The Lies of Locke Lamora Read-A-Long

I started the Darkcargo Explorer as a way to challenge myself and Darkcargo’s readers to expand our reading horizons. I often find myself stuck in science fiction and fantasy, since that’s what I like to read more than anything else, but that mono-genre reading comes at the expense of reading other really great stuff like some of the classics or a fantastic mystery– or even, *GASP*, non-fiction!

However, when invited to join these other great book bloggers in a Read-A-Long for a very well-liked Fantasy that’s been on my TBR for too long, well, heck! I’ll jump back into Fantasy with both feet, and give myself “Explorer” credit by putting this one in the category of “An Author Younger than You Are”. Heh! How’s that for rationalization?

Would you like to join us?

We’re going to read The Lies of Locke Lamora and the following Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch in anticipation of Book #3 in the series being published sometime in the fall (hopefully).

The Lies of Locke Lamora in my Kindle Library

How does this work?

Go get yourself a copy of The Lies of Locke Lamora from your bookstore or library of choice, and report back here on March 1 to begin reading.

These blogs (below) will all be trading questions and discussions as we read along in the series. You can sign up for email notifications of these updates by commenting below, or by subscribing by email to any of these blogs.




othatashley- guest blogging at SFSignal–

Will I like this book?

I dunno. I haven’t read it either. I have read the first bit of it though, and I like the author’s writing style. Know, though, that it is violent, is set in a pseudo-Victorian-London world in which bad things happen to small children, and there’s a lot of cussin’. So, if this is not for you, then this is not the RAL for you, ok?

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The Adventures of Ibn Battuta

The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the Fourteenth Century, by Ross E. Dunn, published by University of California Press.


I picked this book for the travel book category. I’m a couple of chapters into it, and it reads much more like a history book.

Ibn Battuta wasa 14th C Muslim traveler who recorded his 29 years’ worth of travel, concluding in 1355 CE. The book is called a rihla, which is a style of Arabic literature very popular in the 12th to 14th  centuries. It is what we would call “Travel Writing” today, describing places and peoples, monuments and nature, adventure and wonders encountered on a person’s travel.

Battuta’s Rihla was unknown outside the Arabic world until the mid 19th century.

Everyone’s heard of Marco Polo. Polo died the year before Batutta started his journeys. Polo was exploring lands and landscapes that were totally alien to him and his culture. Battuta, however, was traveling within Dar al’Islam–the Islamic World, which, at the time of Batutta’s travels, extended from southern Spain to Western China, India, Mongolia, Eastern Europe to Sub-Saharan Africa, rendering Europe to a little barbaric hinterland to the northwest. (I’m using these modern geographical names for reference. “Spain” didn’t really exist yet, neither did “China” or “India”. They were physical geographic regions populated by different kingdoms, religions and peoples.)

So, he was traveling within culturally familiar territory, but boy was he traveling. His journey covers over 44 modern countries. The dude got around.

I think the point that Dunn is going to make in this book is that Dar al’Islam was nearly as interconnected as is the modern world. I grew up with this historical sense that if it wasn’t Europe, there wasn’t much there, as exemplified by Polo’s singular experience with meeting these strange peoples far away. Dunn tells me in his intro that Dar al’Islam in the 14th century was very cosmopolitan, that everyone knew everyone else (more or less) in the sense that China knew that Africa existed, how it appeared on a map, what kinds of people were there and what they were willing to trade for silks–there was none of this “New World” nonsense. Dunn takes my US-education-based historical map of the world and turns it inside out.

The meat of the book each takes and discusses a city that Battuta traveled in or through. Dunn actually traveled, himself, to many of these places. It is not a verbatim account of Battuta’s travel journals but rather a historical account of what that particular place was like at that time. It’s really interestingly in depth about Islam, both “was” and “is”.

So, this book is not a travel book, per se, but a book about a travel book. I’m going to bump it over into my History Book Published by a University Press category–it is really dense and will take all year to read, probably. I’ll choose another for the travel category.

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International Radio Feeds

Feel like tuning in to Somewhere Else?
Here are a few selections to get you started:
Hindi Radio

Radio PlayOne Oriental Hits

Greek Chroma Smooth Hits

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Here and not There

Why are you here and not at Darkcargo for the Explorer Challenge?

Darkcargo is getting a little much for even me to navigate through, and I wanted to have a place to be able to really discuss these books we’re reading (here), but also still have a corner of the web for photos of our cats and 3 am epiphanies (Darkcargo).

You’ll still find plenty of cross-posting, though so don’t worry, I’m not abandoning Darkcargo.

My vision for how this works:

Each of the pages above and to the right (they’re the same) clarify the limitations for each type of selection. Please comment there, list, discuss, post links, update reading status, write me a treatise, etc.

If you would like to be an author on this blog in order to post reviews to THIS  blog of your own Explorer reading choices, please just let me know.

Signing up via email (to the right) will update you on my posted book reviews and discussions here.

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Explorer Challenge

Darkcargo Explorer Challenge–At least Five books, no more than two from each category, a combo of at least three categories:

  1. Read a history book published by a University Press. !!NONFICTION!!
  2. Explore poetry throughout the year. Find collections and anthologies, pick up poetry magazines, and actively seek out poetry. Find a poet that resonates with you, and tell me about this experience. If you already have a fave, your challenge is to find a new favorite poet.
  3. Read a travel book about someone who takes a trip from one geographical location to another before 1960 (not time travel or mental/drug-induced travel, sorry, or Travel Guides) !!NONFICTION!!
  4. Read fiction about a REAL place you’ve never been.
  5. A truly enormous book of Classic Literature. Enormous being defined as “can be used as a weapon when applied with blunt force to the head”. Some ideas are here, others are: All of The Lord of the Rings, all of the stories in the Sherlock Holmes cannon, anything by Dickens, etc.
  6. Start a new (to you) series. An excellent idea? Help me out with my Epic Quest for Pre-2K Fantasy.
  7. Read a published author who is CURRENTLY younger than you are. (That’s a weird clarification, I know. I mean, someone who really is younger than you are, not younger than you are now when they had their book published. No parallel universes here.)
  8. Read a published novel written by someone who is a citizen of a country in Asia, Africa or Central/South America.
  9. Subscribe to a literary magazine in your favorite genre. Read it.
  10. Find out if your local library is participating in The National Endowment for the Arts’ The Big Read program. If they are, read their selection AND PARTICIPATE IN THE ACTIVITIES. If not, ask them about it. If they are not participating or if the current selection doesn’t appeal to you here’s the list of books to choose from. My local library is participating. I’ve already read this, but can certainly still participate in the activities, and select another on the list.
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