Bookish Heavenly Virtues

Buoyed by the success of our Deadly Bookish Sins tag we decided to even out the playfield – and created a corresponding Bookish Heavenly Virtues tag ๐Ÿ˜‰ We had a lot of fun writing the questions and answering them, and now we hope you’ll enjoy reading them – and, if you do, we invite you to participate in the tag as well :).


CHASTITY: Which author/book/series you wish you had never read?


Ola: Aaand we start with a bang ๐Ÿ˜‰ The two that most easily come to mind are Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind (DNFed around the junkie dragon mark and I only wish I threw it down sooner) and Justin Cronin trilogy (DNFed within first 100 pages of the third installment – what a waste of time). I’m usually pretty lenient when it comes to books, as they are in fact someone’s years of hard work and dreams. But I absolutely abhor waste of time on things I dislike, as the theory of alternative costs plays in my mind different scenarios of what I could have done with that precious resource, and the two examples above represent exactly that.

Piotrek: It’s a hard one. I usually only go for books I can be sure to enjoy at least a bit, and some of the really terrible ones I revenge-reviewed, so it was not a waste of time, was it?

One case where I could have saved the time and read something else, even at a cost of not having a vitriolic review to write, was the Iron Druid Chronicles. Details – in the linked review ๐Ÿ˜‰ but I have to say, the more time passes, the more I’m convinced it’s a case of urban fantasy tropes tortured inhumanely for no good reason.

TEMPERANCE: Which book/series did you find so good, that you didn’t want to read it all at once, and you read it in doses just to make the pleasure last longer?


Ola: Easy. Glen Cook’s Black Company :D. I still haven’t written the review for the last book in the series, but let me tell you – it does not dissapoint. I’m not really a mood reader, I read too many work-related stuff to have that luxury, but I do like to savour really exceptional books – they are a rarity and deserve special treatment (not to mention that I deserve special treatment as well! ;)) I took my time with Dan Simmon’s Hyperion – I absolutely loved that book, sadly Endymion didn’t live up to its predecessor and left me slightly disappointed (which I treat as an excuse to not having written a review yet!). Another good example would be Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool trilogy: Fool’s Assassin, Fool’s Quest and Assassin’s Fate; it wasn’t only stunning, it was also utterly harrowing and I needed to pace myself with reading it.

Piotr: It’s a feeling I get often. When I secure a great series on my vast bookshelves, I often wait years. I have some such cases waiting still for their turn. I read a bit, to make sure it really is that good, and then I wait for the perfect moment ๐Ÿ™‚

Ola: It’s book squirreling ๐Ÿ˜‰

Piotrek: Aren’t squirrels cute ๐Ÿ˜›


I could, actually, mention here all the series Ola wrote about above! I’m one trilogy fromย Black Company’s end, and I hesitate to start that last trilogy, because then I will only have the new prequel. Hobb I actually feel a bit guilty about not having read yet, but I’m quite certain I will enjoy it all. And I even boughtย Endymionย already.

What I like the most about this tactics, is the feeling I get when I finally finish a good series – that it was worth it!

CHARITY: Which book/series/author do you tirelessly push to others, telling them about it or even giving away spare copies bought for that reason?


Ola: Black Company again (I actually did give away my second copy of the first book), and Adrian Czajkowski’s Shadows of the Apt. The elevator pitch for the latter proved quite difficult and rather awkward – many of my friends looked at me strangely when I got overenthused about “a WWII between something like Greek city-states inhabited by tribes of people divided according to certain insect qualities they have been granted by their insect deities in a magical world without Vertebrate on a brink of industrial revolution propelled by war… and there’s even Churchill! (deep breath)” ๐Ÿ˜‰




Piotrek: Yeah, I know how it feels, and Czajkowski is my number one recommended contemporary writer, together with McClellan. Bugs or gunpowder magic ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a few successes here, although not everybody is able to appreciate them.

I also try to make people readย Rabbi’s Cat, one of my favourite graphic novels, especially when I talk to someone who claims comics are for kids. Here I’ve had less success so far.

DILIGENCE: Which series/author you follow no matter what happens and how long you have to wait?


Piotrek: I will, I still believe, one day read the closing volume of theย Song of Ice and Fire,ย and I even hope that I will be satisfied as a reader. Season 8 of the show is clumsy, takes inexcusable shortcuts, but broadly get to where I wanted the story to get. GRRM’s version is bound to be better, if convoluted. I’ll wait and I’ll give it a chance.

Ola: Should I mention Cook again? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Piotrek: Have you read his fantasy-noir detective novels? It’s coming more and more often into my attention…

Ola: Not yet, I’m currently in the middle of reading the Dread Empire series, but will definitely get there ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yeah, I will follow ASoIaF too, but without much trepidation whether it’s actually going to happen or not. I enjoyed Fire and Blood, and I think Martin still has the potential to get the series where he wants, but frankly, I really really appreciated only the first installment, The Game of Thrones, and was quite content with the two subsequent ones. Number four and five could readily be rewritten, in my opinion – they are much below the level of the previous books ๐Ÿ˜‰

I did diligently follow Discworld novels, but unfortunately no longer… there will be no new books. Roger Zelazny is another author whose literary legacy I intend to read in its entirety – and I actually do not have many unread books left. Not all of them are trueย  masterpieces, but his imagination and literary panache is something I always appreciate. Similarly, I have already read almost every novel by Stanisล‚aw Lem, and have his non-fiction on my shelves, waiting to be read.

I am still keeping track of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, though without the initial enthusiasm, as I feel it should have ended by now. That’s actually the common problem with ongoing series which have no end in sight – at some point the storytelling seems to take a backseat to money-making.

PATIENCE: Is there an author/book/series you’ve read that improved with time the most, starting out unpromising, but ultimately proving rewarding?


Piotrek: I’m one of the many people unimpressed with the Storm Front, but encouraged by Ola I gave Butcher a second chance – and I came to love Harry Dresden. I was initially distrustful, but the writing got better, and the author convinced me it’s not just the jokes, but a well thought-through world and a story that goes beyond the crisis of the week. And apparently the next one is coming soon! Finally, I’m not a fan of all the things his writing in-between Dresden stories.

Ola: Yes, Dresden novels definitely improved with time, and I was glad to doggedly keep on even through weaker installments, because they are fun. I was also not overly enamored by early Jason Aaron Marvel work (especially Avengers vs. X-Men, and Star Wars, blah), but I very much enjoy his new Thor and The Mighty Thor run!

KINDNESS: Which fictitious character would you consider your role-model in the hassle of everyday life?


Ola: No obnoxiously larger-than-life heroics, but the grinding mills of everyday routine? It’s a tough one. I could easily list a dozen or more amazing, complex, nuanced protagonists, but I don’t think “kind” would ultimately be a word I could use to describe any of them. Well, maybe one or two were kind, but even then – that wasn’t a facet of their personality easily seen by others ;). Besides, everyday life was a real challenge to the nearly all of them anyway…

I’ll go with two true zen masters of everyday: Nighteyes and Brutha from Pratchett’s Small Gods. Nighteyes was indeed tirelessly kind, loving, and fiercely loyal. He elevated living in the present to a form of art, and could appreciate what he had like almost no one else – at the same time being able to appraise and plan for the future. Brutha, on the other hand, was such a generous, affable soul, able to understand and forgive almost anything.ย  Plus, his patience was nothing short of miraculous ;).

Brutha in the new Folio edition of Small Godsย 

Piotrek: Oh, aren’t tortoises even cuter than squirrels ๐Ÿ˜‰

It is a hard one. In most novels I read I choose a character to identify myself with, within the context of the story. They might even be an inspiration,ย  though luckily I don’t participate in dangerous world-saving missions. If we look specifically for kindness… my kindness is a bit rough, closer to Vimes than Brutha ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sir Able of the High Heart, the protagonist of Gene Wolfe’sย Wizard Knight, a book I’m reading right now, is kind and understanding in a way you’d expect from Le Guin’s protagonists rather than fromย Shadow of the Torturer’s author. He’s delicate, willing to go a long way not only to do good, but also not hurt the pride of people around him while doing so. I’m often clumsy even when I’m meaning well.

HUMILITY: Which book/series/author do you find most under-rated?


Ola: Besides Cook? ๐Ÿ˜› I’ve never even heard of Neal Asher before I read Bookstooge’s recommendations – and now I absolutely love his Polity series. Thank you, Bookstooge!

In my opinion Tim Powers is another author whose books should be better known – people associate him with the worst Pirates of the Carribean movie, On Stranger Tides, which is totally unfair, as his books are consistently brilliantly twisty, masterfully written and truly, absolutely mind-boggling.

Piotrek: I’m yet to read Asher, but I absolutely agree on Tim Powers.ย The Drawing of the Dark is just brilliant, and so are most of his novels. Well written, erudite, and, at least for me, fun. I’m not sure if we can put Cook in this category, perhaps he should be recognized even more, but his fame goes quite far.

Also… Connie Willis? She has many genre prizes to her name, but I feel she’s not appreciated as much and as universally as she deserves. One of the writers whose books give me the most joy, and so many readers never heard of her.

And Czajkowski, despite me and Ola recommending him to everybody, he still does not get enough attention, having written multiple heavy tomes of great literature!


That would be all from us, how about you? ๐Ÿ˜€

59 thoughts on “Bookish Heavenly Virtues

  1. Ah, Justin Cronin! That series was so promising – I love vampire stories – and it turned out much less engaging than I hoped for. I could not move beyond the first few chapters of book 2…
    As for GRR Martin, some say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but a new ASOIAF has been absent for so long from our shelves that my heart has lost much hope!

    Thanks for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes, Cronin. The first book was really neat, a nice surprise – but then it went downhill very fast. I can usually find some redeeming qualities in a book; in this case, however – none at all.
      LOL, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” ๐Ÿ˜€ Call me fickle, but the status of ASoIaF in my heart is “presumed dead”. I’ll be happy to read a new book if it appears, but by no means am I waiting by the window, wringing hands in anticipation ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

      You’re very welcome! Fancy a try?? ๐Ÿ˜

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Chastity
    Starting out with a double entendre? I see what you’re going for.

    Cronin was a huge disappointment to me too. The story started out pretty good but then I was just bored. How do you make Vampires taking over the world boring? It was like Cronin TRIED to ruin them for us.
    As for the Iron Druid, it was the epitome of Urban Fantasy and everything I think is wrong with the genre.

    Black Company was good stuff. I didn’t linger on it though. I didn’t think it was THAT good ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Squirrels are nothing but rats. I’d kill them all if I could.

    Apt is a wonderful series indeed. But 10 massive books is always a tough sell. Even my brother, who likes it, has had to take a break.

    McClellan was a tough sell for me. I like his stuff now, but that first book, man, it was gritty and dirty and just plain yucky.

    GOT: hahahahahahaaaaa. *wipes tears from eyes*
    Yeah… keep on hoping.

    Dresden? Ughhhhh. He is all yours!

    Man, I can’t connect with either you on this. I guess I’m just not kind enough, on the inside ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Asher for the WIN!

    Powers was real hit or miss for me. I enjoyed Stranger Tides a lot and The Anubis Gate was top of my favorite list for a long time. But the Stress of Her Regard put me right off of him, pretty much for good.

    I think Willis chose to write things that she wanted instead of what people actually wanted to read. So I consider her obscurity on her own head.

    This was a great post. I’ll probably do it next month some time ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    1. piotrek

      Don’t care that much about squirrels, anyway, but I hope you respect tortoises ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I might be a kind of reader that wants what Willis writes, but I have to agree “The Stress of Her…” is not Powers’ most compelling novel.

      McClellan – just don’t try his urban f. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thanks & looking forward to reading your take on all that ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    2. ๐Ÿ˜ I’m glad you like it!
      Yeah, you’re right – he did make the vampires deathly boring, and it was only the smallest of the problems.
      I like to keep books I know I will enjoy for special moments – be they a streak of bad books or a personal need for bookish comfort. Cook very much delivered on this front.
      Asher for the win indeed! I’ve read four books in the Polity already, and enjoyed every one of them – now I’m squirreling the rest away for a special moment ๐Ÿ˜€ As for the squirrels and rats – have you seen Rat Race? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thanks! Looking forward to your take on it! ๐Ÿ˜

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So… I take it that I need to go read the Black Company. I am very curious about it since I often see it on fantasy book recommendation lists.
    Hobb’s books are some of my favorite fantasy novels. I am one book from the end of the Realm of the Elderlings series and am dreading it a little. I tend not to complete series I like because sometimes I don’t want to know how it ends since it might not be in the way I want. A total punk move but that’s why I have so many unfinished series.
    Great tag. I plan to do it too.

    Oh! And I DNF’d Cronin’s book too. Well, I DNF’d the Passage. I was hoping it would be better than the TV-adaptation, which it sort of was, but the pace was unbearably slow for me since I had no interest in the characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! ๐Ÿ˜€
      Though whether you love it or not will probably depend a bit on how you feel about military fantasy. It’s the Vietnam War with magic (most of it nasty) described from the perspective of a young medic/would-be-philosopher who becomes a mercenary commander along the way… Sounds good? ๐Ÿ˜€

      Oh yeah, Hobb’s Realm of Elderlings is one of the best out there. But it can also break your heart so utterly! This one, though – it’s well worth finishing. I think it had one of the strongest and most rewarding endings among the series I have read.

      I’m really glad you like the tag! Would love to see your answers to it.

      I strongly believe Cronin’s book are something people should be warned about ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Right, even though most of the authors and titles aren’t familiar to me this was a stimulating read: I loved the concept and will now do you both the honour of reciprocating and preparing my own list! What a magical world the community of book bloggers is!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh thank you, Your Graciousness! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Seriously, Chris, I can’t wait to see what you will cook up in response to the questions! Do I have the right feeling that Joan Aiken will feature in at least some of your responses? ๐Ÿ˜

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Love the idea behind this tag hahaha
    Ola: Soโ€ฆ Itโ€™s pretty rare to hear anyone say they disliked Rothfussโ€™ book and if they do itโ€™s usually just because he never finished his series, like GRRMโ€ฆ What made you say it was a waste of time, without spoilers, since I still need to try it out myself hahah
    Pio: Iโ€™m definitely with you with the revenge-reviews. Theyโ€™re liberating and ultimately feel cathartic. ๐Ÿ˜› However, others seem to find more release with 10/10 reviews. **looks at Ola and her Moomins** She should do more of those and less of those 0/10! ๐Ÿ˜€
    Both: While yโ€™all out there talking about pacing yourselves for long series (over 3 books), Iโ€™m here having that exact feeling for trilogies and duologiesโ€ฆ Which then has me reading them at 2-3 year intervalsโ€ฆ hahahah
    Ola: Well thenโ€ฆ I think Iโ€™ll make it my 2020 goal to check out Shadows of the Apt and start the Black Company series now. You both make it sound like SFF musts.
    Pio: Guess Iโ€™ll have to add Joann Sfarโ€™s graphic novel to my TBR now. Will probably try and hunt down the French edition too.
    Thanks for sharing! Iโ€™ll have to remember its existence and try and do it when I have an opening in my schedule now. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Lashaan! Hope you’ll take your turn with it ๐Ÿ˜

      Oh, Rothfuss… Without spoilers and me frothing at the mouth, it’s literally the worst case of Mary Sueism I had ever encountered. The romance is horribly icky, and the whole thing is a mashup of old tropes, slightly better written than Eragon ๐Ÿ˜› Here’s a 0/10 for you! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I like to praise, what can I say? ๐Ÿ˜› There is a bit of guilt – and hence responsibility – in writing a really scathing review (at least for me :P) I look at my older reviews and see that I mellowed with time, so maybe it’s a good opportunity to stretch my claws ๐Ÿ˜€

      I’m good with trilogies and duologies, bring them on anytime (if they’re good, that is ;)) But longer series, at least those well written, usually have a complex storyline, several smaller arcs, and a gazillion of characters I tend to care about ๐Ÿ˜‰ Pacing is inevitable!

      Yay for Shadows and Black Company!!! I’m looking forward to your thoughts on them. Though I’m starting to worry I hyped them too much… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. piotrek

      Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes, I also prefer Ola to be the enthusiastic one, usually it’s my job ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Sfar is a really nice example of European graphic novel, and there’s also a pretty good animated version.

      Looking forward to reading your version!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Guys, these are such great questions! I’ll have to try it at some point! (*ignores my mountain of unfinished tags*)

    Oh you definitely started with a bang. ๐Ÿ˜€ I…have mixed feelings about the Kingkiller books. I’ll happily admit that I hate Kvothe and would rather have any other character in the story as a protagonist. But I do really love the prose. And Elodin and Auri. And I’m curious to see how all the plotlines tie up, because Rothfuss keeps saying that the story isn’t the one we think we’ve been reading.

    I had to pace myself with Assassin’s Fate, too! Partly because I just couldn’t believe this was the end and I needed to hold onto the characters for a bit longer, and partly because of this one scene in the last 1/4 (?) that utterly *broke* me, and I had to take a 5 day break.

    Also, “A case of urban fantasy tropes tortured inhumanely for no good reason” works as a fantastic one-liner review. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I enjoyed the audio book. Rupert Degas really brought it to life.

        That’s books for you. One person’s love is another’s literary restraining order.

        My friend and I are both going through Metro 2033. He finished in super-quick and loved every moment. I’m sat here wishing it had never been written ๐Ÿ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL, suffice to say it was even worse than Nevernight! ๐Ÿคฃ I really wish I never read it, it was so very unoriginal I couldn’t stand it, and so Mary Sueish that I felt almost physical pain reading about the wondrous Kvothe… I dearly hope he’ll turn out to be a compulsive liar and braggart or a bad guy ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Argh! I loved this tag/post!! You both crack me up! ๐Ÿ˜€
    I have too many things to say – this is all going to be a bit garbled: I’m on the Black Company thing and, thanks to Bookstooge and the brilliant Guns of the Dawn I am going to get on the Shadows of the Apt thing too – loved the elevator pitch! Book squirreling? Ha! Yes! (also, yes, squirrels = so cute!) Wow, Ola, that Nighteyes pic – gorgeous! Hmmm, maybe I need to try Wizard Knight – Gene Wolfe intimidates me, but this might be a way in. Yes, yes, yes, Tim Powers and Connie Willis both not well-known/raved about enough!
    I want to do this tag!!!
    Great fun – thank you so much for sharing. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m very happy you like it and hope to see you do the tag! ๐Ÿ˜€
      LOL, if you enjoyed Guns of the Dawn, be prepared to be swept of your feet with Shadows. It’s really, really great, with mind-bogglingly detailed worldbuilding and strong, immensely relatable characters with wonderful development arcs.
      Thank you!
      And you’re very welcome ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

    2. piotrek

      Thanks a lot ๐Ÿ™‚ And please, do!!!
      It’s a bit long for a starter, but pretty digestible for a Wolfe book. Could be 1/3 shorter I think, but I enjoyed it a lot ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. On the subject of charity. There is one book that keeps going around in my circles and it’s called Poland by James A. Michener, published in 1983 detailing the times and tribulations of three interconnected Polish families across eight centuries, ending in the then-present day. A Polish friend who gave it to me commented that he learned more about his country’s history from this book than he remembered from his history classes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. piotrek

      That is interesting, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it. I just had a quick look and it probably is a bit naive in its vision of my nation, certainly not up to date with the revisionist, cynical view I have now ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I’m interested to see how Polish history was presented here, it seems to be a relatively influential book ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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  12. I actually agree with you on name of the wind- cos I ended up disliking the second one- but also feel like I’ve been waiting forever to find out how it ends. The Fitz and the fool trilogy was great! I hope I’ll be satisfied when song of ice and fire comes too- but I’ll give it a chance regardless. I hear you about books four and five not being as good though. I love Nighteyes too ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I do – how did you know? ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Seriously, it gets even better after the first one, and with some small exceptions, keeps the level till the very end. That reminds me, I still have a review of the final installment to write! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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