Saturday, November 28, 2009

I finished two books over the Thanksgiving break.

The first is Dzur by Steven Brust. I'm a big Brust fan and have read all of his books. Dzur is a good read, but not one of the best of the series. Like most of the later books in the series, it uses an unconventional structure. This one is structured around a meal the main characters has. Each chapter starts with a re-telling of part of the meal and then continues into the main story. It was also the latest book in both chronological and publication order, rare in a series that jumps back and forth in time.

Of course the book will be almost unreadable by anyone who hasn't read the series, even though they tell self-contained stories.

The second book was Pale Horse Coming by Stephen Hunter.

Pale Horse Coming falls into the category of what I call tough guy noir. Pioneered by Mickey Spillane, the books feature characters that are constantly upping the stakes in toughness, until the toughest bastard is the one left alive. Hunter does add some emotional depth and variety to his tough guys, which does make the book more compelling.

The story features an isolated prison farm in rural Mississippi during the 50s, featuring brutal treatment of the inmates and a mysterious secret that ends up explaining some its isolation and brutality. It's a page turner, with some off putting parts. It's set in the 50s and the racial language used is period accurate, which reads as fairly shocking to modern ears. Also, towards the end there is one chapter that is basically gun porn and isn't really necessary to the rest of the story at all.

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