Reading Update 24/01/2021

Happy Sunday bookwyrms. Got a bit of a bumper update this week cos I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading. You might be aware by now that I’ve given myself the rather hefty task of writing a grimdark review for every single day of Wyrd & Wonder (that’s 31 grimdark fantasy books alone I’ve got to read and write reviews for between now and May…) so I’ve been getting a head start on that, but I’ve also got something else in the pipeline, which means I’m also doing my best to read as many 2020 releases as I can in the next few weeks. Plus also getting distracted by other stuff that strikes my fancy in the meantime. So what have I actually been reading?

Recently Finished: BLACKWING by Ed McDonald and THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by T. J. Klune
Blackwing was fantastic. It’s one of the grimdark books I was looking forward to reading most when I put together my little Wyrd & Wonder reading list and it didn’t disappoint. It’s quite a complex story so not gonna get too deep in the weeds here, but the bitesize overview is it follows the mercenary Ryehalt Galharrow, a Blackwing in the employ of the powerful mage Crowfoot, as he investigates the legacy of a long dead sorcerer. But there’s conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost. There’s political machinations, treachery and mystery bound up in this very well-written story. Big fan, can’t wait to review it. After all the grimdark I’d been reading I thought I’d take a little breather with The House In The Cerulean Sea. Very likely you’ve seen others talking about this lovely wholesome story about loveable magical orphans and their babe of a guardian Arthur Parnassus, but if not I reviewed it very recently here. It melted by black heart of stone so if you need something to make you feel good I’d definitely recommend this one, it’s a beautiful book.

Currently Reading: PROSPER’S DEMON by K. J. Parker and FEVRE DREAM by George R. R. Martin
I was ‘currently reading’ Prosper’s Demon when I drafted this post, but have since finished it. It’s a very short, dark fantasy horror novella (shout out to the Tor team and their excellent novella selection by the way) and jeez, the main character in this book is ice fucking cold. It’s set in what feels like an analogue of the 16th to 17th century Holy Roman Empire and the unnamed narrator is a demon exorcist who forces himself into the court of Prosper of Schanz, a genius and man of science determined to raise the world’s first philosopher king, and who the narrator suspects of being possessed. A quick and dark read that left me reeling, to say the least. Also just started Fevre Dream, a book I got very excited about when I discovered George R. R. Martin wrote a 19th century steamboat vampire novel! Heck yes. I’m really not very far in at the mo so not much to report on, but I trust Martin to weave a great tale here.

Next Reads: AN UNNATURAL LIFE by Erin K. Wagner and THE CITY WE BECAME by N. K. Jemesin
Continuing with a blitz read of some more 2020 releases, I’m looking forward to Wagner’s An Unnatural Life, a sci-fi courtroom drama about the appeal of an artificial intelligence known as 812-3 convicted of murdering a human worker on Europa. Back on Earth, artificial life forms have just been given the same legal rights as human and 812-3 claims he is innocent. The evidence is stacked against them though and his lawyer must determine the grounds for appeal and uncover the true facts of the case. Corey J. White touched on the rights of AI in his recent book Repo Virtual and it’s something that I’ve thought a lot about since. I suspect that one day, perhaps in our own lifetimes, true artificial intelligence will no longer be confine to the realms of fiction and what rights they may or may not be granted is something we should start grappling with now. And finally, I’m in a pretty much permanent state of annoyance at myself for having never read a Jemesin book yet so I’m finally gonna see what all the fuss is about with The City We Became. I don’t actually know much about this book other than there’s a sentient New York City involved, but I’m happy going in with no further information; enough people I trust say Jemesin is a fabulous writer, so that’s all I need.

That’s today’s bumper update folks. Let me know in the comments what you’re reading at the mo, I love to chat about the books we’ve all got our noses in. And if you enjoyed this update why not follow the blog for more reviews and bookish chat.

18 thoughts on “Reading Update 24/01/2021

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  1. I’m planning on picking up The City We Became when it comes out in paperback, so I’ll be interested to see what you think of it. I’ve only read one other Jemisin book myself – The Fifth Season – but it was excellent, so I have high hopes for this one too.

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    1. The reason I’ve not read any Jemesin yet is because I wanted to read The Fifth Season first, but I’m reluctant to start any more series at the mo cos I’m in the middle of so many unfinished ones already. I think this is also the start of another series, but at least the other books aren’t out yet so I can’t feel the pressure to read them. I’ll hopefully review it within the next couple of weeks 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh interesting. Maybe I’ll delve into some more of Parker’s books then cos I was actually very hooked by the setting. I loved the way they weaved little nuggets of history into the narrative, really made the world feel alive.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It often reads like historical fiction without using our real world‘s history. Can’t explain that otherwise. Low/no magic, fitting technical elements, serious politics. Yes, it feels wonderfully real.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I really need to read more low magic fantasy or just actual historical fiction. Often (and I say this as a fantasy fan) the magic is actually the least interesting thing to me 🤔

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha there is a possibility it’ll all go tits up yet (I didn’t appreciate the enormity of the task until after I’d committed myself to it) but I’m hoping to pull it off. Will hopefully have the review of The City We Became in the next couple of weeks too 🙂


  2. I’m quite intrigued by your description of Prosper’s Demon, because I know its author for his humor-laced novels “Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City” and “How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It”, so I’m quite curious about this… change of pace 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s the first of Parker’s stuff I’ve read so I have no frame of reference but I thoroughly enjoyed Prosper’s Demon. Always a mark of a talented writer when they can swap between styles and still be just as good.

      I have Sixteen Ways To Defend A Walled City on my kindle so I’m also interested to see if I enjoy their humorous style.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, I think it’s awesome that you’re getting a head start on Wyrd & Wonder–that’s always an event that I have fun with. I really want to check out more KJ Parker–I’ve only read one short novella by him which I loved but I think a lot of his other stuff world work for me as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What is it you’ve read of his already? I have Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City on my kindle, which is apparently more of a humorous book, whereas Prosper’s Demon was quite dark.

      Liked by 1 person

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