Friday, 24 January 2014

Day 19: Books - 'yay, give me more' and 'oh, why did I read that?' (requested by the4ts)

the4ts Name at least one book you wish you'd never, ever read and one book you would happily read over and over again.

Very Happy I Read

Let's start with the good stuff.

I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to twist this one a little because someone already asked me what my favourite books that I can read over and over again are, so what I'm going to do is talk about a book I have just finished that I am really glad I read. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and I will undoubtedly pick it up again at some point in the future.

The only way to describe this book is Viking werewolves(ish) in space. It's a Warhammer 40,000 book and it's called The Space Wolf Omnibus by William King. I bought it in a Cancer Research charity shop for £1.80 and it's the kind of book I tend to buy just to have a look at it. I wasn't sure I was going to like it. The fact is I enjoyed it so much I searched out the second omnibus and bought that too (it's in the post as we speak).

The book is a set of three novels about Ragnar, a young Viking from the world of Fenris. When the first book opens as far as he knows his whole world is the islands on which the Viking tribes live, but when he dies he starts a completely new life, or rather, when he almost dies.

Ragnar is taken by the Choosers of the Slain and in the first book he trains to become a Space Wolf. Space Wolves aren't actually werewolves, but they have been implanted with the gene-seed that gives them wolf like characteristics, but I still think of them as werewolves in space :). We see through Ragnar's eyes and all his confusion at the new worlds and new possibilities opening up before him.

In the second book Ragnar is a Blood Claw, the lowest rank among the Space Wolves and we are allowed to live his first off world mission with him.

Then in the third book Ragnar is just seasoned enough to almost be a Grey Hunter and we see him go to war with the whole chapter of Space Wolves to retrieve one of their sacred relics from the forces of Chaos.

As far as I am concerned each book was better than the next. I enjoyed the first book, but I found Ragnar's ignorance of everything around him a little jarring. Then the second book is exciting and had me continually coming back for more, and finally the third book I didn't want to put down.

The only thing I could have lived without were some of the battles. They became a little repetitive in places (but that's probably just me - I'm not much of a battle person :)) and I have to admit to skimming through some of them for the important plot points and not really taking much notice of the rest. However, there is plenty of other, much more interesting stuff around the battles, so this isn't a big issue for me. After all it is called Warhammer, so I had to expect some epic battles :).

Ragnar is a great character. He has doubts and flaws, but he's still a fantastic warrior and he's especially good when teamed up with his friend Sven, because they play off each other really well. In the first book he's more alone and isolated, which is part of why I think I prefer the later books, because Sven is there as well.

These books exist in a very interesting universe that I find fascinating as well, which really helps keep me interested. They have good characters, good plot and good world building. The way Ragnar learns everything gives the reader a way to learn everything as well, which is a very useful device. I am looking forward to when the new omnibus arrives.

The one thing I had to wonder though ... with all these hot blooded males, what about sex? Ragnar is attracted to a female character at one point, but it never comes to anything. I had to wonder what happened to their sex drives. Also, a very male orientated book, simply because of the setup there are virtually no female characters.

Wish I had Never Read

It's difficult to come up with any books I wish I had never read because I'm the type of person that if I start reading it and don't like it I stop reading.

However, one does come to mind. When I was a teenager I had a much higher tolerance for nasty horror than I do now. I remember going through the whole horror section of the school library as well as picking up books from second hand shops.

The book I wish I had never read is Slugs by Shaun Hutson and this isn't because I think it's terribly written or anything like that. It's because there are parts in it that have haunted me since the day I read them. This book has fantastic horror, but I could totally have lived without those mental images for the rest of my life :). I'm not going to share because I don't think you really want to know.

As for bad books. Mostly the only one's I've finished that I wish I had never read are short story eBooks. I'm not going to name any, but I have found that some are simply boring. I tend to download a lot of short story free eBooks to check out new authors and there had been a few that I would never look at again. My favourite genre for these is horror and I like ghost stories and demons and stuff like that (rather than the animal horror like Slugs :)) and some of them just aren't scary and others don't seem to understand that even in a short you need a story. It isn't enough just to throw words onto paper.

I think that's a very good reason for having free short stories, that way you can test a writer and see if you are going to enjoy their books before leaping into a full novel. I find it very useful. Along with the bad I have also read some really good books.

So, do you have any books that you have been really glad you read, or that you wish you had never seen? I'd love to hear about them.

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