Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Jaguar Knights

If you will recall from my last blog entry, I had read a couple of very serious novels as well as one very horrifying short story all in a row and I had felt the need for some lighter-themed fantasy reading. I selected Dave Duncan's Jaguar Knights to fulfill that need, but unfortunately I need to keep looking. This is the final book in his King's Blades series. I actually wrote him an e-mail about a month ago to see if he planned to write any more in the series and he replied with "unfortunately no." They were produced by a publisher that he no longer deals with; the contract is complete and he has moved on to other things.

Have you ever started reading a novel while in a distracted state? And then it never really pulls you in because you've really only been reading on the surface and by the time you are ready to focus you are already half way through it. This happened to me this time. I had a tough week and weekend and so my attention seemed to be elsewhere when I read this novel. Someday I may well go back and read it again because I believe it is probably a much better book than I actually experienced.

The plot is a bit different than others in the Blades series. This time the protagonist isn't nearly as likeable as the other times so perhaps that contributed to my ho-hum feelings about the entire book. The plot seemed a little disjointed as well with several distinctly different subplots trying to interact. The result seemed more like several short stories being told at the same time. To compound that problem, a large chunk of the story is told from the secondary character's point of view, the hapless younger brother of the main protagonist. It is he that encounters the Aztec-like civilization of the Jaguars, actually morphing into a cat-creature after a magical pendant is hung around his neck. To top it all off, the ending was sad. I got the distinct feeling while reading this book that Mr Duncan was merely fulfilling the last requirements of the contract rather than offering a polished work of fantasy.

So here I am still looking for an uplifting novel to read. I am happy to report that my mood is back to its optimistic, happy self though so all is well.

Of course I read another Stephen King short story from Skeleton Crew. "Uncle Otto's Truck" is classic King once again. The story concerns an old truck owned by two business men in the post depression era. Otto had used the truck to kill the other owner and is subsequently going a bit insane. He notices the truck starts to move a little on its own and so on. The story is told by Otto's nephew who tells of how Otto eventually is found dead, drowned with engine oil and with a spark plug rammed down his throat. Pretty cool stuff!

Next up is another "Cat Who" book by Lilian Jackson Braun. Can't go wrong with an old fashioned cozy mystery that takes place in Pickaxe County...

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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