Saturday, October 27, 2012

Thud! by Terry Pratchett

Unlike what I said in my last Discworld-related post, I did not check out The Fifth Elephant from the library. Instead, I took Thud! (the seventh book in Terry Pratchett's Watch/Vimes series) off my bookshelf and read it.

Koom Valley is the legendary battleground where, centuries ago, the dwarves ambushed the trolls. Or the trolls ambushed the dwarves. No one actually remembers.
But every dwarf and troll, whether he was alive at the time or not*, swears that the Other Guy started it.

*And none of them were alive at the time.

Now a dwarf has been murdered in secret tunnels underneath Ankh-Morpork - and a troll club was suspiciously left at the scene of the crime! Commander Sam Vimes has to solve the case before race riots flare up and burn the city down. Unfortunately, with Koom Valley Day just around the corner, every dwarf and troll is already set to pick a fight. Or start an all-out war.

To add onto Commander Vimes's worries, he has to deal with the politics of the Watch's first vampire (part of affirmative action), he must endure the audit of an annoying bureaucrat, and - no matter what's on his schedule - Vimes has to be home at 6:00pm sharp for the most important event on his schedule: reading Where's My Cow? to his little boy.

This book has the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.
It has Sam Vimes.
It's entitled Thud!
How can it go wrong?

It can't. And it didn't. Thud! was a solid 7/10.

Now I have to go back and read The Fifth Elephant...and then read Snuff, the eighth Watch book.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Last month I read Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi.

Ship Breaker is a young adult post-apocalyptic novel about a boy named Nailer with a dangerous job: tearing old ships apart to scavenge their parts. Scavengers must belong to a tribe and meet their quota of scavenged materials - or face exile, starvation, and death. But they have to survive the scavenging too - and some will drown in pockets of oil or get trapped inside the damaged ships.

Nailer's life is changed when a rich clipper ship is blown onto shore. It's a lucky break for him, because he can get rich off the scavenge. But a girl inside turns out to be alive, and when Nailer decides not to kill her (against the pragmatic advice of his friend), he finds himself caught in a high-stakes war.

The rich girl's enemies are hunting her. Her dangerous friends are trying to rescue her. Nailer's colleagues on shore want her ship for spoil - and her life for ransom.

Nailer wanted to do the right thing...but soon he may just want to stay alive.

I rate the book 6/10. The author did a great job of setting up Nailer's desperate situation throughout the book. He's a sympathetic and admirable protagonist who tries to do the right thing when he could easily benefit by doing wrong.

There are some compelling villains in the story, including Nailer's father: a man who used to be decent but became dangerous and unpredictable due to drug abuse. He is scary.

I read the book for my Writing the Novel class. It kept my interest throughout - partly because Nailer's situation seemed very plausible.

If you like any of Cherie Priest's steampunk books, like Dreadnought, then you might like Ship Breaker.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Remembering Dr. Fears

On Sunday, I heard that Dr. J. Rufus Fears passed away. He was one of OU's most beloved professors.

I spent 5 semesters with Dr. Fears. I took Freedom in Rome, Freedom in Greece, Letters Capstone, Honors Reading, and Honors Research with him.

He was a hero, a mentor, a brilliant professor, an entertaining speaker, and one of the greatest teachers of our era. He cannot be replaced, and he will never be forgotten. He taught me so much about history and life. 

I'm glad that I spent so much time with him, and I'm glad that I completed my Senior Honors Thesis on the Mysteries of Mithraism with him last semester.

But I wanted to spend more time with him. I can't believe I won't speak to him again.

I miss him a lot.

 Dr. Fears and I after a "Freedom in Rome" class in the spring of 2010.