The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas: A true classic. I never get tired of reading the exploits of Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan. High adventure, love, honor, intrigue and swashbuckling. Dumas knows how to weave a thrilling yarn to be sure. Much better than any of the movies that have attempted to bottle Dumas’ formula. The rest of the books in the Musketeer series are excellent reads as well. I will make special mention of the Man in the Iron Mask movie with John Malkovich, Jeremy Irons and Girard Depardieu as the aged trio and Gabriel Byrne as D’Artagnan. The movie closely captures the essence of the characters and world they live in.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck: I believe that this was once featured as a Oprah Book of the Month. I won’t hold that against it. You can never go wrong with Steinbeck. This is a tale loosely based on the fall of Adam and Eve and the rivalry between Cain and Abel set in the Salinas Valley of California. I have to admit that I have yet to finish the book. I have read half of it and intend to finish it some day soon. This is due more to unforseen circumstances than to the quality of the book itself. I still recommend it.
The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane and Bran Mak Morn: The Last King by Robert E. Howard: If you are a fan of fantasy and have not read Howard, then get thee hence to a book store post-haste. I wouldn’t call his prose beautiful but it has a swift brashness that cannot be denied. Conan is his most well-known character but Solomon Kane is memorable in his own right. The puritan swordsman roaming strange and foreign lands righting wrongs and valiantly battling creatures of darkness. Bran Mak Morn contains some great poems as well. Check them both out.
The Terror by Dan Simmons: Be warned, this is a massive book at nearly 800 pages but it is well worth your patience. Not many can write horror and terror like Simmons. Stephen King has written kind words about Simmons many times and I feel Simmons is better than King. The Terror is the story of the HMS Terror; a vessel sent to search for the Northwest Passage as part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition. They enter the Arctic Circle and come face to face with a strange cold world and a terror stalking them along the ice. Truly terrific stuff.
That should do for now. I pray that Summer arrive swiftly. I have late watch over camp tonight and the bitter cold nights are getting old and contribute to a general grumpiness among the men. Tomorrow, we march into the void. The captain says he does not know what is beyond the void and some of the men are afraid. I just hope it is warm there.