Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I recently took a break from Brooks to read some Holmes. Sherlock Holmes. I have never actually read any Conan Doyle, although I am a huge fan of the old radio plays with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce (iTunes, people -- it's a wonderful thing). I'd always wanted to hear or read the Hound of the Baskervilles, but never got around to it. Till now.

I listened to a different radio play version of the Hound about a month ago and enjoyed the story. This week, I read the book finally. I didn't realize until about Sunday night that I had one of those skinny Dover Thrift Editions, and so when I saw it, I had to take it up.

And then I couldn't put it down -- except for work time. I was almost afraid to read it at night -- I live by myself, after all, and have a vivid imagination. Yet I did. As I read, I realized how much was left out of the radio play. There was still enough in the play that I didn't miss the gist of the story -- the wife/sister, the crazy scientist, the convict. But I didn't recall Mrs. Laura Lyons from the play at all. Which means I need to go back to my old adage of not viewing or listening to any adaptations before I read the literature. It was always something that was important to me when I was younger, and I've sort of forgotten that. However, if I hadn't neglected that adage even a little bit, I might never have read the Aubrey/Maturin novels, and they are some of my favorites.

Still, I loved the Hound! It was a fun read, especially since it, as all Holmes stories, is from Dr. Watson's point of view. I definitely sympathized with the doctor, especially when it was evident that Holmes had lied to him. Poor devil, as they both would say.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Years ago, while teaching in Alaska, I was encouraged by a student to begin reading the Shannara books by Terry Brooks. I really didn't want to, but Tony was insistent that I at least try the prequel, First King of Shannara. Damn Tony, but I was addicted. I have read nearly all of them, except for the Word and Void trilogy and the newest trilogy, the Genesis of Shannara.

I began the
Word and the Void trilogy last week by reading Running with the Demon. I wasn't sure what to make of it, although I always liked the idea that the Shannara stories were actually post-apocalyptic. That was one of the few original things that Brooks infused his stories with -- it was obvious for this English major and teacher to see the origins of Brooks' stories. Sword of Shannara = One Ring. Hello!

Anyway, I must say that while it was rather predictable, as Brooks' work can be, it was still an enjoyable story. For me, Brooks is all about his characters. You get involved in their lives. You may find their stories familiar and therefore, predictable, but you want to see them through to the end because his characters are so interesting. Nest Freemark and John Ross are not exceptions. They are intriguing people. Hell, even the demon was intriguing, though I guessed his purpose and his identity pretty early. He was just a little too charismatic to dismiss.

Once again, Brooks entertained me, which is really all I ask when reading fantasy. Or anything else for that matter. On to
A Knight of the Word!