I’m going to start doing these weekly again, I swear.
Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor
Lawrence Watt-Evans’ A Young Man Without Magic
Lawrence Watt Evans is a grossly under-appreciated writer. Primarily a fantasy writer, his books usually (though not always) center on average people caught up in situations out of their depth, rather than on the more normal prophesied hero/ heir to the throne/ unstoppable warrior/ powerful wizards so common in fantasy. A Young Man Without Magic follows a young man, Anrel, recently graduated from college in his nation’s capital, who becomes a hunted fugitive when he gives an inflammatory speech following his friend’s death at the hands of a local lord. Following a up and coming demagogue who uses political discourse and public speeches to fight his battles? That’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in fantasy.
Lawrence Watt-Evans’ Above His Proper Station
The sequel to A Young Man Without Magic, it follows Anrel as the political situation further destabilizes, and he’s forced back into it, whether he wants it or not. The conclusion to this two book series ends pretty realistically- it’s not a particularly happy ending. The nation is being hit by French Revolution-like political purges, it’s… well, no more spoilers, but it’s a much more nuanced, complicated ending than I’m used to from fantasy.
Lawrence Watt-Evans’ The Vondish Ambassador
Yep, the last two got me off on a Lawrence Watt-Evans kick. This one is one of the only Ethshar books I hadn’t read, and it was a good one, albeit less stand-alone than many of the others. (It runs along with the whole Vond storyline. You can still read it on its own, but you’ll get more out of it this way. The Ethshar series, by the way, is titled after the Hegemony of the Three Ethshars, powerful city states that share names. (Ethshar of the Sands, Ethshar of the Rocks, and Ethshar of the Spices). The series is notable for having an absolute ton of different kinds of magic, as well as a very unusual cosmology.
Lawrence Watt-Evans’ The Blood of a Dragon
The youngest son of a merchant wants to become a wizard. It turns out he has no magical talents whatsoever, decides to become a dragon hunter, makes a ton of really stupid decisions. Not my favorite Ethshar book, but not bad, by any means. (There aren’t any bad Ethshar books.) Also, man, look at that cover. That’s some good old goofy paperback fantasy art right there.
Seriously, look at that terrible use of perspective, sky for most of the background, extremely standardized dragon with tiny little limbs, and that guys shirt is just… the absolute worst. Atrocious. I love it.
Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor (Again)
Graphic Novel, Reread
Lawrence Watt-Evans’ Inithalin’s Restoration
The second Ethshar book I ever read. Still holds up really well. It follows a wizard’s apprentice concurrent to the events in The Spell of The Black Dagger- which you by no means have to read at the same time. It’s in a different Ethshar, and the only real affect is to have all the higher ranking wizards all freaking out and unable to help out. The cover is goofy as shit, though.
Jeremiah Tolbert’s Men of Unborrowed Vision
Short Story, Science Fiction
I normally don’t bother to include short stories I read on here- I don’t read a ton, and they take me no time at all. This one, however, was written by a friend of mine, and is really good. Go read it.
Robert Jackson Bennet’s The City of Stairs
This one really reminded me of Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence books, with a little of The City and The City mixed in. Really fun, weird fantasy/ mystery novel. It deals heavily with the consequences of colonialism, which while frequently present in fantasy, often doesn’t get a particularly deep examination. Even when the problems caused by colonialism get any awareness in most fantasy, its seldom anything more complicated than Colonialism=Bad. Robert Jackson Bennet, however, gives it a much more detailed look- most of the driving societal conflict is due to the history of colonialism.
Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor (Yet again.)
Graphic Novel, Reread
What? Don’t judge me.
Seriously, stop that.
I really liked it, okay?
Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork
An anthropological examination of cookware, dinnerware, and other kitchen tools throughout history, what they say about the cultures that use them, and the conditions surrounding their invention and development- no item in the kitchen is used in a vacuum. Many of the tools used today would be completely useless centuries ago, and vice versa. (And not just because of electricity, either.) Absolutely fascinating read, made me consider the kitchen in a very new way.
Hugh Howey’s Wool
Science Fiction, Audiobook
I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of listening to audiobooks. It used to be extremely difficult for me, thanks to how much longer they take, and my tendency to get distracted by visual stimuli, but now I load one up whenever I’m walking somewhere, cooking, or doing chores- or sometimes even just on its own. Wool was a fantastic book recommended by a friend of mine. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel set in a huge, self-contained underground silo, with a poisoned Earth above them. It was originally published as a series of short stories and novellas.
Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic
Terry Pratchett’s death this week hit me pretty hard. He was my favorite author since I was a very young child, so I immediately decided to reread some of his books when I heard about his death. The Colour of Magic, on top of being the first Discworld book, was also the first Pratchett book I’d ever read.
Terry Pratchett’s Thud
One of my absolute favorite Pratchett novels, I started this one soon after finishing The Colour of Magic. I’ll probably do an entire post about Terry Pratchett, and who he was to me, and all that good stuff, but for now I don’t really feel like saying much.