Monday, 19 March 2012

You Tell Me | What to Take to the States

This may come as a surprise to some of you - I know I've mentioned it once or twice on Twitter, and it may have come up here on the blog as well, if only in passing - but on Wednesday, I leave for America. I'll be gone quite a while, as well. Almost a month!

Predictably, this is all I can think of:

Except when this image has lodged in my stupidhead instead:

That's one bad-ass bird, isn't it?

Distractions aside, let me take this opportunity to assure you: I haven't forgotten you folks. Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact! You'll be very well taken of in my absence... more on which in a longer post at a slightly later date. But we've a good few things to get through first. Not least a pair of reviews that I need to post within the week, or it'll be ages and ages before you see them, if ever; after all, I can't imagine I'll be short of stuff to blog about upon my return in late April.

Meanwhile, I still have to do all my packing. All of it! Aaaaah! And then there's this dreadful fourteen-hour flight to contend with... not to mention the many days of backseat driving and train riding to follow.

Holidays, huh? Who'd have 'em? :P

Anyway, that eternal question has of course come up. With limited luggage, and an almost unlimited supply of awesome books I've been meaning to read for years, what should I take away with me?

In no particular order:

  • Should I finally give A Game of Thrones a go? Or should I dig into Deadhouse Gates instead?
  • Do I take one book of the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, or all three? Or is there some superior YA series I'd be better off starting?
  • Bearing in mind I've only read Tigana, Under Heaven and Ysabel, and of the three I adored Tigana the most, which of the books from Guy Gavriel Kay's back catalogue should I opt to take? 
  • I want some good solid sf with me as well. Not the hardest of the hard, but not Neal Asher either. So what's fun but also awesome, like Leviathan Wakes was?
  • Finally, I think some quality urban fantasy is in order. So: Sandman Slim, Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht, Storm Front from The Dresden Files, or something completely different?
You tell me!

Pretty please? :)

Incidentally, I'll be taking my tablet Stateside, so I'll have a host of e-books with me in addition to whatever else we decide on in the comments, but of late I've made a solemn vow to cease and desist re-buying superfluous electronic copies of physical books I already own. To wit, these things, all of which I have physical copies of, will be coming in my carry-on or not at all.

And there's one other decision I'd love you lot to help me make. The only potential gaming device I intend to take to America is a mid-range laptop, and I have no idea how to tell the good indie games available on Steam from the garbage. I've already downloaded Dear Esther, and it runs... well, it runs, and I suppose that's something. In short: I'd also welcome any and all gaming recommendations.

Thank you thank you thank you in advance!


You know I'm going to miss you guys, don't you?


  1. First, you'd better stock up on Irn-bru--can't find that in 'Merca.

    My two cents as to the rest:

    Game of Thrones is great, but a lot of it is setup. It might not be the best for airplane reading. Tigana is also my favorite Kay book, and Lions of Al-Rassan is a close second.

    Have fun!

  2. Deadhouse Gates, Niall. You enjoyed Gardens of the Moon, right? Well, Deadhouse Gates is where you will really *GET* why the Malazan series is so damn beloved. It totally blew me away.

    If you take just book one of the Chaos Walking trilogy to the States, you'll end up buying book two and three out there just so that you can read them all the quicker. Promise.

    Urban fantasy - have you read the Kate Griffin novels? If not, go with them.

    Have a great time!

  3. I vote Deadhouse Gates; it's easily my favorite Malazan novel.

    Alistair Reynolds writes some really good sifi, so consider picking up Revelation Space and/or House of Suns?

  4. I'd vote A Game of Thrones first, with Deadhouse Gates and Leviathan Wakes coming after. Deadhouse Gates is immense and immensely fun, while Leviathan Wakes is a great time. A Game of Thrones, though, is (I'd say) the most impressive and must read book in Epic Fantasy.

  5. Game of Thrones over Deadhouse Gates. DG is good, but it'll give you a false sense of quality for the rest of the series, where as GoT will just be awesome.

    I'll also throw in a recommendation for Lions of Al Rassan. It's my favorite Kay book so far.

    Don't forget to pack your skinny jeans so you fit in!

  6. *chanting* Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones

    (but Deadhouse Gates is amazing and Dresden Files are tons of fun)

    But what should we read as a homework assignment while you're in the states. :)

  7. Game of thrones, you can then move straight on to Clash of Kings and come back to watch the series on Sky Atlantic

  8. Game of Thrones over Deadhouse Gates although DG is excellent.

    I finished Tigana over Christmas and I was basically in awe, until Lions of Al Rasan which I would highly recommend.

    Patrick Ness - Chaos Walking series is the best YA series I've read.

    At the moment I'm on book 3 of Dresden Files, Urban Fantasy isn't really my thing, but can't seem to put the series down.

    Enjoy your trip.

  9. I do love this sort of thing :-)

    But I can only comment on about 2.5 of the questions:

    Game of Thrones is far superior for me, although I liked Deadhouse Gates more than Gardens of the Moon and it definitely has its moments. You will find plenty of people to argue the contrary so you'll just have to pick one.

    I don't read a huge amount of sf but I'll have a go. As a Scot you've read all of Iain M Banks right? If not you can't do much better, unless space opera doesn't count as "solid" enough. I would recommend all his stuff but Use of Weapons is his masterpiece. Otherwise I would second the recommendation of House of Suns - although this is space opera too and not as sciency as most of Reynolds' work (so I understand, HoS is the only one of his I've read). Reynolds writes with an incredible sense of scale, but doesn't lose sight of his characters.

    I am a massive fan of GGK so I do feel qualified to comment on this one. A Song for Arbonne is a cracking book and, I think, the closest to Tigana in style, although it fits more into the pseudo-historical, very little magic mould of his later books than Tigana does. The Lions of Al-Rassan is also very good but Arbonne edges it for me.

    I also have a very soft spot for the Fionavar Tapestry (starting with The Summer Tree), which was Kay's first, but be warned: it is very different from his other stuff. My pet theory is that Fionavar is the trilogy he had to get out of his system before turning to the more innovative books he wrote later. It is a mad mash-up of Narnia, The Once and Future King, and Lord of the Rings, where Kay does not restrain his tendency towards hyper-emotional intensity and florid (but often beautiful) prose one iota. Very much a young person's book (I don't mean YA, some bits are very adult) but one I return to again and again. It will also explain some of the bits in Ysabel when you were probably going "wtf?"...

  10. Visiting Chicago? It might be fun to read the Dresden books given the all-'Mercin urban setting and such. ^__^

  11. Game of Thrones! It really is a well written series, especially if you like character driven fantasy. Sadly, I have yet to read any Erikson.

    Rendezvous with Rama is fairly cool for classic sci fi if you have yet to get to it.

  12. Stina Leicht's Of Blood and Honey is awesome! I'm halfway through and just can't put it down. Great story, set in a very realistic Northern Ireland in the 70's (and I should know!). Very different from the usual fae/UF dross that's doing the rounds at the moment, it's dark and edgy, with a new slant on the whole Fae mythology. Highly recommended.

  13. Deadhouse Gates, you'll love it. Takes the Malazan series to a whole different level, since you start to get the picture and what a picture that is. TRUE EPICNESS!

  14. I'm going to have to go with clean underwear. If you've already thought of that, then I have to go with Storm Front. I really enjoyed the book as a light, quick, and entertaining read. I've got a few of the sequels that I haven't dug into yet, so I can't argue for the series as a whole. But Storm Front should keep you turning pages with relative ease. Butcher's stripped down noir-style writing fused with the magical realm of fantasy is an interesting and sometimes very amusing brand of writing. I reviewed it here a while back, if you need further assurances.

    Beyond that, I'd have to say, take a kilt and a sense of adventure. Enjoy your trip.

    The Sound and Fury of Kristopher A. Denby

  15. I'd probably prefer Deadhouse Gates for being more in keeping with a "travel-mood", but on the other hand, I remember the arcs of suspense being very long, and sometimes leaving you dangling inbetween, and the SoIaF series pays off more in the short-term with each chapter having more of a satisfying "episode" feel, while also having many long arcs of suspense. Not sure.

  16. I haven't read Deadhouse Gates, but A Game of Thrones really is fantastic.

    I have to admit I wasn't a massive fan of Storm Front. It was entertaining enough, though, and I have heard the series gets better and better.

    Enjoy your trip!

  17. I'd say, The Lions of Al-Rassan as far as Guy Gavriel Kay. Of course do the Game of Thrones. Also, a question. I had read that you were to be sending out a verify email for the winners of the Macht set. I'm Ryan from Colorado, and I was assuming I was the winner, but I never did receive a confirmation email. So just making sure I'm still all good or if I need to do something else in order to receive the books? Not rushing you, but I did want to make sure that everything was in order. Hope you enjoy coming over to the US. Love the blog.