Friday Firsts: Monstrous Regiment


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. First paragraphs. First impressions. A new favourite?


| Friday Firsts: August 28 |

Monstrous Regiment

Book Thirty One of Discworld

by Terry Pratchett

Fantasy | 476 Pages | Published by Doubleday in 2003


| First Paragraphs |

Polly cut of her hair in front of the mirror, feeling slightly guilty about not feeling very guilt about doing so. It was supposed to be her crowning glory, and everyone said it was beautiful, but she generally wore it in a net when she was working. She’d always told herself it was wasted on her. But she was careful to see that the long golden coils all landed on the small sheet spread out for the purpose.

If she would admit to any strong emotion at all at this time, it was sheer annoyance that a haircut was all she needed to pass for a young man. She didn’t even need to bind up her bosom, which she’d heard was the normal practice. Nature had seen to it that she barely had any problems in this area.

Amazon Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

I am so very exciting to be diving back into another Discworld adventure, this time with Monstrous Regiment, the thirty first novel in the series.

With a premise which sees Polly Perks joining the army in order to save her brother, this is an opening that oozes Pratchett’s wit, charm and flare throughout these two short paragraphs. And knowing just how wonderful Pratchett’s writing is, I’m in no doubt that this will be another wonderful, humorous adventure across Borogravia.

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: The Court of Broken Knives


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. First paragraphs. First impressions. A new favourite?


| Friday Firsts: August 21 |

The Court of Broken Knives

Book One of Empires of Dust

by Anna Smith Spark

Fantasy | 470 Pages | Published by Harper Voyager in 2017


| First Paragraphs |

Knives.

Knives everywhere. Coming down like rain.

Down to close work like that, men wrestling in the mud, jabbing at each other, too tired to care anymore. Just die and get it over with. Half of them fighting with their guts hanging out of their stomachs, stinking of shit, oozing pink and red and white. Half-dead men lying in the filth. Screaming. A whole lot of things screaming.

Impossible to tell who’s who anymore. Mud and blood and shadows and that’s it. Kill them! Kill them all! Keep killing until we’re all dead. The knife twists and jabs and the man he’s fighting falls sideways, all the breath going out of him with a sigh of relief. Another there behind. Gods, his arms ache. His head aches. Blood in his eyes. He twists the knife again and thrusts with a broken-off sword and that man too dies. Fire explodes somewhere to the left. White as maggots. Silent as maggots. Then shrieks as men burn.

Amazon | Book DepositoryGoodreads


| First Impressions |

The Court of Broken Knives has been on my TBR ever since it came out in 2017 and, after several inordinately busy years, I have finally gotten around to reading it.

Lyrical, beautiful, bloody, grim and battle weary through and through, it will come as no surprise to those who visit my blog regularly that this style of writing is exactly my cup of tea. And, after those evocative, visceral opening paragraphs, I can’t quite believe I waited this long!

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: A Little Hatred


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. First paragraphs. First impressions. A new favourite?


| Friday Firsts: August 14 |

A Little Hatred

Book One of The Age of Madness

by Joe Abercrombie

Fantasy | 471 Pages | Published by Gollancz in 2019


| First Paragraphs |

‘Rikke.’

She prised one eye open. A slit of stabbing, sickening brightness.

‘Come back.’

She pushed the spit-wet dowel out of her mouth with her tongue and croaked the one word she could think of. ‘Fuck.’

‘There’s my girl!’ Isern squatted beside her, necklace of runes and finger bones dangling, grinning that twisted grin that showed the hole in her teeth and offering no help at all. ‘What did you see?’

Rikke heaved one hand up to grip her head. Felt like if she didn’t hold her skull together, it’d burst. Shapes still fizzed on the inside of her lids, like the glowing smears when you’ve looked at the sun.

‘I saw folk falling from a high tower. Dozens of ’em.’ She winced at the thought of them hitting the ground. ‘I saw folk hanged. Rows of ’em.’ Her gut cramped at the memory of swinging bodies, dangling feet. ‘I saw… a battle, maybe? Below a red hill.’

Amazon | Book DepositoryGoodreads


| First Impressions |

I could not be happier to be back in the world of The First Law. In just a few opening paragraphs, that ever familiar narrative style springs from the pages and throws us back into a chaotic, bloody and treacherous world.

With a whole host of new characters, a few familiar favourites, and a plot that weaves the past through the smoke and steam of  industrial revolution, A Little Hatred is already turning out to be a brilliant read.

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: The Ashes of London


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. First paragraphs. First impressions. A new favourite?


| Friday Firsts: August 07 |

The Ashes of London

Book One of Marwood and Lovett

by Andrew Taylor

Historical Fiction | 496 Pages | Published by Harper Collins in 2016


| First Paragraphs |

The noise was the worst. Not the crackling of the flames, not the explosions and the clatter of falling buildings, not the shouting and the endless beating of drums and the groans and cries of the crowd: it was the howling of the fire. It roared its rage. It was the voice of the Great Beast itself.

Part of the nave roof fell in. The sound stunned the crowd into a brief silence.

Otherwise I shouldn’t have heard the whimpering at my elbow. It came from a boy in a ragged shirt who had just pushed his way through the mass of people. He was swaying, on the brink of collapse.

I poked his arm. ‘Hey. You.’

The lad’s head jerked up. His eyes were wide and unfocused. He made a movement as if to run away but we were hemmed in on every side. Half of London, from the King and the Duke of York downwards, had turned out to watch the death throes of St. Paul’s. 

Amazon | Book DepositoryGoodreads


| First Impressions |

The opening paragraphs of The Ashes of London are an incredibly evocative start to the book. The fall of St. Paul’s is captured so vividly – the heat and the flames and the ash falling from the sky – that you are instantly transported to the terrifying and chaotic Great Fire of London of 1666.

This is a book which quite clearly provides a richly detailed backdrop on which to hang its tale of freedom and murder, and I cannot wait to unravel what happens next.

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: Leviathan Wakes


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. First paragraphs. First impressions. A new favourite?


| Friday Firsts: July 31 |

Leviathan Wakes

Book One of The Expanse

by James S.A. Corey

Science Fiction | 561 Pages | Published by Orbit in 2011


| First Paragraphs |

The Scopuli had been taken eight days ago, and Julie Mao was finally ready to be shot.

It had taken all eight days trapped in a storage locker for her to get to that point. For the first two she’d remained motionless, sure that the armoured men who’d put her there had been serious. For the first hours, the ship she’d been taken aboard wasn’t under thrust, so she floated in the locker, using gentle touches to keep herself from bumping into the walls or the atmosphere suit she shared the space with. When the ship began to move, thrust giving her weight, she’d stood silently until her legs cramped, then sat down slowly into a fetal position. She’d peed in her jumpsuit, not caring about the warm itchy wetness, or the smell, worrying only that she might slip and fall in the wet spot it left on the floor. She couldn’t make noise. They’d shoot her.

Amazon | Book DepositoryGoodreads


| First Impressions |

I have had Leviathan Wakes on my TBR for what seems like an awfully long time and, after watching The Expanse series on Amazon Prime, it became only too apparent that if a TV series is this good then the book really must be something else entirely. So, here I am, writing my Friday Firsts post and I’ve already made it through 25% of the book!

The opening paragraphs are full of tension and mystery – who has taken Julie Mao? Why has she been imprisoned in a storage locker? Where are her crew? – and this theme runs throughout the book as every subsequent chapter amplifies the anticipation, uncertainty and excitement.

Furthermore, as the story progresses the parallels between book and TV series become ever more apparent, highlighting just how good a job the production team did in realising at least the (first quarter of the) first book in the series. This gripping space opera really is no less wonderful for knowing what is coming.

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: To Be Taught, If Fortunate


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. First paragraphs. First impressions. A new favourite?


| Friday Firsts: July 17 |

To Be Taught, If Fortunate

A Novella

by Becky Chambers

Science Fiction | 136 Pages | Published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2018


| First Paragraphs |

If you read nothing else we’ve sent home, please at least read this. I ask knowing full well that this request is antithetical to what I believe in my heart of hearts. Our mission reports contain our science, and the science is by far the most important thing here. My crew and I are a secondary concern. Tertiary, even.

But all the same, we do have a lot riding on someone picking this up.

You don’t have to rush. The file will have taken fourteen years to reach Earth, and assuming that we have the good luck of someone reading it right away and replying straight after, it’d take that file another fourteen years. So, while we can’t wait around forever, the urgency – like so many things in space travel – is relative.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

Hot off the heels of finishing the second novel in Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series, A Closed and Common Orbit, I decided to embark on her stand-alone science fiction novella, To be Taught, If Fortunate.

Having read several disparate reviews for this novella, I have decided to read it with no expectations either way and let myself be carried along whether good, bad or ugly. Having said that, I have developed a somewhat unreserved love for Chambers’ writing and the opening paragraphs are so very intriguing and, as always, so beautifully written that I can’t help but feel like I will love this novella all the same!

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: A Closed and Common Orbit


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. First paragraphs. First impressions. A new favourite?


| Friday Firsts: July 10 |

A Closed and Common Orbit

Book Two of the Wayfarers Series

by Becky Chambers

Science Fiction | 385 Pages | Published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2016


| First Paragraphs |

Lovelace had been in a body for twenty-eight minutes, and it still felt every bit as wrong as it had the second she woke up inside it. There was no good reason as to why. Nothing was malfunctioning. Nothing was broken. All her files had transferred properly. No system scans could explain the feeling of wrongness, but it was there all the same, gnawing at her pathways. Pepper had said it would take time to adjust, but she hadn’t said how much time. Lovelace didn’t like that. The lack of schedule made her uneasy.

‘How’s it going?’ Pepper asked, glancing over from the pilot’s seat.

It was a direct question, which meant Lovelace had to address it. ‘I don’t know how to answer that.’ An unhelpful response, but the best she could do. Everything was overwhelming. Twenty-nine minutes before, she’d been housed in a ship, as she was designed to be. She’d had cameras in every corner, voxes in every room. She’d existed in a web, with eyes both within and outside. A solid sphere of unblinking perception.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

It has been far too long since I finished The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. Four years in fact; and despite it being one of my favourite science fiction reads of the 2015/2016 period, I still hadn’t picked up A Closed and Common Orbit. Following a timely reminder by The Earthian Hivemind that this series existed, I quickly bought a copy and placed it on the top of my ever-increasing book pile.

And I am so happy that I did.

In just a few short paragraphs I was fully absorbed into a landscape I thought I had forgotten. Familiar names, familiar faces; the events of the previous novel slowly unfolding in my head. The character driven plot was the highlight of the first novel and I find it unlikely that this sequel will disappoint.

I truly cannot wait to get lost with the Wayfarers, or at least Lovelace and Pepper, once again.

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: March 30 |

Nevernight

Book One of The Nevernight Chronicle

by Jay Kristoff

Fantasy | 448 Pages | Published by Harper Voyager in 2016


| First Paragraphs |

People often shit themselves when they die.

Their muscles slack and their souls flutter free and everything else just … slips out. For all their audience’s love of death, the playwrights seldom mention it. When our hero breathes his last in his heroine’s arms, they call no attention to the stain leaking across his tights, or how the stink makes her eyes water as she leans in for her farewell kiss.

I mention this by way of warning, O, my gentlefriends, that your narrator shares no such restraint. And if the unpleasant realities of bloodshed turn your insides to water, be advised now that the pages in your hands speak of a girl who was to murder as maestros are to music. Who did to happy ever afters what a sawblade does to skin.

She’s dead herself, now – words both the wicked and the just would give an eyeteeth smile to hear. A republic in ashes behind her. A city of bridges and bones laid at the bottom of the sea by her hand. And yet I’m sure she’d still find a way to kill me if she knew I put these words to paper. Open me up and leave me for the hungry Dark. But I think someone should at least try to separate her from the lies told about her. Through her. By her.

Someone who knew her true.

A girl some called Pale Daughter. Or Kingmaker. Or Crow. But most often, nothing at all. A killer of killers, whose tally of endings only the goddess and I truly know. And was she famous or infamous for it at the end? All this death? I confess I could never see the difference. But then, I’ve never seen things the way you have.

Never truly lived in the world you call your own.

Nor did she, really.

I think that’s why I loved her.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

Narrator led openings such as these always intrigue me –  giving away little details into the future of protagonists we are yet to meet, giving an impression as to their character, and giving clues as to how their existence affects the world around them.

Whoever the Pale Daughter is, and how she came by the names Kingmaker and Crow, I do not know – but I sure as hell can’t wait to find out!

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: March 23 |

Dogs of War

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Science Fiction | 262 Pages | Published by Head of Zeus in 2017


| First Paragraphs |

My name is Rex. I am a Good Dog.

See Rex run. Run, enemy, run. That is Master’s joke.

My squad is Dragon, Honey and Bees. They are a Multiform Assault Pack. That means they are not Good Dogs.

I am coming close to the enemy now. I am coming from downwind. I can smell them: there are at least thirty human beings in their camp. I can smell guns. I cannot smell explosives. I cannot smell other dogs or any Bioform breeds, just humans who are enemies.

I am talking to my guns. They tell me they are ready and operational. All systems optimal, Rex, they tell me. Good Dog, well done for remembering, says my feedback chip.

They are called Big Dogs, my guns. This is a joke by the people who gave me them. They are on my shoulders and they will shoot when I talk to them, because I need my hands for other tasks than pulling triggers. They are called Big Dogs because humans are too little to use them without hurting themselves.

I do not like the thought of humans hurting themselves. Bad Dog! comes the thought. I like humans. Humans made me. Enemies are different.

I am talking to my squad. Dragon is not replying but his feedback signal shows that he is alive and not already fighting. Dragon is difficult. Dragon has his own way of doing things and often he conflicts with what Master has told me. Master says “Dragon gets results,” and so I cannot tell him to stop being Dragon, but I cannot be happy with him being Dragon. Dragon makes me uncomfortable.

Honey is talking to me. She is in position with the Elephant Gun. This name is also a joke. Like the other jokes, I do not understand this one. Honey is not an elephant.

Bees is talking to me. She reports 99 per cent integrity. Bees doesn’t have or need a gun. Bees is ready. Honey is ready. Dragon had better be ready or I will bite him, even if that makes me a Bad Dog.

I am talking to Master on our encrypted channel. Master tells me I am a Good Dog. I am in position and there is no sign from the enemy that they know I am here.

Master tells me I can attack. Master hopes I do well. I want very much to make Master proud of me.

I tell Honey to start. She has gone crosswind of the enemy camp. I can smell her but they cannot. She talks to her targeting system and I listen in as it identifies targets of opportunity. Honey agrees. They send eleven explosive shells into the camp from a distance of four hundred metres, aiming for maximum disruption. As soon as the eleventh is away, even as the first shell hits, I am moving in.

I see the fire. I hear the sound of human voices, shrill above the explosions. Run, enemy, run.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

This is a really intriguing opener and unlike anything I’ve read from Adrian Tchaikovsky so far. I’m not certain how the story will develop, or how the Multiform Assault Pack will come across as living, breathing creat… genetically engineered bioforms, but I can’t wait to find out!

Tchaikovsky has never disappointed with anything he has written so far, so I don’t doubt for a second that this will be an interesting, exciting and thoroughly compelling read.

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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