March 25, 2013
The second book of the, “Malazan – Book of the fallen” series, picks up where the first left off with the Bridgeburners Fiddler and Kalam escorting Sorry back to her home in Itko Kan. Seven Cities is their first destination, a conquered land of the Malazan Empire quickly sliding into open revolt, which they must cross to continue by ship on the other side.
Here, Steven Erikson does a masterful job of splitting the storyline and introducing Coltaine, the newly arrived Fist, as he takes command of the Malazan 7th Army to protect the Empire’s interests in the area. Told largely from the perspective of Duiker, the Imperial Historian attached to the 7th, the story of Coltaine and what will become known as “The Chain of Dogs” as he attempts to do just that is reason enough to read this book.
Without going into any spoilers I will just say that more than once I have caught myself searching the bookshelf for “Chain of Dogs” forgetting that this book is called “Deadhouse Gates”.
The role of the Gods in the Malazan world is expanded on in book 2 with more deities, manipulations and priests such as Iskaral Pust, High Mage of the House of Shadow. The concept of accenssion is built upon also, that mortals can “ascend” to godhood through deeds, coup or by crossing through a gate after following the “Path of Hands”.
In all ways this story takes the Malazan tale and raises the stakes, rewards and risks above the previous book. At times one can almost taste sand grit from the Holy Desert Raraku or hear hoof beats of Wickan warriors closing in. All 10 books of this series make one big story, but if I had to pick just one book as a favorite “Deadhouse Gates” would be it.
Next up in this series reread is “Memories of Ice”.
March 9, 2013
First in an epic series about the Malazan Empire, “Gardens of the Moon” and this entire series of books grabs me from the start and doesn’t let go until the end of the 10th one. It really is that good.
Our story begins with the siege of Pale, a city on the Genabackis continent. The author wastes no time in back-story or world building, instead the reader, like the 9th’s new recruit “Sorry”, is thrust into the middle of things and expected to keep up with the veterans we find ourselves serving with. Survive long enough as a rookie to reach the 3rd chapter and the other Bridgeburners in our squad might start to clue us in a little.
In a empire as vast as the Malazan’s more than just this siege is going on and Steven Erikson does a fantastic job of taking us from story line to story line weaving it all together as one grand tale. Following the siege of Pale armies of the empire expand the frontiers as rebellion stirs through lands already conquered. Meanwhile our squad of Bridgeburners is sent into the last free city on Genabackis, “Darujhistan”, to scout ahead of the rest, “First in, last out”.
Add plots within plots, a rich magic system, threats at every turn and the gods themselves stirring the soup for chuckles and high adventure on the literary seas doesn’t get much better than this. This book and series is a re-read for me and each time I start it I know not much of anything else will get done for the next couple of weeks, which, when reading this series is always an even trade.
Next in the series is “Deadhouse Gates”, stay tuned!
March 4, 2013
The great thing about writing a review or update on a history book is I don’t have to worry about spoilers since everyone already knows how it will end. The hard part in blogging about it is if I have a good book to read I’ve got better things to do than type a blog. As dilemmas go, not a bad one to have, and reading “A Bridge Too Far” by Cornelius Ryan has proven insightful and I look forward to reading the rest of it.
On occasion when reading a history book this old I find gaps or inaccuracies that subsequent time has thrown new light on. Just in the last couple decades FOIA requests, time dated declassified documents and access to previously closed national archives in the East are rewriting many chapters that make up the story of WWII. Showing a date of 1975 on the inside cover the material thus far has been relevant and current almost 70 years after the event.
Written largely from the perspective of the soldier on the ground many first hand accounts of small unit action are told from both sides of the firefight by those who took part. Particular attention is paid to the “fog of war” where perceptions of the battle by one side are compared with the realities documented by the other as experienced from the squad up through command levels. Subsequent history, facts and new information only adds to that.
This would be a good spot to end the reading update and recommend another book about the Market Garden Operation but I don’t have one. The only other history book in my library focused on that part of Europe is “The Guns of August” which is an entirely different War. In light of this I’ll just suggest starting the Liberation Trilogy by reading “An Army at Dawn” by Rick Atkinson if you haven’t already.
Maint: The book page is outlined, just needs filled out now. It occurred to me while editing the page that if you own enough books to justify investing in a card catalog to keep track of them a “book review / reading” section would be a good fallback topic for those times writers block strikes. Doesn’t do much good to set up a blog if you have nothing to blog about. We’ll see how that works out.
The Bio page is going to be a “Misc” or “Other” ? type of page to host blog posts that don’t fall under the other page topics. I can’t be the only one that is traumatized by the forest service switching Smokey the Bear’s message from “Forest Fires” to “Wildfires”, now that blog post will have a home. Whew!
Stay tuned for more reviews and blog maintenance reports!
March 3, 2013
After two days I have reached the conclusion that you cannot add new sections below a page sticky. Rather than run in circles searching for ways to do this I went ahead and just created a picture using the GIMP and Paint programs which serves well enough. Now that the spacing is done I can use that for all the pages and just change the text. The image is “centered”, linked to “none” and displayed at its full size of 428 x 36 pixels.
The obvious downside is the lack of a reply / comments for sections and the blarg content is linked rather than in one spot. All things considered however this really isn’t that big of a deal, beggars / choosers.
Categories doesn’t post a blarg to the parent topic page and if you manually direct it to do so the post will overwrite/delete the sticky that is there on top. The different menus or “widgets” as wordpress calls them do sort by blarg posts by topic but is rather redundant considering how this site is set up and amounts to extra clutter in the sidebar. What I did find however is that categories will put all posts into a different parent page.
I have labeled this post also as “books” to go with yesterday’s post. So both of those should appear on a “wordpress.com/category/books/” page. I can’t include a link directory as a sticky on the Blarg page, since it will be overwritten by the first post that gets put there after, so perhaps a category directory on the Welcome page would be a good idea. The individual post links can be included on the topic pages as I have started doing with Books.
The Blarg page went past the 1500 pixel mark, meaning it is past the background image. Rather than change the header background to accommodate “infinite scrolling” I had a little fun with the background and put in a warning strip that the reader was about to go out of bounds. How much blank space is or is not seen on the sides of the site with widescreen monitors I have no way of testing yet.
Email notices seem to work just find. The problems I read in researching how to set up a wordpress page dealing with @hotmail accounts either has been addressed or successfully avoided so far. The “Follow by Email” button works correctly and I do like the “I ♥ spam” text on it, a little truth in advertising.
Getting there. The Bio page is still here to be a test page now that books has been started and I can’t use that. Once the site is fully set up it will just be deleted or changed to another topic of interest that arises during.
Stay tuned for more exciting maintenance reports!