My 2018 in books

I’ve been inspired to take a look back at last year through all of the books that I read, most of which I’ve made some rambling posts about on this here blog, I think – so without further ado, let’s get started!

I’d been hoping for better from 2018, if I’m honest. My wife Jemma is a voracious reader, and easily got through a lot more than the 50 I’d set myself! I think it’s to do with the fact that she has a very focused ‘want to read’ list on goodreads, whereas I had a more casual approach to that.

January
Dark Fire (CJ Sansom)
Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel (James Luceno)

February
The Devastation of Baal (Guy Haley)
Elephants Can Remember (Agatha Christie)
Cult of the Warmason (CL Werner)
Aquaman and the Others: Legacy of Gold (Dan Jurgens)

March
Sovereign (CJ Sansom)
Farsight (Phil Kelly)

April
The Axeman’s Jazz (Ray Celestin)
Darth Vader: The Shu-Torun War (Kieron Gillen)
Darth Vader: End of Games (Kieron Gillen)
Aphra: Aphra (Kieron Gillen)
Star Wars: Yoda’s Secret War (Jason Aaron)
The Screaming Citadel (Kieron Gillen)
Aphra: The Enormous Profit (Kieron Gillen)

May
Fear to Tread (James Swallow)
Star Wars: Out Among the Stars (Jason Aaron)
Star Wars: The Ashes of Jedha (Kieron Gillen)
Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie)

June
The Ashes of Prospero (Gav Thorpe)
Fire and Ice (Peter Fehervari)

July
The Well of Ascension (Brandon Sanderson)
Last Bus to Woodstock (Colin Dexter)

August
Necropolis (Dan Abnett)
War of Secrets (Phil Kelly)
Five Little Pigs (Agatha Christie)

September 
Specter of the Past (Tim Zahn)
Vision of the Future (Tim Zahn)
Third Girl (Agatha Christie)

October
Revelation (CJ Sansom)
Last Shot (Daniel José Older)
Consequences (Graham McNeill)
Dead Sky, Black Sun (Graham McNeill)

November
Of Honour and Iron (Ian St Martin)
Skitarius (Rob Sanders)

December
Tech Priest (Rob Sanders)
Crossfire (Matthew Farrer)
The Lion (Gav Thorpe)
Savage Weapons (Aaron Dembski-Bowden)
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Agatha Christie)
Call of the Lion (Gav Thorpe)
United States of Japan (Peter Tieryas)

Not a bad attempt, for sure! I’ve been reading a lot more broadly this year, in the main due to Jemma’s influence with trying to get me to read something more than Warhammer of Star Wars! So there’s a lot of crime stuff on here this year, historical crime in particular! For Christmas 2017, one of the things I had was the first book in the Matthew Shardlake series, Dissolution, and so have been reading my way through those, among the more regular fare. I’ve also read the second of the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson, Well of Ascension, while on holiday in Ireland for my now-brother in law’s wedding. The point of singling these out is that I’ve been reading my way through some quite weighty tomes, so I suppose that helps to explain the low numbers!

To help mitigate things, I’ve been reading some shorter stories, particularly the Horus Heresy stories at the end of the year, and also some comics – particularly when trying to catch up with the Star Wars books! Of course, I’ve been told off for calling these books by the wife, though I do feel there’s a lot to be said for comics, but that’s just me!! In compiling this list though, I was surprised at how many I’ve missed off writing up some thoughts, might have to try and get some of these done in the coming weeks!

Anyway, it’s been an exciting year for branching out, and all the rest of it, and I’m hoping for more excitement in the year to come!

More Drizzt! More games! Just, more!

Hey everybody!
The last week or so has been filled with lots of awesome, predominantly from getting back to the amazing Legend of Drizzt series!

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Moving on to #Drizzt book 8! #D&D #novels

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I finally got back to this series, after a nearly two-year hiatus, back in March, when I read the end of book 6, and moved onto book 7, The Legacy. That was a really great read, you can see more on that here, but I didn’t move on to the next one until now. I don’t actually remember if there was a reason, but anyway. Spoilers incoming! Starless Night picks up the story of Drizzt and his friends in the wake of Wulfgar’s death, and begins as Drizzt decides to return to Menzoberranzan, to avoid any further drow incursions into Mithral Hall. Little does he know that Matron Baenre plots the destruction of the dwarven kingdom no matter what, of course, as we saw briefly in the last book. Catti-brie discovers Drizzt has gone and, determined not to see another of her friends needlessly die, heads off in pursuit. The two eventually meet up in the Underdark, and manage to escape the Baenre compound with the help of none other than Artemis Entreri, though their hearts are heavy with the knowledge that the drow are amassing for war against the dwarves.

While I enjoyed The Legacy, after all that time spent on the surface, I loved Starless Night. It is perhaps a little formulaic at parts, but as always with these Drizzt books, the execution is just amazing. Salvatore continues to develop the Underdark beyond what we have already seen from the Dark Elf trilogy, this time particularly as we get to see more inside House Baenre, the first house of Menzoberranzan. The Matron Mother is just as cruel and twisted as you’d expect, as are some of her children. Most interesting among them are Dantrag, the weapons master who wields a sentient sword. It was a shame that he didn’t make it through the book, but I suppose there’s little else you could do with a character like that. Triel Baenre, the mistress mother of Arach-Tinilith, is another intriguing character, and her scenes with the flamboyant mercenary Jarlaxle were always fun to read. Jarlaxle has a prominent role to play here as well, which serves to deepen his character.

The whole story was pretty great, with a terrific sense of foreboding, or “things are about to happen tonight”. Weirdly, I kept feeling a comparison with the finale to the third Harry Potter book, with that sense of wheels being in motion and whatnot. It was a great read, and I’ve since propelled myself into the ninth book, Siege of Darkness, which has been excellent so far – look out for that one to grace this blog very soon!

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The Beetroot Beefburgers, man they were good…

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Saturday was, of course, Independence Day, so to celebrate(?), I made burgers and watched American Dad. Not just any burgers, however! I came across a recipe somewhere for beetroot beefburgers and, being a lover of beetroot, had to give it a try! On reflection, I probably used too much, so they were a tad dry, but overall they were really good, and I will definitely be trying these again! Grating beetroot into the minced beef left my kitchen looking something like a crime scene, but even so! Very simple to make, just grate the beets into the beef (I used three with 200g of mince, one might be a better idea), mix in an egg, and away we go!

Marvellous!

Despite having multiple projects on the go already, this weekend also saw me make up some more Necron Immortals, along with Trazyn the Infinite. I’ve been slowly getting back into painting, as I’ve been trying to finish off the Canoptek Wraiths I started over a month ago. I’ve not gotten very far, unfortunately, but that seems to be the story of my life where big stuff is concerned – bigger than your average foot soldier, that is. I’ve had four Tomb Blades awaiting their finishing touches for ages now, as well. As I seem to be better at getting the smaller guys finished, I thought I’d make up some more, get them done, and then (hopefully!) get back into the swing of things that way. Miniatures painting is something that I really enjoy, after all, but has felt more akin to a drudgery of late.

Immortals

Trazyn the Infinite is perhaps the most hilarious of the special character models, with his backstory of wanting to preserve everything in the universe in his own collection. If I remember rightly, he has some weird ability that allows you to replace him with any other member of the unit he’s attached to when in combat, due to some kind of phase-shifting technology. He seems interesting, but more than that, I enjoy the special models for the fact that I can paint them with different colour schemes and such. That said, I’m considering doing something different with the Immortals this time, as well – the new golden paints coming out soon look very interesting, after all, so I think I might try something more special with these guys…

Immortals

This week has been pretty good for games, of course. Along with the announcements of new cycles for both Android Netrunner and Star Wars, we’ve had a new data pack for Netrunner as well as the inaugural pack in the Angmar Awakened cycle for Lord of the Rings! There’s an interesting day/night mechanic in this one, and I cannot wait to try it out, but feel like I need to first play through the Lost Realm box. I’ve got all the quests sleeved now, anyway, so I’m ready to go on that front. No doubt there’ll be some posts here where I bemoan my performance…

I actually got a few games of Netrunner in at the local store again last week, with my tried and trusted Shaper deck, and lost both. But they were fantastic losses, so I can’t complain! Very thematic, so definitely lots of fun. I feel like I want to try out new decks now, however, as I spent one night reorganising my entire Netrunner collection. I usually keep LCGs in their expansion boxes, as it’s convenient and I like the packaging, but now FFG has moved to this horrible plastic nonsense, I’ve decided to change that, and have instead gone for keeping the entire cardpool in both core set boxes (I’m one of these who bought two core sets). So far it works, but I foresee a time very soon where I’m going to run out of space there, as well! Hm. At any rate, going through that reorganisation, and seeing the entire card pool for each faction all at once, has really opened up my eyes to the deckbuilding possibilities in the game, so I’m keen to explore with that, rather than continually playing my one Shaper deck.

We’ll see just how splendidly that works out, anyway…

The Legacy

Ah, Drizzt. I’ve been loving this series for years now – you can read all about that here, of course! Last night saw me finish the seventh installment, The Legecy.

The Legacy

The book picks up right off following the last one – in fact, it starts as the last one is ending! HOWEVER! (Oh, ahem… here be spoilers!) We see Bruenor Battlehammer preparing for the wedding of Wulfgar and Cattie-Brie, when the report of goblin activity in the lower mines draws the dwarves out to investigate. A series of dungeon-delving adventures ensue, with Drizzt separated from the others. Why? Well, because we finally get to see what his family has been up to since he left Menzoberranzan in the Dark Elf trilogy!

Following the raid on the Do’Urden compound that left all but Dinin and Vierna dead, things have been pretty rough. Dinin has fallen in with the mercenary band of Braegan D’arthe, headed by the flamboyant Jarlaxle, while Vierna has become obsessed with recovering her former glory. Are the Do’Urdens really out of favour with Lolth? Vierna’s ability first to wield a snake-headed whip, then to turn Dinin into a dreaded Drider (remember the spoiler from the board game?!), to say nothing of her ability to summon a yochlol, seem to point to the fact that they are once again on the up. However, the behind-the-scenes machinations of House Baenre might point to a more convoluted theory. Following a long period of mine chases, Drizzt finally manages to defeat his sister in combat, but Wulfgar is killed by the yochlol, leading to an utter desolation in Mithral Hall.

Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!

For me, this book turned out to be quite difficult to categorise. On the one hand, I really enjoyed the return to the Underdark, and seeing the evil drow once more. It was really good to catch up with the surviving members of Drizzt’s family, and to see what evil schemes were being hatched this time around. However, the repetitive nature of the book, with the bulk of it taking place in the twisting corridors beneath Mithral Hall, it felt, well, repetitive.

Artemis Entreri is back, in a completely unexpected manner, and I really enjoyed seeing him once again, though his obsession with battling Drizzt did begin to wear a little thin after a while. Just what all those shenanigans with the bat-wings were towards the end, that was just a little too goofy, as well. Not really sure about that at all.

Wulfgar was a real jerk for the majority of this book, as well. Seeing his character development, while it did kinda make sense, annoyed me so utterly that I was actually glad to see the yochlol eat him. A part of me, of course, hasn’t actually written him off yet. Until I see his mangled corpse, I’m not entirely convinced. As an aside, I got the impression that Salvatore, seeing how successful the character of Drizzt became in his trilogy about Wulfgar, decided to kill off the barbarian in order to concentrate on the elf. Of course, I don’t yet know if he’s really dead – along with the ‘no body rule’, I’m suspicious because of the fact they turned up Aegis-fang in that mound of rubble, but no sign of the big guy. Hm.

I am, however, trying to avoid reading anything on this subject, in case it proves or disproves my suspicions before I read the rest of the books!

So a strong beginning, but a bit of a mess the longer it went on. I’m actually going to take a break for a while, as I want to get reading some other stuff, so will likely move on to book eight after a couple of weeks. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next, though!

Fantastical musings (for a Monday)

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New deliveries today #StarWars #Pathfinder

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So this pair turned up on my doorstep today (not like this, of course – packaging was involved). But it’s very exciting, all the same – the first Star Wars novel to be published with the ‘Legends’ banner, and the final adventure deck in the Rise of the Runelords adventure path for Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.

And it’s the Pathfinder thing that’s been on my mind a lot lately. You may recall my somewhat lukewarm opinion of it from back in the day? Well that has been changing quite dramatically of late. While it’s still no Lord of the Rings, I’m finding myself drawn into the whole Pathfinder universe much more than I ever have been previously. Last night I spent some time with the core rulebook, though it’s such a massive tome that I didn’t get very far.

That said, I am definitely feeling in a RPG mood nowadays. On Saturday I found myself looking over some of the old d20 Star Wars web supplements I have, and felt a huge rush of excitement at seeing all the tools we have with which to make our own heroes, our own adventures, and our own worlds. That’s something that I hope to delve into again soon, as it’s been far too long since I’ve run a RPG campaign.

I also seem to be in something of a fantasy mood lately. I have, very excitingly, recently been loaned The Diamond Throne, the first book in the Elenium series by David Eddings, which will no doubt be featured here at some point in the coming days/weeks! To say nothing of the recent Warhammer acquisitions…

All of this has got me thinking about some ideas I had for a fantasy story back in 2006/7, when I spent some idle summer afternoons in work jotting down ideas as they came to me for interesting names and situations. I tried to thread them into a story back then, but short of about a hundred words in a now-lost Word document, I haven’t really done anything with them. Fortunately, however, I never throw anything like that away, and when I recently moved house I found a lot of my notes that I made.

While it’s not going to impact on my Star Wars writing (hopefully!), I am now intending to make something of all these odd jumbled notes, and once something has been finalised, it will pop up here for you to enjoy (or not, as the case may be!).

Until that time, however, here’s a picture of the Chinese I had for dinner:

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#Chinese

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