Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Reading Report

Picked up Robert Ferguson's new book, The Vikings: A History. You'd think by now that I'd know pretty much everything available about Vikings, but Ferguson's book not only provided me with new facts and details, but it also gave me a slightly different view of the rowdy Scandinavians. This book helps to put the Viking age into historical perspective and also points up how much of what we accept as "history" about the Norse isn't really very dependable. Fascinating stuff.
And speaking of Vikings, I also read Bernard Cornwell's fourth novel in his Viking series, Sword Song. I've mentioned before that these days I get my sword & sorcery fix more from historical fiction that fantasy. Hardly anybody seems to be writing any bone crunching, blood and guts, Robert E. Howard style fiction in the fantasy genre, but over in the Historical Fiction aisle there is mayhem aplenty. In Cornwell's tales of his hero Uhtred, the action comes fast and furious and the historical details are dropped in painlessly as they are needed. Cornwell makes it look easy. This time out Uhtred must help Alfred the Great (whom he actually hates) retake the city of London from a couple of Viking brothers who have captured the city and therefore control the important port of the river Thames.
Currently I'm reading the next to the next to the last Repairman Jack book, Ground Zero. After this there are only two RJ books to go before author F. Paul Wilson ends his long running series. I already kind of know how things turn out because I've read Night World, the book that finishes up Wilson's Adversary series and co stars Jack, but I don't know how all the events leading up to Nightworld come about. And Wilson says he will be revising Nightworld to dovetail with the end of the Repairman Jack saga so there may yet be a surprise or two. I'm enjoying Ground Zero much more than Jack's last adventure By the Sword. The only thing I don't like is some of the connections Wilson is making between this book and his young adult RJ series. I enjoy crossovers, but there are a couple of things here that stretch credibility more than the usual coincidences in Wilson's work, but I can't say more without too many spoilers and beside it's a fairly minor thing. Overall Ground Zero is a very good entry in the series.
Next up is probably Simon R. Green's Nightingale's Lament, the third book in his hardboiled P.I. Fantasy series about the Nightside, the creepy pocket universe part of London where it's always Three a.m. and magic works. Green leans a little heavily on the Raymond Chandler school of writing sometimes, but his books have a lot of cool ideas and interesting characters and are just plain fun. However I may have changed my mind by the time I finish Ground Zero, so who knows what I'll be reviewing next.

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