So I've started and given up on three books the past couple of weeks. There isn't a common theme really, other than the fact that I just don't have time to read a book I am, at best, lukewarm about. And if they are library books, there is even that much more pressure to either get them read or get them returned.
First up and out was Empress by Karen Miller. The first of the Godspeaker (name should have warned me) trilogy, it is set in a fantasy world where gods rule. Told in the by now typical fashion of changing points of view, each character is, unfortunately, "chosen" in some way by the god (or gods). Sorry, but I tire quickly these days of book about destined or chosen or foretold characters struggling to fulfill there destiny.
Then I started reading Arslan by M. J. Engh, due to a recommendation on a web site which wrote about sci-fi books to recommend to your non-scifi friends. In this case, it was for your "literature" friends. Its first case was Canticle for Leibowitz, which remains a favorite, even if it was read in the distant mists of time. The follow up case was Arslan, a "political SF novel", and tells the story of a town occupied by Arlsan, a young Asian general who somehow has take over the world. I made it about 1/3 the way through and it just wasn't that interesting.
Finally, I'm returning Stalin: Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag-Montefiore , which tells the story of Stalin's rise to power and his excesses. And interesting subject, to be sure, but I was intimitated by the book's length (nearly 900 pages) and its failure to keep a common thread. Every other paragraph, it seemed, was another digression, which would soon lead to another digression. It was like Sebag-Montefiore had so much information, as soon as something relating to it came up, off he want to chase it down. It really failed to hold together for me, so I gave up.
I just don't have the time or the laser focus required to struggle through slow parts of books, or to overcome certain prejudice. The god thing in fantasy books has really been getting to me lately. I think that's why I really enjoy Martin's Song of Ice & Fire - no one (well, save perhaps Daenerys Targaryen) has any kind of "destiny" as foretold in song or story and, as he has proven time and time again, any character can get whacked at any time, which adds to the tension. I should just read A Feast for Crows. I've been holding out until A Dance with Dragons comes out, as I heard they were two halves to a whole, but maybe if I start now, I'll finish just about the time Dance comes out.