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An Autumn War (Review)

April 5, 2011 Leave a comment

I just finished book three of the Long Price Quartet by David Abraham. I’m fairly late to the party on this series, but it also isn’t as well known as it should be. Book three, like the first two, is excellently written. In this novel two cultures go to war. As in real life conflicts, neither side is pure. There are the characters we’ve followed for two novels, so we’ve grown attached to them. But the general of the army building against them has a very different perspective on the culture and way of life than we’ve been given over the first two books.

Abraham does a great job of capturing human frailty and weakness. How even when we try to be our best, we often do it for the wrong reasons. The cultures of his world are both rich and feel real. This is in part because they are drawn from real life analogs. The Khaiem are Asian in nature, and the Galts are European. But he doesn’t stop there, he invents rich histories that he layers into the tale to flesh out his world.

It’s almost a fictionalized version of of Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations theory, which is, in short, that cultures, not nations, will war in our modern era. Huntington theorizes that as a single, dominant hegemon loses power, there is a period where cultures vie for dominance.  This fits with the world of The Long Price, as the power of an ancient empire fades, other cultures rise to fight against its previous dominance.

Diffidence also figures into this in abundance. In Thomas Hobbes-speak, diffidence is the idea that we as people, or nations, can never truly know the motivations of our neighbors. Because of this, we tend to expect the worst of people.

The characters of An Autumn War all expect the worst of the other side. Each side fears the other will attempt to wipe them out, these fears, of course, become self-fulfilling. It is all very marvelous and well-written.

Unfortunately, Abraham and the series’ original publisher have, seemingly, split, so the four books are not all available in paperback. The first three are, but the fourth is hardback only. However, Abraham has a new publisher who has published the four novels in two ‘omnibus’ editions. As a person who reads primarily on the kindle, I am torn between supporting his new publisher and buying the, cheaper, omnibus edition and buying the, too expensive, kindle edition from the original publisher.

I also wonder if a forth book in the series is needed. I feel fairly sated. Terrible things happen by the end, but not things the world can’t recover from. I will likely pick up the fourth simply because I’ve enjoyed the first three so much- not out of a burning desire to ‘find out what happens’.

Categories: Review

Trail of the Spanish Bit

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I got this book as a Christmas gift from my father-in-law; it’s one of his favorite series, and he wanted to share it with me. (Every book I review for the next couple of months is one I got for Christmas).
It isn’t high minded stuff; it’s the novel version of a spaghetti western. With that it mind, I liked it for what it was. It was fast paced, and Coldsmith did a good job of painting in broad strokes what life might have been like in the early 17th century for Native Americans. The book’s protagonist is a Spaniard who is separated from his group, and falls in with a peaceful tribe. He introduces them to the horse and slowly works his way into their society.
My main problem with the novel was that Coldsmith used a few words or phrases that struck me as anachronistic. One Indian has a ‘trademark grin’. He does such a good job with his language otherwise, that the times he used odd modern phrases were particularly jarring.
It’s a fast read, and part of a fairly long series. If one is interested in turn of the (17th) century American West, this book serves that need well.

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Cell: A Novel: Thoughts

October 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Cell: A Novel by Stephen King is a few things: a zombie novel, a post-apocalyptic adventure novel, and a bloodbath.

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City Under the Sand: A Dark Sun Novel: My Thoughts

October 22, 2010 Leave a comment

This isn’t going to be a review in the traditional sense. I’m using this as a place to reflect on the things I liked and didn’t like about the novel, not as a method of recommendation production.

Background: I loves me some Dark Sun.  It was the first game world I really DM’d, and I played it for years in college.  I am utterly biased in my affection for the setting of this novel, and knew that going in.  I hoped Jeff Mariotte wouldn’t disappoint me and write a novel that didn’t ‘feel’ like Dark Sun.

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