Don Quixote (Classic) ★★★☆ ½

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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Don Quixote
Series: ——
Author: Miguel de Cervantes
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 1120
Format: Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

Don Quixote has a lot of books on knight errantry. He has read them all and in the process gone quite mad, bonkers, round the bound, off the rails, etc, etc. He is crazy.

He is convinced that he is a Knight, that one of his tenants, Sancho Panza is his squire and that the love of his love is Dulcinea Toboso, a village woman who he has never seen, only heard her name. Quixote thus accoutres himself in knightly style and sets out on adventures.

He has many adventures, misadventures, friends and family try to bring him to his senses and in the end he gives up his knightly ways, admits he was crazy and dies in bed.

For more a more indepth look at what actually happens, ie Chapter by Chapter, please check out my various Don Quixote Update Posts.

 

My Thoughts:

There is so much I want to say about this book. So please forgive any erratic jumping around as I potentially go from random thought to random thought.

I can see why this is a Classic. Cervantes writes amusingly, wittily and tells some good stories. The interactions between Quixote and Sancho ring so true as do their interactions with the various people they meet. And therein lies my first, and biggest issue.

The side stories. This book is divided into Part I and Part II. Part I is chock full of characters that Quixote meets telling their own, long, convoluted and pointless stories. In one or two cases, those side stories end up splitting off into yet a third story. A story within a story within a story. It became frustrating to read. Someone who I can’t remember, told me that those side stories represented various forms of writing back in the 1600’s and that Cervantes included them to show that indeed, he was a master writer. It makes sense. However, as much sense as it may make, it does not make for an enjoyable read. When I am reading a book entitled Don Quixote I expect to read about the titular character. Thankfully, in Part II there are very few sidestories and the adventures of Quixote and Sancho proceed apace.

My other main issue was the continued madness and stupidity of both Quixote and Sancho. In part it is amusing, funny and chuckle worthy. But when it crashes over me the reader chapter after chapter after chapter, it becomes tragic, not comedic.

In short, while I am not a fan of abridged classics, I WOULD recommend that Don Quixote first be read that way to get the meat of the story. Then the reader can read an unabridged version to wallow in all the unnecessaryness of it all.

I was reading the Oxford World Classics edition that used the Jarvis translation and was edited and annotated by a E.C. Riley. Riley’s notes were absolutely useless to me as a casual reader. There were many instances where I would have appreciated some context about the culture that would have explained something but nope, nothing. Then there will be Greek Name Alpha and Riley will spend 3 paragraphs going off about the history of said Greek and how Cervantes saw it ONCE in Village X and that is why Greek Name Alpha was included in the story. It felt like the focus of the notes were supposed to be scholarly but came across as pretentious and pointless. It was a frustrating experience and by Part II I just ignored the annotations.

The thing is, this WAS funny. How can you not laugh when Sancho puts some curds into Quixote’s helmet [which is actually a barber’s basin] and Quixote claps the helmet on his head and thinks his brains are leaking out because of the curds? Most of the humor is of that sly kind, poking fun at Quixote, at Sancho, at the people they meet.

I would recommend this book just to see how people thought and acted 400 years ago. But get a different edition than this one, one that will explain some of the cultural things that mean nothing to us now.

I started this book in November 2016 and finished it in July 2017. That is 8 months. I could have read it a lot faster but my note taking necessitated taking it slow. I don’t in any way feel that my time was wasted or that my updates were negated. It was nice to just slowly punt down the river of this book and enjoy the scenery. Of course by page 700 I was over the scenery and ready to exit the boat.

To wrap up. I enjoyed this even while being frustrated at parts but I don’t know that I’ll ever read it again. 2000 and now 2017 just about seems enough.

★★★☆ ½

 

bookstooge

 

  1. Don Quixote (2000 Review)

♪Finding Constant Posters ♪is Hard to Do♪

Every time I read a book, I tend to go through the WordPress Search bar to see if anyone has reviewed either that book or that author. I usually get a ton of hits and a lot of blogs to go through.

And that’s where things get frustrating.

90% of the time, the poster isn’t posting anymore OR it was a one off and they actually read Romance/YA all the time [I’d rather read non-fiction all the time than those 2 genres]. I am always on the lookout for new people to follow, as “Life” takes its toll and the people I follow take breaks or stop or seriously slow down.  Blogging does a good job of weeding out those who aren’t Committed to the Cause [kind of like the Marines, but different, you know?] But the process of weeding those other people out involves me investing my time and effort into those blogs. And when they stop, it feels like I wasted that time. Not that I think that I’ve actually wasted my time or that the blogger has. But it “feels” that way.

What really gets me is when I find someone who has been posting SFF reviews for books that I love and when I go to their page, they haven’t posted in 2 months. It is like one of those “Missed Connections” on Craigslist. Which by the way, are hilarious to read.

Man, it is a good thing it is Friday or I’d be calling in the Whine Police on myself…

cry-moar

New Frontiers (Expansion Wars #1) ★★★☆ ½

newfrontiers (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: New Frontiers
Series: Expansion Wars #1
Author: Joshua Dalzelle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 274
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Humanity has survived the Phage. Unfortunately, the old Confederation breaks apart due to various members involvement in attracting the Phage. At the same time that humanity is fracturing apart, 2 new alien species suddenly appear. One wants to be a partner with humanity. The other was in thrall to the Phage and worshipped it. So they want to destroy the creatures that killed their god.

Celesta Wright, Jackson Wolfe’s protege, has been sent out to explore and then in a joint military venture with the allied aliens against the genocidal ones. Problem is, it turns out the two alien races are in league and it is a vast trap to destroy humanity’s space fleet capability so that we can be gobbled up at leisure.

Bucking command and taking risks, Wright saves the fleet and on her return finds that Jackson Wolfe has been reinstated in the military, against his wishes. Politicians are playing their games even while humanity is once again facing extinction.

Where’s a good Theocracy when you need it?

 

My Thoughts:

This was a decent successor to the Black Fleet trilogy.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much. There were several instances of people just doing stupid things. It wasn’t just the politicians either. That always brings things down for me.

The space action reminded me a lot of the space battles in Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series. Sometimes I miss the zam zoom space lasers and explosions of Star Wars’esque battles. “Physics” is only SO enjoyable.

Since this is going to be a trilogy and not an unending series, Dalzelle had better get the story in gear and move things right along. This book felt like setup for another set of hostile aliens to fight humanity. Better be good.

★★★☆ ½

bookstooge

  1. Warship (Black Fleet Book 1)
  2. Call to Arms (Black Fleet Book 2)
  3. Counterstrike (Black Fleet Book 3)

Beyond the Shadows (Night Angel #3) ★★★★☆

beyond (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Beyond the Shadows
Series: Night Angel #3
Author: Brent Weeks
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 699
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The kingdom is safe now that the Godking is dead. Ha. The godking’s various sons are duking it out to see who will rule in his stead and once that is determined, the winner is coming back for some real vengeance. At the same time another kingdom is taking advantage of the chaos to annex a large of chunk and they’ve brought troops to back up their claims.

Logan won’t take the kingship since he pledged his oath to Terah Graesin but she is the worst possible thing to happen. Kylar must kill her to allow Logan to ascend the throne. He must do it in such a way though that it doesn’t look like Logan asked him to do it.

Kylar is still linked to Vi and both Elene and Vi are in the Sisterhood. Who want to use Kylar, somehow. Superpowerful magical swords are involved, as are near immortal creatures and a host of millions of undead. Elene gets possessed by Khali but for the purpose of containing it [as it is a fallen angel] so Kylar can kill her with the magic swords and thus truly destroy Khali.

It all comes together in one HUGE battle is so stupendous that I’m not going to even try to describe it. Kylar saves the world at great cost and everyone is sad at Elene’s sacrifice and Vi still wants to jump Kylar’s bones.

The End.

 

My Thoughts:

Good stuff!

My only complaints are as follows. The profanity still sticks out. Seeing the F word is just jarring. It doesn’t fit. Second, the amount of history we’re deluged with from Durzo Blint is a bit much for one book. I’d really liked to have seen a prequel trilogy following his adventures in his various personas.

Other than that? Rock’em Sock’em Robot success!

True love. Magic swords. Magical killer creatures that are unstoppable. Hordes of undead that aren’t all human sized shamblers. 2000 women who can control magic? Aes Sedai anyone? That really stood out to me this time. It just seemed a very blatant ripoff where as back in ’09 I didn’t even make the connection. Either way, I enjoyed it this time around.

The storyline dealing with Dorian Ursuul, the prophet and son of the Godking, was wicked hard to deal with. He sees the future, gives up his gift because of what he sees and then ends up becoming something just as bad as his father ever was. Since he was introduced as a character who wanted to only do good since the beginning, that fall from grace was just brutal! Weeks really digs into what it could cost to see the future.

The violence is not ratcheted down any either. There was one scene where I just put my kindle down and had to catch my emotional breathe. Kylar was bound on a water wheel to kill him for him killing the queen. His own friend Logan, who became king of that action, was the one who had to pass sentence. Logan also knows that Kylar heals super quick, so the water wheel will take days. He breaks a table leg off and just smashes Kylar’s arms and legs so that he’ll die. A friend having to execute his best friend, having to physically destroy him, it was intense. I had ALL the manly feelz.

While the writing definitely shows that this trilogy was Weeks’ first go, it is in no way sub-par. It just isn’t as nuanced as experience will make him. Heck, comparing this to the latest Light Bringer Novel, Blood Mirror is a good exercise in watching someone grow their literary wings.

It would be cool if at some point Weeks returned to this universe, but at the rate the Light Bringer novels are coming out, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Beyond the Shadows (2009 Review)
  2. Way of Shadows (Book 1)
  3. Shadow’s Edge (Book 2)

That Hideous Strength (The Space Trilogy #3) ★★★★☆

hideousstrength (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: That Hideous Strength
Series: The Space Trilogy #3
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 394
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The NICE Institute begins to take over Britain. Ostensibly a mere research company that is out to better humanity, NICE is actually controlled by the bent eldila of our own world. They have begun the conquest of Earth in earnest, which means the total destruction of everything. Just like the moon is lifeless, they desire the Earth to be so.

Opposing them, or more accurately, gathered together against them, is Ransom and a small group of nobodies. Housewives, old professors, maids, even one man who doesn’t believe in the eldila.

NICE is bent on resurrecting Merlin, the last descendant of Atlantis. With his knowledge of mystical powers and NICE’s control of technology, it looks like their plan cannot fail. What they don’t count on is that Merlin might not be the evil warlock they assume him to be or that the eldila from the unbent worlds will stand idly by.

But God works in mysterious ways and evil always destroys itself.

 

My Thoughts:

I really needed this read.

Storywise, it was just kind of ok. In all honesty, there wasn’t much going on. Most of what happens is revealed between a husband who is trying to join NICE and his wife who is drawn into Ransom’s circle. But we don’t meet Ransom until almost the end, he doesn’t play much of a part besides being a cripple and even Merlin, when he joins them, only casts a babel spell on the badguys. This is NOT an action book.

This was a book where the principals of warfare according to Christianity were in the fore. You didn’t have Ransom and Company assaulting the NICE headquarters with shotguns and shooting everything with rocksalt or dishcleaner water, ala Supernatural. What you had was people doing almost nothing except the tiny little bit they were told to. That is so contrary to common sense, and even that issue is addressed, that it was fantastic.

It is good to be reminded that I am not responsible for taking down evil, Evildead style. It doesn’t work that way. It is good to be reminded that God is in control, that He is responsible and that He has a plan already in motion and all laid out in Revelations.

While this was explicitly Christian, it wasn’t in the same vein as something by Frank Peretti. You didn’t have spirits duking it out with swords while flying around. In fact, Lewis does his best to show just how much we cannot understand about the creatures not of this world. A little confusing but like I first said, refreshing.

When you are battered and worn, sometimes you just need to cling to the truth.

On a non-review note, I FINALLY understand the old cover. It never made sense to me before. Now that I’ve read this again, it makes total sense. It isn’t necessarily the kind of thing I can just type up and explain out of the blue, but if you read the story, you’ll understand too.

That-Hideous-Strength

★★★★☆

bookstooge

  1. Space Trilogy (2006 Review)
  2. Out of the Silent Planet (Book 1)
  3. Perelandra (Book 2)

Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen #3) ★★★★☆

memoriesofice

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Memories of Ice
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #3
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 945
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Pannion Domin is a threat both martial and magical and it will take the combined forces of the outlawed army of Dujek Onearm, former High Fist of the Malazan Empire, and their former enemies in the guise of the combined might of Caladan Brood’s army and the sorcerous might of Anomander Rake and his floating city of Moonspawn.

At the same time, Silverfox [the fully grown woman encompassing the souls of 3 other mages] has called the T’lan Imass together again for the first time in over 300,000 years. She is the physical embodiment of an Imass magician and has the power to reverse the oath the Imass took in their war against the Jhagut. She refuses and this has fallout for her personally and for the forces of Dujek and Brood who were counting on the Imass to counter the undead forces of a race thought to be extinct, the K’chain Ch’maile.

All through this, the gods continue their own war. The fallen/broken god has declared war on the pantheon and he wants to destroy them all for bringing him to this world. Fenner, the god of war, has fallen and a new risen god, Treach the Tiger, has ascended. Old lost gods are finding their thrones and each god is choosing for or against the broken god. And amid the total destruction and war on the souls of the men themselves, it is revealed that this part of the story is but a small part of the overall narrative.

Now THAT is depressing.

 

My Thoughts:

First thing I noticed was that with this 3rd read, I was able to not focus on all the shiny little bits and put the story together as a whole. In previous reads I found a huge disconnect from the leadup to the battle of Capustan to the final showdown at Corel. This time around there was no disconnect and the story naturally flowed without any jarring. It was really nice to UNDERSTAND the slightly bigger picture.

Erikson shows once again that he is a freaking master of writing. The battle scenes were incredible. Vivid, intense and brutal. You can feel the slippery blood, the complete exhaustion, the fear and the adrenaline rush. The interactions between characters was excellently done as well. There was NO cardboard, only flesh and blood come to life on paper. What’s more, everyone was “distinct”. They weren’t archtypes, or ideas, or variations on a theme. They Were People.

And that leads into the start of my issues. With the characters being so real, the hearbreak and despair and utter desolation that they one and all suffer is wrong. In previous reads, I was taken up with the story, trying to figure out how everything fit together. In being focused on that, the emotional side of things were glossed over. Not this time. The death of main characters hit hard. They weren’t alone but had made connections, so when those threads were cut, it was like a spiderweb quivering all over. No on person was ever alone in their anguish or loss. It hurt to read as it was so real to me.

The second, and far bigger issue for me, was the wholesale injection of existential philosophy in a huge way. Existentialism is one of the most depressing philosophies, in my opinion. In small doses, it provides a way for men to show their true grit against completely overwhelming odds. However, in larger doses, it can overwhelm the reader with utter despair and destroy your psyche.

It is probably apparent which happened to me.

By the end of the book I was dreading every instance where I saw italicized walls of text. That meant that some character was thinking and every thought of every character was nothing but despair and hopeless angst. It wore me down.

On my first read through of the whole series, it took me until Book 8 to feel this way. Since then, I’ve had some “experience” with the hard side of life and reading about despair and suffering isn’t theoretical anymore. Reading about suffering isn’t so fun once you’ve had a taste of it yourself. I think I’m going to be taking an extra cycle before dipping my toes into this series again.

More specifics about the story itself can be found in my Memories of Ice Readalong Updates.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

  1. Memories of Ice (2008 & 2010 Reviews)
  2. Gardens of the Moon (Book 1)
  3. Deadhouse Gates (Book 2)

Memories of Ice – 100% Update

memoriesofice So I am now done.  Hoping to do the actual review tomorrow, so this is more of a what happened in this section.

The Malazan’s make it to Coral, begin the attack early and are not supported by the rest of the alliance. Which is all due to Kallor’s advice, who has secretly allied himself with the broken god. He also tries to kill Silverfox but is prevented by Whiskeyjack and the two guards, all of whom die. Yep, Whiskeyjack dies. So he’s now out of the picture.

Big battle, LOTS of dying and eventual victory over the Pannion Domin. But he’s not really a bad guy. Just a poor jaghut kid who got “hard used” by a nasty T’lan Imass a bajillion years ago. So he gets a second chance along with his little sister and they start freezing the goddess Burn to slow the infection introduced by the broken god.  Everybody lives happily ever after in fields of daisies and buttercups.

It felt like a lot of the characters were spoiled rich kids. Even an old man like Whiskeyjack. Who’s getting it on with a 14,000 year old unhuman woman. Nobody actually talks about what they are going through, they just talk about it to us the readers and honestly, it was repetitive drivel from an emo 16 year old.

When the storyline, whichever one, actually progressed, Erikson is awesome. The scope, the twistiness, the writing itself, is all great. But once Erikson starts using his characters as mouthpieces it lost me.  I think I’m going to have to either wait longer between these books or read several books between sections as I read these. Existentialism is a philosophy of utter despair and I find that I am very sensitive to issues of hope and despair, more so than I would like.

Cheers!This typifies the Malazan experience. Camaraderie and light heartedness while off on the side are the stacks of the dead, both friend and foe. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die. Ugh…

 

Here are the posts of this reading along by me and by DZ:

Bookstooge’s Updates

DZ’s Updates

 

bookstooge