Tuesday 30 August 2016

Book Review: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

About the Book

Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin's magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces manoeuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords...

My Review (5 / 5 Stars)

I'm thoroughly enjoying this series, but I can't think of anything else to say about it at this point without spoiling anything.

The depth of characters, the complicated and well thought out plots and motivations, the rich detail of the setting... what's not to like?

I will say that a LOT happens in this instalment; more than in either volume before it. And the trend looks set to continue, because according to Wikipedia, each book is longer than the last. I hope this isn't too big of a spoiler, but lots of people die in this one. It's almost as though the author is clearing away some older characters to make way for new ones.

As I intimated earlier, this book IS long, and I'm not the kind of person who can read a whole book series back-to-back. That's particularly true for this one because it's also very intense. I'll be taking a bit of a break before diving into the next book.

Buy Now

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Want Tales From Virdura Free?

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I would be taking a break from social media for a few weeks.

Well, I'm back, and I can now reveal why I was away: my wife and I bought a house!

Yes, that's right. After ten years of living in a third-storey flat, in a complex without a lift, we have a nice big house that we can lose ourselves in. Not only that, but we have an outdoors... and even a pool.

The last two weeks have been spent packing up the flat, and unpacking the house. We still have a look way to go, but we're getting there at least.

The most frustrating part has been (and still is) waiting for Telkom, our only fixed-line telephone provider, to install our new telephone line. They were supposed to come last week Monday. They never pitched, and I'm trying to get hold of them to hear why they didn't pitch, and more importantly to find out when they're going to install the line.

Oh well, while I wait, how would you like the chance to win a free e-book copy of my latest book, Tales From Virdura?

Enter the giveaway below. You have one week. Go!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Update: Didn't win? Not to worry. You can still buy the book. Click here to see all the places where it's available.

Tuesday 2 August 2016

Why I Read E-Books

You know, the debate between e-book readers and print book readers borders on religious-level intensity. Even after all these years, it shows no sign of abating.

But one thing I've noticed is that the people who prefer to read print books tend to be the most vocal. Not just vocal, but downright nasty, often going so far as to accuse e-books of being "not real books", and/or the readers of those books as being "not real readers".

Personally, I read e-books exclusively. I haven't read a print book in at least five years. A couple of months ago, I tried, but I just couldn't do it. My eyesight is simply too bad. I can only read during daylight hours, and then not when it's overcast. Even when the conditions are ideal, I struggle to read the print - and it's not practical to go out and buy a large-print version of every book I want to read (even if I could find them).

Since making the switch, I've fallen in love with many of the other advantages of e-reading, too. The built-in dictionary, for one.
Being able to adjust the font size, colour, margins, etc. That's an obvious benefit, that's most often cited. I now prefer to read white text on a black background, and I find the traditional black-on-white very strange. The high contrast is far easier on my eyes. Not to mention the fact that I set the font size up to pretty much as high as it can go.

Of course, there's the knowledge that I'm carrying my entire library - hundreds and hundreds of books - in my pocket wherever I go. And the syncing across devices. I read on my phone throughout the day at work (during smoke breaks, toilet breaks, while waiting for meeting participants, and so on), and nobody needs to know what I'm doing on my phone. Which is just the way I like it because I'm a very private person and I don't like people knowing what I'm doing.

In the evenings, I pick up my 10.1" tablet and start right where I left off.

And to top it all off, I am no longer responsible for any dead trees!

I now read at least twenty times more than I used to before I discovered e-books (for all the reasons I've just mentioned above).

There really is no downside for me!

Having said all that, I'm not going to go around accusing people who like to read print books of being neanderthals, or backwards.

A book is a book. Who cares how you choose to consume it?

And this, of course, isn't even touching on the revitalised audio-book craze. Stephen King's quite fond of those, but I've never been able to get into them.

Everyone, please, can we just calm down and allow each other to enjoy our written entertainment as we see fit?

What do you think? Is there a right or wrong way to read? Please let me know what you think in the comments below. I'd love your input!

Oh, and in other news, I'm taking a bit of an Internet break for the next two weeks or so. I'll be around, but you probably won't be seeing any new blog posts from me until at least 23 August.