21. Blackburn, Jolly, et al. The Bag Wars Saga (Knights of the Dinner Table) (114 p.)
22. Moorcock, Michael. The Vanishing Tower (The Elric Saga) (138 p.)
23. Moorcock, Michael. The Bane of the Black Sword (The Elric Saga) (132 p.)
24. Moorcock, Michael. Stormbringer (The Elric Saga) (201 p.)
25. Brust, Steven. Jhereg (The Vlad Taltos Series) (239 p.)
26. Brust, Steven. Yendi (The Vlad Taltos Series) (209 p.)
27. Hogan, James P. Endgame Enigma (436 p.)
April total: 1,469 pages
2011 total to date: 7,113 pages
If you've ever played D&D or WoW or something similar, or have friends that do, The Bag Wars Saga is a must-read book. It's the first book-length collection from the always-classic Knights of the Dinner Table comic book series. The art is (intentionally) amateurish, the proofreading is (unintentionally) sadly lacking, and yet, this is still one of the better books I've read this year, and I can't recommend it highly enough, because the writing & characterization is regularly hitting on all cylinders. Because the story parts weren't all published sequentially, there are lots of references to other stories (which I hope they'll start to collect in more square-bound volumes like this if this one does well), but they're generally explained enough either in the story itself or in footnotes that you don't need to have read those other stories to figure out what's going on, but you may find yourself wanting to track down & read those other stories... (Case in point: The saga and final fate of Chelsie the "magic" cow.)
Man oh man does the Elric saga ever get bleak and nihilistic towards the end. Sheesh. But even though "bleak and nihilistic" isn't usually my thing, I found myself enjoying it anyway. I think I like the earlier "adventure quest" books better than I do the later "pawns of higher powers" books, but I can certainly see how these books had an impact on the fantasy authors who came after Moorcock, and why they're listed as one of Gary Gygax' sources of ideas for D&D.
After reading just the first volume of the Vlad Taltos books, I'm suddenly finding myself insanely jealous of Steven Brust. For a decade now, I've been working on and off on a story that some friends and I started putting together, only to discover that Brust's milieu has exactly the right fundamental "medium-to-high fantasy with byzantine factions by way of the Mob" feel (though not precisely the same execution) that I'd been trying to hit and hamfistedly missing all this time--to the point where my initial reaction was to give up on my own story and just keep reading these. Now I just have to figure out how to capture that sort of feel for my own story without either outright plagiarizing or coming off as a third-rate knock-off. And also read the rest of the Taltos books...
I remember Endgame Enigma coming out back when I had my first job shelving books at the local library, and being somewhat intrigued by the cover, but never being quite drawn enough to it to actually check it out and read it. Then a copy fell in my lap, and I read it on the 4-hour plane ride to and from a conference I recently attended. It's late Cold War era techno-spy fiction that's set in a future that's now only a few years away, and thus is automatically a bit dated, and I've read techno-spy fiction from other authors that I thought was much better, but once you get beyond the stereotypical "CIA vs. KGB" setting, it's a good book with what I thought was an interesting twist to the basic puzzle of whether the Soviets are hiding a battle platform in a space station that can be seen through telescopes all over Earth and which regularly gets VIP tours (and spy infiltrations) all over the station to verify that it's design is peaceful. There isn't all that much sock-em action; instead it's on what happens with two American spies get captured and thrown into the station's equivalent of a gulag while The Powers That Be try to decide whether they need to send a first strike against what might actually be an unarmed space station or whether they need to stand down and risk being wiped out in a first-strike from the plethora of weaponry they suspect is hidden on the station, whether they've been dealing with defectors or double-agents, and whether their now-captured agents are dead, alive and resisting, or alive and capitulating. Fun times.
Feudalism: Serf & Turf