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What are you reading in 2023?

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
So I saw Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves just over a week ago, and while I went into the theater ready to hate the movie, I was surprised by just how much fun it was. So much so that I ordered The Art and Making of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves with some Amazon credit that I had.

Despite the book being a thick two hundred pages, it was a fairly quick read (I only received it on Sunday), being that the storyboards, concept art, behind the scenes footage, and still frames took up (in my estimation) just over half the book. It was a very insightful look at a lot of little D&Disms from the film that are easy to miss, such as the stuffed and mounted head of a peryton in a background shot in an inn, or confirming that Gorg (the prisoner from the opening sequence of the film) was in fact a hobgoblin. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who was a fan of the film, as it helps with appreciating it that much more!
 

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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
With that said, I'm moving on to Ian Livingstone's and Steve Jackson's Dice Men, which tells the origin story of Games Workshop, though in truth I've been reading it for a little while now, and am already nearly finished.
Having had some unexpected free time this morning, I finished up Dice Men: The Origin Story of Games Workshop. It effectively covers the company's founding in 1975 to when authors Livingstone and Jackson (though the former wrote most of this history, with the latter chiming in on various topics) left the company in 1985. A few thoughts come to mind with regard to the book:
  • I wasn't expecting it to be as big or as heavy as it was! Being 8.5" by 12", this was the size of your typical RPG supplement more than your typical hardcover history book. And with its roughly three hundred pages all being glossy and having quite a few pictures, it weighs more than you'd expect to look at it!
  • I had no idea that Gary Gygax pitched a merger between Games Workshop and TSR! His plan was for the two companies to combine (with TSR being the one to absorb GW, naturally) and Ian and Steve earning a combined 33% share in the new company, with the two of them joining the board of directors. One wonders how the Ambush at Sheridan Springs would have unfolded if they'd said yes!
  • The original hand-drawn flowcharts for the first Fighting Fantasy gamebook, Warlock of Firetop Mountain, are shown here for what I think is the first time!
  • Apparently the American Steve Jackson (or "Steve Jackson US," as they call him here) wrote several Fighting Fantasy books, causing quite a bit of confusion for fans as to which titles were written by him and which were written by his British counterpart!
One other thing I'm struck by is how little discord is present compared to the history of TSR. There's no huge split between Jackson and Livingstone, and even when they left the company the waves were comparatively smaller. Maybe that's just an issue of presentation, or maybe it's the proverbial stuff upper lip on display, but the sense I took away from it was that there really was less drama all around, and so it makes for a much more pleasant, and heartening, tale.
 


Richards

Legend
I finished Cold Truth and it was a good read, although the means by which the serial killer was defeated was rather pedestrian. (And his name was Jonathan, too - good thing he doesn't spell it the same way I do!)

Now I'm onto another novel by the same author, Mariah Stewart: Acts of Mercy. It's got an interesting premise: a multimillionaire whose wife and infant son went missing (the wife's body was found much later in a car at the bottom of a ravine, but the child is still missing years later - his car seat was empty) sets up a private investigation company, one which deals with missing persons cases but doesn't charge their clients. Their newest member is a former FBI profiler who quit the bureau seven months ago after constantly seeing the evil side of crazed killers got to be too much for him, and his profiling skills will come in handy as their newest case has them entangled up in a serial killer's spree, whereupon he likes to kill his victims and then pose them as a representative of one of the seven deadly sins. (The first victim was a volunteer at a soup kitchen, slain and propped up against a fence in full view with a massive fast-food cheeseburger stuffed in his mouth: there's gluttony down, then.)

Johnathan
 

Celebrim

Legend
Cool. Thanks. I'll check that out.

He's definitely hit and miss, and there is a point in most of his story arcs where you should stop reading and go no further. There is equally a problem that most of his early works tend to be rather bad and his technique in them unpolished compared to his later works.

Best Story Arc: Anhk Morpork City Guards: The opening act "Guards! Guards Guards!" is predictably pretty bad, but almost everything after that is pretty good. Stop with 'Night Watch', perhaps his best work, but 'Thud!' is not terrible and it might be worth reading 'Thud!' before reading 'Night Watch' so that you end on a high note and with the logical end point of the characters. Note that I would consider 'Moving Pictures' to be part of this sequence even though its main protagonist is not part of the 'Watch', as the real central character of the guards plot is the city of Anhk-Morpork itself.

Second Best Story Arc: Death: Death's own novels are bad to disappointing, but the story comes into its own when it picks up Susan as its main character in 'Hogfather'. Stop with 'The Thief of Time', perhaps his second-best work. It might be possible to read just Susan's two books, but having her backstory does add something.

Third Best Story Arc: The Witches: Notable because there isn't a terrible book in the sequence and several decent ones, like 'Wyrd Sisters' and 'Lords and Ladies'. Granny Weatherwax is a tremendous character. You could stop with 'Lords and Ladies' as a natural stopping point, but going on isn't disastrous.

Fourth Best Story Arc: Tiffany Aching: Reading 'The Witches' first, and particular up to 'Lords and Ladies' is worthwhile, as the first book is a sequel to it. The first book is the best, and it's pretty much all downhill from there. Stop with 'The Winter Smith'.

Fifth Best Story Arc: Moist Von Lipwick: Stop with 'Making Money'. The first book is the best, and it's all pretty much downhill from there.

Sixth Best Story Arc: Rincewind and the Wizards: There is literally nothing in this series worth reading aside from 'Interesting Times' and maybe 'Unseen Academicals'. For 'Interesting Times' you only have to have read 'The Color of Magic'.

Outside the main arc you have Pratchett grappling with his take on religion in 'Pyramid' and 'Small Gods'. Both are above average but neither is essential reading.
 
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Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth (he/him)
Ruthless is a good way to describe the story. It's bold and violent and poetic all at once.
Yeah, and the way he treats his characters is brutal. The three main characters, and many of the secondary ones, lose absolutely everything. It really brings home a world where the gods are focused on Ragnarök and mortals, elves, and trolls are pawns and proxies.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Lots of folks who run SF games in this thread I imagine. Upcoming book that folks may find of interest. I know I want to read it:

 

Best Story Arc: Anhk Morpork City Guards: The opening act "Guards! Guards Guards!" is predictably pretty bad, but almost everything after that is pretty good. Stop with 'Night Watch', perhaps his best work, but 'Thud!' is not terrible and it might be worth reading 'Thud!' before reading 'Night Watch' so that you end on a high note and with the logical end point of the characters. Note that I would consider 'Moving Pictures' to be part of this sequence even though its main protagonist is not part of the 'Watch', as the real central character of the guards plot is the city of Anhk-Morpork itself.
It's Guards, Guards!, and I think a lot of people would say it's actually the best Discworld book period, and calling "pretty bad" seems downright bananas and certainly doesn't reflect either critical or reader opinions. I'd suggest re-reading it, honestly.

I mean, here's the City Watch series:


I'd say there's absolutely no question whatsoever that in terms of humour, style, imagination, characterisation, flow, wit, memorable lines and charm that Guards, Guards! is straight-up better than everything on that list except Night Watch - you could perhaps argue which of those two was better. Stuff like Jingo and Fifth Elephant is just... not good. Suggesting they're better than Guards, Guards! is beyond bizarre. It's like saying that the best Star Trek movies are Nemesis and The Final Frontier or something!
 

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