Charlotte, NC, United States | Member Since 2011
Look, I know this is blasphemy, but I really can't stand J.R.R. Tolkien's writing. His imagination is unsurpassed, but his execution is poor, and anything but timeless.
Tolkien is unable to capitalize on the drama inherent in his story. It is a miracle that Peter Jackson was able to see the potential in this story and Lord of the Rings and turn them into the exciting, mature epics.
Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' feels undercooked, tame, and frankly, far too cute for the weighty subject matter within. Also, I find Tolkien's frequent forays into song-writing to be annoying and detracting to the narrative.
Also Tolkien's tale has far too many creatures speaking (spiders and birds speak perfect english, apparently). It has too many loose ends (the necromancer? did I fall asleep through the part where he plays any part?) . It has inconsistencies: The One Ring seems to have none of the seductive power that defines it in the Lord of the Rings.
Finally, I'm annoyed by Tolkien's Eagles which are his own personal deus ex machina.
In short: Good idea-- horrible exploration of that idea- terrible execution of that idea.
Skip it and wait for Peter Jackson to bring the story to life.
I finished this book last week, and already I can't remember how it ended. I just didn't care.
It had a promising opening, and it was an interesting thought experiment, but I didn't care about any of the characters, or their struggle, or the world the author created.
Elantris's only sin is its simplicity. I was never really shocked by anything that happened in the plot. Good characters and character development. Good prose. Good narration.
I liked the book, and it took me on an enjoyable ride. It was simple, and not terribly challenging. For reasons I can't fully identify, it didn't engage me the way some of Sanderson's other works have. I was not drawn in the way I was in Way of Kings for example.
I found 'Hyperion' to be tedious. It had a lot of imagination, but the pacing was really slow, and the author's obsession with poetry was really heavy handed. The first book also lacked a third act, giving no closure to any of the story lines.
Fall of Hyperion ties up many of the open-ended questions from the first novel. I enjoyed the closure, but was still left with several unresolved issues.
Ultimately my rating reflects that even having slogged this far through the series, I have no interest whatsoever in pursuing any more of this universe.
Hyperion has good prose, interesting thought experiments, and even an interesting plot.
But in the end I didn't care at all about any of the characters.
Post-apocalyptic fiction is my favorite genre. So many aspects of the story of the world after civilization captivate me, that I always find something fascinating in every telling. In this novel, Stewart's real novelty and strength is in the observations of the end of the world through a thoroughly scientific mind. Bonus points for waxing philosophic and providing unexpectedly thoughtful details.
Stewart shines in his detailed symphony of decay-- he gives thought to infrastructure and nature and mankind themselves. It is a long journey, and I understand how some people could find the book tedious. I enjoyed the plodding pace because so often it sent my mind to wander in new directions.
The book has several minor flaws, and a couple of unforgivable flaws:
The minor flaws involve the scientific details like failing to realize that gasoline goes stale after a time, Ish's failure to ever experience grief of any kind, and the complete omission of what happened to the hundreds of millions of corpses that should have been lying around.
The first major flaw that very nearly ruined the book for me was Ish's and the Tribe's thoroughly unrealistic failure to educate their children. This flaw is so central to the story that had I been in a different mood, I may just as easily have given this book a rating as low as two stars.
Here's the problem: Ish, a man of superior intellect, is surrounded by adults who are not as smart as he is-- but beyond their failure to qualify as intellectuals themselves, they actively laugh at Ish's repeated pleas to steer the Tribe and it's children back towards a civilized life style.
Even this unlikely reaction may have been believable had the author justified it with dialog, and laid the fault firmly at the feet of the idiot Tribe adults. But that never happens. Ish never delivers a compelling argument to the group. He never gets outraged with them.
Nor are the other Tribe adults ever described as insufferable morons-- instead we are repeatedly reminded that they are all just average folks. As if average folks wouldn't care that they were letting the torch of civilization burn out?!
Anyway, the author quickly writes away about 20 years, noting some landmarks along the way-- and so it is almost easy to miss the fact that 20 years is a long, long, long time. Plenty of time to educate children. Plenty of time to realize that not educating the children is a ridiculously stupid failure. Plenty of time to encounter problem after problem after problem, whose solutions could easily be found in books, which future generations really should know how to read.
So we have the impotent Ish, and the other Tribe adults sitting around, doing nothing but breeding ignorant offspring. Even when basic plumbing and water supplies fail, the adults are unmoved. Never mind that they could set up cisterns, or move to an area with a hand-pump well to get fresh water. Oh, and rather than fill toilet tanks manually from a bucket or something, or rig a clever plumbing solution, they choose to use outhouses instead. Yeah. Right.
Eventually Ish decides that way to educate the young is to teach them basic hunter-gatherer skills, so that when civilization's scraps are used up, they'll be able to survive on their wits. So, what does he do? He teaches them how to make bows and arrows, and how to start fires from scratch... and ... that's it. He teaches them literally nothing else. Nothing about farming, metallurgy, medicine, weather prediction (seriously, he doesn't even teach them how to use the barometer that he is hold), etc.
The Tribe breeds like bunnies, with every generation getting more ignorant. Ish notices that they are becoming superstitious, and losing skepticism and critical thinking skills. He attempts to fix the problem for a total of one minute, decides it's hopeless, and subsequently spends the rest of his life reinforcing the idea that his hammer is magical and that he is a god. He makes no attempt to explain scientific method-- arguably the one concept that could save the future from hundreds or thousands of years of ignorance.
The other major flaw in the novel was that there were clearly a lot of humans still alive, but the Tribe never seeks to join them. Early in the novel Ish found dozens of people without too much effort. Now, Ish's goal was to keep civilization alive. To that end, the obvious first step is to gather enough people together that they can start to specialize. In little groups, all you can really worry about is feeding yourself, but in larger groups, you can designate farmers to do the cultivating, and you can have other members of society do useful things like restore a power plant, learn medicine, TEACH CHILDREN HOW TO READ, and so on. This idea is never even mentioned by the author.
In Stewart's small view of the world, Ish is the "Last American"-- while as a reader I can enjoy the novel's ending only if I imagine that just a few hundred miles away a sizable group of humans have gathered and managed to keep their children educated. I choose to imagine that one day they will run into Ish's bow & arrow-wielding descendants, and mow them down with machine gun fire.
The book was well-written and kept me interested. At the same time, there were several elements that were just plain idiotic and ill--conceived. The novel had the feeling of a story that was written extemporaneously with no real thought given to the fundamental underlying structure of the premise until it was too late.
It was a fun book, no doubt, and anyone who doesn't think about it too much will certainly get many hours of entertainment from it.
I read this book immediately after finishing "The Name of the Wind" and its sequel, so my bar for fantasy writing was set pretty high. Theft of Swords was a lightweight in comparison.
The story is exciting enough... and it does keep you guessing. The plot starts off strong, and the main characters are likable. It's fair to say that the book kept me engaged the whole time. Not as much of a page turner as some, but I didn't find myself getting bored.
I was a bit bothered by the over-use of cliches: elves, dwarves, dragons and wizards. I also felt that Sullivan did a mediocre job building suspense. I was never nervous for the characters, despite the perils in the plot.
The two main characters are really fun, and I their unflagging confidence was the highlight of the experience for me. It brought a bit of humor to the story, and it's what set the tone for the book.
As with any book series, my feelings about the first book are really solidified when its time to decide if I want to continue on to the second one. In this case I'm fairly sure that I will read the second book.... but I also wanted to take a break and try something different first. That kind of sums it up, doesn't it?
I've been putting off reading this book for about 20 years. I got it as part of some 2 for 1 audible special or something. I'd say it was worth the time to listen to it.
The story is a great cautionary tail, and it certainly held my attention the entire time.
I'm deducting 1 star because the story lacked any trace of subtlety. The message was shoved down our throats. The other 4 stars I'm keeping, because it was a message that everyone should hear.
Before I forget, let me just mention that the narrator, Podehl, does a masterful job in this book and the next in the series. He differentiates characters with many distinct tones and accents, making the story easy to follow, even if you are terrible at remembering character names (as I am).
Now, onto the story:
This book was highly recommended on reddit, here on audible, and personally recommended to me by a friend with a fantastically large library of fantasy books. As such, I moved it to the top of my reading list. After consuming it in the span of two or three days, I immediately jumped into the the next in the series. It is a fantastic ride.
The plot is in the tradition of Ender's Game: A young child of extraordinary talent is thrust into all manner of hardships, and survives because of his wit and a fair bit of luck. It is important to note that though our hero is certainly extraordinarily talented, and is undoubtably destine for greatness, the story doesn't labor under the "Chosen One" trope that is so common in such stories (including Harry Potter, Ender's Game, Hunger Games, etc, etc, etc).
I don't want to mislead you: The story is full of genre cliches... however, it are these cliches that make the genre so appealing and fun. It's not a game-changer like Game of Thrones, but it is incredibly well-crafted and raises the bar on the coming-of-age hero genre.
Now, the story isn't without it's flaws, mind you: You will discover quite quickly that our hero's amazing mental powers are inconsistant throughout the story. He has a picture-perfect memory when it suits the author, and then at other times he forgets very important things. Generally speaking, as the story progresses, our hero's mental prowess seems to grow less extraordinary. If this is by design, then it is part of a very long game that the author is playing with us... otherwise I have to chalk it up to a bit of sloppiness on his part.
What flaws the book has are easily forgiven, as the story takes you to interesting and unexpected places and you'll be lost in the pure adventure of it all.
I highly recommend this book and its sequel. I can't wait for more.
There isn't much to say about this book except that it is a flawless, seemless continuation of the of the series. It has all the energy and intrigue of the first book and kept me hooked from beginning to end.
This is a long listen, but it flew by too quickly and left me hungry for more.
The authors had a compelling premise here, but spoiled it by imposing a good versus evil showdown on top of what could have been a fascinating moral issue.
The protagonist wakes up in world where everyone is incorporated at birth, and where they own less than a majority of their own stock. Our hero is startled at the perceived lack of liberty that these people have, though it is pointed out to him again and again that this system eliminated poverty and war, creating an overall quality of life that is much better for everyone on average.
If the book had taken time to let the readers explore the pros and cons of this new system, and make up their own minds about it's validity and morality, then this could have been a great book. Instead, we are immediately confronted with a too-evil bad guy who ends up representing all of incorporation (metaphorically and literally). Because he is such an evil jerk, we, as readers, are forced to align ourselves against him, in spite of the fact that his arguments are extremely convincing. We are told what to think instead of letting us make up our own minds.
The writing feels pretty amateurish in that the protagonist is way too smart/prescient at the beginning, though that seems to taper off steeply as the story progresses. There are other places where the writing is half-baked: entire plot lines, which seem vital to the story, are abandoned completely. Also, their is this really contrived will-they/won't-they romance based on a ridiculously unbelievable and artificial taboo. This taboo seems sacrosanct until it is broken, at which point everyone important acts like it is no big deal at all--totally inconsistent.
The authors did paint an interesting picture of future society and technology, which is largely why I've given them 3 stars instead of just 2.
Ultimately I'm left unsatisfied with this book, largely because I was very swayed by the pro-incorporation arguments, and the anti-incorporation argument really boiled down to feelings, rather than any articulated points against it.
Report Inappropriate Content