Once again it’s time to let you know what we are reading outside of work, have you read any of these books? What are you currently reading? Let us know below.
It has been recommended to me a number of times that I read Adam Roberts’ work. Initially I hunted for Jack Glass – and this because I love the cover. But, as I was browsing, I saw the cover for By Light Alone, and I was too interested to just leave it.
In this, world hunger has been cured by the Neocles bug, which allows hair to photosynthesise. But this is no utopia: the rich shave their heads and eat because they can afford to, even going to the lengths of chewing on food just to spit it out again, while the poor must grow their hair and live off sunlight; a fact which makes them, some might argue, easier to exploit.
In amongst this, we are introduced to George and his wife, a wealthy couple with two children. While they are on holiday their ten-year-old daughter, Leah, gets kidnapped and they enter into a year-long hunt to find her. Eventually, a girl is brought to their door and they rejoice in her return. But she has changed so much – can this really be their daughter?
This book is so full of ideas that you can see I’m already having trouble fitting it all into my section of this post, and I haven’t even covered half of it! It dips its fingers into revolution, corruption, exploitation, morality, familial love, and so many other themes that you’d be forgiven for thinking it might lose its way, but Roberts has neatly sewn it all together with one overriding concern: that of hunger and the role food plays in our society. In the first world we take food and water for granted, but the horror of living without it is acute, and is reality for a lot of people. In By Light Alone, a future is imagined without the necessity of food, but it does something I believe all really good literature does: it changes your world. Once you’ve looked up from this book, you will not be able to go back to the way you were.
By Light Alone is published by Gollancz and I bought it from Foyles for £6.56
I know, I know . . . I have come to this party late but I have finally got around to reading Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora.
I have to say the only thing I am regretting is that I am so late to the party. Brilliantly written with vividly imagined characters and setting I can already see what all of the hype was about.
Following the life and adventures of Locke Lamora in Camorr, a city of shifting revels, filthy canals, baroque palaces and crowded cemeteries which is built of Elderglass by a race no-one remembers. Home to Dons, merchants, soldiers, beggars, cripples, and feral children. And to Capa Barsavi, the criminal mastermind who runs the city.
With his band of fellow con-artists and thieves, the Gentleman Bastards, Locke uses his wit and cunning to con, wheedle, trick and steal from the rich.
But there are whispers of a challenge to the the criminal mastermind who runs the city, Capa Barsavi’s power. A challenge from a man no one has ever seen, a man no blade can touch. The Grey King is coming and a man would be well advised not to be caught between Capa Barsavi and The Grey King.
From the first introduction to Locke I loved his subtle, sly, trickery and cheeky confidence and as I follow him through the novel I have to say, I love it even more and I can’t help but think that I would love to be a Gentleman Bastard. If you are yet to read The Lies of Locke Lamora I am happy that I can now join the chorus of voices telling you you must.
The Lies of Locke Lamora is available from Gollancz for £8.99.
What girl didn’t grow up dreaming of dashing knights in gleaming mail on spirited white chargers, pounding up to her doorstep (not, sadly, of her castle, as my father carelessly lost that!) to spirit her away so she could run off to the Crusades to fight beside him for King and Country? (Or was that just me? No wonder I love Aidan Harte’s Wave Trilogy so much!) At any rate, no fantasy publisher worth her salt reads just genre fiction; it’s only by recalibrating now and then with real-world books that I’m able to keep my head straight. So this week I’m immersed in (and loving) the true story of a real-life hero, a man who ought to be as well known and lauded as King Arthur, Robin Hood or the Black Prince.
I am, of course, talking about William the Marshal, the first Earl of Pembroke, eulogised simply as ‘the best knight who ever lived’ – and a truly astonishing man. Richard Brooks has written a wonderfully rich biography to reveal all about this flower of English chivalry – but I’ve not finished yet, so please, no spoilers. This penniless younger son rose to serve not one, not two, but – count ’em! – four kings of England: Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, John, and Henry III, for whom he became regent. Without William the Marshal, England would have been a very different country . . . but don’t take my word for it: read The Knight Who Saved England (William Marshal and the French Invasion, 1217), out now from Osprey (12.99). It may be published as Military History, but it’s as rip-roaring a life as anything Ulrich of Lichtenstein might have dreamed of!