Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Rick's Reads for June
As usual, my recent reads have been an eclectic assortment, but all wonderful stuff!
First up: adult fantasy Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie. I loved Abercrombie's The First Law trilogy, set in a richly realized fantasy world with a great cast of characters. I'm usually hesitant to read standalone fantasies like Best Served Cold. I prefer series so I can get to know the characters over a longer time, but I was eager to revisit Abercrombie's world so I picked up Best Served Cold, and I'm glad I did. When mercenary general Monza Murcatto is brutally betrayed by her employer, she decides to take revenge against all odds, regardless of the consequences. Sounds like a simple plot, but nothing is simple about the way the story unfolds. Loyalties change, good and evil become increasingly hard to distinguish, friends become enemies who become friends again. The relationships and turns of fortune are every bit as punishing and convoluted as Game of Thrones, and I mean that as a compliment. Abercrombie makes you care about each character, no matter how flawed they are. It was also great to see old acquaintances from The First Law series pop up here and there in this book. If you're looking for an engaging story with epic adventure, plenty of violence, and characters who are three-dimensional (at least until the author puts them through the meat grinder and they come out flattened!) definitely check out Abercrombie's work.
My nonfiction of the month . . . well, I used to teach American history, and I just moved to Boston, so naturally I had to check out Nathaniel Philbrick's Bunker Hill. An engaging look at the characters who contributed to the earliest events of the American Revolution, Bunker Hill recaptures the 1770s and reminds us that the Revolutionary War was anything but certain, and the outcome of such a war was not at all predestined. So many things could have changed the course of history, and Philbrick 'embeds' us with the colonial militia and British forces for a close-up look at just how chaotic things got. I especially loved learning about the bizarre details of Boston in those times: the Pope Day wars between the North End and South End (imagine a very rowdy game of capture-the-flag), the cows who fought with the British soldiers over the Common, since that was where the herds usually grazed, the way George Washington looked on his Continental troops with disdain and disgust, and had to master his own emotions before mastering his army. If you like history, this is a fast, riveting read!