As a start to 2022, I thought I would round out my book reviews for 2021.
Due to a slight case of Could Be Bothered, I didn’t write any reviews for November and December.
I ended up reading 59 books for the year with the highlights being the Discworld novels and Innkeeper Chronicles. The non-fiction I read last year was a little underwhelming aside from Science Fiction as Philosophy and The End of Policing.
Hopefully, 2022 brings us all many more good books!
Sweep with Me by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A short and sweet instalment to the Innkeeper Chronicles.
This almost felt like a goodbye to Gertrude Hunt and its characters. I hope that isn’t the case.
Persepolis Rising, Tiamat’s Wrath, and Leviatan Falls by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I took a break from reading The Expanse series around the time Persepolis Rising came out. After reading Babylon’s Ashes I’d had enough and didn’t intend to read the final three books.
But here we are. And I’m glad I did. The final three books in The Expanse were exactly the sort of strong ending the series deserved. The 5 star rating is for Ty and Dan sticking the landing on a modern sci-fi classic.
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ve been meaning to read more of the Kate Daniels adventures.
The Innkeeper Chronicles were my recent binge, so I needed something to sate my Ilona Andrews addiction.
I stand by my original assessment that the Kate Daniels series is the Dresden Files without a jerk as the main character.
Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Damian Duffy
I mistakenly picked this up on the e-library thinking I’d found an Octavia Butler ebook.
Normally I read graphic novels on a big screen, not my phone. And this is a wordy adaptation – although, I see other reviews suggesting Duffy has successfully cut a lot of the waffle from the source material. So my experience was very muted.
I’ll try to track down the original and maybe revisit this comic on a larger screen.
Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
After arriving at the halfway point of the novel, I found myself wondering if anything was going to happen. And much like my experience with The Wheel of Time series, I felt like this epic fantasy was going to drag out longer than I had the patience for.
To be fair, I gave Lord of the Rings a lot of leeway to eventually get started, something I’m not doing with Pawn of Prophecy. At least they set off for adventure a bit faster here.
Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan by A.C. Grayling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a slog to get through. Grayling is of the school of “use 100 words where 10 will suffice” writing, which is obviously very helpful in discussing war crimes. But this is also an important text and topic which shows how immoral much of the actions of WW2 were. Easiest just to read the Judgement and Postscript chapters.
Comments while reading:
Grayling writes like he is trying to fit entire paragraphs into his sentences.
Shaun made a good video recently covering the bombing of Japan. The take-away is that area bombing was used in Japan very deliberately to attack non-military targets so that it would be noticed (have the most psychological impact) and force the Japanese to a quicker full concession. I.e. The allies wanted to carve up Japan without any negotiations (which Japan had been requesting for quite some time at that point) and preferably before Stalin got involved.
This review makes a couple of very interesting comments. The parts about Churchill are to be expected as many are unaware of just how terrible he was and how he essentially genocided Bengal among just some of his deeds. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…
Culturcide: an interesting idea. Military were trying to effectively wipe out not just industry used for war, but also culture and society. Send the Germans back to an agrarian state with bombing of all cities with more than 100k people. That’s pretty dark.
If there is a summary of the bombing, bombed, and resistance sections of this book, I think it would be the words righteous anger and malevolence. There was a level of malevolence to those in charge of targeting civilians. They justify these actions, but ultimately they have an enemy they want to attack and hurt. And their supporters tend to be fueled by righteous anger. This enemy attacks us, let’s attack them back, let’s pay it back 10-fold.
In amongst that, it is comforting to read that there were those who pointed out the depravity of these actions. Often the people least likely to want “revenge” were those who had suffered, realising that others would suffer too.
Less heartening is how common that righteous anger is deployed even now. Whether it be against other countries, other peoples, other ideas, criminals, etc., the common theme is wanting to make others suffer for some perceived sleight. Yet no one seems to want to stop that cycle of violence and find a different way to right wrongs.
In the case against, Grayling starts by pointing out moral philosophy is dealing with agreed values across humanity. But then, for some reason, he makes a simplistic jab at pacifists and their rejection of just war… Sure, tell me all about how fascists suddenly sprang forth the day war was declared, and that there was no chance to stop them prior, nor direct causes for their creation in the post-WW1 policies of the allies.