FF: Dragons and Tricksters

Gangly Roary: Almost Seven Months Old

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

A reminder that I’m always happy to hear what you are reading!

Recently Completed:

Death of a Dude by Rex Stout.  Audiobook.  A Nero Wolfe.  This one takes Archie, and later Nero, to Montana, outside of their usual comfort zone.

Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham.  Thirteen book in her Albert Campion series.  Often regarded as the best in the series.  I’m not sure I feel that way, but it’s very good.

In Progress:

Tether’s End by Margery Allingham.  Fifteen book in her Albert Campion series.  As is often the case as the series went on, Campion is a background character.  Some similarities to Tiger in the Smoke, with a trickster figure as adversary.

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan.  Audiobook.  First in her “Memoirs of Lady Trent.”  Extremely mannered, detached narrative style may not be for everyone.  Despite a singular lack of romance and being set in a nicely developed imaginary world, has something of the feel of the better Regency Romance. 

Also:

Weber sent me his notes on SK4, so I spent a fair amount of reading time on that!

11 Responses to “FF: Dragons and Tricksters”

  1. Beverly Martin Says:

    This week I finished The Talented Mr. Varg (Detective Varg #2) by Alexander McCall Smith. This very cozy mystery is set in Sweden. Like other McCall Smith books, this book is gentle (like Mr.. Rogers telling you a story) I can almost feel my blood pressure dropping when reading his books. Yet, it is not boring. There are questions to answer and conflicts to resolve.

    Now, I am reading Ye Gods! by Tom Holt. I think it is even funnier than Expecting Someone Taller.

    When I read The History of Dragons, I did have a problem with the style just as you said. I found it stiff and formal, like a Sherlock Holmes book.

    • janelindskold Says:

      Interesting about The Talented Mr. Varg. I have a mixed reaction to Alexander McCall Smith. I seriously disliked the first of the #1 Lady’s Detective Agency books, but loved the rest that I read (I think I stopped around the time the assistant was getting married; I need to look for more). I tried the one about the Philosopher’s Club??? but found the main female character’s relationships with men uncomfortable, so I ditched after several book. Given that, do you think I’d like Varg?? Low blood pressure sounds delightful.

      • janelindskold Says:

        And I need to find that Tom Holt. Thank you!!

      • Beverly Martin Says:

        Yes, I would recommend the Detective Varg books. The characters seem like real people and I didn’t detect any attitudes toward others that made me feel uncomfortable. My main problem was getting myself to relax and enjoy rather than expecting whiz bang fireworks and car chases in every sentence! And, yes you would get a hoot out of Ye Gods!

      • janelindskold Says:

        Thanks!

  2. King Ben's Grandma Says:

    I’m glad my TBR is a list and not actual books or they would’ve toppled over and buried me long ago.
    Things are improving though. Ben now goes to school two days a week and I actually slept for eight hours Wednesday night. It was interrupted, but I’ll take it. Much better than the three hours I got between 1:30am and 4:30am this morning.

  3. James Mendur Says:

    Still reading Sherlock Holmes stories.

    You mentioned last time that you avoid TV and movie adaptations of books you loved. Do you also avoid book re-workings? I tried reading a book last year called “A Study in Honor” by Beth Bernobich, which was a queer female POC Holmes and Watson in a near-future dystopic Washington D.C. but it was too many changes for me. A few years ago, I read Neil Gaiman’s “A Study in Emerald” which is alternate-historical, weird-horror-fantasy short story which only works because of its form.

    • janelindskold Says:

      I usually do avoid reworkings, although I’ve read some. Let’s take the book you mentioned. If you’re going to make that many changes, why make it Holmes and Watson? There’s one cynical answer… It’s a sales/promotion thing, because there will be people who buy it because they’re hooked on that flavor. Homage has a long tradition, and I respect that (Roger’s A Night in the Lonesome October is one; and I love that book) but overall I’d rather read writers carving out their own space than riffing off someone else’s.

  4. Louis Robinson Says:

    Finished Building Anglo-Saxon England and The Silk Roads, finally. ASE was a much longer slog than I had expected – it’s a huge book, literally: large format, 420pp of text plus bibliography etc, and most of those pages are filled with words. And you really, really need to pay attention to the footnotes! The illustrations are brilliantly chosen to make the points raised in the text [although some familiarity with archeological diagramming is needed for many of them], but it’s still a lot of text. Well worth the attention needed, and I learned a lot. Especially about how little is really known about England between 600 & 1100, and how much of that comes from sources that aren’t nearly as general or comprehensive as the sources themselves like to pretend.

    The Silk Roads is a bit of an odd duck. It’s also big – actually a bit longer than BASE – but almost a coffee-table book in layout. Lots of beautiful pictures, not a huge amount of text. The book is a collection of topical essays, organised around the varied terrains across which the trade networks operated: steppes, mountains, deserts, river valleys and flood plains, and the sea. Each of them covers one aspect of people, place, product and/or time, but other than the introduction there’s nothing drawing everything together into a complete narrative. The pieces all in there, but if you want a big picture you’re going to have to stitch it together for yourself. None of which is to say that it wasn’t a worthwhile read: it is, very much so. But oddly unsatisfactory: the last essay is a discussion of spice production and distribution, at which point the book… stops. No summing up, no review, nothing but the start of the end matter.

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