Monday, January 26, 2009

This Week at the Library (26/1)

Books this Update:
  • Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, Sean Stewart
  • The Titan's Curse, Rick Riordian
  • Stoic Warriors, Nancy Sherman
  • Demon in my View, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
This week was almost chiefly speculative fiction, with only one serious book. The other three are fantasy and science/fantasy fiction. I began with a Star Wars book set during the Clone Wars, called Yoda: Dark Rendezvous. Two of the central characters are Yoda and his wayward former apprentice Count Dooku, who is leading the Separatist war against the Republic. During the fighting, Yoda receives a message from Dooku requesting a meeting in the hopes of ending the war. Yoda goes with two Jedi knights and their Padawans. The young padawans are the book's other central characters. Both have just begun their apprenticeships, and are struggling with their own private conflicts. The book covers Yoda's journey to Dooko -- with all its trials -- and their dramatic meeting on a world steeped in the dark side where everyone has gone mad. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker make appearances here, as does a dark Jedi who was Anakin's nemesis in the Clone Wars cartoon and in the most recent movie. The story is quite well written, and I really enjoyed the characterization. The author develops background and muses on Jedi/Sith philosophy. This is one of the better "Extended Universe" books I've read.

Next I continued in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series with The Titan's Curse. The book starts off slowly -- the author doesn't really connect it to the previous book and I was left wondering what was going on -- but picks up from there. As usual, the ever-growing threat from the reviving Titans affects Percy's life personally and he has to go off on a quest -- official or no. We see a few new gods arrive in this book: Artemis, Apollo, and Athena all make their first appearances. Percy and his friends - some old, some new -- must journey to San Francisco to do a bit of rescuing, stopping off at the Hoover Dam to fight some undead hordes. Fairly enjoyable despite the slow start.

Breaking the SF line with some philosophy, I read Stoic Warriors: the Ancient Philosophy Behind the Military Mind. The author, in her words, "uses the contemporary military as a lens through which to study and assess Stoic doctrine." She introduces the reader to Stoicism in the first chapter through the story of James Stockdale, a Vietnam POW who used it to strengthen himself and others, and then explores the application of Stoicism in life, using military examples. She touches on fear, bodily control, grief, anger, and so on. She draws on Greek history, Greek literature, Greek mythology, and philosophical movements from the Greeks on to the modern day. I was impressed with the book. It was an enjoyable read that limited its use of esoteric terminology. It strikes me as well-organized and well-written: definitely worth my time.

I finished the week off with Demon in my View, a vampire story by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. I found Atwater-Rhodes when I was in high school', which incidentally is when she published her first book, Tiger Tiger. That book introduced a fantasy world of vampires with an approach that I liked. Her vampires are more believable: they can move in the sun, they are unbothered by religious symbols, and so on. The first book was dark, but in a really enjoyable way. I don't really care for horror -- Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire mostly bored me -- but I do enjoy Atwater-Rhodes. The same is true of Demon in my View, the story of a human writer who writes vampire novels -- her first being Tiger Tiger -- who is seemingly drawn into the world of her own creation. It was a quick and enjoyable read.

Quotation of the Week: "It's always easy to avoid other people's vices, isn't it?" (Yoda, Dark Rendezvous: a paraphrase because I returned the book already.)

Pick of the Week: Yoda, Dark Rendezvous by Sean Stewart.

Next Week:
  • Colonization: Aftershocks, Harry Turtledove
  • Jedi Trial, Daniel Sherman and Dan Cragg
  • The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordian

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