Saturday, September 30, 2006

Book Money

As I think I have made relatively clear, Tuesday is my birthday. That means, I get books. It started today. I had money for the second hand bookstore, and with the second hand bookstore I can either found lots of books that I want, or none. Today, I spent all my book money in one stop. And just in the fantasy aisle...

I got:

The Warrior Prophet - The Prince of Nothing Trilogy - book 2 by R. Scott Bakker (have book 1 already)
R. Scott Bakker established himself as a fantasy writer to watch with The Darkness That Comes Before, the first volume of his Prince of Nothing trilogy. That book largely set the scene for the epic series, introducing the main characters and providing the mandatory fantasy backdrop of an earth-shattering war against an evil, godlike figure. With the explication out of the way, Bakker is free to get on with the action, and The Warrior-Prophet is all action. The novel begins with The Holy War, a Crusades-like army made up of vying factions, invading the desert lands of the jihadist Fanhim. The following 600-plus pages feature one large battle after another, broken up only by 600-plus various subplots involving sorcerous conspiracies and the occasional romantic interlude. Hundreds of thousands die, but Bakker never loses his focus on the human side of the struggles, following the individual quests of characters in the madness of all-out war: the warrior prophet Kellus seeks to unite the strife-riven Holy War before it destroys itself--and him--in the desert; the sorcerer Achamian attempts to understand both his nightmares of the dread No-God's re-awakening and his relationship with Esmenet, a prostitute; the barbarian Cnaiur becomes a fierce leader of the war but slowly goes mad in his thirst for vengeance against Kellhus's father; and secret skin-spies of the demonic Consult seek to control events to usher in their own desired apocalypse. Bakker even pays careful attention to the minor characters, describing the heroic actions and deaths of various warriors in battle, until The Warrior-Prophet often reads more like a history, or even a battle song, than a conventional fantasy novel.

Unfortunately, this is also the book's one weakness. There are so many characters and intrigues that readers will have to frequently consult the glossary to remind themselves of who's who and why they're fighting each other. But it's probably not fair to criticize a fantasy tale for presenting a world that's too real. And it's the world of Earwa that is the real star of the trilogy, as Bakker has invested it with a breathtaking social complexity, thanks in part to his allusions to European and Middle Eastern history. Earwa deserves a place beside Tolkien's Middle-earth, Robert E. Howard's Hyborian world, and Steve Erikson's Malazan Empire in the annals of great fantasy worlds. --Peter Darbyshire

The Dreaming Tree - C.J. Cherryh
Journey to a transitional time in the world, as the dawn of mortal man brings about the downfall of elven magic. But there remains one final place untouched by human hands--the small forest of Ealdwood, in which dwells Arafel the Sidhe, who has more love of the earth than any of her kind. This is a moving, compelling tale of the last stronghold of immortality struggling to survive the rise of man.

Dark Lover - J.R. Ward and Lover Awakened - J.R. Ward
I think most people know what these are about. I wouldn't have bought them if they were not second hand, so if I don't like them, at least they were cheap!

Winter Warriors - David Gemmel - Book 8 in The Drensai Series
David Gemmell has a talent for fantasy tales of heroism and villainy that feature characters who, while sympathetically flawed, are almost superhumanly good at what they do. Often these people are warriors: finely drawn, emotionally complex, and struggling with their individual human challenges against the backdrop of epic events.

The heroic figures here are three Drenai soldiers, Nogusta, Bison, and Kebra, whose services have been rejected by their king because they are no longer young. However, while these old friends might be a tad past their best, they are still very good indeed, and when they are called upon to protect the infant heir to the throne, the little prince could not be in better hands. In the midst of flight and eventual, desperate battle against the forces of the demon lord Anharat, they fight not only a human army and a band of demon riders bent on the heir's death but their own doubts about their ability and worth. Gemmell is particularly deft at describing fine gradations of the friendship between the three men, including the subtleties of liking, of loving, and of the different strengths that come with age. Winter Warriors is both a fast-paced fantasy adventure and a powerful story of living and dying well.

Merlin - Book two of the Pendragon Cycle - Stephen R. Lawhead
An enchanting tale of love and loss, glory and grandeur, set in the twilight of Rome's power . . . where the Celtic chieftains of Britain battle to save their land from an onrushing darkness . . . In this modern classic, Stephen Lawhead presents a majestic retelling of Western literature's most compelling epic. Merlin. His golden eyes saw the shape of a world yet to be. His wisdom would light the path of the coming King. Born of a union between druid and faery, he was trained as a bard and schooled in the ways of battle. But his heart and calling were greater than a warrior's. Son of the great Taliesin, the song of his father coursed through his soul. Yet his life and mission were to be his own. And though sovereignty was his, he would lay it aside to serve a king of his own choosing. As his powers transcended those of mortal men, so, too, would his trials, his griefs . . . and the dark might of his most fearsome enemy. In the twilight of Tome's rule over the Island of the Mighty, as smaller men vied for ascendancy, his would be the hand to lay the foundations of a new order -- the Kingdom of Summer . . . and Arthur, Pendragon of Britain. Merlin is book two in the Pendragon Cycle

Arthur - Book 3 in the Pendragon Cycle - Stephen R. Lawhead
An enchanting tale of love and loss, glory and grandeur, set in the twilight of Rome's power . . . Where the Celtic chieftains of Britain battle to save their land from an onrushing darkness. . . . In this modern classic, Stephen Lawhead presents a majestic retelling of Western literature's most compelling epic. The Sword of Britain. While many strove to claim it, one hand alone could remove the blade of Kingship from its stone sheath. He came -- a raw youth among ambitious lords too blind to recognize their king. He came -- to a Britain divided, ripe for conquest by barbarian hordes. The songs of Taliesin the master bard had foretold his rising. The vision of Merlin the prophet would guide him. He was Arthur, Pendragon of the Isle of the Mighty. His courage would be lauded; his enemies, legion; his reign, legendary. Under Arthur, by wisdom as much as might, Britain would unite. Through Arthur would arise a kingdom of peace, prosperity, and righteousness -- the long-awaited Kingdom of Summer. Yet, in the midst of flourishing virtue, an evil would arise to challenge Britain's most brilliant Crown. . . . Arthur is book three in the Pendragon Cycle. Look for Taliesin and Merlin, books one and two in this award-winning Arthurian series by Stephen Lawhead.

Beneath the Vaulted Hills - Sean Russell - Book One in The River Into Darkness duology
Sean Russell writes for people who prefer books to movies. No snappy dialogue or nonstop action sequences, just a mesmerizing tale, multifaceted characters, and lyrical descriptive prose. Beneath the Vaulted Hills is the first part of Russel's River Into Darkness series, which is itself a two-part prequel to Russell's Moontide and Magic Rise series. Each series stands alone, despite some characters in common.

Both series are set in the first half of an alternative 19th century. In Beneath the Vaulted Hills, Lord Eldrich, the last Mage, seeks to suppress all knowledge of magical powers. Two young men, Hayes and Kehler, and the beautiful Countess of Chilton have discovered clues to a possible trove of magical lore. It's concealed in a labyrinthine cave system behind a mysterious "crypt" linked to Teller, a renegade mage apprentice who founded a society to preserve magic. Erasmus Flattery, once a student in Eldrich's household, knows how dangerous the Mage can be, but finds himself joining the investigation. Both the Tellerites and Lord Eldrich follow, determined to control their discoveries.

Russell has the rare ability to immerse his readers so completely in his tale that reaching the end feels like waking from a particularly vivid dream. Fortunately the second volume of the series, The Compass of the Soul, continues it.

And Lastly,

The Compass of the Soul - Sean Russell - Book Two of The River into Darkness duology
As Lord Eldrich, Farrland's last mage, seeks to destroy all vestiges of magic in the land, a young woman newly awakened to her magical powers strives to thwart his plans. Caught between the pair of warring sorcerers, a countess, a painter, a priest, and a philosopher find their lives shaped by fragmentary memories and dark visions of catastrophe. This sequel to Beneath the Vaulted Hills (DAW, 1997) demonstrates the author's talent for evocative storytelling and intricately drawn characters. Best read in tandem with its predecessor, Russell's finely etched tale of a world on the threshold of change belongs in most libraries.

Yeah, it has been a while since the second hand store has really had anything I wanted, so it was a good day!


  1. I read the Pendragon Cycle years and years...and years ago. I remember being somewhat stunned at the end of the third book. I really enjoyed them and might have to go back and read them again someday. Good haul, and happy early birthday.

  2. I started The Pendragon Cycle last night actually, but since it is not on the list, I didn't read all that much. I have had the first one forever. Should have it read by now.


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