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Take a Look, It's in a Book, a Reading Rampage

With the coming of summer and the end of classes I've finally been able to read books out of desire rather than class obligation.  A quick run-down of some of the things I've been reading:

DUNE by Frank Herbert: This was a re-read, and I've now added "teach an English class on DUNE" to my list of dreams.

BLOOD OF AMBROSE by James Enge: Chewed through this in about four days, which for me is a remarkable pace when it comes to 400-page volumes.  Fantastic book with a neat plot, inventive fantasy elements, and sharp prose.  Possibly the most fun I've had reading a book since THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA--which is, from me, high praise indeed.

WHEN I WHISTLE: A novel by Japanese author Shusaku Endo.  One of those books where I didn't see where it was going until the last two pages, and then all the book's themes and emotions came crashing over me at once.  If I had to summarize, I'd call it a somewhat tragic meditation on the nature of friendship, ambition, and the connections people form even in brief meetings.  Not as good as Endo's THE SAMURAI, which might be my favorite spiritual novel, but still worth the read, especially for anyone interested in Japanese history or culture.

TEHANU by Ursula K. LeGuin: The fourth book in the Earthsea Cycle, which tones down the action, adventures, and magic of its predecessors in favor of a quiet, character driven plot.  I was honestly disappointed, although the portrayal of the young king Lebannen was sweet, as were the brief appearances of the dragon Kalessin and Tenar's quiet compassion for a girl horribly mutilated by her parents.  Still. . .I thought it was, overall, too mundane for a fantasy book and not "real" enough for a mundane book, if that makes any sense at all.  I probably won't read the continuations, although I still highly recommend the first three volumes.

I'm currently reading H. Rider Haggard's SHE, which reminds me how much I love a good Victorian adventure story--someday, I aspire to write one of my own.

In other news, I'm almost done with the second draft of my current opus (working title: THE FORKED ROAD).  I've made significant improvements over my rough, and honestly I think the novel as a whole is the best work I've done yet, and will only get better as I continue to polish it.