Saturday, March 14, 2009
Been a while since I gave a reading report. It's not that I haven't been reading. Just haven't been in the mood to blog about most of it. I read 'Another Life' the final volume in Andrew Vachss' Burke series. I've been reading Vachss since 1988 when I picked up his third novel, Blue Belle, because of a review I read in the Atlanta Journal Constitution one Sunday morning. I bought the book at the late lamented Oxford Bookstore on Peachtree Battle and never looked back. There were several years when Vachss was my absolute favorite crime writer. In 1991 I interviewed Vachss and became even more impressed with him. He literally changed my life, but that's a long story and one for another time. Another Life brings the saga of career criminal Burke and his 'family of choice'to a close. It was perhaps not as satisfying as I'd hoped, but at least no one was killed off.
After cruising the mean streets with Vachss I needed something lighter and I switched to a re-read of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan and the Lost Empire. This was only marginally a re-read because I hasn't read the book since I was a kid, so I'd forgotten most of it. In this one Tarzan finds yet another lost civilization, this one settled by Romans who had entered a hidden valley in Africa way back when, and of course, following the logic of these sorts of books, hadn't advanced much in the ensuing centuries. Basically it was just a way to have Tarzan visit ancient Rome. And of course he ends up in the games where he fights gladiators and kills a lion with just a dagger. The self styled Emperor makes a mistake though when he tries to kill the Lord of the Jungle by releasing half a dozen apes into the arena. Some of these bad boys recognize Tarzan and end up helping the ape-man escape and lead a revolt against the tyrant. Yay apes. (I've included the cover for the Gold key comic book adaptation of Empire because it's cooler than any of the book covers.)
Then I jumped to Tim Severin's Viking trilogy, which begins with Odinn's Child, moves to Sworn Brother, and ends with King's Man. Severin is an expert on Vikings, pirates, and other historical subjects and has written quite a few non-fiction books as well as a growing library of fiction. Pulling incidents from historical accounts and from the Norse sagas, Severin weaves a fine story that carries his Norseman hero Thorgils through a rousing series of adventures across the Viking world. Volume three was my favorite since it takes place primarily in Constantinople where Thorgils has joined the fabled Varangian Guard. Not quite as over the top as Bernard Cornwell's similar series Lords of the North, but well researched and well written with plenty of shield walls, ship to ship battles, and action of all sorts. I'll be seeking out his pirate series soon. Yaaarr! I've supplied a link to Severin's web page at the bottom of this post.
Somewhere in there I read the Scions of Shanarra which I've already reviewed in an earlier post. Right now I'm reading The Collected Letters of Clark Ashton Smith, Tarzan and the Ant Men, and assorted short stories. I've got a couple of books coming in the mail, including two Viking books by Poul Anderson, one of the few remaining books by Michael Moorcock that I haven't read yet, and Philip Jose Farmer's A Barnstormer in Oz, which I've been meaning to re-read for some time. Got a few things in the too be read pile too, but this post has rambled on far enough.