Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Ruby Knight by David Eddings

The Ruby Knight (The Elenium, #2)The Ruby Knight by David Eddings
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If there was ever a series where multiple books really seemed like one story, this is it. The action, feel, style, characters, and conflict all feel like The Diamond Throne never ended.

I like the buildup to the big reveal in the last chapter (avoiding a spoiler here.) I knew it was coming, having read this series before, but it still struck me. It was one of the main things I remember about the series from my first reading, and it seemed masterful then. It still is.

One issue I had was the ease with which these apparently noble representatives of a religion mingle with criminals. I understand the need they had to work together, but on an interpersonal level I felt it went way to smoothly. No insults? No reservations regarding their own safety? And on the theives side, no anger at being potentially seen as servants when they obviously shunned normal roles in society?

Aside from that, I still enjoyed this book. Again, it is a straight forward story of knights on a quest that chop things up with their swords as needed, and trust magic to do the rest. Simple plots like this are hard to come by in our contemporary fantasy fiction, and I appreciate this book for what it is.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Diamond Throne by David Eddings

The Diamond Throne (The Elenium, #1)The Diamond Throne by David Eddings
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book years ago, but it made it back on my to-be-read list. I have really enjoyed the classic knight-on-a-quest format that you don't see any more. True, the early fantasy community kind of wore out the archetypal journey plot, but for me it is like coming home. Having a magic system that is both an overarching basis for the plot, and at the same time fairly limited is a nice twist.

I like the characters and the plot line. The downside is the pace. It takes so long for the characters to get from one place to another, that is gets old. My final evaluation would be on the writing. I enjoyed the Belgariad from Eddings, but haven't read his other stuff. This book feels like an early outing for him. Characters who are traveling slowly all day for some reason start a strategic conversation the reader can eavesdrop on at night when they stop. It feels unnatural. Can't the plot evolve as the move around? Do they ride around in silence? It is a small things, but bugs me regularly.

I am enjoying this series, and look forward to finishing it out. I had forgotten the fairly adult themes at times (incest, prostitution, human sacrifice), but the language is fairly reserved compared to more recent books with similar features, so I actually find it a lot easier to move past those items and focus on the story. It isn't a kids books, but I wouldn't worry too much about today's teens picking it up.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Cutting for StoneCutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I found very little to like, and lot that I could barely tolerate, in this book. I finished it as a book club read with a huge sigh of relief. Then I read the reviews on it on Goodreads, and I have lost hope for the literary community. What are all of these people thinking? The writing was distracted and disjointed, the medical descriptions were gory and extraneous. There was a huge theme of overblown sexuality that taught nothing of value. Since I have to give it at least one star, the star I will give it is for the brief looks into Ethiopian life and culture, although I don't know how much of that content is fiction vs. reality.

This book was awful, and I now trust the entire Goodreads community less. Or at least, I think that we are all out there reading "our" types of books and giving them high ratings, which means that if I step outside of the genres I normally read I am unlikely to be steered well by trusting ratings. I think that is sad, because that would be a key benefit of such a rating system.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Legacy Journey: A Radical View of Biblical Wealth and Generosity by Dave Ramsey

The Legacy Journey: A Radical View of Biblical Wealth and GenerosityThe Legacy Journey: A Radical View of Biblical Wealth and Generosity by Dave Ramsey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is hard for me to describe The Legacy Journey. It was an educational book, but took a leisurely pace. It was a spiritual book, and had me looking up bible verses multiple times. It also felt like an instruction manual, with some specific ideas on what to do in certain situations.

This is not meant to be a replacement for the Total Money Makeover or Financial Peace, but rather it felt like an appendix that needed to be written. Everything after baby step 4 in Dave's standard plan gets a little fuzzy for many of us, and while this book does not provide the specific tasks to go from point A to point B, it does answer many of the questions from people who are at step 4 or beyond and not sure how money fits in their lives from then on.

I can't say this is a must read for everyone, but if you have read either of Ramsey's flagship books (TMM or FP) and have applied those lessons to help you win with money, then this book is worth your time. While your mileage may vary, it left me with a desire to learn how to give, something I'm not only bad at, but something I haven't even spent much time contemplating.