I’ve started reading a few novels in the past week or two:
- The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell;
- Three Empty Frames by Margaret Sorick; and
- The Great Dune Trilogy by Frank Herbert (following a mention of it by the aforementioned M. Sorick and J. R. Peacock in the comments).
Here are my first impressions of them!
1. The Winter King
Bernard Cornwell has been one of my favourite authors for a long while. His writing fits into a category of historical fiction shield-bashing and sword-slashing fun. He wrote the famous Sharpe series and his novel The Last Kingdom has now been adapted into an excellent TV series.
This novel, The Winter King, is a bit different and seems to be something of an anomaly in his writing. It’s a fantasy novel, a new take on the tale of King Arthur, and takes a different approach to his historical novels.
It’s more mystical and has less of an authorial tone. There’s nothing of a history lesson here (something I can’t stand in historical fiction), but a definite sense of whimsical musings on English mythology carried through by the gripping prose I’ve come to expect from Cornwell.
2. Three Empty Frames
Genre: romantic suspense.
After buying this novel on Kindle I realised that I’ve never read a romance book before. I’ve encountered romantic elements in my other reading, but the closest I’ve come to dedicated romance is picking up a novel in the bookshop, reading the first page and having a snooty chuckle.
Don’t worry, the opening of Three Empty Frames has left me suitably chastised.
Chapter 1 gives the reader a brilliant taster of the author’s style. It’s a sort of anecdotal mini-episode which manages to be fast-paced and intriguing. You’re introduced to a pair of criminals, one serving a life sentence and the other newly released. Who are they and how do they fit into the rest of the novel? It’s a mystery at this point, but one you’re eager to solve.
3. The Great Dune Trilogy
Engrossing. Enthralling. Intriguing and intelligent in the most accessible way.
Science fiction can be distinguished from fantasy by, you guessed it, science. Tolkein doesn’t need to tell you why Gandalf’s magic works, the sci-fi reader expects to be handed a copy of the schematics. In that sense, Frank Herbert excels. He makes me feel cleverer without getting complicated.
I won’t go too far into his writing because many of you will have read his work. What I will say is you should get the trilogy, rather than individual novels. There’s nothing like the feeling of a weighty tome, and this book is big. Don’t waste it on your Kindle library.
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