hankrules2011

A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Posts Tagged ‘David Weber’

My Years In Books: 2019

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 24, 2019

Every year, I participate in the Goodreads Annual Reading Challenge. At the beginning of each year, you set a goal for how many books you’ll read that year. Goodreads keeps track of your running total and then lets you know how you’ve done and what percentage of your goal you met. You can also see other participants in the Reading Challenge. Each year, they provide an end of year webpage showing your stats, how you did, etc. For some reason, they recently decided to make them only able to share to a few social network sites where I no longer have accounts. I remain annoyed by this, so I’m doing the next best thing for the second straight year. (And you can see my blog entry for 2018’s results here:  My Year In Books: 2018.) I’ve taken several screenshots showing information like what they describe as your “Year in Books,” parts of the webpage showing how many books, pages, etc, you read that year, the average length of the book, etc., my 2019 Reading Challenge results, my Reading Challenge results since 2013 and something I’ve never done before — an intro to the webpage of My Year in Books because as you’ll see, my numbers are tremendously skewed up this year and are thus somewhat deceptive, so I felt obligated to explain. For what it’s worth, I set my 2019 reading goal at 90 books. Goodreads is reporting I read 443 books, or 492% of my original goal. Like I said, I wrote an explanation because while I exceed my goal every year, it’s never by that much and there are a couple of reasons why this year’s numbers aren’t completely accurate. So I’m going to post these screenshots for you to see. If you want to see the actual books I read this year, you can go to my Goodreads profile here. (I believe you have to be a logged in member to view it, however…)

And now, the promised screenshots. Comments are welcome…

 

2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge

My Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge Results

 

 

 

My Goodreads All-time Annual Reading Challenge Results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019”

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019” — Introduction

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019” — End Of Webpage

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

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A Review of Bolo!

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 15, 2016

Bolo! (Bolo, #14)Bolo! by David Weber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bolo! isn’t necessarily a bad book. It’s just that it’s not that great either, at least not by David Weber’s standards. Apparently, one Keith Laumer created the Bolo decades ago. It’s an uber-tank, one with so many uber-weapons on it, everyone in the universe knows of it and is terrified of it. Just one alone can defend an entire planet. One can level an entire city while shooting down warships attacking the planet. It’s farfetched, but intriguing as a premise. And apparently, many authors have written stories and books with Bolos as their theme. This Weber book is a compilation of some short stories he wrote, mostly during the 1990s, collected here in one volume. It could be decent, but it’s not exactly what I expect from Weber, so I didn’t finish it.

The first story is about an old Bolo, about 80 years old, left unattended on this backwater planet, sent a new Naval commander. But the late former commander had made some “adjustments” to this Bolo and it has become essentially sentient. Its name is Nike and it thinks about its old and new commanders and analyzes everything at all times, searching for threats. The new commander, Merritt, realizes pretty quickly what he has on his hands and he doesn’t inform his chain of command because he doesn’t want his new toy taken from him. But he begins to develop an unusual and somewhat unrealistic affection for Nike, and this is what began to turn me off to the story. He starts treating Nike like a woman, like a girlfriend/mistress/lover and refers to her (it has a female voice, as it was programmed to have one by its late female commander) as “darling” and “love.” It’s a little too icky for me to like or buy.

An evil corporation wants to run the population off this planet because it’s just become a newly important junction in a trade route, so it hires a mercenary team, does some research and surveillance, discovers the Bolo and buys the mercenaries new tactical equipment, including two “generic” Bolos of their own. Then they invade. You can guess the rest of the story. The human and machine lovers ride off to their deaths into the sunset, defending the planet with their blood and … motor oil? It’s very touching. Yep. A bit overly dramatic, I’d call it. Way too dramatic. So damn dramatic, I decided not to read any more stories, as I figured I’d read just about enough on the Bolos that I could, why endure more?

Weber can write a great series. He has several and I have all of the books. He also usually writes great battle scenes. But his standalone books usually lack something. Such is the case with this one. It doesn’t have the usual Weber touch. It’s just too corny. Two stars or three? Three stars because the Bolos really are cool weapons. However, not recommended.

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A Review of The Road to Hell

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 26, 2016

The Road to Hell (Multiverse, #3)The Road to Hell by David Weber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, what an awesome book! It was so worth the wait. The Road to Hell is the third book in the Multiverse series, a series that began in 2006 by David Weber and Linda Evans. The next book was published in 2008, I believe, and stopped. Word got out that Weber’s collaborator’s health was poor, so the series was put on hold indefinitely. People lost hope for a new entry in the series, which would have been a disappointment because the first two books were so compelling. And now, as of March 1st of this year, Weber and a new collaborator, Joelle Presby, have finally put out the third book. Geez, it’s good. Just what I needed after how badly things had gone for the good guys in the first two books.

The war between magically-gifted Arcana, the “bad” guys, and psionically talented Sharona, the “good” guys, continues to rage. The dragon-borne Arcanan assault across five universes has been halted at Fort Salby by an extremely desperate defense, but at a horrible cost. Prince Janaki, heir to the Sharonian Empire, went knowingly to his death in defense of the empire. It was critical to stop the Arcanans because they were torturing and executing their Sharonian prisoners, especially the “Voices,” or telepath communicators used by the military and civilian commands to communicate from universe to universe. For weeks, no one had known there even WAS an invasion because no one had heard anything from any Voices. They were all dead. Fort Salby stopped that. And I, and probably all of the other readers, wanted vengeance. Demanded it. And we started getting it in this book. ‘Bout damn time too! While the defenders held the pass at Fort Salby, the newly mechanized Sharonian advanced strike force, went through other universes traveling thousands of miles over the course of three months to take back all but one of the universes and their forts, all without alerting the Arcanan army. Sweet.

We also see the sacrifice, it seems, of Janaki’s younger sister, Princess Andrin, now heir of Sharona, to be wed to a Uromathian prince in order to establish the new Sharonian Empire. But no one wants that except for the Uromathian emperor and his sons. Wait until you find out how Andrin and her advisers solve this puzzle!

Another major part of the story line in this book is the trial of the “good” Arcanan, Jasak, a court martial, where he is defended by his new fiancé and his two Sharonian prisoners he has taken in as family members. I was worried about this court martial for three straight books. It’s finally here.

Of course, since it’s part of an ongoing series (I hope it’s ongoing again), the authors had to stop at a critical point where I had to know what happens next, just so I’ll buy the next book that comes out, damn them, but I can’t wait until the next one and it’ll be a long time. I’ll probably reread the series a couple of times before it arrives on the shelves.

I loved this book. It had mystery, intrigue, sci fi/fantasy elements, character development, action, passion, tactics, etc. In short, just what you want out of a book. Very recommended, particularly if you’re reading the series. Five stars.

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A Review of Crusade

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 20, 2016

Crusade (Starfire, #2)Crusade by David Weber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Crusade, written in 1992, years before the Honor and Safehold series’, is David Weber doing what Weber does best. There are tons of excellent space battles which, after all, is his very best skill and talent. There are religious zealots, in this case, human-related aliens, led by bishop and archbishop generals who, as in the Safehold series, are sadistic, genocidal nutjobs. Why Weber decided at some point in his life that bishops and religious leaders would make good and believable generals is beyond me, but after reflection, I guess they don’t because after their initial victories and genocides, they usually seem to get their asses kicked by the “good” guys, so let that be a lesson to you, bad religious guys!

Also, there are “bad” politicians in the book, getting in the way of the military, not letting it do its job, trying to draw it down, get their own glory, fight their own stupid personal battles, generally be idiots, until the patriotic military dude wins the day and lets the military make its own tactical battle decisions, etc., and then and only then does the military start to win. Obviously, religious nuts and politicians are evil.

Oh yes, the Orions are the “good” aliens. The Thebans, the “bad” aliens/former Terrans, escaped the original Terran/Orion war a century or so ago through a wormhole no one has ever come out of and apparently thinks the Orions are still evil and humankind is still at war with them, thus when the Thebes appear out of said wormhole 100 years later, they fire on an Orion ship and the war begins. Of course, they are there to return mankind to Holy Terra’s original state, or what they think it should be according to their “holy” works as written by some freak a long time ago. Since the Terrans are now allied with the Orions, they are now polluted by the Satan Orions and must be eliminated, so off to the concentration camps with them and let’s execute as many as possible. Of course, there are resistance groups, and since they’re “good” Terrans, they’re smart and they outsmart the Thebes and, as is often the case with Weber, one of the high ranking Thebans, in this case the leading admiral, begins to have doubts about their mission and even their origin, as well as their treatment of the prisoners, so he defects to the Terran side, and with his help, the Terrans carry the battle to Thebes and all is well with the universe. Yay rah. No seriously, good book. Great battles, as always with Weber. I am reading a Jack Campbell series (The Lost Fleet) right now and while it’s okay, and while the space battles have great cover blurbs (of course), they can’t even compare at all with Weber. No one can. He’s simply the best. Of course, he has annoying habits that just get worse with each book he publishes: the number of characters, their stupid names and titles, the infodumps, etc. But he can do a battle like no other.

This book is part of an old series. I know this because I’ve read another Terran/Orion book. I don’t know the name of the series though and it’s not listed anywhere in the book where I can find it. I’d be interested in reading more, even though it’s old and not as good as his later series’, simply because these books are very action packed and tension filled and good indicators of his books to come. He even uses names we’ll see in future series’, like Manticore, Saint-Just, etc. I’d love to give this book five stars and I’m tempted to. I’m not sure I shouldn’t. But I’ve read too many five star books by Weber and I’m not sure this is on par with those numerous five star books. This is close, but not quite as good. Or is it? It’s a tough call. You know what? It was a really good book with a lot of drama, a lot of great action, a lot of tension, a lot of suspense, some really great battles. I see no reason not to give it five stars, so I guess I will after all. I can’t justify not giving it five stars. So five it is and recommended. And yes, the book stands on its own. Read it.

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A Review of Cauldron of Ghosts

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 1, 2016

Cauldron of Ghosts (Honor Harrington - Crown of Slaves)Cauldron of Ghosts by David Weber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh man, what a book! What a hell of a book! That was one of the best damn books I’ve ever read. So why only four stars? Cause the last few pages, the ending, is so anti-climactic and incomplete and leaves you panting for justice and revenge and more and more and it’s damned cruel of Weber to do this to us and I’ve NEVER felt so let down by an ending in my life!

This is the third book in what is probably a final book of an Honor Harrington sub-series trilogy called the Crown of Slaves Series, starring Manticorian superspy Anton Zilwecki, Havenite superspy Victor Cachet, Torch General Thandi Plame, and assorted other characters, many of whom we get to know quite well, some of whom we don’t. This book largely takes place on Mesa itself, home of genetic slave breeders and builders and destroyers of the human race, whom Manticore, Haven, Torch, Beowolfe, and the Audobon Ballroom have all found out the truth about and are about to come down on its heads, so the secretive Mesan Allignment is conducting Operation Houdini and disappearing thousands of its top people from the planet to places unknown, through nukes being blamed on ex-slave terrorist’s Ballroom, literally nuking their own population and causing a killing bloodlust among the Mesans for the slaves and seccies. Victor and Thandi have helped the local crime bosses set up to defend their areas of the city from the Mesan police and military and the fighting is gruesome with a take no prisoners approach. People, good and bad, die, are blown to smithereens, while our heroes hope that Zilwicki has reached Harrington and is bringing a Manticorian fleet back to Mesa to save them and to break the Mesan Allignment. Just as some of our heroes have committed suicide by bombs to save others and just as Cachet is about to blow himself and the entire 400 floor building they’re in to smithereens, a report comes in that some ships have been spotted in orbit. And that’s where it ends. AAARRRGGHHH!!! Okay, you can probably safely assume they’re Manticorian. But it’s never safe to assume anything, especially in Weber novels. How do we know these aren’t Solarian League ships? Whose ships are these? How do we even know they’re warships? It’s implied Honor’s friend, Mike, Admiral Henke, is riding command over this small fleet into Mesa, but it’s never actually said. We don’t know. So we don’t know if Victor and Thandi are saved, and all the others. We don’t know what happened to the thousands of Mesans who escaped via Operation Houdini. We don’t know what’s happening to the Mesan security forces. We don’t know what’s happening on Torch. We don’t know what’s happening with the other seccie rebellions about Mesa. We don’t know where Zilwicki is. We don’t know much of anything, dammit! So UNSATISFYING!!! So, this book had so much tension and so much action and so much intrigue and so much mystery and so much plotting and so much of just about anything you’d want out of some good military sci fi or some good Weber, but even though it’s among the best I’ve ever read and that means it’s a five star book, easily, I’m knocking it down to four stars because it’s at best, a two star ending. Geez, the last 10 pages make it a two star ending. Unreal. I simply can’t believe he’s leaving us that unsatisfied. And if rumors are true and this is the last book in the series, I’ll be forever unsatisfied and that will seriously piss me off. Weber does this to me. My wife hates him as a result. He’s pretty much the best writer I’ve ever seen. He can spin a tale like no other, can write battle scenes like no one else. But he’s got these damn annoying habits that drive you insane and make you want to punch him in the face. Shit! Safehold series, prime example. The names are ridiculous. The titles are ridiculous. The never-ending war is ridiculous. The story being told at the speed of sludge so I might finish it by the time I die is ridiculous. Dammit, Weber! Come on now, you have fans. You owe it to us to help us out. Geez. So, IF you’re reading this series, strongly, strongly recommended. If you’re not reading this series, you won’t understand anything that’s going on, so don’t read it. Great book.

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A Review of Crown of Slaves

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 4, 2016

Crown of Slaves (Honorverse: Wages of Sin, #1)Crown of Slaves by David Weber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Crown of Slaves is the first book in a new Honor Harrington sub-series called Wages of Sin focusing on Mesa-Manpower and the newly liberated ex-slaver planet of Torch. As I have figured out, these several sub-series’ are really required reading if one wants to get additional necessary pieces of information to fill in the gaps in the Honor series when it comes to things such as Torch, the Zilwickis, Haven super spy Victor Cachat, the whole Mesa-Manpower mystery/disaster in action, etc. This is a truly necessary series. This is a pretty good book and I’m already halfway through the second one.

Due to the complete incompetence of Manticore’s Queen Elizabeth’s current government, the tenuous alliance between the Star Kingdom of Manticore and its ally Erewhon is on the verge of dissolution, so the queen sends her niece, Ruth Winton, a spy-wannabe in training, as an “unofficial” representative to a state funeral to try to patch things up. And that’s where the story starts. The mission begins with Ruth, led by Manticore’s super spy, Anton Zilwicki, and his teenage daughter, Berry, off to Erewhon. It turns into quite the espionage incident, as Manticore, Solarian League, Havenite, Erewhon, Masadan fanatics, and Mesan groups all meet and engage in some way in this book, at times quite violently, while Berry and Ruth survive an assassination attempt with the help of Havenite Cachat, aided by Solarian marine lieutenant Thandi Palane, a most larger-than-life character. The two of them develop a relationship that is sweet and readers will quickly come to like the two characters, even if Victor is a cold-blooded killer.

Before the blood can dry, Victor leads a group of people on a mission to the planet, Congo, Manpower’s slave planet, to liberate the slaves and the planet. He and they do and for some bizarre reason, 17-year-old Berry, with a phenomenal personality who has really taken to the ex-slaves, is elected queen of the inhabitants of the newly renamed planet of Torch, with Ruth her intelligence director and Thandi, with the help of her “Amazon” warriors (who are a fun group of women in this book) installed as her military leader, and Audubon Ballroom terrorist leader Jeremy X installed as Minister of War. Of course, her father Anton will stay and help out with intelligence for an indefinite period of time, as will Victor. Both are intent upon penetrating Mesa-Manpower. And both are concerned about Mesa-Manpower’s attempts to get to Berry and others on Torch, with good reason, as we shall see.

This isn’t necessarily the best Honorverse book I’ve read, but I’d be hard pressed to name another that’s better. Of course, none of them really measure up to one of the better Honor books, but that’s to be expected. Still, it’s a good sub-series and I’m enjoying the second book more than the first. I’d love to give this book five stars, but I don’t think it’s a five star book. Still, it’s a solid four star book and easily recommended.

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