So, I started reading the Vlad Taltos series a few days ago. The first book, Jhereg, was great. A sort of swords and sorcery noir. I liked it a lot. Combining genres always turns me on. If you’re not familiar with the series, Vlad is an assassin cum crimelord (albeit with a heart of gold) in a fantasy universe called Dragaera. It has real overtones of Dashiell Hammett or maybe Mickey Spillane, while being some good fantasy adventure. In any case, the first one was great. It drew me in, I fell in love with the characters, the plotting was smooth, everything I need to be happy with a story. The second book was at least equal to the first in terms of my enjoyment factor. However, then comes book three. The hard nosed, tough guy assassin, is having problems with his love life. He’s suffering a mid life crisis. He doesn’t kill anybody until the last ten pages, and the whole damn book is mostly about his wife. Blech… At this point, I’m completely turned off on the whole series. I might try to read the fourth one, but I don’t know. It’ll be awhile before I can get my courage up again. So, what’s the lesson here authors? Don’t change the formula in the middle of a series. Sure character development and all of that, but come on! Don’t turn an adventure series into a romance. You just lost most of the readership that you’ve carefully built up over the last 2 or 3 books. What a waste…
I got an email newsletter from Tor books today. They had a pretty neat program a while back where if you signed up for their newsletter, then they would send you a free e-book (generally a new release) every week. they stopped doing that, but it seems that if you sign up on their website Tor.com then you can get the free ebooks. It doesn’t seem as cool as what Baen has done with their free library, but it sure is great for anyone who’s into ebooks. Give me a free sample and I’m much more likely to actually spend my hard earned money with you.
OK, maybe not completely different, but I really have been ignoring the entire sub-genre of Fantasy. I tend to take a very phase oriented approach to what I read. I get on a hard science fiction kick and stay with it until something moves me in another direction. In any case, one of the reasons that I haven’t posted much lately is that I’ve fallen in love. You heard me, in love, with some guys named Croaker, One-Eye, and Goblin, and a couple of ladies named Lady and Booboo. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you haven’t read any of Glen Cook’s “>. I guess you can’t really call the Black Company series a classic, but it’s been around for a while, and in my opinion, it is a rocking good read. Swords, sorcery, adventure, intrigue, suspense, humor, basically everything you could ever ask for all wrapped up in 9 books. Yeah, you heard me, 9 books. So, it’s one hell of a long series, it’s worth it.
Basically the Black Company is the story of Croaker, the Annalist or historian, of a group of mercenaries. The Black Companies origins are lost in the mists of time, but they do have their own legends, and over something like 30 years of fighting, Croaker finds out the truth. Along the way, the Company is decimated, built back up, decimated again, and finally marches off the field triumphantly.
The sheer scope of the series is pretty amazing. Croaker is the only member of the Black Company to be in all 9 books, although there are some supporting characters who are as well. Cook deals with the passage of time by developing the Company as an entity of its own. It’s members may change, but they always fall into the mythos of the Company, and the Company itself survives. The office of Annalist is very important to this mythos, as he (or she) is charged with remembering the history of the company, and spreading the Company gospel among the troops. The Company exists as a sort of wandering clan, whose members may be outcasts, but they belong to the Company, and the Company takes care of its own. This aspect of the Company is reminiscent of a religious brotherhood, and as the series progresses, the brotherhood aspect becomes more and more obvious.
I” need some rest after digging straight through all 9 of these books. But this series is going on my bookshelf as an honored favorite. Glen Cook is a highly effective writer who can really move his audience. These characters have found an honored place in my heart.
I love the Amazon Kindle. Of course, I don’t actually have one. However, I have recently published a couple of Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter stories on the Amazon Kindle store. Sometime in the next few days, you will be able to purchase “A Princess of Mars” and “Gods of Mars” for your Kindle. Of course, you can get them for free from my download page. Hopefully, publishing these books to the Kindle will allow more readers to enjoy some of ERB’s greatest work. As soon as they are “live” I will post a link to them.
More to come…