Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Some New Reads

I won't have a playthrough to post for a while, as I'm working on a couple of gaming projects. More or less, the stuff I normally would be posting is under wraps for the time being, until such time as we can do the Big Reveal. +Adam Muszkiewicz and I will have something to roll out in the next couple of weeks on that score, and I will have something else to post after that. Not sure how long after.

In the meantime, I've been reading some stuff that's got my gaming juices flowing. Some of it came from my boy, +Wayne Snyder, who sent me lovely GenCon swag, and included a few Kane novels by Karl Edward Wagner. If you haven't read Kane, you probably should. You may have heard of him before? Killed his brother? Cursed by God to wander the Earth forever? Yeah, that guy. He's not very nice, in fact he's downright evil, but in many ways he's a lot better than the bastards he's fighting.

I also got some new books, by new authors.

First up, we have The Grim Company by Luke Scull, an author with which I was not familiar. With this first offering, we get a pretty standard fantasy world. Fearsome northmen, corrupt and all-powerful mages, and all that sort of thing. What's best about it, I think, is how Scull puts together his protagonists from dribs and drabs of faulty humanity: Aging warriors who are definitely "too old for this shit," but nonetheless do their best, cocky self-described "hero" types who are destined for fame, and all kinds of crazy ass wizards who are incredibly powerful, each ruling his or her own kingdom in his or her uniquely fucked up way. Better yet, magic is a limited commodity. They mine it from the corpses of dead gods (who these mages killed in the Godswar, way back when). Put it all together, and it's a fun read. Recommended.

Next, we have Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed. This is a lovely, lovely book, set in a corrupt, fantasy Middle-Eastern city. Given my interest in such things, what with the whole Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad thing, it fit like a comfortable old shoe. This novel is about an aging man, a trained ghul-hunter of an ancient (but fading) order. He's partnered up with a young and devout Dervish, and find themselves in the company of a young tribeswoman who can take the shape of a lioness. They face off against the rise of a terrible evil, a ghul-maker who seeks to harness the power of an ancient throne. This is pretty standard fantasy fare, I suppose, but Ahmed does an excellent job in building characters, and I found myself wishing it was a longer book. I really liked these guys a lot and wanted to see what happened next. Oh, and the good guy gets the girl in the end, which is also nice. Again, recommended.

In comparing the two books, I'd probably give them similar marks. Scull's work has more weirdness, but Ahmed's reads more like a fairy tale, if you know what I mean. Neither is quite what you'd expect, in the end, and neither author is afraid to kill off people.

By the way, I get a lot of this stuff though my membership at SFBC.com, which keeps me supplied with books. I kind of prefer the bookclub editions because they tend to package trilogies and series into a single, omnibus edition. This saves me shelf space and also ensures that I don't have to track down copies of single books. Much easier that way (Disclaimer: Edgar is not a spokesperson for SFBC.com, nor has he accepted any gratuity from them. He just likes buying books.)

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