Archive for December, 2014

The Blade Itself: Book Review

I belong to a very few Facebook groups; one of my favorite is Grimdark Fiction Readers and Writers. I enjoy gritty tales with morally ambiguous characters; GRR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire,of course, Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire. I write a little bit of it, myself.

Joe Abercrombie’s name is mentioned in that group so many times that I began to feel a bit remiss in not having read any of his books, so I broke open my trusty old Kindle and bought The Blade Itself.

Holy shit, can this guy write.

I loved his characters; I did start feeling a bit of female rage brewing at his all-male cast until about a third of the way into the book, when he introduced a thoroughly enjoyable female POV character. I would have liked to see more women represented, because it’s an awesome sandbox full of awesome toys and girls like to play too. But I loved his cast, each and every one of them, I hated the bad guys and I hated the good guys sometimes as well. Abercrombie is a master at presenting a diverse cast of characters, each with their own voice and story.

His worldbuilding is seamless. I’d hate to live there, but I love reading about it.

And as for his storytelling…again, holy shit. Abercrombie weaves a tale so subtly and urgently that your coffee will sit at your elbow and get cold, your phone calls will go unanswered, and you will occasionally forget to breathe.

And it only gets better.

Why are you still here? Go forth and read!

Lost in the Library

My kids’ school doesn’t have a library, and I think this is a great shame.  Brick-and-mortar book houses–libraries, bookstores–are so important to children.  How else are they to stumble across Dickens, Twain, Kierkegaard, or The Three Investigators than by wandering alone and unshepherded through stacks and shelves and piles of wonderful, musty, magical old books?  Shall they partake only of the thin and sugary buffet of today’s best hits as determined by someone else’s algorithm?

I worry for the children who will never accidentally pick up The Secret of Skeleton Island, or Big Red, or Moby Dick.  Especially with the fearfulness that some educators are showing towards books…as if Huck Finn is going to crawl out from between the pages and lead our children on a lawsuit-begging rampage.  As if Hermione will encourage the young to pursue the dark arts instead of finishing their homework.

Do you remember combing through the obscure offerings of a library or used bookstore, and finding gems among the slag?  Finding new voices, new opinions, new stories that enhanced and added to your worldview?  What are some of the things you discovered that you never would have found had you been clicking through the advertisements of a digital marketplace?

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