Books Read in December, 2019
October, 2019 Locus
Empire of Light by Gary Gibson
Mage's Bloodby David Hair
The Seer by Sonia Orin Lyris
November, 2019 Locus
The Banished of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler
December, 2019 Reader's Digest
Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse
Hercules The Legendary Journeys & Xena Warrior Princess Roleplaying Game (Boxed Set) by George Strayton et. al. (RPG) (r)
The Weave by Nancy Jane Moore
The Andromeda Evolution by Michael Crichton and Daniel H. Wilson
And that was my reading for December, 2019 and a wrap for the year that was. This was a pretty dcent month of book reading for me, given how ill I've been the last two weeks with whatever's affecting my lower abdomen and back, and I'm quite content with how many books I managed to read this past month. There were no Legion of Super-Heroes re-reads of comics for the month, as I'm unable to access them until I get a few more boxes for them. It was a slightly abve average month of book reads for me, since I tend to read usually 4-6 books per month, in addition to the other stuff. Most of the books this month were pretty enjoyable, though nothing really stood out. Anyway, the books that I enjoyed the most were...
The Andromeda Evolution by Michael Crichton and Daniel H. Wilson - Like many readers, I had read The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton when it was first published fifty (!!) years ago. |I had read some of his other books in the intervening years, such as the Jurassic Park stuff among others, and recalled liking pretty much all of them. In this sequel to that original story, we learn that in the decades since, the Andromeda Strain has evolved, mutated, and is replicating. It took a while for me to become engaged in this story. The basic plot is that a structure deep in the Amazon jungle has been detected and appears to be growing in size. A mutated form of the Andromeda Strain seems to be spreading from this anomaly and killing isolated indigenous people and animals in its path. Project Wildfire was set up to test and study the two known types of the strain known at the time. AS-1 caused death by inhalation and then evolved into AS-2 which destroyed plastics. Project Wildfire became Project Eternal Vigilance. Their mission was to monitor new outbreaks and any future mutations. The project was readying to shut down when new alarms were caused by what was occurring in Brazil. A five-person team with members of various backgrounds and ethnicities, and with expertise in specialized fields of science and technology have been selected to go to the Amazon to study the phenomena and shut it down. Failing their mission, the military would take steps to destroy the anomaly which might result in devastating much of the world. Too be honest, I wasn't sure what to make of this novel at the beginning. Written by author Daniel Wilson, I wasn't sure that he'd be able to capture the feel and style of Michael Crichton to a large extent, but I'm happy to report that he did just nicely here. The characters are stereotypes, but that's what made them interesting to me and how they evolve as the novel goes on. The early part of the book is full of techno-babble and multiple acronyms that I struggled a bit with, as it diluted the tension and suspense somewhat for me, but there's no doubt in my mind that the theories and future predictions of technology were well researched. As the novel continued and the number of characters got cut down due to various calamities and the like, the story became more compelling. Additionally, the action was amazing and thrilling for the most part, and kept me rapt. I recommend the book for fans of the original, and to see how the new author handled the Andromeda Strain's evolution in this story.
The Seer by Sonia Orin Lyris - This book has been sitting in my reading queue (which is quite large, by the way!) since 2016, and I finally decided to get around to reading it as the cover still intrigued me every time I saw it in the queue. What can I say about the book? Well, Amarta can see the future, but nothing is certain, everything changes, and a man made powerful by her own talent will stop at nothing to have her power for his own - or for none at all. Innel is a man raised in the King’s Cohort, raised to fight, raised to command, raised for one to become the Royal Consort to the princess. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, he juggles plots and pulls strings to achieve what no one else could... But he has a secret, one that can not be known. In the empire of Arunkel, which is held together by an iron fist - an iron fist made up of many fingers, each with their own goals — Innel must step wary, lest all that he has fought for comes to naught. And in the midst of being crushed by it all, Arunkel is falling into deep and terrible war. While I won't say that it's a masterpiece of epic fantasy storytelling, The Seer is a tale in the vein of the first book of the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin, with terrific characters, superb pacing, and lovely, tight prose. Amarta is a fascinating character, and watching her develop her abilities was a lot of fun, even as she was sliding away from understand, being pummeled and crushed under the complexity and enormity of her power(s). And that doesn't even cover the presence of the assassin or the mage... This is a big book, a complex book, with four main characters, multiple prominent additional characters and lots of moving pieces. Because of the number of characters, the connection to the characters of the Houses wasn't all that close for me, but the other characters more than made up for that. There is plenty of attention to detail and research that went into this novel, with the detailed, extensive history of the land, that is full of conflict, and lots of greatness. Mysteries abound by the end of the story, though the author does wrap up the novel and the various strands with grace. Hopefully, there will be more stories set in this world that she has created. Very much recommended.
Overall, I managed to read 7 novels, 1 RPG and RPG product, 3 magazine, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in December. This brings the 2019 year end totals up to the following: 77 books, 14 RPGs and RPG products, 22 magazines, 186 comics, and 3 graphic novels. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't manage to get to 100 books (not including RPGs and other stuff) this year, but part of the reason for that was a couple of truly dismal months of reading. But it wasn't a shabby year's total, to be honest, so that's a good thing.
That said, I'm looking forward to what 2020 brings in my books (and comics) reading!