10 of the books the other day, and it was all a conversation in one room. Dostoevsky somehow makes it feel like things are moving along though.

 

For the record, I'm reading the Constance Garnett translation with revisions (the nature of which I'm not sure of :rolleyes: ). I would hold off for the more expensive Pevear and Volokhonsky translation, but I've read excerpts online and it just isn't as readable to me.

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Since Garth Nix's Clariel just came out, I took the opportunity to finish the rest of the Abhorsen series (only read Sabriel and Lirael so far; the latter in German). I really love the setting.

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Since Garth Nix's Clariel just came out, I took the opportunity to finish the rest of the Abhorsen series (only read Sabriel and Lirael so far; the latter in German). I really love the setting.

 

I read those books in high school, but still remember them pretty vividly. Fantastic setting and fantastic characters.

 

 

 

The radiation-like effects of "free magic" were a clever and disturbing touch.

 

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So, I've been reading books about pirates. Specifically, the book Pirates of the South China Sea, by Dian Murray.

 

It's about the rise and demise of a pirate confederation in the early nineteenth century. By the numbers, it was the most powerful group of pirates in history. Hundreds of junks, thousands of pirates, an unwavering monopoly over the coasts of southern China extending into the inland rivers. Both the European trade companies (Spanish, Portuguese, and British) and the Qing navy tried (and failed) multiple times to beat the pirates, before their leader voluntarily arranged for peace negotiations with the governor of Guangdong province. It was also very queer. There were prostitutes that were for the use of the whole ship, but they were rarely used; one British captive reported that instead that the male pirates engaged in 'group public acts against nature.'

 

Their leader was a woman, which is perhaps the most badass part of the story. Cheng I Sao, a former prostitute, was a master politician who used sexual politics and shrewd negotiating to maintain an iron fist control over her dominion. She had her own set of laws that she enforced over her fleet, which contained protections for female prisoners. She arranged for most villages along the coast and rivers to pay tribute to her fleet, she eliminated her rivals, and at the height of their power, she successfully bought all of the pirates legal sanction by returning to legal status in the empire. She walked to the governor's mansion with forty women and children, unarmed, and successfully negotiated a favorable deal.

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This is Improbable by Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Noble Prizes, has a collection of weird, but published research. Citations follow each item for those that what to learn more or to refute the belief that this was made up.

 

For example:

 

"Determining the Smallest Migratory Bird Native to Britain Able to Carry a Coconut" by Robert Hopton, Steph Jinks, and Tom Glossop (published in the Journal of Physics Special Topics, 2010)

 

This report pertains to King Arthur's postulation in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail that a migratory bird could have transported coconuts from the tropics to Britain. Hopton, Jinks, and Glossup calculate that the only British bird with a chance at succeeding is the white stork. No go, they warn. The stork's cross-sectional area is slightly too low to provide the required lift. The stork would fall short and King Arthur would be nut less.

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I just finished a book by David Drake (Monsters of the Earth) and two books that he provided the outlines for (The Sword and The Chosen). I have been enjoying his Books of the Elements series, of course Mediterranean history in general and Rome in particular are his passions so the background of the Elements series is really strong. I enjoyed The Sword which was an adaption of Belisarius in a post-apocolyptic sci-fi setting and concluded a series of five books. There was a lot of detail in the books. I did not enjoy the Chosen nearly as much which was kind of a post-apocalyptic US, France, Spain and Italy versus the Nazis. Part of my problem with it is probably that it was covering 40 years in a single novel which does not leave a lot of room for detail.

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Lately I've been doing a lot of research-based reading for writing. The Big Bonanza was the biggest and most important, which in a lot of ways was a stupider and meaner version of Roughing It with more direct historical documentation.

As an example of what I mean: Twain relates the story of Hank Monk driving too fast for Horace Greeley in a repeated, deranged fashion, like an earworm, to emphasize the received-wisdom quality of popular stories - the story follows the same format whoever tells it and comes to the same end and isn't in the first event that interesting. It's a joke about storytelling and about the yahoos who do it. De Quille tells the same story straight, as though it's actually interesting.

The racism is just as vicious, and in parts way worse (De Quille lacks Twain's contrarianism, which is almost always to his moral disadvantage).

It's poorly-organized as a primary source - there's a book's worth of fascinating first-hand information about hard-rock mining, and the way 19th-century Americans experienced hard-rock mining, but it's thrown in in a disorganized way in chapters with no overriding theme or narrative.

The process of reading The Big Bonanza is really more interesting than actually doing so most of the time - trying to make the state of science in the 19th century correspond in some meaningful way to terminology and ideas in the 21st. One of the more grimly comedic parts, in an unintentional way, is his treating the tragedy of the Donner Party as though it was one sinister German turning to cannibalism for no compelling reason.

It's also kind of funny in a meta sense because De Quille keeps on trying to argue the Comstock lode would last forever and become the most economically important mine in history, but it would peter out in his lifetime, only a decade and change after he wrote his book.

 

As a palate-cleanser, I've also been reading a history of Jewish immigration and community politics in the 19th century US, and Sarah Winnemucca's autobiography. Both sort of personally engaging and important, like a long warm shower after having to roll around in a cesspool.

 

Just finished: The Left Hand of Darkness (Le Guin). I last read this in high school, and I had forgotten how good it was. I'm just a little sad that it's over now. :(

I loved LHOD, was always a huge fan of Le Guin. (She's probably my favorite blogger - was inspired by translations of Jose Saramago, who also started blogging in his 80s. Writes pretty captivatingly about growing up in California in the 30s; weird thing to see in a modern idiom.) I sort of wonder how I'd feel about it having gotten queerer and more radical than I was as a teenager - probably parts would be less challenging, parts more. Still haven't finished The Dispossessed, but boy, have I meant to.

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Inspired by Crusader Kings 2 I've been reading books on medieval history; either by recommendation or what I discover in 2nd-hand bookshops. Just finished Byzantium & the Crusades by Jonathan Harris, before that Early Medieval Europe By Roger Collins. Also rediscovered those Penguin historical atlases.

 

For novels I picked up Robin Hobb's newest. I was disappointed by her last few but this seems a return to form.

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I recently got a Nook, which has opened up lots of new options for reading.

 

Right now I'm still reading a paper-and-ink book, though. Bodies That Matter, by Judith Butler. It's her sequel to her more famous text, Gender Trouble, in that it picks up where the last one ends off and tries to resolve the contradictions and limitations of her theory of gender performativity.

 

The Nook has also allowed me access to a lot of bawdy novels.

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I've now gotten through the first two of Lev Grossman's Magicians books. They're very, very good. They touch on some surprisingly profound insights with surprising deftness for what could easily be a simple Narnia and Harry Potter pastiche.

 

—Alorael, who is also very slowly wading through the occasional medical text. Always in electronic formats, though. There's no argument for the ebook quite like the twenty pound tome that no one could possibly carry anywhere.

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Appropriately for this topic, I misread Alorael's current moniker as International Turambar.

 

On second thought that could never be appropriate.

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I finished Lord Dunsany's The Last Revolution. First published in 1951, it's an early version in the post World War II era of the Skynet's rise and the creation of that time's Terminators. Things did turn out better since the machines didn't control the nuclear missiles. :)

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I haven't read a book for more than about ten minutes for a very long time. I'm starting to realize that the uncomfortable head bobbing and eye pain from my lazy eye do not happen remotely as much when I read on my computer screen, compared to when I'm reading a paper-and-ink book. I don't know why that is. So I'm thinking I might look into e-books. I don't know where to get e-books that are not for the Kindle or other e-readers though; I want books I can read on my desktop computer screen. I want to catch up on all the poetry I've had on my list (and bookshelf) as well as some novels. I used to love reading and it saddens me that I can't do it anymore due to physical (possibly neurological) ailments. Now I have hope again.

 

What should I be looking for when trying to find desktop computer e-books? Is there a special keyword for that?

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I haven't read a book for more than about ten minutes for a very long time.

Same here. I used to read ALOT when I was younger. But the past few years... No time. Got a very demanding job (until recently, when they decided to fire me, leaving me twiddling my thumbs and spamming this place until I can go home and can look for a new job), sports classes several days a week, a construction project and various odds and ends. It's been years that just having a day where you wake up and have nothing to do all day, is a luxury. I prefer spending them playing games instead of relaxing nowadays. I just find it more relaxing, even though I got a huge backlog of books to read.

 

That backlog... there're non-fiction books (mainly A Pattern Language and A Book of Five Rings), and fiction books (my brother gave me his collections of Asimov, Lovecraft, Conan the Barbarian, and so on, and so on) and still got some classics to read, like the Ramakien and Classic of Mountain and Seas (I really love mythology stories).

 

Someday, once I got a nice, calm job that doesn't seem to think 8 hour days are an exception, and that construction project is done... One day, when everything calms down, I'll get started on all of those. Until then, I'm happy to play games in the sparce spare time I got.

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I haven't read a book for more than about ten minutes for a very long time. I'm starting to realize that the uncomfortable head bobbing and eye pain from my lazy eye do not happen remotely as much when I read on my computer screen, compared to when I'm reading a paper-and-ink book. I don't know why that is. So I'm thinking I might look into e-books. I don't know where to get e-books that are not for the Kindle or other e-readers though; I want books I can read on my desktop computer screen. I want to catch up on all the poetry I've had on my list (and bookshelf) as well as some novels. I used to love reading and it saddens me that I can't do it anymore due to physical (possibly neurological) ailments. Now I have hope again.

 

What should I be looking for when trying to find desktop computer e-books? Is there a special keyword for that?

 

The closest thing I can think of are PDF's. A lot of books are uploaded as PDF's, some for purchase, many for free. Moreover, if you have access to a scanner, you could always do the job yourself and make a PDF of any physical books you have.

 

Beyond that, I'm afraid, I don't have much advice. Good luck.

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I recently finished Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. I loved the first two thirds of the book and could barely put it down, but, as is quite common with Stephenson novels, the narrative changed direction partway through. I didn't exactly dislike the rest of the book, but it was different, and the ending left me a bit unsatisfied.

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That one's still on my reading list.

 

Other than that, I've been sporadically continuing my re-read of the Discworld series. Started last September; I'm now finishing up Pyramids (#7). (At least now I'll eventually catch up. :( )

 

(It's only partly a re-read; I've so far read less than half of the series in total.)

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Everything I ever wanted to know about mushrooms, courtesy of a fellow named Stephen Stephenson.

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Kingdom-Fungi-Biology-Mushrooms/dp/0881928917

 

It's quite heavy on the jargon, and more or less consists of a series of extended infodumps, but I'm finding it entertaining anyway - fungi (and biology in general) are something I just never bothered learning much about.

 

(And the complexity and range of fungal, uh, behavior is just fascinating. Jeff Vandermeer doesn't cover a tenth of it.)

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Finally found a novel I can get into! It's called The Bees, it's written by one Laline Paul (whom I've never heard of), and it's basically Redwall meets 1984 by way of Dune. (And yes, the characters are in fact bees.) I'm not very far into it yet, but so far I love it.

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I just started on Yudkovsky's From AI To Zombies, but I haven't gotten far enough to form an opinion of it yet.

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I finally read the Chronicles of Amber a year to two ago. I had been wanting to read it a while, as it is very well regarded. I did not particularly like it which surprised me, but then around the same time I read Downbelow station and the Faded Sun trilogy which were also award winning novels and did not like them either. I guess it says something about my tastes. Right now my SF/Fantasy is limited to a very small pool of authors since my attempt to branch out to some of the classic authors of the 70s failed.

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I'm working my way through the Dexter books. They're very different from the show but still dark, strange, and oddly beautiful in how grotesque they are. This one I just finished is super duper weird and henges on the side of supernatural, which throws me off a lot. I will probably read the whole series but I have to profess I like the first three seasons of the show better.

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So I should probably should post an update on The Bees...

 

It got awful. Really awful, really fast. So awful I had to give up on it. The protagonist - yes, a worker bee - quickly becomes an enormous Mary Sue, reaching Kvothe-like levels of exceptionalism. Hurray. :(

 

I wanted this to be a good novel. I really did. But I can't recommend it at all.

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I've started The Lies of Locke Lamora again. It's still clever, witty, and very fun, but I'm doing my rereading so I can remember what happened when I go through the next couple of Gentleman Bastard books.

 

—Alorael, who should still be wading through weighty tomes of medical knowledge, or at least their less-weighty digital equivalents. He's doing so only sporadically and reluctantly.

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I've started rereading the Hitchhikers Guild to the Galaxy. Its not quite how I remember it 20 years ago.

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I've started rereading the Hitchhikers Guild to the Galaxy. Its not quite how I remember it 20 years ago.

Which versions? The Original Radio Scripts, the novels, the comic books, the BBC television series, the movie, …. :)

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Which versions? The Original Radio Scripts, the novels, the comic books, the BBC television series, the movie, …. :)

I'm reading an edition published in 1996 that has all six books mashed between into a hardback cover.

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As a Morrissey fan, I've suffered more than most for following a flawed artist. With increasingly less frequent flashes of brilliance in his musical career, I kind of hoped that Morrissey's literary career would recapture some of the old Smiths' magic. Alas, no.

 

List of the Lost is a turgid slip of a book. One almost wishes it didn't exist, filled as it is with unedited garbage and ham-fisted language. As cutting as Steven Patrick can be (and last was circa 1995), the only thing you'll feel whilst reading this offering is the neutering snip of a Mancunian lad struggling with the big boy's thesaurus. I won't bore you with details - this review is already in danger of being longer (and more coherent) than the damned book - but for somebody so adroit at weaving fantastical lyrics of longing, List of the Lost is less full of wist, and more the self-absorbed (edited because I thought the autocensor would have my back) of a talent squandered and increasingly out of reach.

 

Read Autobiography if you must - it's at least finish-able - but I'd stick with listening to The Smiths (and a slim handful of his solo work) whilst reading something more wholesome.

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I found a copy of the JtHM Director's Cut at the bookstore the other day... my inner gothy teen was pleased, I never did get to finish the series because my parents had taken away my comics many years ago. So I'm finally reading it now. It's not nearly as good as I remembered, there's a lot of technical flaws in the art and the writing is not the best. I don't regret my purchase, though I do like Jhonen Vasquez best when he's collaborating with others (mostly Zim... Zim is great).

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In my quest to reread (or read for the first time) all the books that I own I just finished the Harry Potter series. Up next will be The Dark is Rising Sequence.

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I finished The Broken Kingdoms a little while ago. It's the second book in a series, by N.K. Jemisin. It's not good.

 

I liked the first one well enough. It more or less revolves around the gods of that world, and it goes to great lengths to portray them as incomprehensible embodiments of primal forces, which is totally my jam. It does a good job at doing that. It's a pretty okay romance, too. The second one has a great many more gods as secondary or tertiary characters, and they're all kind of lame, so it never manages to have the atmosphere of the first one. The protagonist is okay, but only okay, and the rest of the main cast is also lame. The ~new~ romance isn't terrible, but also isn't nearly as good. And the book is about twice as long as it ever needed to be. 2/3 of the events taking place could be entirely skipped over. It took me months to finish this book, because I would read like thirty pages, realize that nothing had happened and that I didn't care about anything in the book, and not go back to it for a long time. The greater portion of the book is demoralizingly mundane and boring, going nowhere. And the rest of it is frankly mediocre. Not a good time.

 

However, I am now reading The Wake, which is brilliant. I love it already.

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