26. Aldis, Brian, ed. Galactic Empires, Vol. 1 (305 p.)
27. Adams, Richard. Tales from Watership Down (335 p.)
28. Vance, Jack. Madouc (Lyonesse, bk. 3) (426 p.)
29. Weber, David. Path of the Fury (423 p.)
June total: 1,489 pages
2012 total: 8,743 pages
Galactic Empires is a collection of SF short stories from the 1950s-1970s that are all set in futures in which some sort of system-spanning empire rules the planets humans live on. In general, the stories are pretty good, and when I got to the end, I wished I had volume 2 handy in order to read more.
Tales from Watership Down is a companion to the classic Watership Down, but it reads like Adams started out writing a sequel, then ran out of ideas, started writing a prequel, then ran out of ideas again, and mashed the two together with a few other oddments into a collection of short stories instead. Don't get me wrong, these are generally good stories (though the story featuring rabbits with psychic powers is a bit odd), and it was fun to pick up on the further adventures of Fiver and Bigwig, et al., but even in the sections that tell stories that are somewhat linked, it feels like it lacks focus, meanders about, and then just sort of ends without having actually gone anywhere or developed anything. Highly recommended if you've read the original; mildly recommended at best if you haven't.
The conclusion of Vance's Lyonesse saga is good reading, though having now read the entire trilogy, I think bk. 2 is the best of the three. This one starts off with an unlikable protagonist who becomes very likable by the end of the first third of the book, and has some fun quest-type adventure in it, but it doesn't have as much of that as bk. 2, and the denoument to the entire series feels a bit rushed and tacked on, a bit like he wanted to write a fourth book and was told "No". As with the other two, the writing level & language use is a bit higher than your typical adventure fantasy, but if you can make it through the dense prose, it's generally worth it. And one thing I can say about Vance, he's excellent at creating "fantasy" character names that aren't clunky.
Path of the Fury is an attempt to mix fantasy & science fiction; it works, mostly because the fantasy elements are limited to one character and the "magic" powers are basically handled as futuristic psychic abilities. The main character is a female, semi-retired commando who is gravely injured when her family is massacred and ends up becoming bonded to the last survivor of the Greek Furies and heads off to wreak vengeance. I generally like Weber's military fantasy fiction, and this one--as a one-shot--was relatively easy to get into and read without needing to have read other books to figure out the backstory (a la his Honor Harrington novels). It was also refreshing to read a military SF novel with a strong female protagonist who has lengthy conversations with other strong female characters that aren't about dating or clothes--if they made a movie of this, it's probably pass the Bechdel-Wallace test. Those of Weber's Honor-verse books that I've read are generally better books than this one, but I definitely enjoyed this one and would recommend it.
Feudalism: Serf & Turf