Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City The Siege #1

Yeah, this definitely fits this year’s ‘Judge A Book By Its Cover’ on the [[2024 Book Bingo]]. I mean… look at it! I love the title and have a soft spot for the illustrated manuscript style.

And then on top of that, it’s actually quite a delightful book as well. Win win!

I mention this because that’s how the world changes. It’s either so quick that we never know what hit us, or so gradual that we don’t notice.

In a nutshell, it’s the story of an alternate history Earth. Take a roughly medieval european tech level empire and an army corps of engineers (they build bridges) out on their own. Add a force somehow conquering everything, leaving said engineers really the only remaining hope. And then stick them in a city, the only hope to hold off against a siege.

But what really shines (for me–and your milage really may vary on this one) is the tone. The main character is competant (perhaps too much so at times) and wonderfully snarky.

I have strong views about not tempting providence and, as a wise man once said, the difference between luck and a wheelbarrow is, luck doesn’t work if you push it.

Things that have always been done? About to be undone–in the name of defending the city.

My belief is, either you understand things or you understand people. Nobody can do both. Frankly, I’m happier with things. I understand stuff like tensile strength, shearing force, ductility, work hardening, stress, fatigue. I know the same sort of things happen with people, but the rules are subtly different. And nobody’s ever paid for my time to get to know about people.

Yeah… he knows people better than he claims.

The people turn out to be—well, people; a collective noun for all those individual men and women, none of them perfect, some of them downright vicious, most of them monumentally stupid. As stupid as the emperor, the great hereditary lords, the priestly hierarchs, the General Staff and the Lords of the Admiralty, the merchant princes and the organised crime barons.

Anyways. You’ll know right away if you like this book or not. I loved it. Give it a try.

Of the people, by the people, for the people. I can’t remember offhand where that quote comes from; it was something to do with some bunch of wild-eyed idealists overthrowing the tyrant so they could become tyrants themselves. No good will have come of it, you can be sure. The people; God help us.

The Quantum Magician The Quantum Evolution #1

A con man called Gander had once taught him that there were only three bets. Sometimes, you play the cards. Sometimes, you play the player. Sometimes, you just throw the dice. The Quantum Magician is … not what I expected. I’m sure at one point, I read the blurb, but I’ve slept since then. So all I had to go on when I picked it up just now was the title.


The Haunting of Hill House

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

A haunted house? Let’s do SCIENCE!

Well, that’s the claim. Mostly, it’s a vehicle to get all our main characters in one place, plus a bit of conflict later on.

Other than that, we have character introductions. They’re some weird folks–the best kind for these stories. And then the house as character. It’s impressive how you can get such a feel for a place with only minimal (initial) description. And then the caretakers of the house. Quite the characters those two are.

And then… things get creepy. There’s little jumping out of the page to scare you. It’s not that sort of story. But it’s creepy nevertheless. Perfecting that evermounting sense of dread. And at that, it’s quite well done.

I think that I enjoyed this book more having listened to the audiobook. It’s a slow burn and… hard to describe just why it’s so intriguing?

Worth a try.

Journeys end in lovers meeting; I have spent an all but sleepless night, I have told lies and made a fool of myself, and the very air tastes like wine. I have been frightened half out of my foolish wits, but I have somehow earned this joy; I have been waiting for it for so long.

The Voyage of the Basilisk The Memoirs of Lady Trent #3

The third book of [[The Memoirs of Lady Trent]]. First she went to studing dragons in rocky mountanious islands–and almost died. And then she spent some time studying river dragons deep in the jungle–and almost died.

And now she’s off on a voyage around the world–akin to Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle–to study dragons. Only to almost die not once, not twice, but at least three times. Assuming I didn’t miss any.

Oh, and have all manner of other adventures along the way.

“I have never attempted to hide that I have had two husbands in my life. I have, however, neglected to mention that in between them, I had a wife.”

In any case.

“That should be my epitaph when I die: ‘she did not have to do it’.”

I’m still loving riding along with the titular Lady Trent on her adventures and learning all about how dragons work in this world right along with her. And this time, she’s actually bringing her son along, which gives a whole new dimension to the journeys–for the most part.

A fun book. I expect if you’ll like the first two, you’ll continue to enjoy this one.


Jade Legacy The Green Bone Saga #3

“You’d think it would be easier to face death as you get older, but it doesn’t work that way. You get more attached to life, to people you love and things that are worth living for.”


I first read Jade City and Jade War a few years1 ago–before the third and final book was out. So when I finally got a chance for a re-read (re-listen this time), I figured I’d give it a chance.

And oh, does this book ever deliver. If you’re like me and have read the first two and not this–what are you waiting for?