Category Archives: Fiction

The Best Classic Authors Ever

I have an interest in reading some classic authors. I’ve read Shakespeare, Homer, and a limited amount of 19th century literature, but I’d like to read more.

I tried the 99 Classic Books Challenge on List Challenges, and my score was dismal. I’ve only read six of the books. Isn’t that pathetic? There are a couple more in that list that I own, but haven’t read yet.

I need suggestions. I have some questions for you to answer, so please leave them in the comments below.

  1. Which classic author and book do you recommend from the 20th century?
  2. Which classic author and book do you recommend from the 19th century?
  3. How about the 18th century?
  4. 17th century?
  5. 11th to 16th century?
  6. 1st to 10th century?
  7. 1st century BCE and beyond?

If you don’t have an answer for some of these, don’t worry. Leave it blank. I’m looking forward to your answers. Thanks!

2001: A Video Review

It’s interesting doing these retro book reviews. It’s been more than four years since I’ve read the book, but the feeling sticks with me. I may not remember all the details, but I can remember pretty well my impression of the book.

This one left a very positive memory for me. I enjoyed it very much, and it was my first five star review. So, I did a video review of it! Enjoy!

The original review is here, if you’d like to read it.

Let me know what you thought of the book in the comments below or on the original review post!

Retro Book Review – Running With the Demon

More than four years ago, I wrote my first book review for this blog. That was for Running With the Demon, by Terry Brooks. On my YouTube channel, I’ve started a series called Retro Book Reviews, where I will talk about books I’ve reviewed in the past, including how my impressions may have changed and how I feel about them now. Here’s the first one!

If you’ve read this book, what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.

Book Review – The Book of Deacon

bookofdeaconThe Book of Deacon

Author: Joseph R. Lallo

Series: The Book of Deacon #1

Genre: Fantasy

Published 2010

Review Copy: Free promotional eBook

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Goodreads Description

Myranda is a young woman more interested in staying alive than being a hero. Orphaned by a continent-spanning war that has gone on for decades too long and shunned for failing to support it, she has been on the move since she was only a child. One can hardly blame her when she thinks that the chance discovery of a fallen soldier’s priceless cargo is the moment that will change her life. No one could predict just how great that change would be. It will lead her through an adventure of rebels and generals, of wizards and warriors, and of beasts both noble and monstrous. Each step of the way will take her closer to the truth of her potential, of the war, and of the fate of her world.

Review

The Book of Deacon by Joseph R. Lallo is the first book in a classic fantasy series of the same name. It’s a book that has its issues with pacing, lack of contractions in dialogue, and some not entirely well-developed characters, but I did enjoy it.

In the beginning, we have Myranda, a young woman who’s been orphaned and is wandering around the land without much of a direction when she gets mixed up with a sword, a malthrope, and the entire military wanting her. There’s a lot more to the girl than is directly told to us in the book, but it isn’t very subtle foreshadowing. As she gets caught up in all this unwanted attention, her life takes a surprising turn, joining a couple different groups, becoming a student twice, and a cliffhanger?

First of all, Myranda is our heroine. She’s been wandering for a long time, on the move because she’s a pacifist, and people who are against the war are not tolerated. She’s fiery, distrustful, and quick to argue. And she has a talent for magic. Leo, who is a fox-man malthrope, is like night and day. I cannot figure out his character at all, because he isn’t what he seems to be. I still don’t know what’s going on with him. Deacon, the title character, turns out to be a kind of grey magic enthusiast who is your typical intelligent character who isn’t completely accepted. And there’s Myn, a baby dragon who is mischievous, but grows a lot. There’s also a host of masters of their brands of magic who have their own personalities that don’t show much depth that I won’t get into. And then we have the main antagonist, Trigorah, who is an elf with a connection to Myranda. While she’s the antagonist, we see very little conflict, and she doesn’t seem entirely bad.

The story itself has some odd pacing. It’s kind of like it’s being done in three acts. The first act is slow-paced, wandering in a cold winter land, trying to survive. The second act sees a lot more action. The final part is slow-paced again, with a lack of real conflict involving any kind of real danger. The first part didn’t hook me. The second part looked far more promising. The third part slowed down a lot, but I enjoyed it. It was far more lighthearted, though there was still a dark side. It didn’t feel complete, though. But it is a series, and the second book is a continuation.

The world that Lallo has developed is an interesting one. Several kingdoms merged into one and has been waging an ongoing war with the southern countries for decades. Neither side seems interested in ending the war. War is life, and if you don’t like it, you’re an outcast. I personally can’t see how a war that reaches decades can be sustained, though. The demographics of the lands would result in large population decreases and a lack of children. But that doesn’t seem to happen.

The writing style isn’t very polished, as I think it’s Lallo’s first book, but it is perfectly readable. The thing that really stood out for me was the dialogue. It didn’t seem very natural. It lacked contractions, for one thing. As the story progressed, I felt that it got better, but the beginning was a bit rough in that area.

Overall, I give this book three stars. It has a slow start, but picks up the pace later on, and settles into a state of comfort towards the end. I actually enjoyed reading about Myranda learning magic. It felt like there should’ve been more conflict, though. But I guess that’ll happen in the next book, which I have an interest in reading. If you enjoy classic fantasy with a bit of a slower pace, then I recommend this book to you.

Book Review – The Iliad

theiliadThe Iliad

Author: Homer

Series: None

Genre: Classics, Poetry, Mythology

Published 762 BCE

Review Copy: Paperback bought new

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Goodreads Description

The Iliad is the first and the greatest literary achievement of Greek civilization – an epic poem without rival in the literature of the world, and the cornerstone of Western culture.

The story of the Iliad centres on the critical events in the last year of the Trojan War, which lead to Achilleus’ killing of Hektor and determine the fate of Troy. But Homer’s theme is not simply war or heroism. With compassion and humanity, he presents a universal and tragic view of the world, of human life lived under the shadow of suffering and death, set against a vast and largely unpitying divine background. The Iliad is the first of the great tragedies.

Review

The Iliad is an epic poem by Homer that is widely considered a great piece of literature, and certainly one of the oldest. It’s an epic retelling of a historical event, but with a strong emphasis on Greek mythology. The Gods are involved, and they pretty much dictate everything that happens. I can’t really say it’s non-fiction. Equally fascinating and frustrating, this was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever read.

The characters were an interesting combination of bigger than life personalities and gods. The gods had great influence on the actions of the characters, so they didn’t act entirely of their own free will. Many of the characters were extremely strong-willed and very stubborn. So stubborn that they were blinded by it. Achilleus, Hektor, Odysseus, Agamemnon, Priam, and Patroklos are featured heavily in the story, and I have to say that they all had one thing in common: personality. There was very little difference between them. Well, I shouldn’t go that far. Achilleus is a great warrior that everyone fears and no one can defeat. Odysseus (who is the main character in Homer’s followup The Odyssey) is also a great warrior who no one seems to be able to beat. The king, Agamemnon, is also a great warrior that no one has defeated. Do you see a pattern here? The greatest warriors seem untouchable. Hektor, who was one of the Trojans, was the top warrior for them, and again, nearly impossible to defeat. The key here are the gods. They pretty much decided who lived and who died. They played with their lives. They seemed petty and childish. Sometimes, I felt like there were no actual adults, but just a bunch of schoolyard bullies.

The story is a pretty simple one. Mostly battle. Back and forth battle. One side gains an advantage, then the gods decide to give the other side an advantage. There’s very graphic description of the battles, and we learn exactly how each person died, their name, their family history and status, and who killed them. There’s even an entire chapter dedicated to listing the names of the ships, where they’re from, who is on each ship, their family histories, their status, and so on. It’s a huge info dump. And it was easy to get distracted from the story, because there was a lot of repetition. Don’t get me wrong, the story was interesting, it just took a lot of dedication to keep reading.

The language used was the most difficult aspect of this poem. The paragraphs were long, the sentences filled with adjectives describing characters, such as “god-like,” “of the shining helmet,” “son of whatshisname,” and so on. And they were repeated so often, it was overkill. But this was Homer’s style, and it was poetry, not prose. That’s part of what makes it difficult to judge. Poetry is not usually read like a story, but this was a story. The dialogue in The Iliad was incredibly unnatural. No one spoke in conversation, only monologues. They made speeches to each other in place of conversation. And when one person wanted to give someone else a message, the messenger repeated everything word for word.

It’s a difficult book to rate because it’s from a time when writing style was totally different. The story was epic. It was a massive battle with a huge amount of detail. The writing style is difficult to read, so it took me a long time to get through all of it. I had no sympathy for any character, because they were not written in a way that gives us any kind of sympathetic feelings toward them. I went into it not realising how much the gods would factor into it. I felt like there was no unpredictability. We knew where it was going because Zeus said how it was going to go.

But how do I rate this? I’ll have to give it a 3 out of 5. It’s good, but only read this if you are willing to go through a literary experience you’ve never been through before. And no, there is no Trojan Horse in this story. That’s The Aeneid, and apparently only referred to in The Odyssey. Anyway, it takes place after this story ends.

Which Fantasy Series Should I Try?

I’m a fan of fantasy novel series. I enjoy going back into worlds that I’ve discovered before, and exploring it more. I’ve read parts of several series, including Shannara, The Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, Malazan, and so on. But I always enjoy a new world to explore.

So, I have a poll for you. Please vote for the series you think I should read, and let me know why you chose that in the comments below. This is a long list, and you can vote for multiple series.

 

Thanks for voting! I’ll definitely use the results to help decide on what I should buy.