Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reading series of books

Right now I'm in the middle of reading several series of books.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. It's rather good. I'm on the fourth book already. Never worry, dear reader, I am not about to turn into one of those fantasy geeks. I highly recommend it if you have a high enough threshold for sex and violins and if you can stand reading multiple 1000-page books. I'm on the fourth book already.
  • The Master of Hestviken by Sigrid Undset. She wrote this series of books after Kristin Lavransdatter. Again, requires a certain threshold for sax and violins. Reading this alongside ASoIaF is pretty cool, as both worlds have the rough feel of 13th century Norway, but one is realistic and one is fantastic. I have only finished the first book, which is a fairly painful story about a young couple who want to be married, but fornication, deaths of parents, property problems, murders, exile, infidelity, and abortion complicate things. It's a tetralogy, but has only approximately 1100 pages, so it's not much compared to the other series I'm reading.
  • The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. I just started this. I'm about 400 pages into the first book. I assure you, I am not going to turn into a sci-fi geek, either. I am fairly sure I can keep up the momentum and finish the next 2400 pages of the series. I am, however, mildly disappointed by the naval scenes so far because I am used to a high standard of writing about 18th century English naval life. I realize he's hitting a slightly earlier era than I'm used to seeing, but boats are boats.
I recommend all three series, but the first is very much an R-rated series, which some people might not handle well. Others may lack the attention span necessary to complete one 900-page book, much less 5. I also hear that the series is trailing off toward the end. I recommend Hestviken if you liked Lavransdatter and I think everybody should like Lavransdatter. It is very well written and engaging. And who doesn't care about 13th century Norwegian social norms? I think a lot of people would hate the Stephenson series, especially if they don't care or know much about 17th century history and the history of science in particular.