Friday, January 28, 2011

January reads

Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian.

The opening novel of O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, adventures in the Age of Sail.

I had enjoyed the movie adaptation, Master & Commander: Far Side of the World. I'd heard this series praised many times, so I thought I'd give it a read.

Maybe I'm too used to reading action but I slogged through 129 pgs before it got interesting with the first naval battle.

I was expecting more of a direct action series like Cornwell's Sharpe.

While I admire O'Brian's research and documentation of the naval life, there was so much age-of-sail naval jargon that it seemed more like reading a foreign language than elucidation.

I also feel like he dropped a bunch of sly historical jokes and puns that went right over my head. I felt at times that I was reading a "dramedy."

I guess it's just me. I didn't enjoy this novel very much. I might return to the series - perhaps skip to Far Side of the World - but it will be awhile.

Someday I'd like to read another Age of Sail novel as point of comparison; Forester's Horatio Hornblower or Kent's Bolitho novels, perhaps.

Meantime, I took a break from the Age of Sail and delved back into Warhammer with...

Oathbreaker by Nick Kyme.

I just wanted a quick read with violence and action, and Kyme delivered. This novel is about dwarfs (In Warhammer, the plural of "dwarf" is "dwarfs", not "dwarves". Why they insist on this affectation, I don't know.) Dwarfs bashing goblin, orc and skaven heads, and who could want more?

Taking an inspiration from Lord of the Rings, no doubt - imagine if Gimli pulled together a small army of dwarves to retake Moria and you get the plot for this novel. Some of the visuals of the dwarf halls seem to come right from some of the Moria CGI work in the movie adaptation of Fellowship of the Ring.

Uthor, an ambititous dwarf, makes an oath to retake Karak Varn, after the great dwarf hold is taken by skaven (bipedal, intelligent, evil rat men of the Warhammer universe.) Though we are introduced to other dwarf characters, I read this novel quickly and some of the characters blurred for me. This novel is the second of three that form a loose trilogy about the dwarfs as a Warhammer race. We are shown various facets of dwarf society - the merchants, the stone workers, the engineers, the slayers, etc.

In the end, it is more about the dwarfs than any single dwarf. But, that's okay.

It was a fun romp, a quick read and that's all the entertainment I was looking for.

Just an FYI; in the novel trilogy, Oathbreaker is proceeded by Grudgebearer by Gav Thorpe and followed by another Nick Kyme novel, Honourkeeper. Given that they do not feature the same characters, ordering doesn't really matter.

In Black Library fashion, all three will be collected in an omnibus later this year, simply entitled Dwarfs.