Monday, 10 February 2014

Don't judge a book by its cover

Or an author by his name.

Spent most of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 reading Robert Jordan's
Wheel of Time series. Picked the first up out of curiocity, then got
drawn in; the Kindle makes it seductively easy to read a whole series of
books in succession by making the next book available at the click of a
touchscreen button, whatever time of night or early hour of the morning
you finish the one you're reading.

Fourteen volumes later, I finished the last one, and was suddenly
bereft, not sure what to read next but desperate for something, anything
to fill the void suddenly left by the climactic conclusion of Rand
al'Thor's story.

I've always been a sucker for escapism and fantasy fiction. A steady
childhood diet of Tolkein and Dungeons and Dragons saw to that, I think.

I had a paperback copy of Moby Dick that I'd brought just before my wife
gave me the Kindle, and briefly tried to restart that. But paperbacks
are never to hand when you have a moment to read.

Quite keen on historical fiction as well, as long as it has the right
pace. A huge fan of Bernard Cornwall. I think if I ever realised my
childhood ambition of writing my own book, I would aim for something as
accessibly gripping as the many Sharpe books he's written, all of which,
needless to say, I've read any number of times.

Bean, our drummer, is also a total bookwork of similar tastes to my own,
and suggested I might like Conn Iggulden. Bean; a drummer who can read?
Who would've guessed such a thing could exist?

Anyway, facile micky-taking aside, I picked him up on his suggestion,
and dug into Iggulden's Emperor series, in which he writes of the rise
and fall of Julius Caesar. Even without Bean's recommendation, the
subject alone, and the perusal of the first page to guarantee the style
of writing was at least tolerable, would have been enough to drag me in.

Three books through now. Or maybe four. Lost count. But not
disappointed. Not quite Bernard Cornwall in the focus of the
characterisation or fluidity of his storytelling, but close, very close.

Discovered an interesting fact this morning. I'd assumed Iggulden, from
his name alone, was from somewhere overseas. I'd also assumed he was
older than me, as it's a name not unfamiliar from bookshelves and has
been for a fair few years now, even if I haven't previously read him.

Turns out he's as English as I am. And the same age as me.

Seems he also co-authored The Dangerous Book for Boys, a copy of which I
bought my youngest son some small while back, and a literary effort I
whole-heartedly approve of in both fact and principle.

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