Discussion:
Five Star Reads So Far This Year.
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Titus G
2018-06-18 03:06:56 UTC
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The Fionavar Trilogy. Guy Gavriel Kay.
The Summer Tree.
The Wandering Fire.
The Darkest Road.

To me, "Classic Fantasy" is code for bland and unimaginative so I was a
little apprehensive about starting The Summer Tree, such apprehension
being magnified by the abrupt change of worlds so early and I am sure
that lesser minds than mine would easily be able to ridicule these books
from a technical viewpoint but about a quarter or a third of the way
through The Summer Tree, I was enthralled. Incredibly speedily-adaptive
ordinary but magnificent humans and Gods in machines. Who cares? Not me.
Famous five for adults with aliens and magic. Nonsense from start to
finish but brilliant nonsense. Every book five stars.

Dune. Frank Herbert.
A re-read discussed here a couple of months ago.

The Sparrow. Mary Doria Russell.
Five stars for the story and five stars for the look at the Roman
Catholic faith from a convert to Judaism.
As I am still gobsmacked by this book, I plan to look at reviews,
perhaps on Goodreads unless someone has a better suggestion?
Chris Buckley
2018-06-18 15:05:48 UTC
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On 2018-06-18, Titus G <***@nowhere.com> wrote:
> The Fionavar Trilogy. Guy Gavriel Kay.
> The Summer Tree.
> The Wandering Fire.
> The Darkest Road.
>
> To me, "Classic Fantasy" is code for bland and unimaginative so I was a
> little apprehensive about starting The Summer Tree, such apprehension
> being magnified by the abrupt change of worlds so early and I am sure
> that lesser minds than mine would easily be able to ridicule these books
> from a technical viewpoint but about a quarter or a third of the way
> through The Summer Tree, I was enthralled. Incredibly speedily-adaptive
> ordinary but magnificent humans and Gods in machines. Who cares? Not me.
> Famous five for adults with aliens and magic. Nonsense from start to
> finish but brilliant nonsense. Every book five stars.
>
> Dune. Frank Herbert.
> A re-read discussed here a couple of months ago.
>
> The Sparrow. Mary Doria Russell.
> Five stars for the story and five stars for the look at the Roman
> Catholic faith from a convert to Judaism.
> As I am still gobsmacked by this book, I plan to look at reviews,
> perhaps on Goodreads unless someone has a better suggestion?

Three very different books, but I agree with your ratings on all three.

I seem to be in the minority here, but I regard Kay's early works as
being the best books he's written. _The Fionavar Tapestry_ and _Tigana_
(my top favorite single volume fantasy) are masterpieces in emotional
manipulation. I still buy all of his books (in hardcover yet!) and his
technical skills as a writer has definitely improved over the years, but
the increased complexity of his writings has lessened his unique emotional
impact.

_The Sparrow_ is emotional impact of an entirely different
variety. It's on my favorites bookcase, but unlike most books there,
never gets an occasional re-read. I re-read it a couple of times
early on, but haven't wanted to be put through the wringer again,
emotionally.

For reviews, our resident reviewer (James) reviewed it here, with a
bit of discussion, so that review is probably on his web-site. I
profoundly disagree with his review - it mis-categorizes the book as a
hard science fiction book, and then points out all the ways it doesn't
meet the standards of that category. IMO, that completely misses the
point - this is a book about a priest going through hell and trying to
reconcile his faith, his personal philosophy, and what the real world
seems to be showing him.

Chris
Moriarty
2018-06-19 00:36:24 UTC
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On Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at 1:05:52 AM UTC+10, Chris Buckley wrote:
> On 2018-06-18, Titus G <***@nowhere.com> wrote:
> > The Fionavar Trilogy. Guy Gavriel Kay.
> > The Summer Tree.
> > The Wandering Fire.
> > The Darkest Road.
> >
> > To me, "Classic Fantasy" is code for bland and unimaginative so I was a
> > little apprehensive about starting The Summer Tree, such apprehension
> > being magnified by the abrupt change of worlds so early and I am sure
> > that lesser minds than mine would easily be able to ridicule these books
> > from a technical viewpoint but about a quarter or a third of the way
> > through The Summer Tree, I was enthralled. Incredibly speedily-adaptive
> > ordinary but magnificent humans and Gods in machines. Who cares? Not me.
> > Famous five for adults with aliens and magic. Nonsense from start to
> > finish but brilliant nonsense. Every book five stars.
> >
> > Dune. Frank Herbert.
> > A re-read discussed here a couple of months ago.
> >
> > The Sparrow. Mary Doria Russell.
> > Five stars for the story and five stars for the look at the Roman
> > Catholic faith from a convert to Judaism.
> > As I am still gobsmacked by this book, I plan to look at reviews,
> > perhaps on Goodreads unless someone has a better suggestion?
>
> Three very different books, but I agree with your ratings on all three.
>
> I seem to be in the minority here, but I regard Kay's early works as
> being the best books he's written. _The Fionavar Tapestry_ and _Tigana_
> (my top favorite single volume fantasy) are masterpieces in emotional
> manipulation. I still buy all of his books (in hardcover yet!) and his
> technical skills as a writer has definitely improved over the years, but
> the increased complexity of his writings has lessened his unique emotional
> impact.

The Fionavar Tapestry is the only one of GGK's works I re-read, for the reasons you say. I haven't read anything new of his since I was very underwhelmed by "The Last Light of the Sun", but I really should pick up the two Chinese books at some stage.

-Moriarty
Titus G
2018-06-27 04:09:46 UTC
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On 19/06/18 03:05, Chris Buckley wrote:
> On 2018-06-18, Titus G <***@nowhere.com> wrote:
>> The Fionavar Trilogy. Guy Gavriel Kay. The Summer Tree. The
>> Wandering Fire. The Darkest Road.
>>
>> To me, "Classic Fantasy" is code for bland and unimaginative so I
>> was a little apprehensive about starting The Summer Tree, such
>> apprehension being magnified by the abrupt change of worlds so
>> early and I am sure that lesser minds than mine would easily be
>> able to ridicule these books from a technical viewpoint but about
>> a quarter or a third of the way through The Summer Tree, I was
>> enthralled. Incredibly speedily-adaptive ordinary but magnificent
>> humans and Gods in machines. Who cares? Not me. Famous five for
>> adults with aliens and magic. Nonsense from start to finish but
>> brilliant nonsense. Every book five stars.
>>
>> Dune. Frank Herbert. A re-read discussed here a couple of months
>> ago.
>>
>> The Sparrow. Mary Doria Russell. Five stars for the story and five
>> stars for the look at the Roman Catholic faith from a convert to
>> Judaism. As I am still gobsmacked by this book, I plan to look at
>> reviews, perhaps on Goodreads unless someone has a better
>> suggestion?
>
> Three very different books, but I agree with your ratings on all
> three.
>
> I seem to be in the minority here, but I regard Kay's early works as
> being the best books he's written. _The Fionavar Tapestry_ and
> _Tigana_ (my top favorite single volume fantasy) are masterpieces in
> emotional manipulation. I still buy all of his books (in hardcover
> yet!) and his technical skills as a writer has definitely improved
> over the years, but the increased complexity of his writings has
> lessened his unique emotional impact.

Thank you. I will certainly try Tigana, but not until my memories of the
Tapestry have faded a bit.

> _The Sparrow_ is emotional impact of an entirely different variety.
> It's on my favorites bookcase, but unlike most books there, never
> gets an occasional re-read. I re-read it a couple of times early
> on, but haven't wanted to be put through the wringer again,
> emotionally.
>
> For reviews, our resident reviewer (James) reviewed it here, with a
> bit of discussion, so that review is probably on his web-site. I
> profoundly disagree with his review - it mis-categorizes the book as
> a hard science fiction book, and then points out all the ways it
> doesn't meet the standards of that category. IMO, that completely
> misses the point - this is a book about a priest going through hell
> and trying to reconcile his faith, his personal philosophy, and what
> the real world seems to be showing him.

Yes. Ignoring the brilliance of the story itself, the surface message
appears to be that there cannot be great works of art without great
suffering. The science fiction aspect was more than minor but rather
than think about it, I accept it as I accept FTL travel. I haven't
searched out reviews yet, but my interest is in seeking further insights
into the disagreements between the RC cult from the perspective of the
convert to the Judean cult.
James Nicoll
2018-06-27 14:18:26 UTC
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>On 19/06/18 03:05, Chris Buckley wrote:
>>
>> For reviews, our resident reviewer (James) reviewed it here, with a
>> bit of discussion, so that review is probably on his web-site. I
>> profoundly disagree with his review - it mis-categorizes the book as
>> a hard science fiction book, and then points out all the ways it
>> doesn't meet the standards of that category. IMO, that completely
>> misses the point - this is a book about a priest going through hell
>> and trying to reconcile his faith, his personal philosophy, and what
>> the real world seems to be showing him.


I don't believe I did review it. Certainy not on my site.
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
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