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What are You Reading Right now?

Discussion in 'Books & Comics' started by Suspiria, Aug 26, 2015.

  1. NunbNuts

    NunbNuts Rebel Official

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    I finished the two books I was reading, The Neverending Story and the second book in that Prelude To Dune trilogy so I started the third book and decided to start this one that I picked up on sale on the Kindle store

    [​IMG]

    I love the Bond films and have read a lot of the novels (all 14 of Fleming's originals plus just as many of the continuations and novelizations) so I'm really looking forward to it.
     
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  2. Mando LXXXV

    Mando LXXXV Clone Commander

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    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Lenerith

    Lenerith Rebelscum

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  4. Jack_Forest

    Jack_Forest Force Sensitive

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    I am stuck :( The "science" part is superb and the worldbuilding is excellent, but the plot drags like a snail and too much time is spent on discussing technical and stuff. Better try and finish it, I guess (duel)

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Angelman

    Angelman Servant to the Whills & Slave to the Muses
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    Specters of the Past
    (This review contains spoilers!)

    Specters of the Past.jpg
    I’ve been picking up some Legends books – the Timothy Zahn’s Hand of Thrawn duology – as research for a tabletop RPG campaign. The first of these were Specters of the Past.


    Short plot spoiler
    Ten years after Grand Admiral Thrawn was defeated (in The Last Command) the New Republic struggles to maintain order and coherency against innumerable member-world demands and constant infighting. The conflicts are crowned by major anti-Bothan movement raging over a past genocide crime left unresolved, which were carried out by some unknown Bothan players. Against this backdrop, elements of the Remnant Empire hatches a mad plan to shatter what remains of New Republic unity and inspire swats of worlds to leave the New Republic to rejoin The (Remnant) Empire – they fake Thrawn’s return with clever trickery and an expert actor who manages to fool even Imperials who served under Thrawn in the past.


    I haven’t read any Zahn before (apart from comic book adaptations), but he’s obviously a competent writer. The start of the book in particular felt very Star Wars in character, and the man knows what he’s doing. Despite this, I had several issues with the book… (For the record, while I go on a bit below, I think the book was fine. My issues are just things I found interesting to note, and the book works fine despite them and is clever and interesting in places).


    --Writing movie characters: This is a problem I have with all SW writers I’ve read. The author’s version of established characters doesn’t much feel like their movie analogies. Some authors manages to nail down one of them – like Jayson Fry manages C3P0 and Claudia Gray has a firm grasp on Leia – but overall they struggle with portraying the movie characters and their mannerisms etc., in a recognizable way. Zahn struggles especially here, I feel, and Luke, C3P0, and Lando in particular sounds and feels nothing like their movie versions. Perhaps it is simply a matter of authors and myself having different opinions and perceptions of the characters, or perhaps authors try to write “evolved” characters changed by events in the past, but whatever the case, I have trouble recognizing these movie heroes in most writers’ voices.

    On a related note, I personally do not find Zahn’s original characters, except for Thrawn and his other Imperial officers cadre, very interesting. Mara Jade feels like a bad-girl version of Luke, Talon Karrde is discount Han Solo with Lando’s slickness, etc. I’d much rather Zahn used the established characters than writing his own near-carbon copy characters to fill those roles… but that’s a personal preference thing and you might not agree.

    --Self-referencing: Zahn spends a LOT of time referencing his previous works and, to a lesser extent, the OT movies. It’s so strange to have him suddenly pull you out of the current story to remind you of this thing from TESB or that exchange from the Thrawn Trilogy, or whatever, and this book (Specters of the Past) was really padded with such references. I don’t need you to retell the OT and your previous books for me, sir; let’s try to keep this current one as interesting and captivating as possible, yes? Weird. (I wonder if the duology had needed be two books if Zahn just refrained from rehashing previous work's scenes all the time).

    --Bothans: What does Zahn have against Bothans? They seem to be his default insidious baddies working in the wings, and I’m starting to suspect that a Bothan must have bullied Zahn as a child ;) In any case, Zahn’s play on stark racism (speciesism) is jarring and uncomfortable, but perhaps that was Zahn’s point?

    --Exposition scenes: Zhan writes TONS of scenes where characters stand around discussing the plot, tons and tons of it. As someone trying to learn how to write fiction, this is weird as the first thing ‘they’ teach you is to not have characters stand around discussing the plot. It is boring and kills the pacing, especially in Star Wars which in its essence is fast and intense. I wonder why established authors get away with breaking all the rules that us noobs must follow, lolz.

    --Repeat expressions: Another noob writer no-no is defaulting to set expressions and phrases; basically, this rule is about hiding the cogs in the writing machine and not pull the reader out of the story by reminding them that they’re reading. Zahn breaks this rule constantly. As an example, every time Luke, Leia, or Mara uses the force, they “stretch out with the force to…” Every time. Probably 40-50 times throughout the book. Annoying and lazy.

    --The Plot: Specters of the Past’s greatest problem is the fact that the story is, both in-universe and for the reader, an unnecessary rehash of past events, arcs, and characters. This is best symbolized by the Thrawn character, which is brought to life, in-universe, by an actor, a somewhat lazy writer’s trick to bring back his favorite character to play around with. We learn nothing new about Thrawn, ‘cause Thrawn isn’t Thrawn, just a very good actor playing him. Likewise, the plot brings nothing new and interesting for the heroes to do – sure, they kill a few pirates and argue at the senate, but after reading the Specters of the Past one has learned nothing new, seen nothing new, experienced nothing new… and the book feels like an excuse to write some random Star Wars involving some favorite characters; as such, this books feels VERY much like (well-executed yet ultimately unnecessary) fan fiction.


    All in all, Specters of the Past is all right. Even though the plot feels a bit pointless, it is nice to revisit the Star Wars universe and see some beloved heroes muck about. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this book, but… at the same time there’s nothing particularly right about it either. I do look forward to seeing how the plot evolves in the second book, however, and how the Imperials employ their sham-Thrawn and is eventually defeated.
     
    #525 Angelman, Jul 5, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
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  6. Jack_Forest

    Jack_Forest Force Sensitive

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    That's Echopraxia by Peter Watts. Image is gone for some reason.
     
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  7. Addi Ras

    Addi Ras Jedi General
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    Just started SHADOW FALL

    5324C54E-AAFF-4D5E-AE47-B0D91975A7F1.jpeg

     
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  8. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Force Sensitive

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    I read The Way of Kings Prime by Brandon Sanderson earlier this week. This was the first version of of The Stormlight Archive that Brandon wrote in 2002-2003, right before he was picked up by a publisher, and it's currently under the branding of Sanderson Curiosities.

    This book was very interesting and very different than the 2010 version. Characters have different names (Dalenar vs Dalinar or Aredor & Adolin), different arcs (Dalenar & Renarin), or are completely different characters entirely (Shinri vs Shallan; Merin vs Kaladin).

    In many ways this book was far more grounded than the canonical version: Shardblades aren't super giant swords and don't cut through everything with ease, there aren't any spren or Parshendi (I believe they were still in Dragonsteel at the time along with Bridge Four), and no crazy colorful hair. The book is far more politically minded as well; it's full of intrigue and mind-games, and no one character has the full story. The villains feel far more competent here as well.

    It's weird that Sanderson felt like nothing ever got done in this book, because I felt like the plot progressed far more in this one than it did in the 2010 book. There are definitely things Sanderson has improved on handling - it's been almost twenty years after all - and his writing is very reminiscent of Elantris and Mistborn due to the timeframe. But this is still a solid entry for Brandon.

    I'm happy this wasn't the version that was published. It may have been more accessible for the mainstream audience than the official version, but I don't think it would have kept up the pace as well as it needed to going forward, nor would it have affected so many people the way the official version has (check the Stormlight Archive subreddit - there's a new post about how XYZ character or XYZ book saved OP's life pretty much every week). Sanderson needed to learn how to write sequels and stories with a sprawling amount of characters before he published a series that would require both.

    All of that being said, this book is a good one, and I've heard one person say they prefer it over the official version.

    If you're a Sanderson fan, then this book is DEFINITELY worth checking out, and it's free on his website!

    https://www.brandonsanderson.com/the-way-of-kings-prime/

    As a bonus thought: I have a controversial hot take - if Sanderson ever wants to adapt a version of The Way of Kings into live action - THIS is the version that should be adapted. I do suggest changing a few of the names and call it something like the Oathshard Wars or whatnot (if only so people aren't confused when the Stormlight Archive animated show (by Studio Mir) comes out).* All of those reasons that make this series feel grounded are reasons it would work in live action. It's also seems to be a perfect thing for a producer and execs: There's a small minority that read the book, but it's by a big-name author the name branding will be there; there's only one book, so the showrunners can decide for themselves what's best for the show after the first season and the author can't/won't have a reason to interfere; and due to said author, there's already a built-in fanbase.

    Bonus thought #2: It'll be funny going forward in the future when fans of Brandon will download Prime because it's free, thinking it's the original version and be like "I really liked Merin's plot, but who is this Kaladin person everyone is talking about? Did I miss something?" Having to correct them and tell them that they have to go read another book with similar character names, but completely different attitudes and in a vastly different world.


    *Pure fantasy on my part, don't take it as a confirmation for anything.
     
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  9. NunbNuts

    NunbNuts Rebel Official

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    I'm reading two very different books but I'm pretending they take place in the same universe albeit tens of thousands of years apart

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Embo and His Pet Anooba

    Embo and His Pet Anooba Rebel Official

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    Thrawn is probably Zahns best character. You have probably read the thrawn trilogy, so I would recommend the NJO and Legacy of the Force books. The NJO series is 21 books long, and some people don’t like it because of the large amounts of main character deaths by the Yuuzhan Vong. The 7 Legacy of the Force books come after NJO and give the Sith better motivations instead of power. In fact, at the end, the Sith basically achieve their goal at the end of the series. Also, as a fellow noob writer, I have noticed how much Zahn reuses expressions, as I struggle to find 10 synonyms of varying flavor and expression for the word said. For exposition scenes, I try not to but usually do the same, so i can’t speak.
    About the characters not acting like their movie versions, Luke is one of the worst parts of the EU in my opinion. He has no flaws, and as is the most powerful character in all of Star Wars probably. In TLJ, Luke had flaws, and he was human. But in the EU, he is a literal god, with no worries except for some small arcs with developing his order in the first EU books, and then with his son Ben in the Legacy of the Force books.

    I am racist towards bothans.
     
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  11. Addi Ras

    Addi Ras Jedi General
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    Currently reading The Robert the Bruce trilogy ( Insurrection, Renegade, Kingdom) by Robyn Young.
    I’m nearly finished book 2 & so far I’m really enjoying it as this cover his whole life I’ve just got to the point where Outlaw King starts with the surrender of Stirling Caste.
     
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  12. Anubis78

    Anubis78 Cantina's Mad-Hatter
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    I am currently reading the cantinas what are you reading right now thread...
    Golgotha Book 2
     
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  13. Angelman

    Angelman Servant to the Whills & Slave to the Muses
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    I'm not too interested in the EU as such (read: there are FAR too many books on my readiing lists), so at present I have no plans to reading any other EU books. (I'm only reading the Hand of Thrawn books as research for a pen-&-paper RPG campaign)

    But I agree that Thrawn is probably Zahn's best character, and thus far the only one that really interests me. Well, Thrawn and his fellow Imps (Pellaeon for instance is decent, especially in HoT). That said, I really like the Noghri as a concept, and... for some reason... the Caamasi (probably, in both instances, because of their tragic backstory).

    I also agree about Luke. He is explicitly not in God Mode in HoT, because he's holding back... but for some reason the supposed internal conflict of the character doesn't come true at all. He just comes off as boring, and a vehicle to make Mara Jade look cool.
     
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  14. NunbNuts

    NunbNuts Rebel Official

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    I love Thrawn, he's one of my favorite Star Wars characters whether it be EU or Film. Having said that I sometimes find his intellect to be a bit overpowered to the point of being silly. He goes beyond Sherlock Holmes in being able to deduce way too much from way too little. Just by studying the art of your homeworld he can predict everything you will do in an encounter. He could apparently learn all there is to know about me. to the point he can predict my actions, just from looking at "Dogs Playing Poker" for 10 minutes. I have only read the first of the new Thrawn books though, I've been meaning to get to the others but haven't yet. I can't remember if he's as unbelievably intelligent in "Thrawn" but either way he's still a fun character.
     
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  15. Meister Yoda

    Meister Yoda Your Little Green Friend

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    The Horse and His Boy and soon Prince Caspian
     
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  16. Stormagadon

    Stormagadon Cantina Court Jester
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    Ah, that's one of my favorites!
     
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  17. Meister Yoda

    Meister Yoda Your Little Green Friend

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    I read them to the kids kid, they like it so far. Not sure how they will like the last battle, but still some books left before we arrive there
     
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  18. Rogues1138

    Rogues1138 Jedi General

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    We had a dry spell of Thrawn books, now it seems we have too much Thrawn... the mystery has vanquished... Star Wars characters the more mysterious the better... we're now getting Mando books soon... anywho, still reading alphabet squadron about to read book 2 of the series. I like Freed's writing style. He makes the common soldier great. In the comic books, Captain Aphra isn't as good as she used to be... they thought an Asian female writer would do her justice but... not so much. Can't wait for: from a certain point of view book 2 celebrating the 40th anniversary of Empire... I really love the Star Wars anthologies, tales of, etc., gotta pick up the last 2 Thrawn books nevertheless, stay safe during this pandemic... keep dreaming space cowboy...
    --- Double Post Merged, Jul 30, 2020, Original Post Date: Jul 30, 2020 ---
    Eh, as a self-publisher of independent comic books, I've read many a time, once you master the rules you know how to break them... keep dreaming space cowboy
     
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  19. Stormagadon

    Stormagadon Cantina Court Jester
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    That is spooky, but incredibly deep. The Last Battle is probably the one I've read the least amount of times. Probably due for a reread...
     
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  20. Rogues1138

    Rogues1138 Jedi General

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    [​IMG]

    just got this... Bisley should pitch a tale in the Mos Eisley's Cantina. Would love his take on the Cantina denizens.
     
    #540 Rogues1138, Jul 30, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
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