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Martin Kopischke

kopischke@bookwyrm.social

Joined 1 year, 1 month ago

Purveyor of finest boredom since 1969. Lost causes catered for. He / him (they / them is fine, too). English / deutsch / français. @kopischke@mastodon.social (@kopischke on BirdSite)

My ratings can look harsh, because they do not reflect how much I enjoyed a book; instead, I try to assess how exceptional a piece of literature I find it. I quite like a lot of books I “only” rate three stars, and I wouldn’t necessarily enjoy re-reading everything I rate above that, but the only service I use which helps me express that kind of nuance is Letterboxd.

For reference: ★★★★★ Flawless 
★★★★☆ Must read 
★★★☆☆ Above average 
★★☆☆☆ Oh, well
 ★☆☆☆☆ Blargh

Avatar by Picrew Shylomaton, courtesy of @Shyle@mastodon.social

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The Goblin Emperor (Paperback, 2019, REBCA) 3 stars

Maia, the youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, …

The power of kindness

3 stars

I’ve put off reading Addison’s Goblin Emperor a long time; I had heard it was lovely, but also disjointed and inconclusive. It’s taken the book’s inclusion in a list of Becky Chamberesque “novels where people are nice to each other” for me to finally take the plunge, and the only thing I regret is I didn’t do so much earlier.

I can see how people have a hard time adjusting to this novel: the intricate, Elven steampunk world it builds and the high stakes court setting seem to promise things the novel never tries to hold itself to. Instead, we are treated to the story of a young man who, orphaned at an early age, despised by his cold and all powerful father who banished him to the shticks at the hands of a violently abusive tutor, finds himself on the throne. Faced with the barely hidden contempt of the …

The Gates of Europe (EBook, 2015, Penguin Books) 4 stars

Located at the western edge of the Eurasian steppe, Ukraine has long been the meeting …

Compelling

4 stars

Two caveats first: one, A History of Ukraine is a bit of a misnomer; “A political history of Ukrainian state-building“ would be closer to the mark. And two, this is not an academic work, but a very erudite long form essay.

This being said, said essay is compelling once you adjust to its scope, and there can be little doubt on its baseline historical quality considering Plokhy’s academic credentials are above reproach. It makes for excellent reading and does a lot to ground and contextualise the current events, which the book does not predict, but very much explains. If you are fuzzy about that whole “Ukraine” thing, or have been wondering if there is anything to current Russian claims (spoiler: no), this is recommended reading, caveats and all.

The Dawnhounds (EBook, 2022, Saga Press) 3 stars

The port city of Hainak is alive: its buildings, its fashion, even its weapons. But, …

Wow. Just wow.

3 stars

From the flawlessly breathless pacing to the perfect tone, never mind the amazing world building and sheer, overflowing originality of it all, this is one hell of a debut. It’s as clever as Baru Cormorant, but far less conventional; as anarchically powerful as God’s War, but far more polished; as powerfully queer as Gideon, but far more organic.

Do not let my rating system hold you back: this is one unconditional reading recommendation.

Blood and Ruins (EBook, 2021, Penguin Books) 5 stars

Richard Overy sets out in Blood and Ruins to recast the way in which we …

Forget what you thought you knew about the Second World War

5 stars

Overy’s monumental, erudite take on current revisionist historical WW II scholarship repositions a conflict traditionally seen as a mostly Western one (with a Pacific sideshow) as but a part of the long death throes of territorial empire post WW I. The breadth and depth of the book is frankly mind blowing, even if some parts suffer a bit from being visibly based on elder, narrower scholarship (like the chapter on popular resistance, which almost entirely glosses over the South and South East Asian anti-Japanese resistance movements that play such an important role in the book’s opening and closing chapters), and some social science methodical rigour would have helped the more psychological analyses, but these are minor niggles that cannot mar a colossal achievement.

Overy never loses track of the grand picture; his views on race, gender and power in the conflict are unflinchingly clear and modern; and his writing is …