Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Raiders

We had an early snow/wind storm this morning so I was allowed a two hour delay in coming in to work. That allowed me to finish up The Raiders by Harold Robbins. This is the sequel to the The Carpetbaggers, one of the most successful bestsellers of all time. However, this one was written 34 years after the first one and I can tell you it is not nearly as good.
It is now 1951 and the main character, Jonas Cord ( a Howard Hughes type of tycoon) is under subpoena to appear before a Senate committee about his business practices. So he flees to Mexico where he discovers that he has an illegitimate son by an old girlfriend. The novel becomes as much about the son as it does about the father, especially how the son is becoming just like his father. Along the way, the Cords move into the Las Vegas scene, building hotels and casinos, nudging in on mafia territory. At the same time their Hollywood production studios turns to television production. I wish the story focused on that as well as the father-son relationship but unfortunately, it gets bogged down with numerous lesser characters including their extensive back stories. I did enjoy the cameo appearances by prominant people of the times such as Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Jimmy Hoffa, Che Guevera, Jack Benny, as well as several mobsters that I'm not sure are historical or fictional. But the story really suffers from cardboard Hollywood starlets, cliche'd mobster types, and the never ending sexual escapades of both father and son. Harold Robbins is known for that kind of thing but since The Carpetbaggers contained several well-developed characters, and a good plot, I had hoped for the same thing here.

The only satisfaction I got from the novel is to see what happened to the various characters from the first novel. There was some closure on that and there was a fairly happy ending. All the same, I'm glad this one is behind me.
I was also able to read the last of Harlan Ellison's short stories in the current section of The Essential Ellison. "Strange Wine" was a quick read and concerned a space alien that had been living on Earth as a human. He's had many bad experiences here on Earth, including the death of his daughter, estranged wife, bad that he commits suicide. But then he wakes up back on his native planet and is reminded of the horrible lives they all lived there. The moral of the story seems to be that if we really think about it, life is good. It was an odd story to me and seemed to be missing something. This isn't the first time that Mr Ellison has made me feel I am not intelligent enough to fully appreciate his writing :) Since this section of this large volume of stories is now complete, I'll turn to a different collection of short stories next.

Next up for novels: I've been feeling the need for some old fashioned fantasy fiction, not necessarily high brow stuff, so I think I will turn to the first of "The Harpers" series, The Parched Sea, by Troy Denning.

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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