Sunday, May 31, 2009

Recently Read

Unlike Kanye West, I am a proud reader of books. And in the last week, I've finished the latest volume in each of two ongoing fantasy series.

The first was Turncoat, the eleventh volume in The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Harry Dresden, P.I., is Chicago's only publicly practicing wizard. He has gone from being an outcast under a death sentence for using magic to kill the wizard who mentored him -- self-defense was, in the eyes of the White Council, no excuse -- to being a Warden, one of the Council's magical enforcers. He's grown in power and commitment to doing what is right over time, while never coming close to outgrowing his sarcastic, semi-cynical outlook. He's no straw man; he faces temptation, and while he wants to do what's right, he's the first to admit that sometimes he just can't figure out what is right: Is it sticking to his principles? Is it doing what's going to hurt the fewest people and keep the most alive? Is it staying alive to fight another day? This series is unique, in my experience, in that after 11 books, it is still getting richer and deeper with every volume. The mix of humor, action, philosophy (the ongoing discussion of retribution vs. justice is worth the price of admission), and pure fun is fantastic and should not be missed.

The second was MythOS by Kelly McCullough. It's the fourth volume in the saga of Ravirn, descendant of the Fates from Greek mythology and hacker extraordinare. Yes, hacker, for in this series, magic comes from Chaos, which is the primal force in the universe, and Chaos is tamed with...computers. This time, Ravirn (also known as Raven) and his sometimes goblin, sometimes laptop companion Melchior, along with the Fury Tisiphone, are trying to repair damage done in the previous volumes to Necessity, the mainframe that runs the multiverse they inhabit. Unfortunately, they are swept up in a conflict in another universe unconnected to theirs, where the underlying information infrastructure is based on Norse mythology. You know, Odin, Loki, Ragnarok, frost giants, Valhalla, Valkyries, and all that implies. This is another book that is chock full of action, humor, and deep thought. Consider this passage: When we think of memory, we tend to focus on the power of remembering, of how we learn from our past and how that affects our future. But forgetting is just as powerful as remembering. It allow us to move beyond the pains of the past to live in the present. I think that's simply beautiful.

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