Books read in January
Two long overdue reads, as well as reading plans for 2015.
“Indomitable” – Terry Brooks
I had to jump through very many hoops to finally be able to read this story. In fact, I may be as nimble as a circus dog after this exercise. “Indomitable” had a very limited release and if you can find it on the internet, it is not available in a lot of locations. I’ve always though location-locking a release is ridiculous.
“Indomitable” is not strictly part of the Shannara-series; instead it is an epilogue to the third novel, or possibly a bridge-novel between numbers three and four. It’s not necessary if you want to understand the rest of the plot, but I’m glad I read it. It also clears up a connection point between the characters of the third- and those of the four novel that you had to guess at before.
It is hardly more than a short story, so the whole epic-quest-sword-and-sorcery that the series is so well-known for can feel a bit rushed, but it’s not such a big deal (to me anyway). It’s not like I was expecting a full-length novel when I started and then it ended way too soon… Also, it doesn’t need any exposition as all the characters and locations are very familiar already.
Finally finding and reading “Indomitable” was the first step to returning to the oldest ongoing series in my life. But more on that below. It’s exciting. These characters are childhood friends to me, and the nice thing about fictional childhood friends is that they do not change and grow into different people.
(Also, I swear I did pay for the book, whatever other hoops I might have set up. I’m trying to return to the path of the righteous, even though it is not easy. No more illegal downloads for me… if I can resist.)
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The Children of Húrin – J.R.R. Tolkien
After I spent half of last year finally reading The Silmarillion, it seemed only appropriate to read the next Tolkien book that I’ve had on my shelf for years but never read. Through the approximately five years it sat there, I always believed that I needed to read The Silmarillion first, before tackling this one. Looking at it now with hindsight I believe it was the right choice.
As with everything Tolkien, it is massively complicated, packed with names and locations and after every reading session I had about six new things to look up online. At least I didn’t have to make notes like how I did with the Silm. However, if I hadn’t had knowledge of the greater Legendarium before reading this book, I think it would have been very confusing with regard to things, people and locations just mentioned in passing. If you can just read over references you don’t understand good for you, but I always need to understand everything little off-hand comment in everything I read.
It’s a very, very sad story. The children of Húrin have a talent for making really bad life-choices and they’re all so stubborn and proud that I just want to shake some sense into them. When your pride gets in the way of saving your life when it would have been really simple to do so, then you have a problem. Of course I already knew the story, as it is in The Silmarillion, but that is the 40-page version, while this is the 250-page version that contains much more detail. Interspersed with Alan Lee’s fantastic artwork (he also worked on the concept art for all six movies), this book is gorgeous to look at.
If The Children of Húrin had been written as recently as it has been published (2007), I’d have wondered if Tolkien is competing with someone like George R.R. Martin to see who could put the most death and tragedy into one book. Martin is, of course, famous for his tragedies and that lots of his characters do not survive to the end of the story. Tolkien, on the other hand is often characterised as being “nicer” and including less tragedy and death in his stories. Well… if you’re going to take that angle then I’m not sure we’ve been reading the same stories. I actually have an improved title for the tales that make up the background of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, those tales told in, among other places, The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin. I call them “Literally 90% of Characters Die in this Story-stories”.
Oh I do love a well-written tragedy. ❤
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Reading plans for 2015
I believe that goals (or as I call them, plans) only work when they are very specific. “Read more books” is not going to work. So here are my very specific plans, made public to keep me accountable.
- Last year I failed miserably in my Goodreads books read-challenge. Granted, I was lethargic for half the year, too emotionally unstable and conflicted to even pick up a new book. Even though I’m better now and feeling more positive than I have in about a year and a half, I’m setting my sights lower this year: read 36 books. I think I can manage that – and hopefully surpass it.
- Return to the Shannara-series. As I said above, it is the oldest ongoing series in my life. I’ve been reading it long before I got into Tolkien, long before I became a fan of Neil Gaiman, long before I fell in love with the Discworld. The only thing I’ve been reading longer is Harry Potter, but Harry Potter is over and this story is still going on, though almost done now.
So to fulfil this plan I want to read the next trilogy in the Shannara series. When I was looking up which trilogy it is, I realised that I’ve already read the first one of the newest trilogy I haven’t read – Armageddon’s Children. I even found that exactly a year ago I wrote a review to post here, but then couldn’t find the energy to post it. So I will correct that soon. I’m just going to check it and post it, probably on a non-post day in order to not mess up the queue.
- As liberal as I am in everything else, I’m just as conservative when it comes to picking new authors to read. I don’t know if I’ve been hurt too many times or what… Why is almost every author I’ve ever read white and from the West? Is it just easier to stick to the literary movements I already know? Is it just a comfortable little box that’s just easy to live in? I don’t know. But the world is bigger than a little box. I didn’t study for four years, pushing boundaries and finding out that the rules were never there after all to live the rest of my life in a tiny literary pond.
I want to remedy this. I want to start by finding a POC author or an author from the East and reading one of their books. It’s a start. I can move from there. Suggestions would be welcome.
- I love so many movies that originated in the comic- and graphic novel world. But I’ve never read a whole comic book or a graphic novel. It wasn’t on purpose. It was mostly just a matter of availability. Comics are rare and really expensive. They cost much more than novels due to import costs. But with digital publishing, customs taxes and shipping costs have become non-existent.
This goal was part of the reason why I felt it necessary to make a whole chart about books and ebooks last week. Because digital is allowing me access to genres I could never touch before.
Now I can finally make reading a comic series or graphic novel one of my goals. I’m already eyeing a series that I want to read.
Do you have any reading goals for this year?
EDIT: WordPress just informed me that this was my 200th blog post. Pretty cool! 😀