Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Impossible Odds

I know what you're thinking...the title of today's blog entry probably refers to either my golf game or my ability to make good stock picks. That may well apply but actually, as always, I am referring to the title of the latest novel I've finished reading. Impossible Odds by Dave Duncan is the 5th book in his "King's Blades" series. I've enjoyed all of these books pretty well but some a little more than others. This one was slightly less enjoyable than the last one, Paragon Lost, which I regard as the best of the batch so far and with only one more to read.

This novel was a little different than previous books in the series and I appreciate when authors do this. I'm sure authors don't want a series to grow stale any more than readers do. This time, instead of following a single "blade" through an adventure, we get to follow three main characters, including two blades that are thrust into circumstances they really aren't prepared for and a third, older student who really isn't a bound blade at all. Their assignment seems straight forward enough but soon becomes very convoluted, in turn driving the plot into many twists and turns. We have multiple points of view which made it a little difficult for me to follow, as well as two rather lengthy flash back scenes that provided further information for the protagonists as well as the reader. They were like short stories within the novel but did, however, slow down the pace of the plotting quite a bit. And the end was a bit too contrived for my taste as if the author worked too hard to make a happy ending for all. Overall I still quite enjoyed the novel and would recommend it to all fantasy readers. However, make sure you read these books in the order they were published because while each one does stand alone, I think readers will get more out of them if read in order.

The next short story in Stephen King's collection, Skeleton Crew, was "The Wedding Gig." This one was first published in "Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine" in 1980 and really serves to once again highlight King's versatility as a writer. It's a mobster story set during prohibition and told from the point of view of a band leader who plays at a small time mobster's 300 pound sister's wedding. This is a straight-up story with no traditional horror elements. Even the mobster violence is almost entirely off stage. It was another entertaining entry in the collection. But following that was a short poem, "Paranoid: A Chant." Regular readers of this blog will know I have never claimed to be knowledgable about poetry. I don't understand its appeal nor do I enjoy reading it but somehow perhaps Stephen King's poetry would be different. Well, I can honestly say I still don't enjoy it and this one was, to me, just wierd. It is from a diary of a paranoid schizophrenic and supposedly ties in with his Dark Tower series and The Stand's Randall Flagg character. Personally, I would recommend he stick to prose but then again, nobody should take my opinion on poetry seriously.

Next up is a western by Elmore Leonard: The Law at Randado

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire