#1

I’m starting over on the 50 Book Challenge. Last year I read 23 books. This year I hope to get closer to my goal. To assist in that, I’m trying to change the way I read books.

For most of my life, reading a book meant reading the book cover-to-cover in one go. I don’t have the time or energy for that anymore. My body won’t let me read until dawn and still function at work. So I stopped reading because I didn’t have the hours set aside to do it.

Now I’m trying to keep a set sleep schedule: 10pm-6:30am. I need eight hours of sleep in order to be fully rested, and this gives me enough time to dink around in the morning before going to work (as I am doing right now). This means that if I want to read, I have to do it before 10pm and stop at or around 10pm. I didn’t know if I had enough discipline to put down a book when the time came, but I was able to do it with the first book of 2007, so I’m hopeful.

The Empty Chair is the fifth book in Diane Duane’s twenty-two year long tale of the Romulans. The first four books (My Enemy, My Ally, The Romulan Way, Swordhunt, and Honor Blade) have been collected and published in an omnibus entitled Rihannsu: The Bloodwing Voyages which was released last month along with The Empty Chair. I have been eager to read this final book ever since I finished the cliffhanger Honor Blade in 2005, and I was quite frustrated with my local bookstores for not carrying it. However, I was able to pick up a copy during my holiday travels.

The plot is complex and well-executed, but as with most Duane books, it isn’t as much about the plot as it is about the characters. She is one of few authors who writes Kirk so sympathetically that he doesn’t come off as an arrogant ass. I have particularly enjoyed the character development and insight into Rihannsu (Romulan) culture that this series of books has provided, and The Empty Chair neatly brought everything full circle to end the adventure with sufficient closure.

It’s much longer than the other books, clocking in at 421 pages (mass market paperback). I suspect that Duane would have preferred to split it into two novels, since there are a few minor plots that were not fully played out, and the ending battle seemed a bit rushed and anti-climactic compared to other events in the book. However, it is still a satisfying read.

Any interested readers should pick up copies of the previous books first before tackling this one. Although it can stand on its own, there are many references to previous events, and it would help to know the details and the weight they carry. Even though I have read those books in the past couple of years, I found myself struggling to remember exactly what happened and who was involved.

I’d like to go back and re-read the entire series without the long gaps between books, but that will have to wait. I still have 276 unread books in my house that await my attention. Sigh.