Welcome to part 5 – the penultimate part! – of the series in which I’ll be giving short reviews of all 50-something books I read last year, in blocks of 10! I hope you enjoy it, and I’ll finish off the post with my highlight from these 10 books.
A Nearly Infallible History of Christianity, by Nick Page – 9/10 … this is possibly the best non-fiction book that I read all year. This book had already been recommended by a good friend when I saw it on sale at a conference bookshop sale, and it didn’t disappoint. A good-humoured book that focuses particularly on the unsung heroes of Christian history, I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who, like me, is more than a little baffled by the centuries of history behind us.
The High Druid’s Blade, by Terry Brooks – 7/10 … I’m a sucker for a Shannara novel, having 20-something of them sitting on a shelf in my room, so I didn’t hesitate to pick up the latest book. The truth is, the newest books just aren’t as good as the old ones. They’re fun, but there’s a lot of regurgitation of old stories. If you’re new to the series, start with The Sword of Shannara and go from there, that’s where the real quality is.
One in the Eye for Harold, by Phil Mason – 4/10 … another history book, but one that was nowhere near as good as the other one in this list. Still, I picked it up for £1, so that was good. Basically, the book looks a lot more entertaining than it is. It’s actually pretty dry, and whilst there are some interesting facts inside it, it’s not really worth it.
Winter Journey, by H G Lee – 8/10 … this is a book unlike anything I’ve ever read, lent to me very kindly by my Grandad. I think it’s fictitious, though I’m not sure, and it’s basically a man writing about his journey around England, talking to people about God. It’s heart-warming, encouraging, and occasionally profound, building up the faith of the everyman with characters who are just like us…or early 20th century versions of us.
Armor Wars (Secret Wars) – 7/10 … ah yes, this is when I finished the first Secret Wars limited collection, the rewrite of the classic Armor Wars storyline. This had the potential to be a great story, but it was hampered by the small size of the limited series. It was an interesting world packed with intrigue, but without the space to explore it. I felt cheated by the speed of the ending, but the fact that I felt that way is a good indication that there was a very good story playing out prior to that.
House of Chains, by Steven Erikson – 9/10 … Malazan book number 4, and another cracker, one that drew together many of the threads from the first three books. Dramatic, chilling, and thrilling in equal measure, what more can I say about a book that I now see as typical of Erikson’s mastery. More please.
Avengers: Time Runs Out 4 – 6/10 … the climax to Secret Wars’ prelude was disappointing, as the rating suggests. Bearing in mind that I remember clearly the other books in this section, it’s probably a bad sign that I remember little of what happened in this graphic novel, as it rounded off what was largely a forgettable introduction to arguably the biggest event in Marvel’s recent history.
The City and the Stars, by Arthur C Clarke – 8/10 … how could I call myself a fan of sci-fi without reading something by the giant that is Arthur C Clarke? I picked this up in Waterstones on a whim, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s not really a space opera, which is what I normally read, it was, in fact, set on Earth in the distant future, a time when the 21st century would be considered prehistoric. A fascinating vision of humanity left me thoroughly satisfied that Clarke is the master that I believed him to be. I now have a trilogy of his that I got for Christmas, and I am looking forward to reading it!
The Road – Cormac McCarthy – 9/10 … without a doubt one of my favourite books, by one of my favourite authors. I reread this one for some coursework, but it was as much pleasure as it was work. A haunting tale set in a post-apocalyptic world, written in McCarthy’s unique style, this is a modern masterwork if ever there was one. Emotional and powerful, there is something incredibly stirring about this book. You should read it.
Civil War (Secret Wars) – 7/10 … If Armor Wars was a story too big for the limited series, then this iteration of Civil War was arguably too small. They could almost have knocked an issue off and worked hard to make a shorter story even better, but as it was it felt like the writers were running out of ideas, and the twist at the end, which I won’t spoil, was massively disappointing in my opinion. Still, it showed promise for the most part.
The highlight of this block has to be Nick Page’s Nearly Infallible History of Christianity. It is rare that I read books like this, so it was a pleasant surprise to enjoy it as much as I did, and I learnt a lot at the time (though I can’t say I remember it all a few months down the line). This goes alongside The Plausibility Problem by Ed Shaw as my most highly recommended Christian books from last year.