Friday, July 24, 2009
Book's Read This Week
Abinadi, by H.B. Moore
I bought this when it was first released last fall at the now dearly departed, Provident Books grand opening. Crom! I wish they were still around. Anyway I actually didn't get around to reading it right away and I ended up getting the audio-book from the local library and listening to that while I was working. I have listened to a lot of audio-books that way. Well this one just didn't do it for me, I was left unimpressed by the lead female character Raquel.
But this is not the end of the story. After reading a discussion at the arts site AMV Heather (the author) made a few points as did a number of other commenter's and I had to stop and think, that I had missed way too much of the book when I listened to the audio - WAY TOO MUCH.
I went back and read the physical book. I never once regret having the physical book, I prefer it, audio is just handy but obviously leaves you crippled at times if you are doing anything besides driving.
I still did not like some of the anachronisms, such as "He is stupid as an alpaca," but that is nothing. (Bear with me Heather)
The thing that got to me, was Heather did not shy from portraying the evils of King Noah's court. That means a lot to me because I don't think we need watered-down fiction that fails to illustrate what those evils are. And in the same light showing what the rewards of doing right are. All too often in LDS fiction I think we are centered on the lighter side and the dark side of life is left too vague. Why? For fear of it looking glamorous? Then it wouldn't be temptation would it? When the evil is too vague, conversion stories are weak, they fall flat, because I don't buy the motivation of the characters.
The most talked about piece of Abinadi is that he is portrayed as a young man, as opposed to the classic Friberg painting of old man winter. I am a Friberg fan. But the young man, who has so much to lose is excellent. I love it when authors take standard tropes and give us a new (possibly more correct) ways of looking at them.
While I was much more appreciative of Raquel with my second go through on the book, I was also very interested in the side character of Alma and the relationship with his love interest of Maia, the abused wife of King Noah. I kept waiting for some familiar things to happen and when they didn't it just made me want to read Alma the sequel, all the more when it is released in a couple of months. I really hope there is some resolution there despite the stickiness of the situation. (I became convinced that Maia's stillborn son was actually Alma's but I'm probably wrong on that)
Heather remarked on the AMV post (might lose people here, if so . . .catch up) that she was not familiar with the "chewed gum" metaphor, I always heard "licked butter" growing up. But in any case, I don't like to think of people that way, and if there is a repentance I don't think people should be categorized as such after the fact. Maia represents the perfect example as does Alma, of going beyond the stereotypes of the used, and worthless.
The final scene where (I doubt this is a spoiler alert for anyone) Abinadi is burned alive for preaching the gospel, reminded me of one of my favorite movies Braveheart. I doubt this was Heathers plan but it caused a resonance with me about the idea of sacrifice of which each of these were good examples of men dying horribly for great causes.
All in all, I liked this book and am really looking forward to Alma.
If this was bad Heather, crucify me when I send you 'Heroes of the Fallen'
The Blackfoot Moonshine Rebellion of 1892, by Ron Carter
Crazy Horse, by Larry McMurtry
I am putting these two together because they are both westerns and both rather short. Beyond that they are diametrically opposed in that McMurtry writes that he is not about to tell you what Crazy Horse was thinking and Carter pushes for a good stretching of the truth for the stories sake and telling you what everyone was thinking, and I like both of them for it. Each is strong on relating history of the times and each is very pro-Indian. Perhaps not as pro as Vine Deloria, but then who is? Each give good slices of life about the Indian and it was easy for me to picture things because of the quality of writing and because I have walked the lands of these two books many times. These are tales I will dip into again.
The Legacy: Legend of Drizzt.Book 7, by R.A. Salvatore, adapted by Andrew Dabb and pencils by Rob Atkins and Tim Seely
I want it clear that not everything I read and review get 2 thumbs up. (But you do Heather)
Ok this is the graphic novel and not the original novel which I have not yet read. So being a comic book I will say the art was good, not great, but still above average. Now comes the bitterness. I don't fear reprisals from R.A. Salvatore or Andrew Dabb (like I do from Heather) cuz I don't know them and they don't know me. I must say that I really, really like the previous 6 graphic novels in this fantasy series. So I don't know who is to blame for this one, Salvatore or Dabb.
Salvatore wrote the original novel and Dabb adapted this graphic from it, and here is the problem, for a fantasy the monsters were weak and lame, the most impressive thing was demon that showed up and was killed in a moment of sacrifice by Wulfgar, that's cool. I know he's not really dead but the characters don't. The magic was lame, the motivation of the bad guy Artemis Enteri was weak and halfway through I was thinking this is the dumbest one yet.
Its like somebody was trying way too hard to flesh out these characters and give them depth so they would be real to me but instead pushed to hard and made them caricatures of themselves. I still want to go and get book 8, Starless Night, whenever it comes out but if the story keeps going like this I won't get another.
Last Argument of Kings, by Joe Abercrombie
This is the last book in the First Law trilogy and it is frakkin ace! I can't contain myself this is my favorite book read this year. Such action and intrigue, so many unexpected twists and then how Joe throws his characters into the fire and then pulls them out again, genius. I cannot wait for his next book Best Served Cold, its getting released at the end of the month.
Now before we get to far ahead of ourselves gentle readers, a word of caution. Anything I said about Heather properly illustrating the evils of Noah's court would be to the power of three in Last Argument of Kings. If you are familiar with George R.R. Martin, this is like that, but harsher and better. Yes, I am saying it Abercrombie is better than Martin. Why? Because he springs traps better, he twists the knife at harder angles, and he brings magnificent philosophical presence to his characters beyond just about any writer I can think of.
I daresay I am pained at the thought of besting him, but I will try. The one thing I can think of is the spiritual message I bear that he neglects . . . other than that it is a fight to the death for me to top him.