Saturday, March 31, 2012

Review: Changes by Jim Butcher

Years ago Harry's lover Susan was taken by the red court, who attempted to turn her. Harry saved her before the process could be complete but for both their sakes Susan disappeared to South America where you could fight her curse and those responsible. Harry lost more than he realized that day. Susan was pregnant and has kept their daughter hidden for years. Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red court, has kidnapped the child planning on using her against Harry. Harry grew up as an orphan and there is no power on earth that will prevent him from protecting his child.

I answered the phone, and Susan Rodriguez said, "They've taken our daughter." I can't recall coming across a more powerful opening sentence to a novel. The implications are obvious to anyone, even someone not familiar with the Dresden files and you know you’re in for a rollercoaster of a ride.

The focus is strongly on Harry's character throughout this novel. With the novel's being told from Harry's perspective he has always come across as a "white" character. He knows the difference between right and wrong and this seldom causes any conflict for him. So in earlier books when he has been offered power from dubious sources I never felt there was a chance he would take it. Until now. This conflict within Harry certainly kept me interested.

Overall Butcher yet again raises his game. 8.5/10.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: Infinity Blade Awakening by Brandon Sanderson

Siris has been trained since birth to face the God King, the immortal tyrant who rules over his people with an iron fist. Siris' ancestors have been fighting the God King for generations without a hope of suceeding. Inexplicably Siris is able to overcome the God King with his own sword, the infinity blade. When Siris returns to his village of Drem's Maw he receives an icy reception, the villagers fear that the other deathless with come after him to gain the infinity blade, and he is forced to leave. Siris is forced to choose between trying to live a normal life, a right long denied him, or facing the other deathless. However can an immortal truly die or is this all part of the God King's plot?

I've noticed in recent works of Sanderson's that he seems to be striving for a middle ground with injecting more humour into his works and keeping them serious enough to fit the plot. He mostly succeeded in the Alloy of Law but falls way short of the mark here. The byplay between characters, specifically Siris and Isa became far too distracting and often killed the mood.

I think there was a lot of potential for Siris character to develop as he experienced things most people take for granted for the first time but again I feel that Sanderson missed a trick with this.

The world-building is intriguing enough to keep me interested even while taking a back seat. The twist at the end really worked for me and was foreshadowed brilliantly. Enough to keep me interested in a sequel despite my reservations about some of the earlier issues.

Overall this was probably my least favourite of Sanderson's works. The attempt at humour was too distracting and didn't mesh with the plot. There were some areas of character development with real potential but they simply didn't live up to expectations. However clever foreshadowing and plot twists bring things back a bit. 6.75/10.