Monday, December 24, 2007

The Reading Report

The main book for the weekend was Michael Ennis's Byzantium, a massive (765 pages) historical novel following the career of the famous Norse hero Harald the Ruthless during the period when he was a member of the Varangian Guard, the troop of Norse bodyguards created by the Byzantine emperor Basil II.
This is a very good book if one is interested in 10th Century Constantinople,(and one is) but it's also one of those historical novels that sometimes drags because the author tried to get ALL of his considerable research in. Still, it is far superior to Steven Lawhead's book of the same title and so far, the best fictional book I've read about the Byzantine Empire. Recommended.
Occasionally needing a break from the plodding pace of Byzantium, I stopped to read assorted other stuff. Read a couple of short stories from the latest Clark Ashton Smith collection. Read some more of The Last of the Trunk. Re-read the first novella in Moorcock's The Vanishing Tower just because I was in the mood for an Elric adventure. Read a bunch of Superman stories in the DC Showcase Superman Vol III, including the classic 3 part 'imaginary story' the Death of Superman, where Lex Luthor finally manages to kill the man of steel and the world mourns. Fantastic artwork on that one by Curt Swan. I know I've mentioned before how much I'm enjoying the DC Showcase books, but it bears repeating. I've grown rather tired of many of today's comic books and their creators. The Showcase volumes have really helped to remind me why I fell in love with the medium of comics to begin with, and how much I still love some of the classic characters like Superman, Flash, Hawkman and Green Lantern and their original creators. Carmine Infantino. Gil Kane. John Broome. Gardner Fox. Joe Kubert. Names to conjure with.

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