Just a few quick words in-between longer posts. As I’ve mentioned here and there, I’ve decided to do a big, complete Discworld re-read a couple of years ago. I’ve sped it up last year, went from Mort to The Amazing Maurice… and this year I’ve already listened to the Night Watch and The Wee Free Men to start The Monstrous Regiment only yesterday.
I love it! Even more, then the first time. And some books I read for the first time. I will sum it all up after I finish. But, it was not enough Pratchett. I’ve read his nonfics, and now I’ve also read his first novel (although in its re-written, later version), The Carpet People.
What a funny little book! I don’t know how much it’s changed from the original version – anybody here read that? – but it’s a great debut and clearly a work of a beautiful, brilliant mind.
The humour is already there, Pratchett’s satirical sense, his ability to show us an absurd fantasy world – and through this, the absurd of the one we created here on Earth. Sure, it was refined later on, but this book is nothing to be ashamed of.
Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Title: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Edition: Vintage Books, Paperback
Piotrek: Ambitious title for a 500 pages book, ain’t it? This young (born 1976) and charismatic Israeli historian – and his is a professional historian, with his DPhil thesis titled History and I : war and the relations between history and personal identity in Renaissance military memoirs, c.1450-1600. written in Oxford – aims to catch the essence of our history, as a species, in one tome. The result is certainly very successful, since 2011 published in multiple languages and its author became a public intellectual with TED Talks and countless interviews available on Youtube and elsewhere. We are here to judge if the world is right 😉
Ola: Oh well, there’s nothing like a catchy beginning, is there? 😛 But on a more serious note, Harari’s ambitions were huge, and a bit of hubris was, I guess, unavoidable – especially if you want to market a de facto historical book to a wide, mostly lay, public. Harari’s book, however, deserves its hype, for it’s written in a flowing, precise style, and delivers an abundance of catchy, well devised examples to better explain the more abstract concepts.
Author: Robert Holdstock
Title: Mythago Wood (Ryhope Wood #1)
Edition: Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks, Paperback
I love this series! Only one shelf now, but expanding…
Robert Paul Holdstock was a British s/f and fantasy writer best known for his Ryhope Woods sequence. Novels that draw inspiration from Celtic mythology and the classic tropes of fantasy to create something original and mysterious, but decidedly not hear-warming. Readers beware, magic comes at high cost here and every bit of happiness is accompanied by pain and loss.
One of the high points of the recent Witch Week was a discussion on Ursula Le Guin’s The Other Wind, the final Earthsea book. Inspired beyond our contribution to the comment section there, we decided to post this special two-shot review. Warning – there will be spoilers, there’s no point in avoiding that. This is a short novel, if you liked the previous ones, read it. If not, you will not like it, we promise…
Prószyński i S-ka published one of the beautiful editions of the Earthsea, with one weak point – lack of illustrations. Saga Press (Gollancz in UK and I have this version) published the ultimate illustrated edition, with great art by Charles Vess.
Piotrek: I love Le Guin and I consider her to be one of the giants of the genre, quite close to Tolkien on my personal Olympus. I was happy to re-read the final book before the Witch Week – originally I wanted to re-read the entire cycle, but I only found time to read Wizard and this. To my astonishment I realised I’ve never read The Other Wind before! Why? It was published in 2001, Polish translation in 2003, after my last re-read of the Earthsea. Between then and now I’ve read a few of the Hainish novels, Malafrena, and some other one-shots and short stories, even her poems, but I somehow missed The Other Wind. It was a great joy to read it now, as I really find it a worthy conclusion of the cycle and a very good read in its own rights. Some of the loose ends come together, some stories end, Le Guin neatly ties up the world we revisit for the last time (in a novel format).
Ola: I’ve read The Other Wind before – but as a much younger person 😉 It defied my expectations then; not that I thought Ged’s retirement to be a punishment, as some of the readers apparently believed, according to Le Guin – but his drastic (to my 15 years younger self, at least) change of role and status – as well as the limited amount of space he took in the book – was a definite surprise. This time I see much more clearly how deftly Le Guin altered his role from the original hero to the wise man and mentor aiding a new hero on his new journey, still keeping Ged within the heroic cycle. The cyclical nature of life is, after all, one of the main themes of the novel.
The Witcher! Monster-slaying character from computer games, soon to be made into a Netflix series starring Henry Cavill… but, also, as more and more people in the English-speaking world begin to realise, a book series by Andrzej Sapkowski. Well, actually, as some of you might be aware, the books predate games by almost two decades. The Witcher saga, which gave Sapkowski World Fantasy Award (Lifetime Achievement, 2016) and Gemmell (2009), is finally fully translated into the language of Shakespeare, so it’s a good time to check it out before we get a chance to see the Netflix adaptation. One of the reasons it’s worth your time – and a good topic to discuss during Witch Week – is a multitude of female characters. Many of them are strong women, active, and extremely important for the plot, which is set in a realistic European-medieval fantasy world where gender balance is a bit more equal than in our history, and not only due to the existence of powerful sorceresses. And that is what we want to discuss today, for the general review of the series we invite you to go here. We will try to keep the text spoiler-free, at least in regards to the major events, as our opinions about major characters will be visibly informed by our knowledge of their actions and fate.
We are proud to announce that our contribution to the exciting Witch Week is live, both on Calmgove’s and Lizzie’s blog. We strongly encourage you to go there, read and comment on what we believe to be a very interesting topic 🙂
Someday soon, an extended version will be posted here, but don’t wait that long 😉
Thanks again for making us part of that fascinating event!!
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Title: Shadow and Bone
After reading The Language of Thorns and finding it a light, well-written and quite entertaining read I decided to push my luck a bit and actually read the trilogy that The Language of Thorns is a spin-off of. I am not happy to say that I won’t be completing that task – the first installment of the series, Shadow and Bone, was more than enough for me.