A lot of folks said this month was slow but I thought it flew by…
The Battle of Hastings: The Fall of the Anglo-Saxons and the Rise of the Normans ***
Bit too stuffy and academic but gave me a great outline as to the importance of the Battle and its outcomes.
Time to Murder and Create ****
This is the second time I’ve come out of a Matthew Scudder re-read with a better impression than the first time I read it.
How it bodes for the rest of the series, I don’t know. Originally, I thought the first three books fine, if a little familiar and derivative.
But upon rereading this, #2 in the series, you can already see how Block is trying to subvert the genre, making Matt more than just an alcoholic PI and armchair philosopher. These are great New York books because they never let you forget how New York traps people like flies to flypaper: the allure, the glory and the crushing depression of the 1970s.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting into dad-lit more (guilty as charged) or perhaps because I know Scudder’s fate, I can appreciate what Block was doing with these earlier in his career. Nevertheless, this was another winner, which makes me curious how I’ll feel about more favored novels in the series as I revisit them.
Charlesgate Confidential ****
An ambitious debut novel…and it mostly hits its reach. Scott Von Doviak does a great job juggling a loaded storyline and three times. My only real beef is the resolutions, which fell flat, including a weird and unnecessary coincidence. Still, most of the execution works and it’s a portent, hopefully, of good things to come from this writer.
Prince of Thorns ***
The concept was exactly what I was looking for: post-apocalyptic medieval fantasy with court intrigue. And there are some interesting avenues explored here. But man…Mark Lawrence needed work on all of his writing: characterization, prose, plot, dialogue, all of them flat, thin, weak or lacking. Jorg never rose to a level where I cared about him, it was like reading A Clockwork Orange all over again. The violence is for violence sake. At times, it read like a parody of a grimdark. And on top of it all, it was a real missed opportunity to explore how trauma causes us to repeat cycles of violence.
Despite all this, I’m going to continue with the series. But I hope Lawrence improves his writing.
Sword Song ****
More typical Cornwell with this wonderful, frustrating series. Love how he writes this world. Love the historical detail. Battle scenes, court politics both get the chef’s kiss. Just can’t stand how annoying and uninteresting Uhtred is. I don’t root against him per se but I wouldn’t mind seeing him killed in one of these books. Sadly, we have a long way to go so I guess I have to suffer him to get through the series. Most of the time, it’s worth it.
The Trouble with Peace ****
Definitely suffers from second book syndrome but the beats still hit once the plot is in motion. Abercrombie is a dynamite writer. I do hope he has a clever plan to finish this trilogy besides Deus Ex Magi. We’ll see.
Really Good, Actually ****
Giving this the debut author 4-star bump. The book is messy but when I consider it on the whole, it fits the profile of the protagonist and her situation. Enough stuff made me laugh and nod and I think Monica Heisey caught the right tone.