The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin: While I had read Wild Cards books and the Song of Ice and Fire series (both of which Green Ronin is licensing), I had never read the Armageddon Rag. That was an oversight, as this is a great book. It starts a whodunnit but it’s really a thoughtful meditation on the 1960s, rock and roll, and the counter culture. This came out in 1983 originally but has recently been reprinted. Highly recommended.
An Army in Exile by Lt. General W. Anders: In memoir General Anders tells his own WWII story and that of the Polish II Corps. Formed largely of soldiers imprisoned in the Soviet Union after its invasion of Poland in 1939, the II Corps fought with distinction in the Italian campaign, most famously capturing Monte Cassino. I was looking for something more tactically oriented, but Anders’ story is strategic and geo-political. His first hand account of important events is fascinating though, so I’m glad I read it.
The Briar King by Gregory Keyes: Hey, a new fantasy series I’m actually interested in. Who’d have thought? I think I had lunch with Keyes 8 or 9 years ago, when he was writing fiction for Dragon Magazine. This is the first book of his I read an I enjoyed it. His setting is fantasy but it uses Roanake and Virginia Dare in a pretty interesting way. This is the first of the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series, which is up to four volumes now. I will be moving on to part two, The Charnel Prince.
A Question of Honor by Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud: The subject of the book is, in theory, the Kosciuszko Squadron, a unit of Polish airmen key to Allied victory in the Battle of Britain. The first half of the book tells that story and its gripping stuff. Once the Battle of Britain is over though, the focus is less on the pilots and more on the fate of Poland as a whole. The second half of the book, while continuing to touch on the squadron and its members, is really a history of how it was that the Allies went to war to protect Polish freedom but ultimately condemned the country to decades of Soviet domination. Well written and engaging.
Sharpe’s Regiment by Bernard Cornwell: This is the 8th of the original 11 Sharpe novels, which chronicle the adventures of a British rifleman who comes up through the ranks and makes a name for himself in the Napoloeonic Wars. These are rousing adventure tales, and while Cornwell defintely has a formula, he does it well. I liked this book because it actually took place away from the front. Sharpe heads back to England to find a missing battalion of his regiment. This embroils him in a world of political corruption quite different than the battlefields of Iberia.
When Presidents Lie by Eric Alterman: The basic thesis of this book seems to be the presidents lie for short term gain but the country pays the price in the long term. I’ve only read the first part so far, which covers FDR and the Yalta conference. He argues that almost no one knew what agreements FDR had really made at Yalta and he died sho quickly on returning to America that he didn’t have a chance to finesse the situation. The result: the Cold War. It’s an interesting read so far, though I’m not really convinced that Stalin intended to honor all the terms of the Yalta agreement.