[reading] What have you read recently?

Maddz

Rune Priest
The Machineries of Empire series, by Yoon Ha Lee
Ninefox Gambit
Raven Stratagem
Revenant Gun


As I commented above, my initial impression was Warhammer 40K fiction (not that I've read any I hasten to add but I used to sell the models). These are pure space opera (and military space opera at that), set in the far future. The trapping of the stories are definitely SF; but the underpinning of the science is more based on magic - torture a bunch of heretics and the exotic technology will keep working. The empire is currently ruled by 6 factions - the Hexarchate - the seventh faction was wiped out a few hundred years ago.

The 3 books are focused on an (undead) general. His personality is kept in the 'black cradle' and periodically he is 'resurrected' to deal with a military crisis. The resurrection involves his memories and personality being grafted onto a host body - which may be a volunteer or not. His job is to keep the high calendar going (i.e. the status quo); people not following the high calendar are considered to be heretics...

It's an interesting series, sort of reminiscent of Glen Cook's Dread Empire series grafted onto his Starfishers and Darkwar series). Recommended

The Black Gods Drums, by P Djéli Clark
A steampunk Hugo-listed novella set in an alternate New Orleans. 2 people possessed by African gods (loas?) foil a plot to trigger a super-weapon developed on Haiti. Interesting background, but I didn't think much of the story.

The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington, by P Djéli Clark
A Hugo-listed short story. I thought this better than the novella. Based on fact, Washington had a set of dentures made from teeth purchased from Negro slaves of the Mount Vernon Estate. Recommended.

Other reading:
Simon's Waif, by Mira Stables

A Regency romance. Rescuing what he thinks is a boy and his puppy in a river, Simon Warhurst takes Harriet
Pendeniston into his household while she is recovering from an attack of measles. His housekeeper is known to Harriet as Aunt Bee - her mother was one of her friends. Once Harriet recovers, she can't stay there as the household is a bachelor one; Simon's sister takes her in and passes her to another friend of her mother's.

A light-hearted romp, recommended if you like this sort of thing.

Fanny by Gaslight, by Michael Sadleir

Read online on the Fadedpage. The story of a Victorian mistress. Something of a period piece these days; Fanny Hooper is the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy country gentleman, who in turn becomes the mistress of a civil servant bearing him an illegitimate daughter. Interesting for the descriptions of Victorian London, the underworld and vice trade.

Recommended
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
And that's the last 2 on the Best Novel list:

Space Opera, by Catherynne M Valente.
As a novella or shorter, this would have worked. But as a novel, it felt like hard work - and remember what they say about visitors - "fish and visitors stink after 3 days". Basically, a washed-up rock star and what's left of his band have to put on the performance of their lives in the galactic version of the Eurovision Song Contest - and not come last otherwise humanity will be exterminated. It felt like far too much effort and the sub-Douglas Adams writing style felt too contrived. I found it hard to keep all the aliens straight.

Hitich-hikers Guide meets Eurovision. You have been warned.

Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (The Sixth World 1)
Very good. Tony Hillerman does Urban Fantasy.

Set some time in the near future where global warming has caused sea-level rises and flooded most of America, the Navaho are now living in the 6th World. Separated from the rest of America by a miraculous wall, gods and monsters hunt the clans. Orphaned Maggie Hoskie has been raised by a demi-god to be a monster-slayer. Abandoned by her teacher, she is monster-slayer and ends up stalking the witch who has created an army of monsters. Cue allies and betrayals, and a bitter-sweet ending.

Recommended.

Next up: the rest of the novellas. I've already read 2 on the list: The Black God's Drums and The Tea-Master and the Detective. I'll probably start with Martha Wells - and read #1 in the series first.
 

First Age

D&D h@ck3r and Hopepunk
Staff member
I've blasted through the Roman historical fiction first novel of Harry Sidebottom's Warrior of Rome series: Fire in The East. Satisfying action packed narrative of the defense of Arete (historical Dura) in Northern Syria mid 3rd century AD. Tub thumping action written by and academic who knows his history. 99p. I've got the next one and have dived in.

 

Dom

Administrator
Staff member
Books in June 2019
A bit of an eclectic mix.

Vienna Spies (Alex Gerlis)
An interesting story set towards the end of the Second World War in Europe, mainly in Vienna. The British attempt to establish a network in the city to make contact with an influential opposition politician who has been in hiding for many years to prepare for the power struggle after the war is won. The Soviets attempt to do the same thing and the agents from both sides have come into contact before. It's a story of rival intelligence operations from allies who know that they will be enemies in the future against the collapsing Nazi regime in a country which wholeheartedly embraced the Third Reich.

Enjoyable, and there were points when I was anxious for some of the characters I liked, but I think I prefer the way that Luke McCallin's 'Man from Berlin' books covered this same theme. If I could give a half mark, this would be 3.5 out of 5. However, I will read his new book set in 1970s Berlin at some point to see how that goes.

Scattered Among Strange Worlds (Aliette de Bodard)
Interesting short stories. The first deals with dislocation and disengagement, as a younger woman returns from exile to honour her grandmother. The second deals with Mer People exiles from a polluted ocean and the call to return to the sea. Enjoyable.

Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master (Michael Shea)
D&D focused but a good collection of tips for building and running a role playing campaign. Some ideas are quite thought-provoking.

In Morningstar's Shadow: Dominion of the Fallen Stories (Aliette de Bodard)
Vignettes from the universe of “The House of Shattered Wings”, which I’ve yet to read. Angels have fallen from the heavens and magic is real. Warring Houses have shattered Paris. This is a collection a fragments of tales. I liked the setting and stories and will read the novel as a result.

The Art and Soul of Blade Runner 2049 (Tanya Lapointe)

Absolutely gorgeous art book full of concepts, art work and photos that shine a light on the development of the movie.
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
The Murderbot Diaries 1 & 2: All Systems Red and Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells. #2 is up for the Hugos Best Novella. As it happens, it won’t get my vote as I felt that it did not work as a stand-alone work; I felt that unless you had read #1 you wouldn’t understand much of the background.

The set-up for both novellas is fairly standard SF; humanity has spread into the stars, and employs artificial people who are considered non-people by some governments. Murderbot is one of them: although sexless she is a Terminator-like SecUnit rented out as security to various concerns. Technically, she has no free will, but she has managed to hack her governing module.

The first novella is Murderbot working as security to a planetary exploration team. Things go wrong, and a second team elsewhere on the planet is wiped out. Murderbot keeps her team alive and safe. It turns out a rival corporation wants to take over the planet before it can be interdicted because of Forerunner relics.

The second novella deals with Murderbot’s journey into her past. Previously, she was employed by a mining company and apparently massacred the team. She has no memory of this as she was memory-wiped and her governing module replaced.

A further two novellas complete the story. However, each novella costs as much as a full-length novel (see my earlier comments on The October Man). Others have commented unfavourably on this trend; the two installments plus the other two would make a good-sized novel.

I enjoyed the stories, so I’m recommending them, but watch out for sales.

Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children 3). McGuire’s other entry for the Hugos.

Another instalment in a series of novellas priced the same as a full-length novel. I have #1, Every Heart a Doorway, which I read a while back (but haven’t recorded a review). Both novellas are set in Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children (which makes it sound like a rather twee YOI cum children’s home). Here, children who have fallen through portals into their own fantasy worlds and who have returned home either readapt to mundanity or return to their fantasy world.

Like the Murderbot novellas, it helps to have read previous instalments. Unlike Murderbot, each is self-contained enough to stand alone, although there are references to previous events. Recommended, but again look out for a sale.

A Marriage Arranged, by Mira Stables

A light Regency romance by an author I enjoy. Lord Julian Wellasford is trying to recover his ancestral home, which was sold by his gamester father. However, the current owner, a Mr Morley, does not wish to sell. Mr Morley suggests a compromise instead; his adoptive daughter is of an age to marry, so he suggests that the two youngsters see if the suit, and if they do, the estate will be settled on their children.

Light, but recommended.

Back to the Hugos again: next up is Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti: The Night Masquerade. Started reading it, and I think I need to read the other 2 first as there’s a lot of what seems like flashbacks. At least the prices on these are a lot more reasonable.
 
Nearly finished the audiobook journey on Steve Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen. On book 10 The Crippled God is the last one only 20 hours left till the end. I would recommend this book series as a listen. They do change the Narrator for book 4 onwards and this does not spoil it at all.

After this The Blackwing saga Book 3 Crowfall by Ed McDonald. It is a very good dark Gunpowder and Sorcery story. It has a very good Warhammer Fantasy type vibe about it. The Magic is interesting with the spinning of moonlight which is kept in batteries. Loved the 1st 2 books in the series.
 

Cybe

Lay member
I'm currently reading Black Rainbow, a collection of horror stories. It has 25 short stories that feature characters that span a spectrum of identities and genders and were written by a diverse range of LGBTQIA authors and allies. I must admit, I'm mainly reading it because one of my stories is published in it, and I haven't had the chance to see what pieces the other contributors put forward until now.

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Dom

Administrator
Staff member
It's taken a while to get this written, but here's last month's book list.

Of Books, and Earth, and Courtship (Dominion of the Fallen 0.6) (Aliette de Bodard)
A short story which explores love, magic and power in the Dominion of the Fallen setting. Just leaves me more determined to read the trilogy it links to.

The New Accelerator (Anthology Book 1) (Aliette de Bodard)
I bought this for the Alienate de Bodard story and was pleasantly surprised to find an Ian Hocking tale set in the Deja Vu universe as well. An enjoyable mix of very different SF shorts. Some humorous, some verging on horror, some even B-Movie as well as the more serious stories. Entertaining.

Sword Destiny (Andrzej Sapkowski)

The second collection of shorts in the Witcher series. I've never played or touched the video game, but some clips of cut scenes on YouTube put me onto this. The setting very Mittel-European and reminds me a little of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying. We follow the Witcher, Geralt of Riva, as he passes through the world, nominally plying his trade of slaying monsters. However, that isn't the most interesting part of the stories; what I really enjoy is the interaction with the people he meets, and a cast of reoccurring characters such as Dandelion the Poet/Bard and Yennefer the sorceress (with whom he has a complicated on/off relationship). Sometimes the tales are quite cleverly structured, as they switch perspective and have flashbacks that aren't always signposted initially. The hints of the truth behind the monsters and other races that he meets whet the appetite for more, and often I found the feeling that humanity was far worse than the simple behaviour of monsters and the different societies of creatures such as Dryads. I look forward to the rest of the series, which I have owned since it was on the Amazon big deal a few months ago.

Red Sparrow (Jason Matthews)
I decided to read this before I watched the film as I'd picked up the three books in the series in an offer. The story has two main protagonists: Dominika Egorov, a young Russian SVR agent, and Nate Nash, likewise a young CIA operative. They are linked by hunts for moles in both Russia and the USA and their missions put them on a collision course. I nearly wrote 'on both sides of the Iron Curtain' there instead of 'in both Russia and the USA'. It may not be true anymore, but the feel is very much like a Cold War thriller. Tradecraft is reasonably believable and the plot gathers pace well. The protagonists find their faith in the systems they have been brought up in challenged and there is sexual tension between the two agents aimed at each other. Very enjoyable; I will be reading the others this summer.
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
I've got horribly behind with my reviews because of frantically reading as much as I could for the Hugos. However, the last things I read in that line (Best Series) was The Centanal Cycle by Malka Older (Infomacracy, Null States, and State Tectonics). This is a cyberpunk-lite trilogy set in the near future where most governments have become micro-democracies based on groupings of roughly 100,000 voters. Overseeing this is a fusion of Google, Facebook and Twitter who control Information. I have to say i found it a bit heavy going and I felt it was something that showed it was written by an American with the politics.

I was only half-way through book 2 when I had to cast my votes, but finishing the series didn't make me change my mind where I ranked it. Summing up, my Hugo ballots ended up like this:

Best Novel
  1. The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor) - Execllent - a cracking good read WINNER
  2. Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga) = Very good - Tony Hillerman does urban fantasy. Echoes of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.
  3. Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager) - Also a good read but helps reading the others in the series
  4. Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris) - A bit grimdark and you do need to have read the others
  5. Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Macmillan) - Not bad but rather light
  6. Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente (Saga) - Urgh. Tedious - would work better in a short form but as a full novel it’s way too much
Best Novella
  1. Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson (Tor.com publishing) - Enjoyable. Rewilding experts in a ruined Earth time travel to Ancient Mesopotamia. - very good. Re-wilding experts time travel to ancient Mesopotamia.
  2. The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean Press / JABberwocky Literary Agency) - Very good; part of the Xuya universe but is a stand-alone
  3. Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells (Tor.com publishing) - Enjoyable but you do need to read the first WINNER
  4. Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com publishing) - Fine but again it helps to have read the others
  5. Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com publishing) - #3 in the series and it shows. A lot of flash backs involved; am unclear whether it’s new or not. I thought the first half more confusing than the second.
  6. The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com publishing) - OK but I think Cherie Priest does the Southern Gothic steampunk better
Best Novelette
  1. “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections,” by Tina Connolly (Tor.com, 11 July 2018) - Interesting and bittersweet. A baker and his wife are held by the Regent of a kingdom. Their only way to communicate is by memory-provoking baked goods. Shades of Proust.. A baker and his wife are held by the evil Regent of a Kingdom and can only communicate via baked goods inspiring memories. Very Proustian.
  2. “When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller (Clarkesworld 145, October 2018) - Survivors wandering across a ruined world encounter a museum.
  3. “Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,” by Daryl Gregory (Tor.com, 19 September 2018) - interesting. Slo-mo alien invasion story where the aliens are plants. Riffs on The Day of the Triffids. - SF story about what happens when aliens do a slo-mo invasion of Earth. Riffs off The Day of the Triffids at the start.
  4. “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018) - Amusing but light WINNER
  5. “The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018) - Rather sweet
  6. The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander (Tor.com publishing) - Odd - Topsy the Elephant meets The Radium Girls, so comes across as somewhat confused
Best Short Story
  1. “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” by P. Djèlí Clark (Fireside Magazine, February 2018) - Very good; would have liked more!
  2. “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society,” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018) - Fun. Faery lovers have the tables turned on them.
  3. “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat,” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018). Better than the other BB.
  4. “The Court Magician,” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018) - OK
  5. “STET,” by Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine, October 2018) - Very odd.
  6. “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018). Um. WINNER
Best Series
  1. The Universe of Xuya, by Aliette de Bodard (most recently Subterranean Press) - Very good and interesting world-building. Note that this isn’t a series in the usual sense; they tend to be stand-alone stories with a shared setting and maybe characters alluded from a different story (which may be separated in time)
  2. Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager) - Also excellent; more traditional space opera WINNER
  3. The Laundry Files, by Charles Stross (most recently Tor.com publishing/Orbit) - Love the series but the tongue-in-cheek humour may not appeal to all
  4. The October Daye Series, by Seanan McGuire (most recently DAW) - Light and fun but probably getting to the sell-by date now
  5. Machineries of Empire, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris) - Grimdark and has echoes of Glen Cook and WH40K
  6. The Centenal Cycle, by Malka Older (Tor.com publishing) - first impression is boring. Rather cyber-punkish in the Bruce Sterling style but not caring about the politics. The fragmentation of the world is similar to that of Stephenson’s Snow Crash.
Best Related Work
  • No vote
Best Graphic Story
  • No vote
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • No vote
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • No vote
Best Editor, Short Form
  • No vote
Best Editor, Long Form
  • No vote
Best Professional Artist
  • Charles Vess WINNER
Best Semiprozine
  • No Vote
Best Fanzine
  • No vote
Best Fancast
  • No vote
Best Fan Writer
  • No vote
Best Fan Artist
  • No vote
Best Art Book
  • The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, illustrated by Charles Vess, written by Ursula K. Le Guin (Saga Press /Gollancz) WINNER
Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book
  • No vote
I did read the winning entry (Children of Blood and Bone) and thought it poor. I didn't read any other entry.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
  1. Katherine Arden
  2. Jeannette Ng WINNER
  3. S.A. Chakraborty
  4. R.F. Kuang
  5. Vina Jie-Min Prasad
  6. Rivers Solomon
I didn't cast any votes for the retro Hugos.

The full list of Hugo results are here: http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/2019-hugo-awards/
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
After I finished off the Hugo reading, I read the following:

The Privilege of the Sword, by Ellen Kushner (Riverside 2)

This was a re-read prompted by attending the Ellen Kushner reading; Ellen's next book is going to be Riverside 2.5 and she read us a chapter from it. I'd reviewed the Riverside trilogy before, but I think it must have been on the older old tavern. My reviews didn't seem to make it across to LibraryThing.

This is the 2nd book chronologically (but the 3rd published).

We meet Alec, now Duke of Tremontaine following his grandmother's death. Called the Mad Duke, he brings his impoverished 15-year old niece Katherine to the city and dresses her as a boy and trains her as a swordsman. Much intrigue follows, especially as Lord Ferris has returned to Tremontaine from his exile at the end of Swordspoint. Entwined in the plot is the story of Artemisia Fitz-Levy, who ends up betrothed to Lord Ferris and her dealings with Katherine.

Suffice to say that Katherine ends up as Duchess.

Enjoyable.

The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon

Very enjoyable. Set in a pseudo-Europe and pseudo-Far East, it depicts a divided world (literally) where Western fire-dragons are evil and Eastern water-dragons are not. It's not the usual medieval riff, but more Elizabethan - gunpowder exists. It's a large book, but it's stand-alone (although I guess there may be a sequel). I liked it a lot.

Recommended
 

Dom

Administrator
Staff member
Books in August 2019.

Only two non-gaming books this month, so a slow one. I've worked my way through a small bit of the gaming book backlog.

Lost Acre (Rotherweird#3) - Andrew Caldecott
The final part of the Rotherweird trilogy certainly delivered an entertaining end to the series. Rotherweird is a town near Hay, independent of the rest of the UK since the 1600s. History is banned, and reality is somewhat different. We follow a cast of characters, both from Rotherweird and from the outside, as they struggle for control of the town and the alternative realities linked to it. I can't really say much because it would cause spoilers, but I recommend this wholeheartedly. It was refreshingly different. Urban fantasy with a twist.

Spies, Lies & Books - James Whinray
An entertaining light read, much like an extended magazine article, with short bios of spies and con artists linked to the West Country.
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
Other reading while I was away:

The Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews
Dina Demille is an Innkeeper; she runs an inn for cross-dimensional travellers visiting (or passing through) Earth. Part of her duty is maintaining the secret that Earth is a dimensional nexus and aliens and alien technology exist. She is the daughter of innkeepers, and was raised in the life. However, while she was at college, her parents and their inn vanished. After an unsuccessful search, Dina settles down - she is granted a dormant inn in Texas and brings it back to life.

1: Clean Sweep
Dina investigates the strange death of local animals. Can it be down to the local werewolf or something else? She also has to play host to a group of vampires, all without letting her human neighbours and local law enforcement know what's really going on.

2: Sweep in Peace
Following the events of Clean Sweep, the Inn is awarded an increase in their star rating. Dina is asked to play host to a peace conference between the Vampires and the Horde, with the Merchants also involved. All are at each other's throats over a planet. Dina keeps the peace and manages to successfully broker a deal.

3: One Fell Sweep
Dina rescues her widowed sister from a hellhole of a planet where she, her daughter and her late husband were banished following a failed coup. She is hosting the last members of an alien race who have been virtually been wiped out in a genocidal attack; while doing so, the inn is besieged by the attackers.

4: Sweep of the Blade
This is a change in main character to Dina's sister. Dina who was romanced by the werewolf and the vampire in the first 2 books has settled on the werewolf. However, in rescuing Maud, the vampire falls in love with her, but once bitten, twice shy. Maud's vampire husband was a real piece of work, and she doesn't want to go through that again. She is invited to the vampire's home planet where the clan is to play host to an important wedding uniting two other clans.

These are an urban science fiction series where the urban fantasy tropes are all aliens and Clarke's Law applies. Light and fun, they're an entertaining read.

Recommended.

The Clocktaur War by T Kingfisher
1: The Clockwork Boys
Low fantasy with a decidedly quirky outlook. A forger and an assassin are sentenced to death; however, if they escort a scholar to a neighbouring state who has invaded theirs with clockwork monsters, the death sentences will be quashed. In order to improve their chances, they are allowed to take what prisoners they want; they choose to take a defrocked paladin. Their task is to find out what happened to another scholar who had sent his notes home, but not the key to his notes.

2: The Wonder Engine
The sequel to The Clocktaur Boys. The intrepid spies/saboteurs make it to the city and find out what happened to the missing scholar. In the process they meet with a non-human race, the gnoles, who are filling the lowest niches of society, and find out what is producing the monsters - and sabotage it.

Rather fun and recommended.

Swordheart by T Kingfisher
Set in the same world as The Clocktaur War but some 15 years later, a woman becomes the wielder of a magic sword by accident. The sword contains a spirit which acts as a guardian to the sword wielder. However, she is no warrior and only wants the inheritance her uncle left her without being forced into marriage with her cousin.

A stand-alone which details more about the world and the societies within it.

Recommended

The Murder of Eleanor Pope by Henry Kuttner (Michael Gray Mysteries 1)
A psychological who-dunnit. Set post WW-II, Michael Gray is a psychologist and does a mixture of private practice and criminal pro-bono work. He is approached by a man who thinks he has murdered his sister-in-law some months previously. While in therapy, his brother-in-law is poisoned, and he apparently commits suicide.

Rather dated but not bad.
 
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Maddz

Rune Priest
4 days a week I go into London on the train. I usually have 40-45 minutes to read each way. I also read for 20 minutes in my lunch break. However, I'm a fast reader - I used to load at least 2 dozen books in my holiday luggage and run out part way in the 2nd week. A standard paperback will take me 2-4 hours depending on complexity and length.

Mind you, I'm a bit behind on posting reviews so I'm catching up.
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
Some more Hugo reading I did:

Charles Stross: The Laundry Files
I don't have much in epub format but I read through what I had.

1/2: The Atrocity Archives (The Concrete Jungle (1) & The Jennifer Morgue (2))
7: The Nightmare Stacks
8: The Delirium Brief
Three from the Laundry Files: Down on the Farm (2.2), Equoid (2.3) & Overtime (3.1)


Fun reading. We have most of the rest of the novels in paperback; the one we're missing is #9 The Labyrinth Index. There wasn't much included in the Hugo packet. #7 & #8 were new reads. Much as I love the series I feel the humour can be obscure to non-Brits which is why I didn't rate it higher. Ben Aaronovitch also suffers from this problem - to the extent he's had to provide 'translations' for the US market. I also recall Lindsey Davies also telling off Americans for objecting to her use of the word 'corn' - but corn is a New World plant so wouldn't be known in Roman times. Excuse me, but what about 'Ruth among the alien corn'?

I'm not going to review these individually but the entire series is recommended.
 
I found there seems to be diminishing marginal returns on reading The Laundry Files, just finishing The Apocalypse Codex and it's seemed a bit hard going for some reason.

TBH I'm listening to the audiobooks (I spent 10+ hours in the car a week) so it could be I'm just tiring of the narrator whose wry tone is getting a little wearing.
 
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