Currently reading … mostly natural history

Time for another few short book reviews — or at least, brief comments upon a few books:

I’m currently (re)reading …

Himalaya, by Michael Palin, and
India, by Michael Wood — two of the great contemporary travel writers. Both of these are research for Torrie and the Golden Tigers, which is what I’m writing at the moment. Himalaya is Palin’s account of his travels in that mountain range, and is a fascinating tour through a part of the world I’m unlikely to ever visit. India is a history told with all of Wood’s characteristic passion. I enjoy his old-fashioned scholarship, his willingness to let imagination soar in speculation and “maybes” while keeping his feet on a foundation of sound knowledge.

I’m also reading Asia: A Natural History, by Pierre Pfeffer. This is an older book, part of the “Continents We Live On” series published by Random House some decades ago. My friend Allen Keast wrote the excellent Australia and the Pacific Islands for that series and I figured that since they had contracted him for that, they were probably looking for biologists and naturalists who could write with elegance, knowledge, and passion about their chosen region. If they had one covering India, I reasoned, it would be bound to be good, and just what I was looking for. It took a bit of searching to find it, but Pfeffer’s Asia is everything I expected, and more, going through all of Asia region by region, chapter by chapter, examining the natural history of each in detail. It’s turning out to be useful not only for Golden Tigers, but as a supplement to one of my other favourite natural history books, John Sparks’ Realms of the Russian Bear, which I’ve used a lot in creating and bringing to life Moth’s world — the parts of it that you don’t see in “The Storyteller” itself, the deserts and taiga and steppes and mountains over which much of the rest of her story extends.

I’ve just finished reading Pratchett’s I Shall Wear Midnight, and loved it. I really like the way Tiffany is maturing. Something is left hanging, though — a casual remark by Esk suggests there’s another story going on at the same time, the way Thief of Time (possibly my favourite Discworld book) and Night Watch are interwoven. Here’s hoping.

And, hah hah, so much for finishing Golden Tigers this week, I’m about to begin reading Bujold’s Cryoburn. Hooray, hooray, a new Miles book!


About K.V. Johansen

The author of Blackdog, The Leopard, The Lady, and Gods of Nabban, epic fantasies from Pyr, I also write for teens and children, including the "Torrie", "Warlocks of Talverdin", and "Cassandra Virus" series, and the "Pippin and Mabel" picture books, as well as a couple of short story collections and two works of adult literary criticism on the history of children's fantasy literature. I have a Master's degree in Mediaeval Studies, and read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, and history. Blog at
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