Barbarian Book Club: 10 October 2018 Operational Report

  • img_20181007_162836_808956119070.jpgLife has been a whirlwind of activity. Taking care of a newborn is a lot more difficult than I expected. I figured that after a bit of holding and talking to she would gracefully recline in her baby seat and relax politely while I kept busy reading and writing. Unfortunately, she would rather do her best imitation of a Stuka dive bomber every single time she gets put down. So, I’ve managed to get very little done in the writing department.
  • My goal was to submit a story to Cirsova on the 1st but that didn’t happen. Between the baby, visitors from the U.S. I’m escorting around, and a hectic work schedule that had me pulling 6 day work weeks, my writing has trickled down to almost nothing. I’m usually so tired at night that I can barely focus on reading.
  • I’m working on re-evaluating my daily routine, my procrastination level, cutting out distractions, etc. so I can focus on reading and writing in my spare time. I’m also going to up the writing on here. I’ve done most of my updates and discussions over on G+ but with that platform disintegrating I’m going to bring back a lot of my writing to a more personal level.
  • I’m doing a lot of history reading specifically military history, both for personal enjoyment and for my future long-term writing project I plan on starting soon.
  • Still hitting the Iron Temple, lifting several times per week.

Some Books Read

SolomonKaneThe Savage Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert Howard collects all of Howard’s Solomon Kane tales. I’m really like the idea of a Puritan Paladin going around righting wrongs and slaying evil creatures. The stories themselves are a lot more rough around the edges compared to his later Conan tales but are still fantastic. I prefer the stories that take place in Europe over the longer African jungle ones. I like the rapier fiction reminiscent of The Three Musketeers. Inferior to the fantastic Horror Tales of Robert Howard, but worth the read.

Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb. I’ve mentioned here numerous times that I think Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series is hands down the best modern fantasy out there. She’s a master of characterization, writing slow, thoughtful novels that I enjoy on an emotional level unmatched by a lot of fiction I read. Fool’s Errand is the first book in the third trilogy, and it returns to the life of Fitzchivalry Farseer fifteen years after the end of the first trilogy. It’s a dark, sorrowful, and touching return to the characters I loved. I’m currently on book two and have to take it one chapter at a time because it tends to leave me sentimental due to the themes of friendship, aging, and parenthood. targetrichenviroment

Target Rich Environment by Larry Correia I like short story collections and I enjoy some of Larry Correia’s writing but this one was a bit of a disappointment. With one or two exceptions I just found these dull and uninspired.

 

 

The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb

ShipofmagicI don’t write a lot of full-length book reviews. I prefer quick updates on what I’ve read recently, short and to the point, enough to recommend and maybe spur some discussion, but not concise reviews. The only time I write longer pieces is when I come across a book that really captures my imagination, for example, last months The River of Doubt Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard, a fantastic read filled with danger and adventure rivaling any fictional account. Robin Hobb’s The Liveship Traders is a masterpiece of fantasy writing and I feel compelled to recommend it to all my friends who enjoy intelligent character driven fantasy literature.

If you know me and follow me on here you know that I believe Robin Hobb is the best Fantasy writer out there. I loved the first Farseer Trilogy, so much so that I’m listening to the audiobook version on audible with my wife. We are currently on the second book, and I’m enjoying the series in this format. But, when I finished the initial Fitz series I was a bit hesitant to go on with the Liveship Traders. It focuses on a different set of characters and unlike the Farseer books it’s written in third person with multiple point of views. I put off reading it for about two years, but when I finally started it last month I couldn’t stop. Fitz and the Farseers are fantastic, but The Liveship trilogy is the best fantasy trilogy I’ve ever read.

The massive trilogy is made up of Ship of Magic, Mad Ship, and Ship of Destiny, each shipofdestinyhefty fantasy tomes. The Liveship Traders is the saga of the Vestrits, an old Trader family from the exotic port colony of Bingtown. Bingtown Traders are the old money elite, descendants of the original founders of the city, and unique for owning mysterious living ships made out of wizardwood. Ships that are quickened by the death of three generations of family, becoming living beings that have the memories and personalities of their past captains.

The trilogy follows the Vestrits, as their family Liveship, the Vivacia becomes aware after the death of the family patriarch. His beloved daughter Althea, who grew up sailing with her father expects to inherit Vivacia but her mother and older sister instead grant Captainship to her brother-in-law Kyle, a hard man who decides to take his meek son Wintrow onboard and lead the financially burdened family into the new burgeoning slave trade.  The events and decisions set off a chain of events that have massive consequence not only for the Vestrits but for Bingtown and the whole world.

Slave traders, sea serpents, pirate captains, pirate kingdoms, jungles, ancient cities, violence, and high seas adventure. This trilogy has it all and the best portrayal of dragons as ancient hyper-intelligent alien creatures I’ve ever read in fantasy. But for all the excitement Robin Hobb’s ultimate strength and what elevates her writing above other fantasy lies in her characters. The depth of characterization and growth is unmatched in fantasy. Her characters are living, breathing, beings that are often deeply flawed yet grow and learn as the narrative advances and they fight to survive through the difficult trials of Hobb’s world.

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Hobb’s characterization is often so complex that characters you love at first go on to fail and disappoint while characters that begin as despicable and nasty become heroic and intriguing. The greatest example of complex characterization lies in the trilogy’s primary villain, the pirate Capitan Kennit. Hobb’s writing is so outstanding that all Kennit’s despicable behavior is plainly laid out, his vile thoughts are revealed to the reader, yet somehow you fall for his gaslighting and begin rooting for him just like the characters in the book. Kennit is one of the most complex and intriguing villains I’ve ever read and an outstanding achievement.

The Liveship Traders Trilogy is outstanding, complex, fantasy, that left me wanting more. The depth of characterization is the best I’ve read in any modern fantasy novel and while I have ten more Robin Hobb novels to read in her Realm of the Elderlings setting I’m going to predict that this trilogy will reign at the top of my list of favorites for many years to come.

 

 

 

Barbarian Book Club: May 2018 Operational Report

Updates

  • 20180514_175547847502312.jpgIn preparation for the imminent arrival of my first child, I decided to grow a respectable mustache. It’s coming along nicely and I have faith that it will develop further.
  • I’ve been writing a bit here and there, nowhere as much as I should be, but overall I’m content with my current pace. I got to see the proof for Storyhack Issue 2, I read a few of the other stories and I’m happy that my weird little story will be in great company.
  • My weightlifting routine is going great. I just finished week 4 of a program that I’m loving, but haven’t mentioned because I’ve been waiting to finish a least one month in order to give an honest experienced opinion before I recommend it.
  • Even with my rough schedule, I did a decent amount of reading and listening to lectures.

Books Read

AscentmoneyThe Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson– A fascinating look at the history of finance from beads to gold to digital currency made through ultra complex hedge funds. This was a great read, similar to the commodity histories that have been popular but focused on the rise of finance and its interconnected relationship with the rise of the Western World. There’s some interesting stuff here that somebody like me who is quite financially illiterate found fascinating, such as the chapter on the Welfare States, Chile, the Chicago Boys, and the interaction between politics and finance.

The Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb– I’ve said itShipofmagic here before, Robin Hobb is my favorite fantasy writer. I spent most of April and May reading this massive trilogy. It’s heavy, character driven, and vastly superior to any fantasy series I’ve ever read. I’m going to dedicate a full post to these books, but if you enjoy great fantasy written for adults pick up this trilogy.

The Appearance of Power: How Masculinity is Expressed Through Aesthetics by Tanner Guzy–  A quick read about style and aesthetics for the men, mixed with a bit of social critique of the poisonous modern idea that men should avoid style and just walk around like slobs. Not bad, but reads like an appendix to Jack Donovan’s work. I would of enjoyed and found this a lot more helpful a bit over a decade ago.

My Favorite Fantasy Writer

robin-2Because it was Woman’s Day back home and everybody is posting their favorite books written by women, I felt like I should jump in and do the same. So here we go, Robin Hobb. She isn’t my favorite woman writer of fantasy, she’s actually my FAVORITE living writer of fantasy. I consider The Farseer Trilogy and the series that followed the best fantasy written in the past three decades. Nothing comes close in my opinion.

The Farseer books are deep, dark, character-driven works of art. A dark world filled with pain and suffering but populated with characters that are good and against all odds pull through and embrace heroism. The second book in the series has, in my opinion, the greatest fantasy scene featuring a strong heroine; Queen Kettricken rallying the soldiers and reminding them that the Forged were once their family.

Oh yeah, and Nighteyes, the best human and wolf relationship in Fantasy.

A Barbarian Book Update

reading

I’m sitting here, petting my vicious dog, enjoying a nice cup of Earl Gray, and reading book two in Robin Hobbs Farseer Trilogy. You can feast your worthless eyes on the finished review for book one in the series Assassins Apprentice a few posts below. I decided to post in the middle of my reading to share how much I love this series. Every chapter I finish inches this series closer and closer to the top of my favorite Fantasy mountain. It’s a dark, brooding, complex, character driven plot that bounces from exciting action to contemplative heartbreak. Trust me, you want to read it along with me.

Most importantly the first book in the series is on sale in the Kindle store for $1.99 and the whole trilogy is on sale for 13 bucks. Click on the picture and buy it!

In other news trolling through r/fantasy I came across a link advertising Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself for $1.99. This is supposed to be one of the founding novels in the Grimdark sub-genre and one I have been wanting to read for awhile. I couldn’t resit the $1.99 price and the fact that it’s about some sort of badass barbarian and crippled torturer. As soon as I finish The Farseer Trilogy I will divert myself into the world of Logan Ninefingers and Inquisitor Glokta. So just like above, if you are in need of a read both of these books are really cheap right now.

 

This has been my good deed for the month, enjoy.