Friday, March 5, 2010

On the Short Shelf I

I don't know if you are the same, but buying books gives me a little bit of an endorphin shot -- it just feels good. While invariably this means I have more books unread, it does mean that I never lack for reading material.

I picked up some books today, and ordered a few from Amazon. So what's on the "short shelf" for reading in the near future?

A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeil.  Another installment in the Horus Heresy series, I've been looking forward to this book (as well as the Abnett penned Prospero Burns companion novel, not yet released) since it was announced, and it promises to be a thrilling installment in the history of the Warhammer 40K universe. Detailing the razing of Prospero (homeworld of the Thousand Sons Space Marine Legion) by the Space Wolves Legion, it was pivotal as it was a landmark turning point, and a tragic betrayal as well. The book is quite thick, coming in at 558pgs. This will be likely to be read in the very near future.

Devil's Brood by Sharon Kay Penman. I tried reading Penman's books in the past (primarily When Christ and his Saints Slept about the reign of King Stephen, and his struggles against the daughter of King Henry I, the Empress Mathilda), but could never really get into them. This book, however, is set in one of my favorite periods of history, and about one of my favorite dysfunctional medieval families, that of King Henry II of England. Set during the Great Revolt of 1173, it promises to detail the betrayal of Henry not just by his sons (primarily Henry "The Young King" and Richard), but also by his formidable -- and much celebrated -- wife Eleanor of Aquitaine.

The Magician by Lev Grossman. I had first heard of this book when a friend of mine discussed how much he was enjoying it. I filed it in the back of my mind to look for it later, but a recent conversation on one of my favorite forums about Jewish fantasy writers brought it to the fore. Described as being a more realistic depiction of the "Harry Potter" idea, what if magic were real and people from our society were trained in its use? And what would you do if you had magic powers?

Sledgehammers: Strengths and Flaws of Tiger Tank Battalions in World War II by Christopher  Wilbeck. The Tiger tank was a much feared piece of equipment in the German army of WWII, but how effective was it really? Depsite the thick armor, good gun, and (for it's size) adequate mobility, it had a number of technical issues it never really resolved. It was underpowered for it's weight, and had frequent breakdowns. However, even with half it's strength reduced by mechanical issues, a Tiger battalion was a force to be reckoned with. Sledgehammers looks at this from a balanced view, to assess the value of the tank on the battlefield. This book is rather short as well, only 219 including pictures.

X-men, Vol. 8 by Marvel Comics. I've been reading these collections for several years. Consisting of black & white reprints of the original X-men comics series, it offers a cheap and accessable way for newcomers to read the series, or even older collectors that might not want to delve into their collection. X-men has always been a pretty solid storyline for the era, and with this volume we're starting to catch up to a more modern era. I admit I bought it to fill out my Amazon order, but it's certainly not unwelcome...


Ken Newquist said...

I love buying books too. I know I could likely get some of these from the library, but there's something to be said for buying the book, reading it, and then occasionally catching glimpses of it on your shelf, kicking off all the memories associated with the book.

Of course, the library is considerably cheaper. :)

That said, I also bought some new books this weekend. On my short shelf:

* The Cole Protocol - A Halo universe novel that revolves around the Cole Protocol, in which Earth's navy is tasked with hunting down and destroying all navigation data that could lead to Earth. That mission brings them to The Rubble, a renegade human colony that's some how established a truce with a faction of Covenant aliens.

* The Skies of Pern - One of the last novels in the Dragonriders of Pern series; this one takes place after the Dragonriderrs have unearthed the ancient starship that brought them to the planet in the first place, and have taken steps to deal with the Red Star threat once and for all.

* Century Rain - A hard SF novel by Alistair Reynolds involving an alternate earth whose environment has all but been destroyed by a runaway plague. A worm hole is discovered to the 20th century, before the plague was unleashed, but that wormhole could lead to the destruction of both time periods. Interesting premise and Reynolds has been consistently good.

Damon said...

I have The Cole Protocol as well, though I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. The Halo books are pretty decent, and Nylund is a decent genre writer. I've read most of the books up to this point.


Ken Newquist said...

The Cole Protocol's actually by Tobias Buckell; I follow him on Twitter, and decided to check out his stuff as a way of supporting the authors during the Amazon/Tor ebook pricing war last month.