Read any good books lately?

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Re: Read any good books lately?

Unread postby Sun Fin » Wed Jun 04, 2014 10:34 am

Finished 'The Last Battle' this morning. The whole series is stunning!
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Re: Read any good books lately?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Fri Jun 06, 2014 3:42 pm

Just finished Xiaoao Jianghu (The Smiling, Proud Wanderer)!

Crazedmongoose, I can defs understand why Linghu Chong is your favourite Jin Yong lead. He's honourable. He's loyal. He's self-sacrificing. He's kind-hearted. And he just doesn't give a shit. I admire that too, actually - but Zhang Wuji's still my fave so far.

I do end up feeling really, really sorry for Lin Pingzhi, though - who is everything Linghu Chong wasn't and isn't, and just somehow manages to get the short end of the stick on everything. Not so much Yue Lingshan, though,

who comes off as a spoilt, stuck-up ingrate half the time, and a total dolt the rest. Really, Ling'er? Unlike Linghu Chong, who at least has the excuse of having been exiled from the school, you had all the evidence right in front of your face and you still had no clue that your daddy was a total arse-munch? Sorry, but cruel though it is, I completely agree with Pingzhi about you.


Yingying definitely gets props from me for being a kick-arse heroine. More than a bit of a prude, but I don't mind that. And quite frankly, she manages to pull off a fine balance between straight-up heroine, tsundere and dominatrix / femme fatale that actually works wonders, and makes her a well-tuned and multifaceted character.

All in all, though, I prefer Yitian Tulong Ji to Xiaoao Jianghu. Jin Yong's plot twists and character-based mindfuckery were pretty well-balanced and expertly done in YTTLJ (especially given all of the build-up to said mindfuckery in the previous two books of the trilogy!), but in XAJH it seems at certain points like he's trying too hard to outdo himself. It's true that

if I hadn't seen the first few episodes of the 2001 Mainland TV adaptation I wouldn't have guessed Yue Buqun was a murderous rotten slimeball until maybe halfway through the book


but even so, that revelation was just a tad cliche, and it was clear fairly early on that Zuo Lengchan was being deliberately hyped. Still an awesome, awesome book though! Highly recommended for any lover of fantasy or martial-arts fiction.
Some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov. Take off your shirt, Chekov. Roll over, Chekov. Breathe deeply, Chekov. Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If I live long enough... I'm going to run out of samples.
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Re: Read any good books lately?

Unread postby patrickrafferty9 » Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:47 pm

I'm just wondering are rafe de crispigny's books worth the £200 price tag, has anyone gota copy so they can actually vouch for it?
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Re: Read any good books lately?

Unread postby Sun Fin » Sat Jun 14, 2014 9:45 am

patrickrafferty9 wrote:I'm just wondering are rafe de crispigny's books worth the £200 price tag, has anyone gota copy so they can actually vouch for it?


Presumably this is a question raised from my thread? It is a little misleading at the moment as I intend in the descriptions to link you to this page where you can read most of his books for free.

The only 2 I know of that aren't up there for public consumption are his new biography of Cao Cao and A Biographical of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms. I know that Jordan doesn't rate the first (I don't know who else has read it) whilst the 2nd is considered very good but we do have this thread where members who do have the book will post up biographies of specific officers on request.

I recommend starting with Generals of the South, I've read it several times myself!
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Re: Read any good books lately?

Unread postby patrickrafferty9 » Sat Jun 14, 2014 1:55 pm

Alright thanks
I've found this site where I can download his publications for free, I actually can't believe I've stumbled across this godly website!!!
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Re: Read any good books lately?

Unread postby Lady Wu » Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:34 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:Just finished Xiaoao Jianghu (The Smiling, Proud Wanderer)!

Crazedmongoose, I can defs understand why Linghu Chong is your favourite Jin Yong lead. He's honourable. He's loyal. He's self-sacrificing. He's kind-hearted. And he just doesn't give a shit. I admire that too, actually - but Zhang Wuji's still my fave so far.

Linghu Chong ftw! Maybe Zhang Wuji is a more relatable common man, but I'm more partial to no-shits-giving heroes. Reading XAJH gives me a sense of freedom, whereas YTTLJ makes me impatient with Zhang Wuji's inability to make decisions and solve problems.

The other thing for me is the female leads. Yingying brings out the best in Linghu, whereas the only girl who brings out the best in Zhang Wuji is Xiao Zhao and she's a Mary-Sue.

When I first read it as a kid I remember being quite horrified when I found out what the prerequisite to practising the Kuihua Baodian was. :shock:
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Re: Read any good books lately?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:04 am

Lady Wu wrote:Linghu Chong ftw! Maybe Zhang Wuji is a more relatable common man, but I'm more partial to no-shits-giving heroes. Reading XAJH gives me a sense of freedom, whereas YTTLJ makes me impatient with Zhang Wuji's inability to make decisions and solve problems.

The other thing for me is the female leads. Yingying brings out the best in Linghu, whereas the only girl who brings out the best in Zhang Wuji is Xiao Zhao and she's a Mary-Sue.


Fair enough re: the female leads. I do like Yingying best so far out of Jin Yong's heroines.

(Not that the competition is really that stiff. I've only read the Condor Trilogy and XAJH. Huang Rong sadly turns out to be a cruel - arguably abusive - bigot, and Xiaolongnü's got some serious problems with... like... sticking around. As for YTTLJ's female leads: you're right about Xiaozhao's Mary Sueness; and I didn't really know what to make of Zhou Zhiruo. Zhao Min was kind of cool, but pretty much a straight up tsundere - I felt she was lacking a bit in depth.)

As for Zhang Wuji vs. Linghu Chong on problem-solving... eh. I suppose it depends on the problem? It's true that Zhang Wuji clearly doesn't know how to deal with women, but considering the events of his childhood that's somewhat understandable. It's also understandable why Linghu Chong is so reluctant to kill Yue Buqun. Zhang Wuji does tend to genuinely care more about his obligations (like becoming the head of the Mingjiao), much like Guo Jing, whereas Linghu Chong makes his decisions on a case-by-case basis. That ends up serving him well somewhat in Tian Boguang / Buke Bujie's case, but I tend to think that that's more an accident / authorial contrivance than anything else.
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Re: Read any good books lately?

Unread postby Lady Wu » Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:20 am

WeiWenDi wrote:Fair enough re: the female leads. I do like Yingying best so far out of Jin Yong's heroines.

(Not that the competition is really that stiff. I've only read the Condor Trilogy and XAJH. Huang Rong sadly turns out to be a cruel - arguably abusive - bigot, and Xiaolongnü's got some serious problems with... like... sticking around. As for YTTLJ's female leads: you're right about Xiaozhao's Mary Sueness; and I didn't really know what to make of Zhou Zhiruo. Zhao Min was kind of cool, but pretty much a straight up tsundere - I felt she was lacking a bit in depth.)

Huang Rong was fine in Condor-Shooting Heroes but I think the whole motherhood thing didn't work out for her. The second book in the trilogy is unreadable to me because of her and Xiaolongnu (as if Yang Guo being emo most of the book issn't bad enough). I basically only reread the Guo Xiang parts now. As for Zhou Zhiruo... I think you're supposed to sympathize with her at the end but I can't. She's always going to be a psychopath in my mind. Yin Li is also a tsundere/sadist. Zhao Min was tolerable after she got over the whole being tsundere thing, but before that she just annoyed me and I don't find her cool at all. I wonder if gender difference affects how the reader perceives the characters?

As for Zhang Wuji vs. Linghu Chong on problem-solving... eh. I suppose it depends on the problem? It's true that Zhang Wuji clearly doesn't know how to deal with women, but considering the events of his childhood that's somewhat understandable. It's also understandable why Linghu Chong is so reluctant to kill Yue Buqun. Zhang Wuji does tend to genuinely care more about his obligations (like becoming the head of the Mingjiao), much like Guo Jing, whereas Linghu Chong makes his decisions on a case-by-case basis. That ends up serving him well somewhat in Tian Boguang / Buke Bujie's case, but I tend to think that that's more an accident / authorial contrivance than anything else.

I think Linghu Chong and Zhang Wuji/Guo Jing embody two very different ways of handling the world. Linghu has strong principles, but in carrying out his obligations he is also true to himself. Zhang/Guo struggle between their societal obligations and being true to themselves--Zhang a little bit more than Guo--and come across as a bit more wishy-washy or unable to carry things through at times.
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Re: Read any good books lately?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:50 am

Lady Wu wrote:Huang Rong was fine in Condor-Shooting Heroes but I think the whole motherhood thing didn't work out for her. The second book in the trilogy is unreadable to me because of her and Xiaolongnu (as if Yang Guo being emo most of the book issn't bad enough). I basically only reread the Guo Xiang parts now. As for Zhou Zhiruo... I think you're supposed to sympathize with her at the end but I can't. She's always going to be a psychopath in my mind. Yin Li is also a tsundere/sadist. Zhao Min was tolerable after she got over the whole being tsundere thing, but before that she just annoyed me and I don't find her cool at all. I wonder if gender difference affects how the reader perceives the characters?


At that last - quite possibly. The reason I tend to like Zhao Min more is that she's not really a cipher; she does have a certain sense of duty to the Yuan, and she has a fair bit of smarts and courage to back it up. It's just that she spends too much of her time in the book being fairly two-dimensional: the whole tsundere thing does get a bit overplayed with Min, though, along with the whole implied foot-fetish thing. And it is pretty much impossible to defend Zhou Zhiruo after what she did to Zhu'er and Zhao Min.

And it may be me clutching at straws for the sake of Jin Yong's authorly integrity here, but I think there's actually more continuity between SDYXZ Huang Rong and SDXL Huang Rong than Jin Yong fandom tends to give him credit for. Even in SDYXZ, Huang Rong has this tendency to treat people well who treat her well, and to be kind of cruel to people who don't or can't treat her well. Of course, given that we the readers are kind of on Guo Jing's side the whole time, we only see one side of the story; what SDXL does to a certain extent is give us an outsider view - how Huang Rong 'looks after' someone who reminds her so much of Yang Kang. (Actually, this telling of the story from a quasi-outsider perspective was the sort of genius of YTTLJ that I appreciated so much!)

And you're completely right about SDXL. I think earlier on in the thread Crazedmongoose and I were comparing it to Twilight. Perhaps not the fairest comparison, but definitely one can see where it comes from. Jin Yong's addition of Huangshannüzi to YTTLJ was just plain unfair. It's like Jin Yong was rubbing it in our faces going 'see? SEE?! Yang Guo and Xiaolongnü ARE perfect for each other - just look at how completely awesome in every way their great-granddaughter is!'

Lady Wu wrote:I think Linghu Chong and Zhang Wuji/Guo Jing embody two very different ways of handling the world. Linghu has strong principles, but in carrying out his obligations he is also true to himself. Zhang/Guo struggle between their societal obligations and being true to themselves--Zhang a little bit more than Guo--and come across as a bit more wishy-washy or unable to carry things through at times.


Oh, absolutely. It's for that reason, I think, that I can see the appeal of Linghu Chong to you and Crazedmongoose.

Guo takes each situation he faces too much at face value, and is in some ways just too damn stubborn, to suffer very much from the struggles between duties and obligations on the one hand, and self-expression on the other. He is utterly convinced of the rightness of the Song cause, utterly convinced of his duty to bring his father's murderer to justice, and utterly convinced of the value of his brotherhood with Yang Kang. The situations he faces, even when Yang Kang betrays them again and again, don't really do much to shake the firmness of those convictions.

Zhang Wuji is a bit different, I think, in that his youth is just spent undergoing one rude awakening after another - seeing his parents forced to commit suicide and living on the run from two-faced hypocrites who all want to use him or kill him or both. He's still got this very deep sense of obligation, but part of what paralyses him in these situations is that he doesn't really have the luxury Guo Jing does of taking them at face value. Personally, I found Zhang Wuji to be very well-written and relatable.

Let me be clear - I still really do like Linghu Chong as a protagonist. It's just that he's a completely different person altogether. Even though he's an orphan we don't get any strong sense of his loyalty to his parents, and his upbringing as the favoured student of Huashanpai is quite comfortable. You're right that he does have good principles, but he applies them only insofar as they elicit his personal sympathy. Normally this isn't a problem because his instincts are good and they happen to match the Aesop of the book... but, in some cases (like with Tian Boguang, and later with Yue Buqun) Linghu Chong somewhat bewilders me in such a way as led me to wonder, in first reading XAJH, whether he was being intentionally thick. (For example, when Yue Buqun was fighting him in the Shaolin Temple and kept using sword moves from Chongling Jianfa - even though Lingshan was clearly already engaged to Pingzhi with his blessing - why the hell did he just let him keep winning? He really didn't smell anything fishy about that?!)

^ My wife says that since I'm not Chinese, I don't really understand that Chong was just showing xiaoshun. But honestly, being filial doesn't imply that you have to be a total idiot where your parents - even your foster parents - are concerned, right?
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Re: Read any good books lately?

Unread postby Liu Yuante » Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:25 pm

Almost done with The Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton. One of the best works of Fantasy I've ever read. Takes as its inspiration the stories from the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, which are early-medieval Welsh stories (probably with roots in a much earlier oral tradition) found in the Red Book of Hergest and the White Book of Rhydderch.

The Four Branches in their original form are about 70 pages long, total, and Walton expands and deepens them considerably (total length for her version is 700 pages). Great writing and timeless stories regardless of the format. Not very well-known among most fantasy fans but absolutely wonderful nonetheless.

Would obviously recommend the original stories as well as other stories that are associated with them and which have come to collectively be known as The Mabinogion, as a result of Lady Charlotte Guest's 19th-Century translations. Sioned Davies' recent translation in the Oxford Classics line is a good one.
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