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What I’ve Been Reading February 2021 Edition II




Howdy,


Lately, I've been reading some entertaining steampunk and a historical novel with a wide cast of despicable characters. I've delved into both these genres before, but I found this crop of reads unique.


Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

This novel follows Thomas Cromwell's rise from his inauspicious beginning as the abused son of a blacksmith to a trusted confidant of Henry VIII. Cromwell is unlikable for much of the book. It wasn't until near the end that I started to warm up to him. For the most part, he's a power-hungry politician, willing to use any means necessary to gain more power, whether it be his charm, his astute mind, or thuggery. Many of the other characters are just as despicable for the most part. Still, this was a fascinating read. It boggles the mind that a monarchy could persist while the king, at least as presented in this novel, has all the maturity of a teenage boy (he's in his 40s for at least half the book, I think). Of course, the king is surrounded by wily advisers such as Cromwell. Still, it beggars belief since even the most loyal advisor could quite literally be beheaded for irritating the king.


I will read the other books in the trilogy.


Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

You can read my extended book review of Boneshaker here.


Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

The follow-up to Boneshaker here's another enjoyable read in the Clockwork Century series. Once again, Cherie Priest gives us a strong female protagonist caught up in the middle of a countrywide conflict, which is the American Civil War. It's a fictionalized version of the war, which gives the book an alternate history feel. The steampunk aspects of the book appear mostly in the background. There are walkers––think steam-powered mechs––but these are never central to the plot. This is unlike some other steampunk adventures such as Leviathan where airships, mechs, etc., are front and center. Instead, in Dreadnought, the steampunk aspects remind the reader that we are experiencing a story in an alternate reality, slightly askew from our own. I think this is very effective and makes for a unique fantasy read. For writers, I believe Cherie Priest's take on worldbuilding is worth studying. In my opinion, it's a little different from most authors' interpretations of it.

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