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  • 2 weeks later...

I guess I'll ask this here, based on an earlier question.

 

What is the best affordable omnibus of strictly Howard's Conan stories that is currently in print?  I'm not really interested in his other characters, just an omnibus or collection devoted to Conan.

 

Everything is in "chronological" order based on Conan's life, rather than publication date, the original texts with none of de Camp's edits.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/9/2020 at 3:42 PM, Southside Jim said:

I guess I'll ask this here, based on an earlier question.

 

What is the best affordable omnibus of strictly Howard's Conan stories that is currently in print?  I'm not really interested in his other characters, just an omnibus or collection devoted to Conan.

 

Everything is in "chronological" order based on Conan's life, rather than publication date, the original texts with none of de Camp's edits.

I will go out on a limb here and remind people that Conan was not written to be binge-read in any sort of chronological order where fanboys have tried to fill in the blanks and weave the story into such a coherent whole that we know day by day what Conan was doing, much like Sherlock Holmes. Conan was written as a series of stories to appear several times a year in a monthly magazine  with lots of other different stories and is very enjoyable read this way where the reader can piece together a pretty good timeline just by paying attention.

I'm going to bang away on the value of the Wildside Press set of Robert E. Howard in Weird Tales, you get all the Conan in published order and you also get all the other Howard material including Solomon Kane, Kull of Valusia, Bran Mak Morn, and some random horror stories. You really do yourself a disservice by not reading Howard's other material. In fact, I'll put his two novellas dealing with Kane in Africa up there with the best lost race material of H. Rider Haggard, the action of Conan, and the horror vibe of "Pigeons from Hell". Just amazing stuff. Oh, the Wildside set in hardcover runs $30 a book, quite reasonable; and if you like trades (I don't) I think they run $15.95. There are also what they call "megapacks" which near as I can tell are pretty raw un-edited text files of the stories. I guess if you don't mind cleaning them up they are quite the bargain. Sorry, but when I have to clean up a file I'm getting paid for it, and paid damn well because I hate that sort of work.

Edited by OSJ
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  • 2 months later...

Finished the first Chronicle of Thomas Covenant. It's a brilliant series that I wouldn't recommend to anyone without knowing them very well first, which might go some way in explaining why I don't see it talked about much these days, despite massive sales in the 80's. That is, beyond people saying they couldn't make it past that scene. I did, and found it worthwhile. Le Guin called Melville SFF's Melville, so I guess I'll say Donaldson is Nabokov, writing a repulsive protagonist with florid, perfect prose. I've heard mixed things about the second and third Chronicle, but the series feels done to me, and I'll proceed as such. 

Some other recent reads (broadly) within the genre:

A Priory of the Orange Tree: A single-volume "trilogy" by a popular YA offer making her first go at adult fantasy. It's fine. TOR's review called it a long book, short on complexity, and that feels about right. 

1Q84: This isn't fantasy exactly, but it's over 1000 pages and has magic. It also has all of Murakami's worst tendencies to the Nth degree, but I love his best habits enough to enjoy the time spent here. I'm not even sure this book is good, but it's a favorite. 

The Expanse: I'm waiting for the last book now, like plenty of others. I almost ditched the series after book one, but I'm really pleased to have persisted. The strength of the series is in characterization, POV, and clashing motivations/politics. Those get richer as you go. 

The Unspoken Name: A much-hyped debut I didn't care much for, owing to the hyper-convenient plot. I did appreciate the trilogy worth of plot in volume one, but found the resolutions came so swiftly because the protagonists either won or didn't on the whims of the author. I mean, that's always the case; but ideally you hide the ball a little better. 

Book of the New Sun: One of my favorite books, which famously rewards rereading.   

Black Company: This too is incredibly famous, and influential. I appreciate Cook's spare prose and somewhat distant--yet entirely embedded--narration, but it left me a bit cold. Probably won't keep on. 

Name of the Wind/Wise Man's Fear: Rothfuss' (forever?) incomplete trilogy's finished novels, for the second time, a decade past the first reading. Mostly, I was curious, since I didn't adore them the first time. I think the consensus has settled into the right place. Rothfuss is a better prose stylist than anyone else I know of currently working within the genre, and the books are strongest when narrating the myths and lore with pseudo-archaic flourish. The Council of Elrond is probably my favorite chapter in any book, and I feel he could do that sort of thing, maybe. But the actual life story that forms the meat of the books? I could do without it. It's kind of amazing I don't wholly dislike books I dislike 80% of, but that's not exactly an endorsment. 

Currently, I'm giving Malazan another go. 

That could take up a decent bit of my reading the next few months. On the horizon for me are also Harrow the Ninth, Memory of Souls, and Wizard Knight. Abercrombie and Sanderson both have new books forthcoming too, which I could pick up and enjoy well enough if I find myself with a gap; they're a reliable chain restaurant when you've been driving all day, that makes precisely the product they make, precisely how you expect. (But we've had that Sanderson talk plenty of times already.)

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59 minutes ago, Beech27 said:

Name of the Wind/Wise Man's Fear: Rothfuss' (forever?) incomplete trilogy's finished novels, for the second time, a decade past the first reading. Mostly, I was curious, since I didn't adore them the first time. I think the consensus has settled into the right place. Rothfuss is a better prose stylist than anyone else I know of currently working within the genre, and the books are strongest when narrating the myths and lore with pseudo-archaic flourish. The Council of Elrond is probably my favorite chapter in any book, and I feel he could do that sort of thing, maybe. But the actual life story that forms the meat of the books? I could do without it. It's kind of amazing I don't wholly dislike books I dislike 80% of, but that's not exactly an endorsment. 

I didn't hate these books, it's just that I felt like nothing actually ever happened.  It's a lot of pretty writing about a character I don't really like living a life that I don't find all that interesting.  With that said, I'll probably get the third one when it comes out.  

 

1 hour ago, Beech27 said:

Currently, I'm giving Malazan another go. 

This is something I'm going to try to do too...except this time I'm going to go as slow as possible and actually try to remember everyone's names and shit.  I honestly don't understand why I can remember every character from every random house of Westeros, but have such a hard time remembering everyone's name in Malazan and/or Wheel of Time.  

I finished Oathkeeper, which I like a whole hell of a lot.  

I read The Warded Man, which I also like a whole hell of a lot.

Gideon the Ninth was OK to me.  I found myself invested in Gideon, but I couldn't connect at all to Harrowhark.  She had go away heat on my toilet.

I didn't like Prince of Thorns very much either.  If you make the decision to have the main character order a rape on the first page, you're going to have to do a whole hell of a lot to bring me back around.  It never got there, even though I will say that the book was very well written.  It's a book that is very much about a single character, and I hated that character immediately.  

I'm 3 books into the Lightbringer series, and I'm enjoying it.  I feel like I've reached the point where I can recommend the series, but also see where it can fall off a cliff.  

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With Lightbringer, I’ll just say that the series becomes increasingly divisive, and the last book escalates that trend further with a very love it or hate it ending. 

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I am late to the table with Joe Abercrombie, but thanks to some wheeling and dealing, calling in some markers and what have you I managed to put together a complete collection of Abercrombie's work without breaking the bank, The one thing that still mystifies me is the  10th Anniversary  Edition of The First Law Trilogy which is basically targeted to people like me who roll their eyes at the prices being commanded for the first editions, but hey, these are nicely designed, signed by the author and for about $45.00 per book  could be sitting on your bookshelf next week! Well, better than that; I found a set that supposedly doesn't exist,  an unsigned set for around $65! I don't know who screwed up, but I'm plenty grateful that they did, Joe hooks up with a bookseller buddy of mine a couple of times a year and I'll be able to get all of my unsigned Abercrombie taken care of sooner or later.

Also, since she's been mentioned here I may as well add a couple of things to the growing body of stories and anecdotes circulating about the work of Tamsyn Muir; first for those already familiar with the lady's work be advised that my pal, Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press has just bout a novella from her for publication this year! Go to the Subterraneanpress.com site and sign up for the newsletter, he doesn't re-sell your info or spam you relentlessly he'll let you know the progress on something that you've paid for, something he's bought to publish, or something that's ready to ship. He'll also let you know about other publisher's books that he was impressed enough by to stock them for his customers. Anyway, Bill's good people and the fact that Tim Powers and George R.R. Martin consider him their publisher of choice sorta speaks volumes, doesn't it?

Anyway, for those not familiar with Tamsyn Muir, my experience went like this ... I am always ready  to drop thirty bucks  on an author that I'm unfamiliar with on the chance that I may be pleasantly surprised by how good they are... There's just so much material out there that between the stuff that I HAVE to read professionally, the stuff recommended   by friends in the business (who are generally fishing for blurbs), there's still a whole hell of a lot of stuff getting published and I have to sift through it the same way way y'all do: Does the cover copy make it sound interesting? Has the author written something previously that I liked?  Is there something in the ad campaign that makes the book sound different  enough that my time spent chasing down a copy will be rewarded? And so on... In this case a quick check on eBay revealed sevveral  copies under cover price from legit booksellers so I hit "Buy it Now" and thought little more about it. The book arrived and GOD DAMN!!! This is THE SHIT!!! This is the kind of  book that I Instant Message my bro @JT on a Sunday afternoon about, equally important , it's the sort of book that I inform my buddy Stew about, he's a great guy but doesn't do the pro-wrestling thing, so likely misses out on some news. So I call Stew , he's relatively close by in Boulder, CO. "Hey man, I've got this great book I just  started, don't know if it will stand comparison with Bleak Warrior, but it's by Tamsyn Muir-" Stew cuts me off, "I'm reading it right now, it's pretty great, what printing do you have?" "What printing? Why I assume the first, sure this book hasn't multiple printings, no one's ever heard of the author..." (This is where the Pelan arrogance  bites me in the ass, going on the assumption that if I haven't heard of an author, then no one else connected to the genre has either, I readily forget that this whole deal started because I was looking for someone that I hadn't heard of!!!!) "Go get your copy and tell me printing it is, mine's a sixth." With a suddenly sick feeling in my stomach I pick up my copy fro, the night-stand  and look at the number line  which reads 8 9 10 11 12... No, no no! It should read 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 indicative of a first printing, this implies, (well, more than implies, it states pretty firmly  that my copy is an eighth printing. How is this even possible? I pick up the phone and mumble that I have an eighth printing. Stew says cheerfully, "I'm way ahead of you, I have a line on first printings for sixty bucks apiece, I assume you want one?" "Sixty bucks? Can you cover me  for a week or so,  I've got invoices out to a bunch of folks but none are really due for about two weeks. How the hell does this happen." "Same way as events in "the Scottish Play" right person in the right place at the right time. TOR needed someone to push as a major new discovery, before the readers decided things for them like they did with Scalzi a few years  ago.." So there we have it, I was right on the money about the book, Gideon the Ninth, is hiding such a purchase even possible these day[s? Apparently so... Like I said, sign up for an e-mail newsletter,,,              

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Harrow the Ninth is out, and I think it’s better than Gideon (which was my favorite book in... a while). It’s structurally challenging, jumping around in time, tense, and POV; and you need to remember a lot of names, and deal with severely compromised narrators. But it all serves the narrative, and doesn’t feel like literary wankery. It also goes way deeper on the lore, magic system, and weird gonzo mystery plotting. So it manages to be difficult/deep, while superficially fun on a moment to moment level. Really ambitious and impressive follow up to a hit debut.

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On 8/6/2020 at 12:25 PM, Beech27 said:

Harrow the Ninth is out, and I think it’s better than Gideon (which was my favorite book in... a while). It’s structurally challenging, jumping around in time, tense, and POV; and you need to remember a lot of names, and deal with severely compromised narrators. But it all serves the narrative, and doesn’t feel like literary wankery. It also goes way deeper on the lore, magic system, and weird gonzo mystery plotting. So it manages to be difficult/deep, while superficially fun on a moment to moment level. Really ambitious and impressive follow up to a hit debut.

And hopefully they did a much larger first printing so it won't matter that I'm broke until mid-month (unless I can sell lots of books to Kurtie). 

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Can anyone recommend some series that are in their relative infancy? As much as I like idea of chuggjng through a long series, it never quite pans out. I was hoping to get in or nearly in on the ground floor with something worthwhile.

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Some newer, ongoing series that either I like, or people broadly seem to: 

A Chorus of Dragons, by Jenn Lyons

The Burning, by Evan Winter

The Poppy War, by RF Kuang

Burningblade and Silvereye, by Django Wexler

There is also the aforementioned Locked Tomb trilogy by Tamsyn Muir isn't epic fantasy in any classic sense, but it is excellent. 

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13 minutes ago, Liam said:

Can anyone recommend some series that are in their relative infancy? As much as I like idea of chuggjng through a long series, it never quite pans out. I was hoping to get in or nearly in on the ground floor with something worthwhile.

Sure! How about some Joe Abercrombie? His new trilogy, The Age of Madness began last year with A Little Hatred. Now Abercrombie has written a bunch of other stuff in this world but it is not necessary to have read anything else in order to enjoy this trilogy, though I understand that some  of the characters appear in earlier books. For my part I figured that his story collection, Sharp Ends would give me enough background to feel comfortable with his world building, but being the obsessive sort that I am I went ahead and purchased everything set in The First Law Universe. If you're not hip to Abercrombie, he's remarkably good, over-the-top violence with rather endearing characters; (even the ones who are right bastards are endearing right bastards and you can assemble a complete collection of his work without breaking the bank (unless you insist on first editions), his go-to-hell books* have been reprinted and are quite affordable (* so named because if you don't like the prices, you can go to hell because you ain't going to find cheap copies!). The expensive trilogy was reprinted as a signed, limited set which certainly didn't do bargain hunters any favors, but apparently there was an unsigned and un-pushed version that can be had for around sixty bucks if one does some looking around on abebooks and amazon. A nicely-made matched set for twenty bucks a book is just fine by me and helps with the amortization of the rest of the World of the First Law, most of which are in the $30.00 range (again, as long as you aren't chasing first editions; Abercrombie's firsts are published in the UK and postage alone is going to make the prices bonkers for US customers. DOH! I just realized you are in the UK IIRC... So take back what I said about pricing on the first editions,  check with either of my two favorite UK sellers Cold Tonnage Books (Andy Richards) or Fantastic Literature (Simon Gosden). Both have been friends for more years than would be kind to any of us to enumerate and are credits to both their trade and their species. Tell 'em I sent ya! Oh, and they likely have copies of this really cool collection entitled Darkness, My Old Friend which has been reviewed in this very forum by our own J.T.!  

Use the ISFDB site for all your info needs on series past, present, & future. That's short-hand for Internet Speculative Fiction Database and a more useful tool simply does not exist. For example, if you ARE chasing first editions and aren't sure which was first, the British or American, the ISFDB will tell you the official day of release!!!  

Cheers,

John

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