5 Favorite Books I Read Last Month (August 2013)
I know, I know. I’m a bit late. (It’s already been September for eight whole days!) What can I say? Dragon Con was really fun.
With that in mind, I didn’t read as much as I did last time (and the time before that), but I still have some favorites I’d like to share with you. They cover the spectrum from fantasy to steampunk to science fiction, are old and new, and I hope you’ll find something to enjoy from my list. Additionally–as always–if you have some recommendations for me, don’t hesitate to let me know.
Now, on to the list!
#5 “Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl” — David Barnett
To kick things off, we have David Barnett’s steampunk novel. It contains elements of pulp adventure heroes come to life, ragtag bands of misfits sailing to ancient temples in airships (with the requisite air pirates), love, loss and the titular mechanical girl. Careful readers of my book reviews may recall one of my earliest ones, that of “Encounters of Sherlock Holmes.” Among my favorites in the book of short stories was one called, “Woman’s Work,” which gave us an interesting–and distinctly non-Watsonian view–of a Sherlock Holmes story. I’m pleased to inform you that Mr. Barnett has written another great story in “Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl.”
I don’t want to give too much away of the plot, as the merest mention of some characters’ existence is a bit of a twist in and of itself, but suffice it to say that frog-like monsters prowl the world, vampires are more than scary stories told by Irishmen, and should you put a certain mechanical girl in danger, Gideon Smith will take offence.
I enjoyed Mr. Barnett’s newest novel, especially the numerous literary references, as well as the general structure and tone. I encourage you to check it out.
#4 “The Thousand Names: Book One of The Shadow Campaigns” — Django Wexler
No, Mr. Wexler isn’t the Django you’re thinking of. Instead, he’s the guy who created an awesome war-novel set in a world and time much like our own Crusades, with some crucial differences. First off, magic is real, so there’s one major difference right there. Though the magic in this world is underplayed in this first novel–a bit of a turn-off for me–things quickly get ramped up near the story’s climax, which was cool.
Also, the similarities between our world’s Western vs North African/Muslim conflicts and Mr. Wexler’s help to ease any confusion one might have about the world that aren’t explained to one’s satisfaction in the story itself. Essentially set in North Africa, a sleepy fort is home to the worst legion of troops in the Vordanai empire. They used to be in good with the Prince of the region, but religious forces swept their one-time ruler and the Vordanai out of the capital city. Then a new commander comes from across the sea, and rather than sound the retreat–as is expected–he calmly informs his new troops that he’s going to lead them to victory.
This especially distressing news to Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, who has to explain to men growing ever closer to mutiny why they’re marching to and then through a trackless desert, as well as Winter Ihernglass, a young woman masquerading as a man to flee her past, who gets promoted. Anyone else might welcome such an advancement, but when it focuses the attention of the troops around her, enemy soldiers might not be Winter’s biggest problem…
As I said, the fantasy in this fantasy war novel is a bit light for my taste through most of the story, but the battle scenes were well done and I got my fix of fantasy by the end.