I recently finished "Shades of Grey" by Jasper Fforde, which I borrowed from my brother. I was not sure what to expect from it. He had described it to me, and I had read the book jacket, so I knew it was a strange, somewhat comedic story set in a the far future when a person's social standing is determined by what colors he or she can see (everyone, it seems, has some degree of colorblindness.)
Kevin had been recommending the book to me for years, and I'm glad I finally read it, because I really enjoyed it. It was very strange and imaginative, yet at the same time grounded in recognizable details of daily existence.
There are two more as-yet-unwritten books planned in the series, and I look forward to them. I guess I should also try Fforde's other books; Kevin likes them, too, and so does my friend Loraine.
I am now reading "A Feast for Crows," the fourth book in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series by George R. R. Martin. I'm almost half way through it, and I can see why most people think it's the weakest book of the five books so far written (two more are planned). Yet I am still quite enjoying it.
It fun the way Martin takes what is on its face a clichéd-sounding fantasy story scenario (huge fictional Medieval-style kingdom full of conspiring nobles who go to war with one another, paying little attention to the silly tales they hear of an ancient evil coming back to haunt them, while meanwhile a young princess across the sea marshalls a barbarian army…etc etc.) and then populates that story with interesting, believable humans. I think that's the central conceit of the story: What if a typical sprawling epic fantasy didn't have real heroes and villains, but instead had the sort of people that existed in Europe a thousand years ago? Which is to say, there is a lot of death and dismemberment, bad mistakes, horrifying predicaments, and brutality.
There isn't much magic, and some of the humans are worse than what few monsters show up. It's pretty grim, but there are still sympathetic characters that I root for and hope will make it to the end, and even many of the bad guys become more understandable as they are fleshed out.