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What I've Been Reading, December 2020 Edition

Tundra Swans in flight, Dan 2020
Tundra Swans in flight, Dan 2020


Today I'm reporting my latest read in a fantastic historical action-adventure series and a couple of spec fic titles.

Cornwell's Saxon Tales continues to be one of the most enjoyable series I've ever read in any genre. In the eighth installment, Uhtred is older, wiser, and the life of a lord of war is catching up to him. Injuries old and new plague him throughout the novel. He is forced to lead from the back instead of in the shield wall's front and center. Luckily, his injuries have not dampened his guile. He outfoxes his enemies in the end, and when it really counts, proves that he still is a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield with a sword in hand.

Every book in the series is incredible. I'll be sorry when the series finally ends. The

aspiring author can learn much about how to create an enduring character by reading these books.

Rarely have I liked a book less that I desperately wanted to like as this one. I simply did not identify with the eponymous protagonist. Since the story follows her exploits over 300 years, it's hard to enjoy the book without enjoying her. Having said that, I think most fans of V.E. Schwab will find much to like in this novel. Many of the same (and very similar) themes found in her Darker Shade of Magic series are explored in this book.

This is the second installment of the fabulous Murderbot Diaries. Overall, it's an enjoyable romp, mostly due to the absolutely amazing protagonist, the Murderbot. I don't know that I enjoyed this novella as much as All Systems Red. I think the reason why is that the story has the same easily discernible beats as the predecessor. The story crescendos to a very noticeable forte that is almost if not quite a climax, then decrescendos briefly before rushing to the actual climax. If this pattern continues in the subsequent installments, it might decrease my enjoyment of the stories. Right now, I still eagerly anticipate reading the next installment.

Like I've mentioned before, Martha Welles does a fantastic job with the protagonist. The Murderbot is just alien enough to be fascinating while being human enough to readily identify with. The first two novellas in the series are well worth reading by any aspiring speculative fiction writer.


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