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CDRBill

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The Seventh Book of Lost Swords: Wayfinder's Story
Fred Saberhagen
A Game of Thrones  - George R.R. Martin

There have already been many good reviews written about this book, some praising and some condemning.

 

I myself loved the book and the way it is narrated by the different characters. Is it weird that my favorite character is Tyrion?

 

The story is about a kingdom in turmoil for the throne (thus the title) and the many high families involved, including the exiled children of the previous king. Add to that the Black Guard that stands guard at the huge ice wall protecting the kingdom from the Others. The ending of this book was a surprise to me. I can't wait to see what Dany will do!

This book leaves a lot of unanswered questions which leads in to the rest of the series which I will most definitely read. I just hope the last book does indeed bring everything to a close.

 

One note of warning. This book describes human savagery and butchery at it's worst with beheadings and war, descriptions of rape and debasement of women and the "lowborn". If you are sensitive to that sort of thing then this book may not be for you.

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - Ed Yong

I'm not going to go into extreme detail about this book as others have written great reviews in that vain. Briefly this book shows how the "microbiome" has influenced life for billions of years, so much so that the heavy use of antibiotics and attempt at sterilization of our bodies and environment over the last 50-100 years may be hurting as much as helping. Our attempts kill the good microbes as well as the bad. So... the trick is determining what is the right level of sterilization we should shoot for.

 

This book does warn that much of the scientific work is still in its infancy but there are some promising trends. All in all I think this books makes the argument that we shouldn't look at bacteria as an enemy to wage all out war on, but more as companions both good and bad. Some we can, and have without even knowing it, form partnerships. I for one am glad some people already have this view else I would be able to drink my beer!

 

I can't recommend this book highly enough. There is no heavy technical or confusing jargon. It is a very easy and informative read with a little humor interspersed throughout.

Superman: Earth One - J. Michael Straczynski, Shane Davis

This is a great reboot of Superman's origin. The artwork was outstanding and I loved the storyline, especially the new take on the destruction of Krypton. I'm looking forward to reading volumes 2 and 3.

DC Comics Essentials: Batman: Earth One (2014-) #1 - Geoff Johns, Gary Frank

Loved this reboot of the Batman.

The Conan Chronicles: Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon (Fantasy Masterworks, #16) - Robert E. Howard

You can never go wrong with Robert E. Howard's Conan stories. I have read these stories numerous times and every time I get completely lost in them. These stories have blood and guts fights and grand battles, damsels in distress, pirates, thieves, assasins, sorcerers with dark magic and supernatural beasts..... what more could you want! Highly recommended!!

The Conan Chronicles: Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle - Robert E. Howard

You can never go wrong with Robert E. Howard's Conan stories. I have read these stories numerous times and every time I get completely lost in them. These stories have blood and guts fights and grand battles, damsels in distress, pirates, thieves, assasins, sorcerers with dark magic and supernatural beasts..... what more could you want! Highly recommended!!

The Complete Chronicles of Conan - Les Edwards, Robert E. Howard, Stephen Jones

The Conan stories by Robert E. Howard are some of the best you will ever read. It is such a shame the Howard died at such an early age. I would love to have seen where he would have taken Conan.

I can't recommend these story highly enough!!

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein

This story is a sci-fi epic retelling of the American Revolution, only this time the people of the moon are rebelling against Earth and the Lunar Authority led by a sentient computer and a ragtime group of ice miner and farmers.

Heinlein gives the reader some interesting ideological viewpoints about government, people's rights vs. government, marriage and women's rights and empowerment.

This is classic Heinlein at his best and although the story may be showing it's age a little, it is still a very fun read.

The Citadel of the Autarch  - Gene Wolfe

This is the finale of the Book of the New Sun which is a part of the larger 12 volume Solar Cycle. As many have mentioned you can't read any of the four books on there own. All four volumes are actually one long continuous novel. I really liked how things were wrapped up in this final volume. However, I came away feeling that I still did not understand a lot of things. This by no means takes away from the quality of the story, but does mean that I will be re-reading this series at some point. Even the narrative on the last page recommends a re-reading! I will have to decide whether to do my re-read before I read the 5th volume/sequel "The Urth of the New Sun" and any of the follow on series, The Book of the Long Sun and The Book of the Long Sun.

 

f the follow on series are only half as good as The Book of the New Sun, I have some intensely enjoyable reading ahead.

The Chronicles of Amber - Roger Zelazny

See my reviews of the individual books in this volume.

Shadow and Claw - Gene Wolfe

See my review of the individual books in this volume.

The Claw of the Conciliator - Gene Wolfe

I really like this story of the continuing adventures of Severian. However, if you read the first book, The Shadow of the Torturer, you probably came away with a multitude of questions but don't expect to have them answered in this second book. There there are some things where you may see a glimmer of an answer and start to get an idea for what's going on, but nothing becomes absolutely clear. And as another reviewer pointed out (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/205947975?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1) keep a dictionary handy. I'm looking forward to reading the next book.

The Shadow of the Torturer - Gene Wolfe
I really liked the ancient archaic feel of this book even though it is set in the far distant future. I can't wait to read the rest of the tetralogy.
 
 

 

The Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut

I really like Vonnegut's humor in this book. While this book has the trappings of science fiction, do not expect the type of hard sci fi as you might read from Asimov or Clarke. Currently my favorite Vonnegut book.

Sundiver  - David Brin

This book is both a sci-fi and murder mystery in one. While it took a little work to get through the first few pages which set up the story line, I was engrossed from that point on.

As the story starts, humanity has just joined a galactic civilization where there is a pecking order to each species based on when they were "uplifted" by genetic manipulation and by whom and how many "client" species they have uplifted as a "patron". Each uplifted species is indentured to their patron species for 1,000 years. Humanity is in the enviable and highly unusual position of having been abandoned by their patron species and, as a young "wofling" race, already uplifted 2 other species. All this started with the "progenitors" millennia ago.

 

The story follows Jaacob Demwa as he is asked to join the Sundiver project, which is studying the sun by sending manned craft in to the upper chromosphere. And "ghosts" have been discovered living in the sun. Many wonder if the Solarians are mankind's long lost patrons.

 

Then the unimaginable happens and a craft manned by an uplifted chimp, one of mankind's client species, is apparently destroyed by the Solarians.

 

Thus ensues a great sci-fi murder mystery set in David Brin's Uplift universe with intrigue and politics on an enormous scale. This is a great story with great characters and I can't wait to read the other books in the series.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go - Philip José Farmer

Good novel with a great story idea. Every human being (and one alien) that ever lived on Earth is resurrected on an alien world beside a river millions of miles long. Everyone is naked and hairless. They have a canister strapped to their arm that, when placed in "grails" spaced along the river, is filled with food, tobacco, toiletries and a narcotic gum.

 

So what does humanity do with this second chance? Unfortunately, most revert to form. War, rape, murder, but is it really murder if your are resurrected again?

 

This is book 1 of the Riverworld series. It follows the exploits of historical figures Sir Richard Francis Burton and Hermann Göring. Burton is trying to find the "why" of this alien world and after his 777 deaths gets close to the answer while Göring is haunted by his personal demons but eventually seems to come to terms with them and make peace.

 

This book will leave you with a lot of questions and few answers although there are hints such as when introduced to the "Ethicals".

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. I hope the others in the series are as good.

 

Oh, and one last thing. For those that saw the made for cable "Riverworld" movie, the book is much better!