Tuesday, May 14, 2013
To put it bluntly this book was an absolute chore to read and only sheer bloodymindedness got me through it. It wasn't so much the recycled plot lines, I've read Terry Brooks and enjoyed his work, but the poor quality of the writing that put me off. The characters were all wooden and Orullian failed to make me care about them at all. The dialogue is clumsy and the prose feels like it is trying to be something it's not,though does improve slightly as the novel progresses. While there is a lot of world-building going on there is never enough development to truly grasp the details. This feels like a writer's first attempt at a novel and if I read it as part of a writting group I would say Orullian had potential but needed to write a few more to get to a point of being publishable. Why TOR decided to print and market this book so strongly is beyond me.
Overall Peter Orullian's debut is plagued with problems and I would have to advise giving this one a miss. 4/10.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Like the first book Elsewhens is foccuesed on the relationship between Cade and Mieka. Both are well realized vivid characters that dance to life on the pages and neatly steal the show. Again the support characters are just fleshed out enough to be interesting.
My biggest problem with this second installment is the plot seems to meander along without any focus. The ending just seemed to highlight further how little the plot has been advanced. I also feel Rawn missed a trick in developing the setting further with Touchstone traveling to a new continent.
Overall Rawn's character development remains top notch, however a meandering plot keeps this book from being one of her best. 7/10.
Friday, April 26, 2013
My only major criticism of the previous novel was the lack of tension throughout the majority of the book but Vaughan has adjusted well and corrected that in this volume. Kitty is an engaging character and it is great to see her progression from a reliant almost-victim of her pack at the start of the first novel, to learning how to take care of herself and finally taking the lead in this installment. Both Ben and Cormac are fleshed out nicely as characters. Without giving too much away the ending was both surprising and yet very fitting.
Overall the third Kitty Norville book combines great character development with some clever touches. 8/10.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
This book had been marketed as Abercrombie's Western and this is very much reflected in the themes of the book, such as the byplay between order and freedom in a frontier setting. Like Abercrombie's two previous books this one stands nicely on its own but long time fans will be happy to see the return of Logen nine-fingers (although he is never once called by this name throughout the book) A host of other familiar faces make appearances, including Cosca, Shivers and Sergent Friendly and one of their stories is completely resolved.
I enjoy how Abercrombie creates a sense of forward momentum in his books with some of the recurring characters being noticeably older and the technology of the world continuing to progress.
While interesting in their own right most of the Point of view characters aren't as well portrayed as characters in previous books. Though having said that I thought that Temple really stole the show and was glad to see his story taken in the direction I thought that Shivers story should have been taken in Best Served Cold. A lot of reviewers will tell you this book is Abercrombie at his most cynical but I don't think that is the case; Shy and Temple's story is as close to a happy ending as you will expect to see in one of his books.
Overall Abercrombie delivers his usual collection of cynical wit and superb storytelling in a somewhat different setting. 8/10.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Arthur the Pendragon, representative of Rome in Britain, was able to lead his forces to victory against a loosely united group of Pictish clans in the battle of Aber-Glei. To their surprise Arthur imposes a rather light treaty on the defeated, hoping to win the clans to his cause. As part of this treaty Chieftainess Gyanhumara ("Gyan") nic Hymar is obligated to marry a Brytoni nobleman.She chooses Urien map Dumarec, son of her clan's worst enemy, in hopes of bringing in lasting peace to her people. However when a prophecy suggests that a Brytoni chief will cause her great joy and great sorrow and lead to her death, she begins to question. A matter not helped when she finally meets Arthur and falls in love with him.
The crux of the story, at least for me, is a coming of age tale. Gyan has been groomed to lead her people and takes this responsibility very seriously. However in a sense her upbringing has been very sheltered and events conspire to confront her with a larger world. Naturally she begins to question her place within it and to discover who she truly is and what she truly believes. I thought Headlee did an excellent job in slotting in other characters points of view to balance things out but Gyan is undoubtedly the star of the show. My only issue is that is that Urien and Arthur's sister Morghe are not given any redeeming qualities and seem a little too like cartoon villains though the main villain of the piece Cuchullain is portrayed much better.
This Arthurian tale is set across the backdrop of Britain in the fifth century and everything from the languages, cultures and religions is vividly portrayed. The various forms of foreshadowing were used to good effect and infusedthe tale with a real tension.
Overall Dawnflight does a fantastic job of combining a coming of age tale with a vivid backdrop. 8/10.
Friday, March 15, 2013
In the year 2067 the Middle East has been pacified by a nuclear strike, all that remains between Tsao Ch'un’s vision of one worldwide city is the divided remnants of the United States of America. Ch'un chooses Jiang Lei, a rarity in being a genuinely honest man, to lead this campaign. Meanwhile Jake Reed has been having trouble adjusting to life inside Chun Kuo and is sure he is about to be made to 'disappear' like the other troublemakers. Unexpectedly an offer comes from GenSyn to work on creating a datascape for research purposes. However other forces have an interest in this as well. Twenty years later Tsao Ch'un decides to make war on the seven, his lead administrators, having driven them to think of deposing him through his tyrannical ways.
The novel is divided into two temporal periods set twenty years apart. There is no real flow between these periods, unlike the first novel, which gives the impression this second prequel is something of an info dump. Surprisingly the author does not go into details on any battles despite two wars taking place during these periods. Key scenes are left unwritten and the resolution to both wars remains murky. All of this makes the novel feel rushed.
On the plus side Wingrove characterisation is top notch. Even characters who only a single point of view scene are well fleshed out. The political machinations and the world-building are interesting but could have been expanded upon further.
Wingrove has created a top-notch world and interesting cast of characters but this second prequel suffers from rushed pacing and at times feels like filler. 7/10.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Following the recovery of the Hermetica Nadira and her companions journey with a group of Templar knights to Istanbul. The knights seek to recover a lost treasure and plan on going to Istanbul and stealing a grimoire from a necromancer who works for the sultan. The knights want to Nadira to use the book to contact a dead member of their order, in return she can use it to contact Lord Montrose’s dead brother and hopefully give him the peace that he seeks, though the necromancer may not take kindly to their plans.
Nadira remains the stand out character and I enjoyed watching her grow. As her powers develop so does her self-confidence and she begins to take on more of a leadership role rather letting other people shape her life. Both Lord Motrose and William are also well fleshed out as support characters. However I did not feel that the rest of the support characters were fleshed out enough, especially the Templar knights. When things happen to them later in the book it is hard to care as we don't really know much about them.
Pacing is a very real issue in this one with everything feeling far too rushed and as a result the really big moments felt hollow. I don't know if this in reaction to a perceived slow pace in the first novel and if so I would be flabbergasted as Banks debut was well-controlled in this area. Some areas of the plot also did not make a great deal of sense, for example it is decided that Nadira will attempt to steal the grimoire when the necromancer is at the height of his sexual pleasure as for some reason he won't be able to sense Nadira taking control of it. This knowledge comes from one of the Templars but how he came by it is never revealed.
The passage of time is not something kept clear in the narrative and would like to see Banks address this in future instalments.
One improvement from her debut was the insertion of a very clear ending in this instalment.
Overall I think this book suffers from 'second book syndrome'. The lead character is well portrayed but many of the support characters can be likened to stick figures. Pacing is an area that needs some work. 6.5/10.