What I've Been Reading, September 2020 Edition
So far this month, it feels like I've read a little bit of everything. I finished off an excellent fantasy series, followed Saxons fighting Danes, and enjoyed a YA cyberpunk thriller written a few years ago that seems exceptionally timely for 2020, given the social unrest in many parts of the USA.
This is the follow up to Little Brother and has all the previous book's strengths and weaknesses. The story is essentially the same: the system, this time basically the police and military contractors, are out to squash the little guy by any means necessary. The liberal activist protagonist and his motley crew of hacktivists, an ex-government spook, and other activists are generally sympathetic and likable.
At times, I found the ample dose of anti-government sentiment, mostly aimed at the police and Homeland Security, a little heavy-handed. I mean, it is obvious the author has a particular political bent and is preaching it. Having said that, the book is still enjoyable and well worth the read. In fact, I found myself far less put off by the pedantic preaching in this book than the prequel. It's not because the book is any less preachy. Hell no! The protagonist never misses an opportunity to point out injustices and slag the system. It's just that this is 2020, and the shit Doctorow vividly describes in Little Brother and Homeland, namely peaceful protesters being snatched off the streets, is literally happening. This is definitely a case where you don't want life to imitate art.
The Saxon Tales is simply one of the most enjoyable series out there. If you like fantasy or historical fiction or just a good, old-fashion swashbuckling adventure, do yourself a favor and read these books.
This book made for a great ending to a fantastic series. I found the ending satisfying, despite not enjoying this book as much as its predecessors. Why? I think because there were just too many narrative voice characters. The protagonists, Kell and Delilah, are exceptional characters, great ones. So are several of the major secondary characters. While interesting as part of the story's milieu, some of the other players don't cut it as narrative voice characters because I wasn't as invested in their stories to need their roles in the greater tale told in such detail.