So I’ve actually had a little time here and there to get some reading (for enjoyment, just to be clear) lately, and I’m please that two have the books I’ve read have really held my attention.
First, Jim Butcher’s The Furies of Calderon. I haven’t actually read any Jim Butcher before (yes, I know I have to try the Dresden Files books now). In the Codex Alera series, I think he’s got some great world building going on, but what really mpressed me was this passage that brought the tension before an epic battle to life:
“Amara watched as centurions repeated the command down the length of the wall on either side of her and men stepped up to the battlements, bows in hands, arrows resting on quivers beside them. They set arrows to the strings, eyes focused intently on the edge of the area lit by Garrison’s furylights, and held their bows half-raised. Tension made their forms gaunt, the harsh lights behind them casting their eyes into shadow, making them faceless. Amara heard a soldier not far away take in a deep breath and blow it out, as though impatient for it all to be finished.”
It loses some of its punch in isolation, but this paragraph just brought this entire scene together in the book. I was very impressed and went back and read it several times just to enjoy it.
Second, is Dissolution by C.J. Sansom, the first in his Shardlake mystery series set in mid-16th century England. I enjoyed this one not just for its quite engaging story but for its sense of atmosphere and its characters.
Sansom has a great touch for invoking the feel of the weather — cool, damp; a cold snap, snow, and sleet; cold sunlight on a bright winter morning; a sudden thaw — that I real admire. But what I admire more is his main character, Shardlake. The story is told in the first person but Shardlake still comes across as someone with serious weaknesses. He wrestles with his religious beliefs and his feelings for a servant-girl. He gets jealous when his assistant (younger and better looking) gets the servant-girl. I love that he has created such a flawed but natural character. Shardlake really feels like a real person.
I’ll definitely be reading more in both series — once I tame my reading shelf a little more…