Friday, 19 September 2014

'Guinea Pigs ate my Laptop!' A Quick Update...

Hi y'all :o)

Apologies for the extended period of silence on the blog, it's been a crazy couple of weeks what with one thing and another (and another and another…)
Work has been full on every single day, easily the most high pressured job that I've ever found myself in. It's good though and it sure beats the alternative; yep, I still remember what is was like to be out of work for over a year and I never want to find myself in that place again. The internet access here is severely restricted so I can't even pop on for a
quick post at lunchtimes.

As far as home goes, well… Maybe I'll tell you more about that another time. Suffice it to say that internet access is fine but the fact that the guinea pigs chewed through the adaptor lead, on the laptop (still needs to be replaced at time of writing) led to other problems. My money is on 'Big Red Fire' (yes, we let Hope choose his name) having done the deed.

And as far as reading goes, I haven't really done an awful lot to be honest. Busy at work, busy at home and the anti-depressants that I'm taking can make it difficult to stay focussed on anything heavier going than a Doctor Who book (which is why I've been reading them!) I've read a few books though and, rather than wait until I've got hold of a new adaptor for the laptop, figured I'd sum them up here. Nothing in depth, just a few quick thoughts.

Here goes...

'The Crimson Campaign' - Brian McClellan (Orbit Books)

Tamas's invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy's best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through
northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god.

In Adro, Inspector Adamat only wants to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the truth is darker than he could have imagined.

With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself alongside the god Mihali as the last line of defence against Kresimir's advancing army. Tamas's generals bicker among themselves, the brigades lose ground every day beneath the Kez onslaught and Kresimir wants the head of the man who shot him in the eye.

I loved 'Promise of Blood' and read 'The Crimson Campaign' over two coach journeys to/from Plymouth. It's hard not to say anything that I haven't
already said about the first book; plotting, pace and moments of spectacle here are all on the money as per the last book. 'If it isn't broken…' and all that… The forced march of Tamas' army does add something new to the mix in terms of seeing Tamas as renowned soldier as well as Tamas 'the soldier who killed all the nobility and took power'. I love it when a writer takes time to flesh out their characters and there is a lot of that in 'The Crimson Campaign'. There is also a really good mix of warfare on the front line (go Taniel!) and arguably dirtier warfare in the back streets of the capitol; a lot of intrigue balanced neatly with moments of  mayhem and bloody violence. This is a series that has already ticked all the boxes that I want ticking, for must read fantasy, bring on 'The Autumn
War'. Bring it on now!

'The White Towers' - Andy Remic (Angry Robot Books)

Vagandrak is broken, and a new threat has arisen that threatens to defeat even the mighty Iron Wolves. The twisted, deviant Elf Rats have gathered in the toxic realm beyond the White Lion Mountains... swiftly they invade the troubled land of Vagandrak, killing for profit and pleasure. The
now-disgraced Iron Wolves are the realm's only hope, but there's a problem: they've been sentenced to death by the insane King Yoon for the dark sorcery in their blood. In the mountains of Zalazar lie the White Towers, pillars of legend said to contain the Heart of the Elves. The Iron Wolves
must journey north to steal the Heart, and purify the evil in the land, but the land belongs to the Elves and they won't give it up without a fight!

In a parallel dimension, David Gemmell was writing one day and all of sudden thought, "f*** this s***, I'm done with writing about redemption and honour; it's time to just focus on nasty b******s doing evil things in the name of… I don't know, I'll add more spilled entrails to those passages." A dimensional rift bought the parallel universe David over to our dimension where he currently writes under the pseudonym of Andy Remic.

Seriously though, Remic is what David Gemmell would have been if Grimdark had been more of a thing (or a thing at all) back in the eighties. Remic being Remic though, the grimdark is dialled up to a level beyond parody and becomes a whole new cartoonish realm of fantasy altogether. Not being easily offended myself, I had a great time reading 'The White Towers' with its intoxicating mix of high octane action and more thoughtful moments on what it means to be an Iron Wolf and loathe your comrades, even though they're the closest thing to friends that you have. It looks like there's at least one more book in this series and I personally am well up for it. 'The White Towers' may not be doing anything new but Remic is enjoying himself too much to care and when the author is enjoying his story you can't help but enjoy it with him.
'The Return of Conan' - Bjorn Nyberg (1957)
I've been collecting the old Conan books, mostly to pick up stories that I haven't read yet but also (if I'm being completely honest with myself) because I have a real soft spot for the 'old school' cover art. I'm in two minds over 'The Return of Conan'; it's a book that represents the worst of formulaic and linear plotting (Conan has a fight, makes love to a princess and repeat…) but at the same time I love the way that Conan's mission becomes a 'Reunion Tour' of sorts where he keeps bumping into old friends and settling old scores. It's like Nyberg took it upon himself to tie up loose threads left by Howard, perhaps a little presumptuous but you have to admire his nerve in terms of building upon what Howard had left behind. And the sword fights were good too, even if they were a little one sided and lacking in any kind of narrative tension.

'The Return of Conan' made for a nice little palate cleanser then (every time I couldn't get into something heavier) and another title that I can tick off my list of books to read. Anything more than that though? Eminently forgettable just about covers it.

So that's the books I've been reading just recently. When I can find a cheap laptop adaptor, I'll let you know about the comics as well... ;o)

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