January Reading Roundup
A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918 by G.J. Meyer
This book is part of the pile I’m wading through to research a new story idea. I know I want to set it in England sometime between the end of the first world war and just after the second, but I don’t know exactly when. So, I figured I’d start with the first world war and work my way forward. This book is an excellent overview of the whole thing. The war is such a massive topic that it is almost impossible to cover everything, but this succeeds for the most part. Meyer covers everything in chronological order, so you get a feel for what was happening everywhere at any given time. He also includes small sections of historical background between each chapter the provides valuable insight into things like the history of the Balkans, the Junckers, and the Hohenzollerns. The only area that I thought was a little lacking were details on the war in Italy, but that is a minor quibble. It’s quite long, and really gives you the sense of the kind of meatgrinder the war was. I highly recommend it for anyone new to the topic.
Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J Maas
Another great part of the Throne of Glass series. I loved the surprises and twists and turns. I enjoyed being back in Rifthold, but outside of the glass castle. I also like the reconciling of Celaena and Aelin. Bringing the story back to Rifthold, Celaena’s home, ties up a lot. The goings on at Morath continues to open up the story. I love Mannon more and more. After a slow start, books three and four are my favorite so far. Can’t wait for the next one.
Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J Maas
Wow. After loving book four, book five was disappointing. The story has gotten so large, with so many moving pieces, I felt like it couldn’t move fast enough and became unwieldy. I was more interested in the side characters and their relationships than Aelin and Rowan, which felt wrong. The twists and turns and Aelin’s scheming that was fun in book four were wearisome here. Instead of enjoying it I was annoyed to be kept out of the decision-making process and only see the reveals. Enough surprises already! And the ending made me mad. It felt unnecessary, deliberately designed to prolong the story. I have enjoyed enough of Maas work to want to read further. It is quite possible she will pull things together and the reasons for certain plot elements and twists will become obvious. But books three and four are still my favorite.
The Guns of August by Barbara W Tuchman
My second, and last, book on world war one. This one focuses on the first thirty days of the war. It has one of the best first chapters I have ever read, which perfectly sets the stage for the rest. Tuchman’s writing is full of details that bring historical figures to life and relieve the relentless tension of the story. Given the more limited scope, the tone is different from the other one I read. I can’t tell if it is because it was written by a woman v a man, or because of the time it was written, but I enjoyed the more unflinching portraits of the crucial players. I found the middle slow, but the pace really picks up in the last four chapters.