To Ride Hell’s Chasm, by Janny Wurts

Hell’s Chasm terrifies me, and it does so because Janny Wurts’ talent for writing about a harrowing flight through some of nature’s most unforgiving terrain is second to no one. I didn’t even really understand the title of the book until the lead characters come to the titular Chasm itself, and then I could think…

Kings of the Wyld, Nicholas Eames

As if the fantasy genre and heavy metal weren’t connected enough, along comes Nicholas Eames to tighten the leather straps and forever marry two oddly similar forms of entertainment in Kings of the Wyld, the first in a series that thrums like a Jimmy Page riff in a genre full of entry-level chord practice. What’s…

Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

It took me ten days to read The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson. I could have probably read four or five books in that time, but instead I chose to invest myself in this sprawling fantasy epic that clocked in at over 1200 pages, in the mass market paperback version, and while I found…

Problems in Redwall

I hadn’t planned on writing about Redwall. I don’t meant to be reductive when I say that it’s a kid’s book, and finding depth and writing insight within it wasn’t something I expected. That’s not to say that books written for children always lack depth, but they aren’t known for it. I read Redwall because…

Book Review – Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

I’ve read more science fiction in the past year than I have in my entire life, largely thanks to the influence of Neal Stephenson and Ursula LeGuin. I have some large sections of my sci-fi puzzle missing, and Orson Scott Card was a big piece of that. I knew very little about Ender’s Game going…

Book Review – Sabriel, by Garth Nix

I’ve been interested in this book for a long time because at some point, and I don’t remember when, someone read me a paragraph from Sabriel that was beautiful. Having now read the book, I have no idea which passage that was, but that’s largely due to the book having elegant and pleasing prose throughout…

Book Review – The Ark Sakura, by Kobe Abe

The Ark Sakura has all the makings of a novel I’d love. It has a Murakami-esque weirdness to it, and I could certainly see where Abe has influenced my favorite author, but the story itself never really comes together. Maybe it’s not supposed to.  Regardless, it has sparked my desire to read more Abe, and…

Manga Review – Mushishi, by Yuki Urushibara

Adding manga to my curriculum was a last minute thought. I’ve never been drawn to manga (Japanese comic books), despite my love of Japanese pop-culture and appreciation of certain animes (Japanese animated movies and shows).  It’s always seemed so…ridiculous. I say this as a man who loves ridiculous and absurd things. Why something both Japanese…

Book Review – Premodern Japan, by Mikiso Hane and Louis G. Perez

In considering the full curriculum of Japanese culture that I’ve undertaken, it became clear to me as soon I as finished Premodern Japan that I should have read it before doing anything else. It is such a comprehensive look at Japan from its earliest written records up to the Meiji restoration that it puts anything…

Book Review – Baptism of Fire, by Andrej Sapkowski

From the little research I’ve done, it seems as though Baptism of Fire is fourth in the Witcher series of books, but I don’t know if that’s right or not because there are two canonical books of short stories that precede the novels. Baptism of Fire is the third series installment, set after Blood of…

Book Review – Groteseque, by Natsuo Kirino

I’ve never been drawn to murder mystery novels, particularly those of American stock. I loved Edgar Allen Poe in high school, and still do, but feel that most of the current murder fiction out there is predictable and mediocre. Our national fascination with murder mysteries is itself incredible. We are a country both awe-struck and terrified of…

Book Review – Precarious Japan, by Anne Allison

Precarious Japan is a book published in 2013, not long after Japan’s massive earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown tragedy in March of 2011. It’s a socioeconomic look at modern Japan, where it’s at and potentially where it’s headed. What struck me most while reading through Precarious Japan was how familiar it felt. I live in the United States, a…