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Middlemarch: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, Reviews and Criticism (A Norton Critical Edition)
Bert G. Hornback, George Eliot
The Magic Mountain
Thomas Mann, John E. Woods
Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabriel García Márquez
The Blade Itself - Joe Abercrombie A fun read. Artful jacket design.

Misleading marketing copy on the back cover (which appears to have been republished by Goodreads, above), which makes it seem like a bad D&D story, complete with a group of disparate personalities of differing character classes who set out on a magical adventure to defeat an evil gelatinous cube.

The story isn't like that at all. It does create something of a seven samurai by the end, and partakes of the more or less regular convention of a manufactured evil race. Perhaps the narrative development will carry this to a result other than the ordinary--and, indeed, the reputation of this series claims that it breaks cliches. We shall see how it turns out--but this particular book, while well told, is at times very conventional.

Some have complained about the inarticulateness of several protagonists--but I enjoy their realistic inability to express themselves outside of grunting and erming. Not everyone is Saruman, or John Galt, after all.

Speaking of Mr. Galt, the novel presents some amusing parallels with Goodkind's *Wizard's First Rule*, including the series title, which refers to a rule of sorcery, and the presence of a mystical box of some sort. The similarities end there, and this novel appears to have more leftwing concerns--or, at least, the presentation is aware of class politics and economics. Consider this text in itself to be an antidote to goodkindism, which may awaken those under the spell of Mr. Rahl from their dogmatic slumber. This text is overall a potent remedy, despite any trifling criticisms that I may make otherwise.

The lack of maps is refreshing, but I am so brainwershed by the cartography of secondary creation that I found myself missing them. The text has several detailed geographical discussions, however, that attempt to rectify the dearth.

Not entirely sure where the narrative is heading at this point, which is a good thing.

Very much enjoying the barbaric protagonist, who displays some amount of reflection and self-consiousness. The other protagonists are well drawn, if less interesting.

One of the best bits is that the title of the novel is taken from a line of Homeric verse, quoted as the epigraph to the first part of this particular installment: "The blade itself incites to deeds of violence." I am therefore expecting a strident anti-gun argument to be developed during the course of the series.

Recommended for nerds, ex-Goodkindites, and thoughtful barbarians.