“This is a tale I have heard,” - a tale told to you, both the reader and protagonist, by a god as they watch it unfold. The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie is unlike any novel I have ever read. This story is told in second person by a character who is somehow both directly involved and entirely above the events they are recounting. It is a tale of gods and politics and stories and words, and I honestly cannot remember the last time I have been so enraptured by a new world.
It is hard to find anyone who does not like a good pirate yarn, at least in some form. Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates (Liveright, $29.95) scratches that itch for fans of American history. Eric Jay Dolin takes a look at the history of piracy and its relation to the American colonies, from the good times, when colonists benefited from trade with the pirates, to the bad times when pirates turned their sights on the colonies and states themselves. Black Flags Blue Waters benefits from an immense amount of research, and the concise but eloquent prose for which Dolin, also the author of Fur, Fortune, and Empire, is known. If you love American history, maritime history, or anything to do with pirates, this might just be the book for you.
WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS BOOK ON PUBLIC TRANSIT—unless, of course, you don't mind being stared at while you laugh uncontrollably at every other sentence. I certainly was. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography (Crown, $27) is an ode to a man who has led a rather extraordinary life, written by the man himself. Eric Idle manages to be both hilariously self-deprecating and touchingly humble about his accomplishments. Tracing his life from boarding school through his wild career in Monty Python's Flying Circus and beyond, Idle's book is a fascinating, fun, and altogether worthy addition to the bookshelf of any Python fan. Or any fan of good humor, for that matter.