Goodbye to a Dear Friend

In my last review, I mentioned how I was exhausted and depressed. It probably colored the review and made it a little dark. You see, I had to put my dog Bear down yesterday, and even before then I think I knew in my heart he was dying. His kidneys shut down and he was in so much pain…he had dropped 24 pounds in 1 week.  Still, it hurts to see him go.

Bear was a red tri-color Australian Shepherd, who walked up to my roommate and I in a parking lot one day, already 8 months old. The owner walked over and told us to keep him. He had been abused by that owner, but we worked with him and he developed quite wonderfully. He loved to chase tennis balls and deer, and he could run like a greyhound. At 2 years old he ate some carpenter’s glue, which swelled up into a ball in his stomach. He was not expected to live, but after surgery the vet called him “the miracle dog.”

He would sit in the yard during the day, waiting until he saw the car come down the driveway, then bolt to the house and wait for the car to drive up. As I opened the door, he would put his front paws on the threshold and let me know he was happy I was home. It hit me particularly hard yesterday as I left work early. There was no one waiting there, watching the driveway, no one waiting to climb in the car.

Hound of Shadow, you will be missed…

Book Review: Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson

Format: Hardcover, Book Club Edition, 2001

Pages:  1000

Reading Time:  A long time…

One month and 1000 pages after starting this book, I’m exhausted. And depressed. We’ll get to that in a minute.

I’m not sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said. By all accounts, this is Erikson’s finest work, and I’m inclined to agree so far. The first 800 pages are fascinating, following the journeys of several different characters as they gravitate towards the cities of Capustan and Coral. Although Erikson jumps between different viewpoints as he did in previous books, which I found maddening, here he is much more restrained. With longer sections devoted to each viewpoint, it is easier to follow the storyline. There are some memorable scenes, too, as main characters meet up with one another for the first time.

I still can’t help but feel, though, that I’m missing something. I’m often lost trying to follow Warrens and worlds, gods and spirits and first swords, that all suddenly come into being or are created out of nothing – I just feel like the imagery and explanation required to illuminate these concepts are inadequate. Erikson probably has such things very clear in his head, and some folks seem to pick up such subtleties, but I’m not one of them. Sometimes there are limits on power, and other times power seems limitless.

The last 200 pages revert back to the rapidly-switching viewpoints, and there’s so much action crammed into those pages, that the end gets wrapped up a little too quickly. Characters who once traveled together for weeks, pass each other at the end unknowingly, and some of it comes off as a cheap stunt merely for effect. I can’t explain it more without giving away spoilers, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Finally, don’t these people get tired of fighting? That’s all that happens in these books. There’s no exploration, no adventure, no romance (bedhopping doesn’t count), and friendships are short-lived. We see a lot of characters just so that we can see a lot of characters killed off. There’s so much fighting and dying. Even heroic acts cost multiple lives. It’s rather depressing.

I’m really conflicted on my feelings towards this book. It’s Erikson’s best yet, not having read anything after this one. I liked parts of the story, particularly the early journeys of Toc the Younger. I just don’t know if I will continue to follow the death and destruction that seem to be the only thing these books have to offer.

Blogspotter: Tuesday, June 14th

Bookworm Blues covers a topic that seems to have been covered by many bloggers lately: The Role of eReaders and the future of reading.

My thoughts as they appear in the comments:

“The CD vs. mp3 examples cited above are not the best analogy…a better one would be vinyl LPs vs. CDs. CDs are more portable, especially since you can rip them to mp3s. You can play CDs on your PC, in your car, and ripped CDs can be played on mp3 players. Vinyl, on the other hand, was limited to record players.

Flexibility and portability, as well as cost, will be the deciding factors. It’s cheaper to take a file created on a word processor and download it to a kindle, than it is to print, bind, ship, and stock a physical book. You can’t rip a printed book to your e-reader, so that makes a printed book more like vinyl LPs.

The change is coming, and it will be forced upon us like CDs were. I’m not happy about it, because I prefer printed books, but I’m not blind to the fact that printed books will become a niche market.”

Blogspotter: Tuesday, June 6th

Ah, the verge of summer…when a few nice days can make me forget about reading, while forcing me to start cutting down blackberries and scotch broom, mowing 3 acres worth of grass, and planting trees, flowers, and tomatoes while sweeping porches, filling birdfeeders, and shopping for a new gas grill.

Somehow I’ve still managed to get halfway through A Memory of Ice…only 500 pages to go! I’ve been trying to keep up with watching A Game of Thrones, as well as taking in Pirates of the Caribbean: Stranger Tides.

In the meantime, Blogspotter takes you to a couple of new thoughts about The Name of the Wind:

Bookworm Blues has some thoughts

As does Noah Dorfman

And on that note, I’ll call it a night…