Official JC Book Review Club: Fiction...has moved.

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Kessel Runner, Nov 8, 2001.

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  1. LittleLadyVader Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2000
    star 4
    Yes, in a way. But only a few explicitely.
  2. Master_Ben Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2001
    star 4
    I've read Killer Angels and it is one of the best books I have ever read. I am a Civil War buff and his depictions of Lee and Longstreet where fabulous. I also enjoy Chamberlain but it was hard wince I was rooting for the guys in grey. I always wondered why Gettysburg was lost and now I know. I checked out the Dark Tower series and it seemed a little to dark and racy for my taste. I usually try and stay away from those mystical fantasy books. Fantasy is all so dark. Lord of the Rings was dark to a degree but you knew that Iluvatar was there guiding everything even Morgoth to do his purposes so it was fine. Lord of the Rings had a very bitter sweet ending to me. You knew that it had to come to this but you just wished that somehow things could have been different.

    A book I really want to recommend is the Count of Monte Cristo. It is among my top three books of all time. Again a slightly bittersweet ending yet you knew that he had finally found fulfillment at last. So read the Count of Monte Cristo. And remember: Prepare for Adventure, Count on Revenge...
  3. Coolguy4522 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2000
    star 4
    I was just about to talk about Brave New World, when I read this thread!
    I read this book my sophmore year, and today my senior english teacher hands out this book declaring we are going to read it! IT SUCKS! I have had my fill of drug orgies, thank you very much. I really don't want to read it again. Any relevant issues it brings up were basicly summerized by the movie GATTACA. I wish we could have read 1984. It's too bad I passed the AP english test last year, now I am in a stupid class that is too stupid for me. Did I mention that my teacher is stupid?
  4. Kessel Runner Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 1999
    star 6
    I loved Gattaca specifically because of its connection to BNW...plus it was shot at the Marin County Civic Center in the SF Bay Area (A Frank Lloyd Wright design). :)


    When visiting my parents for the holidays I found my copy of The Stand. Yet another book for me to re-read. :D
  5. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Good good. What's on the cover (the design, that is)?
  6. Master_Ben Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2001
    star 4
    Has anyone read the book King Solomon's Mines?
  7. Genghis12 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 1999
    star 6
    John Gardner's Grendel was some of the better fiction I read when I was younger. This story, written only a few decades ago takes the old 7th century poem, Beowulf and twists it upside down.

    It is an amazing bit of storytelling - a retelling of the entire Beowulf mythos told entirely from the monster's point-of-view. His relationship with the Shaper, whom he owes his entire character to is interesting. Certainly one of the many high points of the novel. Grendel, you see didn't seem to have any character before the arrival of humans and specifically, the arrival of the Shaper. His mother was around, but really only existed for one reason - to give birth to Grendel. Prior to the Shaper, Grendel is generally a force of nature - he kills people and eats people, but that's because it's what he does. It's only after the arrival of the Shaper that Grendel realizes his true calling in life - that of a horrible dark monstrosity cursed by God to torture humans.

    Grendel is made to become a very sympathetic character. All he wanted to do was live. He played games - like a little puppy. Then humans and Beowulf comes into the picture. They harass him, kill his mom, and end up killing him.

    A throw-away "monster" - a plot device - from the original source was given life by Gardner as one of the most human characters within the story.

    I encourage anyone remotely interested in the Beowulf mythos to check it out!

    Btw, Liz Skywalker, what were your favorite parts of Canticle of Leibowitz?
  8. Coolguy4522 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2000
    star 4
    Has anyone read "My Name is Asher Lev"?
    It is by the same author as "The Chosen", though I have not read that book.
  9. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    We find out pretty much that Grendel's whole purpose it to define humanity by being the monster.

    Has anyone read anything by Parke Godwin? He takes legends and whatnot, and puts them into novels against real and well-researched historical backgrounds. For instance, his Sherwood takes place against the backdrop of the Norman invasion in 1066, and his The Tower of Beowulf tells the story of Beowulf with very real characters, political and religious background. Great stuff.
  10. Master_Ben Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2001
    star 4
    No, I haven't. Has anyone read The Three Musketeers? Milady is truly one of the greatest villians of all time. As a guy, all her seductive powers where quite real, but that made her all the more evil.
  11. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    I loved Three Musketeers, but I read it so long ago I really don't remember it. I couldn't really get into any of the sequels, though.
  12. Fluke_Groundwalker Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2001
    star 5
    I really enjoy Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. If you have not read this, I suggest you do.

    Has anyone here read Rendezevous with Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke? If people liked it, I'll probably read it.
  13. Gandalf the Grey Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 14, 2000
    star 6
    Maybe I?ll start reviewing books.


    To start, I?ll review Dave Duncan?s The Gilded Chain .

    [image=http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0380791269.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg]

    This book fits fairly easily into the fantasy genre, though it takes place in a late-medieval or even early renaissance time frame. The culture of Chivial, the country wherein most of the action takes place, is a mix of Henry VIII?s England and Louis XIII?s France. The Kings Blades make fine Musketeers, while King Ambrose is very similar to Henry VIII- fat, domineering, married multiple times and still unable to produce a male heir.

    The main character is one Durendal, the Lord of Roland, and the very finest of the Kings Blades. He quickly came to be one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. He?s honorable, quick with his wits and quicker with Harvest (his sword), self-deprecating, and a thoroughly enjoyable hero. His nemesis, a certain fishy inquisitor, makes a delightful counterpoint.

    The book went all too quickly, covering the life of the swordsman sans parallel from the age of thirteen to the age of sixty. During that span of over forty-five years in the Kings service he fights everything from a vicious undead swordsman whose skills are rival Durendal?s own to giant mutant hounds to regular human swordsmen (four at a time). He goes from being a poor boy with nothing to the Lord Chancellor of Chivial, the most respected man in the realm. Most authors would stretch this story out over a trilogy or more, but Duncan decision to accelerate events works. By only spending time on the most important and exciting events in Durendal?s life he is able to keep the action flowing smoothly throughout the novel, up until the surprising conclusion.

    Of course, this means that some events and relationships get short shift. I would have liked to see more of Durendal?s relationship with his wife, an intriguing character in her own right. The accelerated storytelling also means that the reader is forced to deal with a constant barrage of new names and events, and it can become annoying trying to figure out whether the event or character is new or whether its just the continuation of older events or is an older character in a new role.

    This book is by no means High Fantasy. The author shows little sign of any real moral or ethical debate in the book, the world is innovative but not particularly memorable. The format is interesting, as it is written like a biography. While not a Tolkienesque masterpiece by any means, this book succeeds brilliantly in the most important way: it is wildly entertaining addition to any fantasy lovers book shelf.
  14. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    All Quiet was excellent.

    Rendezvous I haven't read for years, but though it was great. Rama II I remember as being okay, the third one stupid and boring such that I didn't read the fourth. I haven't read either of Gentry Lee's spinoff novels either, though I own the first one.
  15. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    My biggest problem with reviewing books is that I usually review fantasy, and I have to measure an author both against himself or others. For example, I was torn when reviewing MAS's Fortress Draconis, because it's the best book he's written since Once a Hero and Talion: Revenant, but the fact is that he's, stylistically and thematically, just nowhere near as good as many other authors in the field. I didn't want to judge him too harshly because it was the best he's done and probably the best he could do, but I didn't want to rate it too highly because it just doesn't rank up there with so many other authors.

    Does anyone else have similar problems?
  16. Liz Skywalker Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Jun 13, 2000
    star 6
    Btw, Liz Skywalker, what were your favorite parts of Canticle of Leibowitz?


    The first part, when he's starving during Lent. Nothing much in the second part, in the thrid part about how the monsters are always remembered (SO TRUE!!!). How they end up having to leave again b/c the cycle keeps going on and on.




    I hate everything by Chaim Potok. He's so bitter, his writing is inflamatory and the Chosen...well, I dare you to find a Chassidic sect that holds to that. Go on, I double dare you. He likes to make facts up. And he can't write. AND he doesn't know how to end books. C'mon, Davida's Harp...this you call an ending?
  17. Kessel Runner Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 1999
    star 6
    I just finished re-reading Brave New World, and Mark Twain's "The Diaries of Adam and Eve".


    As much as I love BNW, I had forgotten how truly spectacular that book is. And looking back on it now, over 10 years since I first read it, it is quite scary how much of that future has already occurred.

    As for Twain, a true comic genius.
  18. Kessel Runner Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 1999
    star 6
    Well I am currently readin both fiction and non-fiction. The novel I am on at the moment is called The Summoning God, and is a wonderful story told in two timelines. One is present day archaeological site in New Mexico. The other is an Anasazi tribe in the 1200's. It's the best kind of detective novel. Even the Anasazi use primitive forms of forensics to try and figure out who is the murderer and why so many are being killed. It's got great character development too. It's the second book in the "anasazi" series by the Husband and wife writing team of the Gear's. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys history, science, murder/thriller, and just good writing.

    Has anyone else read any new fiction books lately?
  19. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    I read the first story in Hearts in Atlantis. It is brilliant.
  20. Lord Bane Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 26, 1999
    star 5
    I thought the second story, the title piece, was the best in the bunch.

    Bump
  21. Rilina Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 23, 2000
    star 3
    I've never read John Gardner's Grendel, but it's on my to do list. Gardner has written a couple of great books on the art of writing which are really must-reads for aspiring writers. I highly recommend The Art of Fiction in particular.

    On a related note, has anyone here read the Seamus Heaney translation of Beowulf? Very good stuff.

    Here's a review of Ursula K. Le Guin's Wizard of Earthsea. I think SW fans would particularly like this book. Le Guin's portrayal of magic has interesting similarities to the Force. Oh, this review was originally written for Suite 101, where I used to have a column.

    ===========

    Of Wizards and Worldbuilding: Harry Potter, meet Ged

    A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
    (Parnassus Press edition, 1968; Bantam edition, 1975)

    Mention the word "wizard" in any semi-literate circle these days, and you?re likely to inspire thoughts of a certain black-haired, green-eyed, bespectacled young Quidditch player at J. K. Rowling?s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Warner Brothers publicity machine has already moved into first gear to promote the forthcoming movie adaptation of Harry Potter and Sorcerer?s Stone, due this winter, and kids (and their parents) around the world are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the fifth book of the Harry Potter series.

    J. K. Rowling doesn?t have a monopoly on the world of wizards--despite claims of Warner Brothers and Scholastic to the contrary--and some of the great classics of fantasy literature have taken very different approaches to the practicers of sorcery. Foremost among these classics is Ursula K. Le Guin?s Earthsea series. The first book of the series is A Wizard of Earthsea, originally published in 1968 by Parnassus Press. A Wizard of Earthsea is a bildungsroman, which is a fancy way of saying it is a coming-of-age story with plenty of adventure for all. The title character and hero is a young man named Ged. Born to a humble family on the island of Gont, Ged possesses a terrible and wonderful talent for sorcery. His power brings him first to the attention of Ogion, a famous mage of Gont, and eventually to the school for wizards on the island of Roke. On Roke Ged learns much about wizardry, but he also makes a fateful decision which gains him a scar on one cheek and his first decisive test. For in his pride, youthful foolishness, and untrained power, Ged looses an evil power upon the world--a shadow which threatens to destroy Ged before he even begins to fulfill his potential to be the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea.

    Not all wizards are created equal, however, and Ged is no Harry Potter. They share some minor, superficial similarities: each has their talent, their schools, their scars, their rivals, and their friends. Le Guin?s style and concerns, however, set the Earthsea books very far away from the Harry Potter books.

    Take, for example, the nature of magic in these two series. In Rowling?s world magic is decidedly a humdrum affair. It is used upon any number of run-of-the-mill tasks. Mothers use magic to cook dinner; students use it to play practical jokes on their friends and enemies; magic mends table legs and decorates banqueting halls. The students of Hogwarts are idly ordered to keep magic out of the hallways--just as an American high school teacher might call, "No running in the halls!"--but wizarding power has no philosophical difference from the ability to hit a dimpled ball into a small hole or the ability to carry a pretty tune.

    In Earthsea, by contrast, magic is a very serious matter. Do only what is needful, young wizards are told, and there are deep reasons behind that warnings. The ability of wizardry to change the world is not only a matter of convenience and entertainment; it is also a matter of moral and ethical concern. One teacher on Roke soberly tells Ged, "The world is in balance, in Equilibrium. A wizard?s power of changing and of Summoning can shake the balance of the w
  22. Java_Jedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2002
    star 4
    GReetings all... Avide book reader here...
    Thanks for the info on the other wizard books. The family has all read the whole Harry Potter collection and are chomping at the bit for more to tide us over till book 5.
    Anyone else here read the Earth's Children series?... Just finished book 4... was fantastic. Let's see... a few favs. Dean Koontz, Steven king (except the Dark tower Series), John Saul, and Lots of true crime books. If anyone has an idea for " Book of the month" topic... please let me know. :)
  23. Jedi_Master_Mom Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 29, 2002
    star 2
    I just finished rereading Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionaver Tapestry. I still love this trilogy.Starman(Can't remember the author) Third book in a series and it was an enjoyable read. Anyone have anymore ideas for good reads in fantasy?
  24. Connemara Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2000
    star 6
    Anyone here read Graham Greene's Heart of the Matter?

    Truly an astonishingly good book.
  25. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    I thought the second story, the title piece, was the best in the bunch.


    Really? I thought the first story was the best. What did you think of that one (the one that got turned into the movie)?
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