Recent reads 17 & 18

It is officially summer time and HOT.  With more airport and airplane time (for me, due to business travel), hopefully you've been able to check out more reading material.  I've been able to round out a few recently and have summarized my opinion of them below.

Iron Council by China Mieville

Iron Council is the third of the New Crobuzon novels and unfortunately the weakest one in my opinion.  As usual, Mieville's choice of main characters is slightly vague in the beginning and in this novel, it takes a third of the book to figure out exactly what is going on with the plots as well as who the characters actually are.  To save you the time, the plot is as follows: there is an insurgent group of remade slaves and "ordinary" railroad workers who rise up against the railroad company building track across Bas-Lag, over throw the military and steal the train.  They create the Iron Council that the novel is named after and take the perpetual train close to the Scar, mentioned in Perdido Street Station, in order to escape the New Crobuzon miliary who come after them by laying tracks in front of it while removing the tracks it has already rolled over.  There are subplots with the main character's romantic relationships and rebellion against the New Crobuzon government by its citizens.

I did debate whether or not I actually wanted to finish this book but thought I owed it to Mieville after all the brilliant work he did with his previous New Crobuzon novels.  I would suggest reading the first two and skipping this last one.

Death in the Dark Continent by Peter Hathaway Capstick

Death in the Dark Continent is a book that I have actually amazon stalked for over half a year.  I wasn't sure if I would like it but it had good ratings from other readers.  This book was much more instructional that I thought that it would be.  I thought it would read as James Herriot, a lot of interesting anecdotes about hunting the big five in Africa: water buffalo, elephants, rhinos, lions and leopards.  Capstick does more than just tell stories though; he paints a clear picture of the day in the life of a professional big game hunter and later - game warden - in Africa.  There is true danger and plenty of death that surrounds this vocation.  The work is not easy, nor is it glamorous, hunters sometimes walking 50 miles a day to track elephants.  The information and knowledge that he shares from own experiences, colleagues and research were often paid by lives or life altering injuries.  This book is a great gift for friends / colleagues / family who like to hunt and want a taste of what it's like to be a hunter of some of the most dangerous animals in the world.  It is not for the faint hearted either as some of the injuries sustained by the victims, particularly by water buffalo, are stomach turning.  I came away with great respect for Capstick and am interested in reading the other books that he has written.


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