Books – September 2009

Ahh, September. Great month September is. The summer is closing down, but it’s still warm. Evenings start to get shorter and the start of the football season make it just wonderful. Plus? Great books!

Dust of Dreams – Steven Erikson So I had to import book nine from the UK because it’s not due out in the US until 2010, and I just couldn’t wait that long. The continuing story in the ten book series of The Malazan Book of the Fallen, we continue to watch and see how more things get completely shaken up and stirred up in this series. It’s hard to write generally about a series where most anyone who reads this will probably never get to, but as I’ve mentioned before about this “fantasy world”, it’s been an amazing journey along the way. With other long series I’ve read they loose steam mid-way through (see The Wheel of Time), but each of these books keeps pushing your understanding of the world it’s characters inhabit, and doesn’t pull punches or let people off easy. The history is rich, fulfilling and never complete, and always has different interpretations based on who’s viewing it. Highly reccomended series, you just have to get over the difficult first novel (Gardens of the Moon, which was written 10 years before he got the contract to do the final nine, and while good, he grew a lot as a writer by the time the second book came around), and you’ll be rewarded richly.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World – Jack Weatherford – Driven to find out more from just a wonderment about the man, as well as some of the references to him in the book I read on the Crusades, I got a recommendation to this book and was very pleased. The amazing history of the Mongol empire, which was the largest in human history, and how a tribe of nomadic horse people managed to do it! Such things as novel military tactics, adopting the best and brightest of any nation the conquered, setting up systems of management and couriers to allow them to rule their vast empire, religious tolerance and freedom, and the free exchange of ideas. Truly an amazing amount of achievement was accomplished with their rule, and while the author does seem to overstate all of the influences of the Khans, it really does show how far behind Europe was until their own age of enlightenment and the re-discovery of so much knowledge that had been lost or deemed heretical. Easy to read, and not dry, I high recommendation for anyone with even a passing interest in the man behind the legends and myths and the amazing truths as well.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter – Amy Tan – The second of my two book dare by a friend of mine, a book that was supposed to make me cry at the end, like so many of these style novels seem to do to friends of mine. Actually I was impressed by the book. Like so many high school students, I had to read The Joy Club for English class, and like probably most students, I didn’t enjoy it much. I was plenty worried when I stated the book and found the narrating author character to be annoying and uninteresting, but as soon as she got to translating the diary of her mother and grandmother’s life growing up in China, the story became fascinating, so much so that when the book returned to the modern day I didn’t mind so much anymore as it pulled everything together and closed itself off well. I’m sure I missed some of the mother/daughter symbolism that was in there, but even missing that I found the story to be well worth reading and quite enjoyable. I remain a skeptic no more, and it doesn’t mean I have to hand in my “man” card either. Oh yes, no tears either. Sorry.

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