On Jens’s recommendation, I’ve picked up Shadow & Claw, by Gene Wolfe. I’ve so far read the first half, The Shadow of the Torturer, and it is excellent. I get the impression that I’m not really smart enough to catch all the allusions and what not, but that’s fine. I’m enjoying it and eagerly look forward to seeing more of this dark, declining world. It’s difficult to summarize, but if you took my advice and read and enjoyed any of China Miéville’s books, you’ll probably like these, too.
Between the two halves of that I happened to notice Sharpe’s Tiger at the local HalfPrice Books and nabbed that. It’s the first of Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe books. I’ve always wanted to read them, but never actually came across the first book of the series before. Technically, it’s not the first, but it is the first chronologically, being Sharpe’s first big military adventure, and set earlier than the other books. I’m guessing it doesn’t really matter what order you read them it, but the comic book reader in me wants to read it this way. I love that period of history, with the rampant deluded colonialism and technology just advanced enough to be dangerous to user and victim alike. There is still plenty of opportunity for adventure in 18th-19th century Earth. It’s been a lot of fun so far.
I’ve been obsessed with Phonogram: The Singles Club lately, having finally obtained the couple issues I missed when they first came out. Written by Kieron Gillen with Jamie McKelvie on art. It’s a series about music, the effect it can have on us, and how magical that is. These comics haven’t left my side for the past week.
The series is set in a London dance club and all takes place over a single night. Each issue presents the night from a different character’s point of view, and by the end of the (fantastic) last issue you get a pretty complete idea of everything that happened. Each of the tales has a bit of a supernatural twist (in the Phonogram universe, music is literally magical), but the stories are still grounded and human. It’s a beautiful, funny, heartbreaking series. At some point I need to pick up Rue Britannia, the original Phonogram series.
I don’t think it’s vital to be familiar with the music that’s referenced throughout to enjoy the stories, but I noticed my enjoyment of the series ramped up considerably once I started checking out the bands (praise be to Pandora).
What are you reading?