Because it is Goddamned August already, somehow. Book of the Month is going to be Savage Bounty.
It doesn’t look like I read anything at all this month, does it? Sigh.
Because capitalism, let me begin by reminding you of two things: that I have a new book out and that my YouTube channel is going strong and could use some more subscribers. The game we’re in now, A Plague Tale: Innocence, is particularly narratively strong and I think would probably be quite a bit of fun to watch. It’s a game where you’re occasionally called upon to feed Inquisition soldiers to rats! You’ll love it.
(Why “Pt. 18,” in the headline there? This is year eighteen of teaching. Eighteen fucking years. Madness.)
School has not started yet, and won’t for nearly two weeks (two weeks from yesterday, I think, is the kids’ first day) but my rosters showed up today when I went looking for them, and I was greeted with smaller classes than I thought I was going to have (alarmingly small, honestly; I can imagine a world where if some of these kids don’t show up they collapse a section on us) and an organizational change that will make grading and record-keeping a lot easier, at least once I get done redoing the planning that was predicated on things working like they did last year. I am fighting off the urge to go to Target tonight to do a touch of supply shopping for stuff I know I’m going to need, and I will be in my classroom for the first time this school year tomorrow. I likely won’t be there much longer than an hour or so– long enough to take a quick inventory of what I want to do with the classroom now that I’m actually decorating it (remember, I’m in the same room I was in last year, but I never really decorated last year) and figure out what I might need to buy over the weekend.
I will be in my classroom Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week doing setup, Thursday and Friday are all-day meetings downtown, Monday the week after I’ll be in my room, then Tuesday is the first day for the teachers and the kids are back Wednesday. So this is the last weekday of summer, basically, since I’ll have Job Stuff every weekday from here on out.
So, yeah: here we go.
Let’s see, what else? I have a Family Thing this weekend; not one as extensive as last time, just for a day– but it’s for my wife’s side of the family, and I don’t know any of them especially well. Unlike my own family, I’m also not a hundred percent sure I can trust the vaccine status of everyone who will be there, a lot of whom I won’t know at all, and while I like my wife’s cousin and her kids, her cousin’s husband is still … I’ll say a potential danger spot in terms of his and my mutual ability to get along with each other. I have, as of yet, no concrete reason to distrust the guy beyond vibes, but we haven’t seen each other in a couple of years for obvious reasons and in general the people I might be interested in staying away from seem to have gotten worse at hiding their bullshit since this all started. I will do my damnedest to be a good guest– or, at the very least, I will make damned sure that while we’re driving home angry after leaving early, it won’t be because I was the asshole.
This is where my life would be easier if I was capable of talking about sports, by the way. Sports is a great thing for men to talk about when they don’t want to talk about other things. That said, talking about sports right now is pretty much talking about politics anyway, so even that refuge may be gone. Hopefully what happened last time will happen again– that the teenagers will decide to hang out with me, and I will thus immunize myself (heh) of any accusations of refusing to socialize while still insulating myself against stumbling into a Don’t Want None Won’t Be None situation with anyone else.
It’ll be fine, but cross your fingers for me anyway.
Yes, I know, you’ve seen that image on this page an awful lot lately, but the fact is that other than irregularly mentioning it here I’ve done nothing to let people know that Click was coming out, and the fact that I’m too lazy to market my own books probably isn’t a great sign? Unsurprisingly, presale numbers reflect my lack of effort. At any rate, it’s available now, so feel free to go grab it if you want to and, for some reason, haven’t yet.
This is my last week of summer vacation, effectively, since I need to kick shit into gear starting August 1st and the kids are back on the 11th, and other than getting the boy back and forth from camp every day I don’t have a single Goddamn thing to do. Not an appointment, not a job responsibility, nothing. It’s video games, lounging about (I just got out of the pool) and cleaning for the next six days, and I am super psyched about it.
After that, I get busy fast, and this year’s gonna be a hell of a ride no matter what happens. But this week, I’m not stressing about anything at all unless I absolutely have to.
Middle novels in trilogies can be so Goddamn tricky. This is certainly true as a writer, but somewhat so as a reader and a reviewer as well. I have been super psyched to get my hands on Savage Bounty since I finished Savage Legion a little under a year ago. It jumped to the top of my TBR and I started reading it almost immediately. And I enjoyed it! I enjoyed it a lot!
I just don’t know what the hell to say about it, and I can lay that directly at the feet of it being the second novel in the series. Here’s the thing: Savage Bounty has strengths everywhere Savage Legion had strengths. The characters are fascinating and diverse. Wallace’s worldbuilding is stellar. His prose is clean and effective in a way I want to steal. I want to steal a lot of the things about this book, actually, and have I mentioned Click comes out next week, because it does!
What it doesn’t do is hang together especially effectively on its own. There are four PoV characters (three are women and one nonbinary, by the way) and none of them ever encounter each other, although two are on the same battlefield by the end of the book. The problem is, while I really enjoy these characters and want to know more about them, and I enjoyed the parts of their stories that got revealed in this book, I’m not sure Savage Bounty hangs together as a book as well as it should have. Savage Legion also told stories of characters that didn’t interact very often (moreso than this book, though) but each of them hit a crescendo at the end of the book, and while it was clear that more was coming, it definitely felt like a work in itself. Bounty definitely feels like the middle book; it feels like Wallace is moving his pieces on the map to get everything set up for the big finale, but I can see the gears moving a bit more than I want to, if that makes sense.
(It’s also a hundred pages shorter than Legion, which blows my mind and is not how these things work. We trilogy people like our doorstop books! This could have had more time to breathe, it’d have been okay!)
Now, of course, as a fantasy reader, I’m well used to trilogies; there’s realistically no chance that I’m not buying the third book in this series, and that’s no less true now than it was before I picked the second book up. And I still think Savage Legion is a stellar fucking book, and if you haven’t picked it up yet, you need to get off your butt and go do that. And as a fan of Matt’s in addition to Matt’s books I feel kinda bad that I can’t issue this one the same full-throated endorsement that I did the first book. You should still read it! It’s not like the wheels have come off the series or anything! It’s just that this is definitely the second book in a trilogy, and it has the weaknesses that lots of second books in a trilogy have. If you don’t know this series, go read Savage Legion. You’ll love it and then you will buy Savage Bounty on your own. Just don’t, like, pick this one up out of order and expect to be able to read it without reading the first one too. It’s not going to work.