Saturday, January 10, 2009

Readin': The First Law - Last Argument of Kings

Joe Abercrombie finished up his First Law fantasy trilogy in spectacular fashion. There were several astonishing surprises in this third book, Last Argument of Kings (Louis XIV had that printed on the barrels of his cannons). As usual, there was plenty of fighting and military action, but Abercrombie's truly incredible achievement was how deeply and relentlessly he delved into the mental and emotional lives of so many of his characters.

Who would have ever thought that anyone could come to have sympathy for a ranking member of the Inquisition? Or that that man was capable, given his day job and the daily humiliations his life entailed, of extraordinary sensitivity and kindness? Yet this same man deposed his boss, was threatened with death by a man he had ruined and sent off to prison, and then recruited that same man to be his lieutenant. Directly after the recruitment they go off to torture the old boss for amusement more than anything else. Fascinating stuff, really.

Several of the other characters emerge and grow in surprising fashions. Two become kings; neither one likes it. Another, a commoner, becomes Lord Marshal of the realm. Amazing stuff.

I finished that book during my vacation time between Christmas and New Year's; the company where I work asked all of its North American employees to take that week off. I did so gladly; always willing to be a company man when it works out to my benefit as well!

Of course, I had to make sure that I had other books lined up once Abercrombie's was finished. One of our family traditions is to give everyone an inscribed book as a Christmas gift. This year, I got two spy novels by Charles McCarry; The Miernik Dossier and Tears of Autumn. I finished The Miernik Dossier yesterday. The books were originally published in the mid 1970s and have been reprinted in paperback in the past couple of years. The Miernik Dossier is written in a fascinating style; as though it was assembled from disparate bits of intelligence material gleaned from a wide variety of sources for the benefit of an unnamed audience that wished to have a closer understanding of how intelligence operations worked. Very well done and well worth finding. I have started Tears of Autumn which takes place in 1963 and deals with the assasination of JFK as its central puzzle. I'm not very far into it, but am well hooked by the writing and exposition of the central character, Paul Christopher. Good stuff and well worth reading.

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About Me

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.