December 27, 2003
40. The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla, Stephen King
I am completely unashamed to admit that I have been waiting anxiously for this book ever since I read book 4 of the Dark Tower series, Wizard and Glass. In fact (and I am a little ashamed to admit this), when King was in his car accident a few years back, my first thought was "Please don't let him die before he finishes the Dark Tower books." I have a feeling King may have had similar thoughts. Before the accident, he speculated that he might die before finishing the saga. I have to wonder if his brush with death compelled him to wrap up the series quickly (both of the last two books are coming out next year).
So, all that speculation aside, was it worth the wait? Oh hell yes. Wolves maybe lacks some of the emotional sucker-punch of Wizard and Glass, but it's so damn good to walk with these characters again, to look around at this enormous, mind-blowing world that King has created. A world, as he says in the afterword to Wizard and Glass, that contains all of his other worlds. That in and of itself fascinates me, the way the same characters, themes, places, events, keep cropping up over and over again, some peeking slyly from behind trees, some jumping right out in front of you and saying howdy.
I swear, if I ever get to the point in school where I have to write some sort of enormous paper, if I can get away with it, I'm writing it on King, and in particular, the Dark Tower books. Anyone who says he's a hack clearly just hasn't found the good stuff yet. And these books are as good as the good stuff gets.
39. A Clash of Kings, George R. R. Martin
In many ways, this book surprised me more than the first, although the first had several plot twists and reversals that left me slapping my forehead or gritting my teeth. As much as anything, I love the way Martin's characters are all uniquely human, whether hero or villain. Nobody is purely black and white. There are "villains" we sympathize with, "heroes" who are capable of seemingly heartless acts and words. Martin manages this without really creating an anti-hero or totally sinking into a gray area without clear protagonists or antagonists. It's just that his heroes are flawed and his villains have redeemable qualities. It sounds simple, but it's hard as hell to pull off--and pull it off he does.
I started reading book 3, A Storm of Swords, today. When does book 4 come out again? :)
38. A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin
I'm so far behind... I've read three books since the Chabon. Let's start with this one.
Okay. Julie has been after me to read Martin since I've known her. One of these days I will recognize that Julie is good, Julie is wise, particularly when it comes to picking fantasy authors. Amazing world-building. Solid writing. Epic fantasy that manages to somehow not become a weak imitation of Tolkien or bloated with its own self-importance (Jordan, I'm looking at you, you wordy bastard).
I finished book one and immediately picked up book two, green with envy as a writer even while I was entranced as a reader. This is the best of all possible worlds, to be sucked into a story but able to analyze bits and pieces of why it works as I go along.