Tuesday, 29 May 2012

52.143 A year in Books – Books 6–10

Better late than never here’s a run down of books 6-10 in my trying to read 52 books in a year extravaganza.

As always there may be some slight spoilers (I have tried to be careful), so if you’ve not read any of the books tread carefully curious reader.

6 Susan Hill – The Woman in Black 

I’m on a self imposed cinema embargo this year (with the exception of super hero films - naturally) so instead of seeing this at the cinema I read the book. This is a very creepy novel; I confess that I don’t scare easily when reading books, a lack of imagination? But I found this book to be very persuasive. The house dominates proceedings and the chills build steadily as Arthur camps out at Eel Marsh House. The ending is brilliantly downbeat and stayed with me for a good while after I finished reading.

7 Terry Brooks - Magic Kingdom for Sale Sold!

Terry Brooks is a funny one for me, The Sword of Shannara was one of the first ‘proper’ fantasy books I read so I tend to give him a fair bit of leeway. I tried and failed with this book about 20 years ago, so whilst going through my pile of unread books I decided to take another bash at it. The book won’t win any awards for doing things differently and the twist is pretty easy to work out but despite its flaws I found myself enjoying the book. I think there was just enough there to bring me back to the series at a later time. As a new sub genre of fantasy I would class this as MA (Middle Age) Fantasy.  

8 Phil Rickman – A Crown of Lights (Merrily Watkins Book 3)

I am sure that there are some of you who are not familiar with Phil Rickman’s excellent Merrily Watkins books. Merrily Watkins is the main protagonist in Rickman’s run of 11 novels and is to quote Wikipidea  “a down-to-earth female priest of the Church of England employed as an exorcist “.
Now I’m going to say it – don’t let that put you off, these books are very good indeed. Rickman creates a brilliant sense of place (the books play out on the Wales/England Boarder), Merrily is a vivid, likeable character and the God/Church stuff doesn’t ever take over proceedings.

If you’ve not read any of these why not give the first book a go, The Wine of Angels, especially if you’re a fan of A) cider and B) Nick Drake or C) Female Vicars – highly recommended.

9 Dan Simmons – Hyperion

Sci-fi is not a genre I am particularly well read in so as part of my challenge I thought I’d throw in some of the books regarded as sci-fi classics into the mix. This is a real highlight of the list so far for me, the book itself is made up of six short stories held together under the premise that the main characters are on a pilgrimage to Hyperion (planet) and the Shrike (the mysterious spiky alien). I enjoyed all of the pilgrim’s tales, in particular The Priest’s Tale and The Consul’s Tale but for me the standout story is The Scholar’s Tale which is a truly heartbreaking tale of parents love for their daughter – simply stunning, a story that I’m sure I will come back to and read again.

10 David Gemmell – Wolf in Shadow (Jon Shannow Book 1)

As a Gemmell fan (that’s me) you know exactly what you’re going to get when you pick up one of his books, great characters, loads of kick ass action and bucket loads of heroics and the Jon Shannow books deliver these is spades.
It is three hundred years since the world toppled on its axis, and civilisation was destroyed. In this savagely reshaped world ruled by brigands and war-makers, a rider seeks a lost city. Pursuing a dream to calm the violence in his soul, Jon Shannow, the brigand slayer, desires only peace. But from the Plague Lands emerges a fresh terror. The Lord of the Pit and his hellborn army seek to plunge mankind into a new satanic era. Seemingly invincible, they make a fatal mistake. They take Shannow's woman for blood sacrifice. And find themselves facing the deadliest warrior of the new age. Jon Shannow - The Jerusalem Man

Yes I know it’s lazy to cut in the cover blurb but it sums up the book perfectly and if you’re not swayed by that then frankly you’re dead inside.
If you’re not a fan of Gemmell or haven’t read any of his books finish reading this and go and get a copy of his debut novel Legend – I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.


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