December 2018 reading thread

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Nov 23, 2002

Another month, more reading. :)

I've just finished The Eagle and the Raven by Pauline Gedge, a superb novel about the Britons during the Roman invasion, and the following resistance to it. It was truly enlightening to read about Romans from an outside perspective. I'll be putting a review up for that soon.

I'm also still reading Black and British by David Olusoga - which is proving excellent to dip into on an evening. I'm also still reading A History of Ancient Britain by Neil Oliver, which is proving a more frustrating read - the archaeology is wonderful and personal, but the narrative can be excruciatingly idiotic at times, and he doesn't really seem to link up the chronology in a meaningful way. Another non-fiction I'm reading is Obedient Unto Death which is packed with useful information that tends to be disowned by other SS soldier accounts, not least the beliefs stirred up by the Nazi propaganda machine.

I've also started reading The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French - the opening chapter is a lesson in infodumping done right. While it's well-written there is a degree of hyper-masculinity I'm uncomfortable with, but I'll push on and see how far I can get on with it.

At work I'm reading The Traveller by John Twelve Hawks which, after the first badly-infodumped chapter, turns into a slick thriller that's like a cross between Highlander and The Matrix.

Not sure what other novels to start this month - but I'm definitely hungry for some late-medieval European history, so I might read one of my textbooks for next academic year. Or I might pick up Renaissance Florence on Five Florins a Day. :)

In the meantime, I'm still watching out for those daily Kindle deals - there have been some nice ones come up, and I'm slowly in the process of getting digital editions of my best paperbacks. :)


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I've just been revisiting some of my books on the 19th-century artist Samuel Palmer, particularly his son's Life and Letters of S. P.

My current novel is R. H. Benson's The Necromancers, something like a proto-Charles Williams story.

I'm reading Flynn's new book about Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and Harvey Milk, marveling at the good publicity Jones received from the San Francisco left and the sanitizing of Milk's image.

The book is called Cult City. I reread Machen's "N" and read some passages again in his late novel The Green Round. I continue to read Aubrey's Brief Lives bit by bit.
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I'm also near the completion of my reading of Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales. About once a week I pick at del Rey's Day of the Giants. That's some sort of sf-fantasy thing with the Norse gods and dwarfs, but here the dwarfs make modern Earth weapons to the hero's direction, etc, It doesn't hold my interest, but I wanted to read it again anyway, as a return to a book I read about fifty years ago, when a liking for pulp sf and a liking for Norse mythology made this something of a standout book for me.

And I continue with Walter de la Mare's Early One Morning in the Spring as an occasional bedtime book. It's about childhood (pre-TV, pre-radio!) and is very good, but I'd say too rich to just try to sit down and read.

I'm still reading The Epic of Gilgamesh. Finished it, but after that there are bits of other tablets (minor variant versions). Rather like it, and the fact the central theme (death is inevitable. Bad luck, mortals) is still universally relevant makes it easy to relate to, a bit like Anna Komnene's writing of her father's death.

Also still reading Chris Wickham's The Inheritance of Rome. Is it wrong that I find the shift of state income from taxation to land rents and the ensuing decline in economic complexity coupled with military service funded by aristocrats and social obligation rather than the state treasury interesting?
Rattled through Kings of the Wyld. I see what the fuss is about as its a clever idea with a lively plot and some good lines, but ultimately I didn't find it all that captivating or fulfilling. Not quite sure why.
a new michael anderle and a simon r green. the kurtherian gambit is not bad. simon is a collection of stories
I have just started The Smile of the Wolf by Tim Leach. A tale of a Blood feud in 10th century Iceland. It is looking promising so far.
Read a trashy space opera called the empress game by Rhonda Mason, which is a soapy adventure about a woman who takes on a secret identity in order to fight in a contest to become empress of another planet. It was very silly and I enjoyed it very much. Now reading the Shining Girls but only because I've had it for so long and not got round to reading it yet.
Picked up four volumes of Game of Thrones at our local recycling place for £2. I've only ever read the first book so these will keep me going for a long time. Greek Myths put to one side for the time being and A Clash Of Kings just started.

I do love a bargain:)
Picked up four volumes of Game of Thrones at our local recycling place for £2. I've only ever read the first book so these will keep me going for a long time. Greek Myths put to one side for the time being and A Clash Of Kings just started.

I do love a bargain:)
for me they were wright in the recycling. the series is good but the books didn't caught me
I'm working through a couple of histories at the moment. Myke Cole's Legion versus Phalanx and An Invincible Beast by Christopher Matthew.
Just finished the third Southern Reach book - Acceptance.
A little more was explained, but I like that it wasn't all wrapped up in a nice neat parcel, in fact having now read all three, there are more things unknown than after having only read one ;)

Next up is the second of NK Jemisin's Broken Earth books, The Obelisk Gate.
Am rolling along quite nicely through Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. But am getting worried that what is a nice time travel story might degenerate into a sappy love story. Wait for updates.