This was a fun action-packed episode in the ongoing series. So far Scalzi has been giving us lots of vignettes of various characters in the universe as the larger plot unfolds in the background. It's an interesting way to look at it. I wonder, since we're past the halfway points whether then larger events will be resolved in this series, or whether he is setting the stage for a larger novel later on. My guess is the latter!
Much like "The Death of Sleep", this book has a very interesting premise that is absolutely terrible in its execution. I chalk this up to two things. First is the writing style, which is just not good. Secondly, I think McCaffrey and Moon are science fiction fans, not scientists. This is space opera, not hard SF. Don't expect things to make much sense if you're thinking analytically about this world.
Note about the writing style: There is scant detail given about what is going on, virtually no internal character thoughts or development, and really almost no narrative. The story reads like a series of news reports with much of the emotion and details left out. The narrator only made things worse, with little emotion and no real voices for the characters.
Ultimately a disappointment, written by two science fictions fans who are also very liberal women pushing a totally unrealistic view of the future. In the 21st century, we look back at such ideas and we snicker at how childish it seems now.
This book started with an interesting premise, but it all went downhill from there. The woman gets stranded in time several times due to cold sleep malfunction, which is so extremely unlikely that is sticks out as the mere plot point that it is. Secondly, the story fails to deliver audience expectation - that is, does she get reunited with her daughter? At first we see she'll do whatever it takes to find her, then halfway through the book she inexplicably gives up. After that the novel makes no sense, as the plot tries to go in a new direction, which was a totally bad idea, and fails anyway. I got very lost and bored and listened to most if the book on double speed just to get through it.
The Blade Itself is part of the more recent wave of darker, more gritty, military-style fantasy, and one the whole I'd say it holds up better than average. Its strengths are in the dark sense of humor that permeates the whole novel, and in the realistic and well-written action sequences. A few characters stand out, especially Inquisitor Glokta, who is by far the best developed and most memorable. Strangely, it seems that the character development doesn't really kick in until the latter half of the novel, at which point it really takes off at breakneck speed. This brings us to the novel's downsides.
Inexplicably, after a great opening sequence and first few chapters, the story really starts to drag. The scale remains very small and narrow until much later in the novel. At this point to me, the novel was already not going to make more than three stars, even though the story really picks up and becomes interesting later on. Also, the novel suffers from a plethora of filthy language.
Is "The Blade Itself" interesting enough to read the whole trilogy? For me, it's on the back burner; I have a lot more books on my reading list to get to first.
I don't think this story really classifies as Epic Fantasy, at least not the first book. It certainly has a good cast of characters, but not the scope that we've come to expect from other epics such as the Wheel of Time or ASoIaF. And you could drop this entire novel into any of the books in the massive Malazan series and lose it. Still, this book has definitely cemented Abercrombie's place amongst the new wave of modern fantasy writers.
I stumbled upon this author through someone's Goodreads review, and recently have been reading a lot of "first published independently" authors. When I discovered the author was a fellow North Carolinian and that the story takes place here in NC, I was fairly excited to try him out!
The zombie genre is, in a word, overdone these days, but I was hoping for a new twist on the theme. This one is well written, and kept me interested all the way. There were a few minor snags for me, though.
The prologue started out great. Once we get into chapter 1, however, the story jumps back to the main character's life before the outbreak. Then we get to see the outbreak itself. I don't know about you, but I've seen the zombie "origin story" enough times by now. This one is fairly straightforward, and I could have done without it.
I kept hoping we would quickly make it back to the timeline in the prologue, featuring the main characters of Eric and Gabriel. Unfortunately, the story gets sidetracked again, and I realized that I wasn't going to like the direction the story was taking. Again, don't get me wrong: the story is pretty good. I just didn't find anything particularly unique about it, nor about the rest of the plot as it unfolds. The book also suffered from a lot of cursing and bad language that I wasn't expecting and frankly could have done without.
In fact, the entire book itself is backstory, which is a shame, because it is well written and interesting. The problem is, we KNOW that Eric is going to end up with Gabriel, just two of them, holed up in a cabin inside a fence looking out on the world. I wanted to find out what happens AFTER that, and I didn't want to wait until book 2 or 3 to find out.
This book should be a study in what not to do when writing epic science fiction. Hamilton is billed as "Britain's Best-Selling Science Fiction Writer". Well, maybe I'm just too widely read, because I cannot fathom why this would be the case.
There is really nothing in this novel that hasn't been seen before. That wouldn't be a problem if it was pulled off right, but there are so many problems that I don't know where to begin. First, the book BADLY needs an editor. Large portions could be cut out (and should be!). There are too many characters, too many uninteresting side plots, etc etc. The novel finally picks up right at the end and them BAM! It's over, and you're asked to buy the second book. Well, no thanks!
Then the whole societal structure shows what a weak writer Hamilton is. If people are rejuvinated ever 50-60 years and are virtually immortal, then why are they all the time thinking about how novel and interesting this technology is? Shouldn't it be taken for granted? But because this is a very different concept to us as readers, Hamilton hits us over the head with it again and again. Not only this, but most of the characters seem like the same person just with a few tweaks here and there. Most of the same traits apply, including their speech (why does everyone curse like a sailor, using the SAME words?) and their attitudes toward their lives (divorce an inevitability, interested only in their own gain). Then, there is the huge amount of sex in the book. Literally every character seems like a hormone-crazed teenager dumped into a mid-1960's free sex environment where everyone is screwing everyone. This is just flabbergasting. It makes NO sense. We're given the excuse that rejuvenation invigorates the sex drive, but that doesn't explain why every character is obsessed with having sex, ALL the time! This is utter drivel.
If you want great new space opera, I would much recommend Alastair Reynolds over this massive tome of lackluster storytelling.
This is yet another independent e-book that through sheer momentum got noticed and picked up by a publisher. I had seen huge ravings about this book and had to check it out. So does this one live up to the hype?
This is possibly the strongest fantasy debut I've ever read. It's better than Elantris, it's better than Name of the Wind, and it's a lot better than Promise of Blood. He gets right what those books didn't, and I can't really find a single complaint about it. I have no idea where this author came out of, but this guy has the total package when it comes to writing.
The first of the book starts with modern-day Vaelin, condemned prisoner and living legend. Setting out on a voyage where he must fight to the death in gladiatorial combat, he begins relating the story of his life to a skeptical scribe. The book continues on this pattern of long-flashbacks, interspersed with short interludes back in the modern day. It really reminded me of The Name of the Wind, only this book was a lot better. There was never really a dull or boring moment in the book; in fact, this is one of those rare books that I actually didn't want to end. Usually I'm hurrying it up near the end, already thinking about what I want to start next. But this one had me hooked all the way through.
This author writes like someone who's done it for years and years. I simply can't believe how well-written it is for a new author. The characters come alive. They feel so much more real and sophisticated than those books mentioned above. The plot carries you along, and you can feel the complexities and undercurrents even as they are revealed a bit at a time, with many more mysteries yet unsolved. The elegance of the writing is at times astounding; there are moments that blew me away or made me laugh in delight simply because of HOW they were written. The prose and dialogue are top-notch. This is a genius of storytelling.
And the action? Absolutely second-to-none. It's intense, it's bloody, and it feels like you're actually THERE. Usually authors slack off in this category, but so much of this book revolves around a life of violence and combat. The fights never feel cheap or stereotyped. The main character is awesome and he lays down the law with his blade. There's no random goof-ups that authors use to try and be different or "realistic". This guy is bred to fight, and everything he does is purposeful and effectual. And the magic system, revealing itself slowly one bit at a time through the lore of the world, adds that extra element that brings it all together.
I didn't think it would happen, but this book really blew me away. I can't wait to see what comes next.
I give up... I got over halfway, but I cannot finish this book. It is one of the most boring plot lines I have ever read. The main character is so childish and whiny, I just can't take it anymore. I know negative reviews generally don't get good clout here, but I have to be honest and warn off potential listeners to this waste of time.
This is not the right way to go about writing a story. There are reasons that we have rules about good writing. Why is it that an established author is allowed to break them, while beginning writers are chastised and told to "go rewrite"? This is unfair. We should be just as hard on big-name authors when they goof-up as we are on new writers.
The general rule is this: The protagonist of the story needs to ACT, not REACT. He needs to have a clear goal. The main character of this book is totally passive, and I have no idea what he wants to do. Everything happens TO him, because he is completely under the charge and authority of the alien Atevi. He cannot venture outside the boundaries they give him, and he cannot get any information that they do not deign to let trickle down to him. This results in endless pages of monologues about wondering what is going on. Well guess what? WE DON'T KNOW EITHER! All he does is ask where his guards are, and whine about not getting his mail. Finally I reached the point at which I couldn't stand it anymore. Seriously, what's the big deal about MAIL? Someone is trying to kill the guy!
I was reminded a lot in this book about how foreigners feel in Asian cultures, where concepts that Western culture take for granted can be construed as offensive or unintelligible. Maybe Cherryh used that as inspiration to create a similar situation between humans and aliens - and the Atevi do feel alien. Just not interesting.
It can be good to try something unconventional, and the plot and world that is developed here certainly qualifies. But it just doesn't work. I cannot believe Cherryh could build a nearly 15-book franchise out of such a weak, uninteresting plot line. I can only assume it must appeal to fans of her other work. However, this is the second Cherryh novel I have tried and failed to complete, so I have to conclude that her writing is not for me.
This was a short, fun story for kids of all ages, both witty and clever at times. If reading this doesn't tell you something about the times when it was written, though... Well, let's just say there is some potentially racially-tinged elements here, but you'll have to read to find out. I had never read any Dr. Dolittle tales before, so I wasn't familiar with this particular origin story. It's not bad, but doesn't focus on the sheer novelty of his talking to animals, not enough for me at least, and there is so much more that could have been explored humorously, but was not. The ending comes abruptly, and I can only assume there must be a lot more episodic-type adventures with the Doctor that come after this.
The first Monster Hunter book was quite a tour de force, a highly original-feeling story chock full of humor, insane action sequences, and epicness. The sequel gives you more of the same - which may satisfy those craving more of such, but for me it's starting to get a bit repetitive.
The plot picks up where the first left off, which is something I wasn't too keen on. Correia tries to up the stakes in every possible way, when I thought he had reached too far in the first volume. This results in what feels like a kitchen-sink mentality, where he tries to tie everything together (feeling like ret-conning at times), creating ridiculous situations for the heroes to try and escape from. The result is long, frustrating sequences that seem to be drawn-out for the intent purpose of creating more tension and upping the stakes. Then Correia has no choice but to resort to lots of deus ex machina moments in order to bail the heroes out of said situations.
Perhaps with this book the initial plotline is over, although it sounds like he's going to continue it, with lots of foreshadowing and prophecies yet to be fulfilled. Although there are elements I like to the story and his writing, I'm not sure if I want to continue any further if we are to follow the same (now old-feeling) plot line.
This may go down as one of the great epic fantasies of our time.
Truly, this series redefines the word "epic" in fantasy. Compared to this, I don't think we would consider most other fantasies as in the same category - they certainly don't have the same scope at all. This series kind of stands apart, maybe going TOO far... The sheer scale of the undertaking - the twisted, overarching plots that far transcend even this massive volume; an immense cast of characters, both immortal and mortal; a history of over 300,000 years, and characters who have lived out all of those years; myriad races, cultures, and multiple worlds - it's almost impossible to imagine that an author could actually pull this off and make it work. Yet Erikson, somehow, does.
And Ralph Lister doesn't just narrate this book - he PERFORMS it.
This book definitely hits the high point of the series so far - the sophistication of the plot and the elegance of the writing both establish that clearly. In this book, the investment that the reader is asked to make in the first two books finally reaches its pay-off, and it is a massive one. There are heroic moments of awesome, and tragic, heart-wrenching losses. This is not a story for the faint of heart.
The first book was a jumble of unfamiliar names and concepts, a tangled web of plots and events that happen without much context. The second was an epic journey through a hopeless war, a tragedy a thousand pages in the making. The third book is where everything comes together, closing a major chapter arc begun in book one. By now you know the players, and many of the rules. The battles are epic, but not as exhausting as the total war-mentality of Deadhouse Gates.
For me, with this book I believe I have finally gotten a grasp on what the series is. I wish someone had written it out like this to me earlier, so I could understand. Nevertheless, I will try and fill that role for those like me who come after.
When approaching the series, think of Greek Mythology - an endless struggle between gods, demigods and mortals. The gods used to be mortals themselves, and are rife with all the desires, shortcomings, and temperaments that mortals are. There are also ascendants - who were mortal champions, kings, or what have you - who for whatever reason have ascended into a demigod-like state of power and life. Then there are many races - and most of these are humanoid - and with race comes an endless, spiraling cycle of conflict, with each side at times playing brutal aggressor, at others hapless victim. In fact, racism seems to be the initial cause for most of the conflict in this world, and that one would expect. Only the mistakes that are made take tens or hundreds of thousands of years to rectify, before both sides finally admit their faults and ask forgiveness.
Also realize this was borne out of a role-playing game devised by Erikson and Ian Esslemont. Some events probably occur because they just happened in the game. Does this make the plots overly complex? It's a matter of opinion, probably. Some things feel like they get ret-conned in, but it's hard to tell. Many characters' names may strike you as odd, as the Bridgeburners seem to often go by nicknames. Again, sounds like they just came up with some on the fly while gaming, then added backstory and explanation later.
The characters, goals, and motivations are not simple. This is a gray world. Good characters turn evil and evil characters become good, and sometimes justice is not seen. Despite this, death is usually not the final word, as characters ascend, return, or are reborn.
This series requires a lot of investment, more than any I have ever read. It's not perfect, and it's not my favorite fantasy ever. But if it sounds like this is something you're interested in, and you're willing to be patient, then there are some pretty enjoyable pay-offs.
Note: If you read this series and get confused or impatient, and if you don't mind some spoilers, I highly recommend keeping a link to the Malazan Wiki handy - it helped me keep track of who's who and what's what immensely, and the spoilers are few - barring a few major ones you need to be careful of. In fact, for me, the spoilers as they boosted my understanding (and therefore enjoyment) of the book significantly, because I was asking less "what" and "why" and could focus on the "how".
It's hard to believe all that has happened in only THREE books. And there are SEVEN more books in this series...
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