What I’ve Been Reading April 2021 Edition
Most recently, it's been fantasies of the grimdark variety and popsci for me. Each book is quite excellent, surprisingly so in fact.
I typically have a love-hate relationship with Abercrombie's books––I either really enjoy them or can barely finish them. I was surprised how much I relished The Trouble with Peace, especially after reading A Little Hatred, the first in this particular series and a novel that I like very little. Interestingly, despite having the same cast of scoundrels as the previous novel and the plot mostly focused on ongoing political maneuvering by the multitude of unsavory characters, I enjoyed the hell out of this book. It's right up there with Red Country for one of my favorite Abercrombie books of all time. Fans of his work will devour this novel; it's a bloody good time.
Now, this is a genuinely dark novel––far grimmer than The Trouble with Peace. I had a hard time getting into it because the main character and narrator, this is a first-person novel, is such a despicable bastard. The plot jumps around from more or less the present to four years prior. During that earlier period, the reader is given some insight into why the prince it's such a malevolent SOB. At that point, this book starts to get really interesting. For one thing, I'm not entirely convinced the narrator is 100% reliable. Anyway, if you either enjoy or can stomach reading the first several chapters of this book, you're in for one hell of a good read. Aspiring writers would serve themselves well by reading this book. Lawrence provides a master course on creating an entirely unlikeable protagonist who is always fascinating and, at times, even evokes sympathetic and empathetic responses from the reader.
I typically enjoy popular science books by Tyson. This one is no exception to that rule. It is, however, terrific even by the standards of the Hayden planetarium director. Presumably, the content is derived from his podcast and meant to as a deeper dive into some of the questions posed to him on the program. Well, it reads almost like a podcast. And that's a good thing, in this case. The queries are interesting, and the answers are riveting and easily digestible by the layperson. Highly recommended.