I was excited about this book - all the good reviews, the exciting premise. And Stirling does produce in some ways: imaginative cultural responses to apocalypse (and more positive than many), loads of details (esp. armor and smells), distinctive characters.
What really bugs me is that it could be so much better. The story delivery. The integrity of his themes. One of Stirling's repeated themes in the novel is that post-apocalyptic people dont' spend so much time analyzing their choices, their acts, their lives. And yet of the techniques he uses consistently is internal dialogue, which presumably these people wouldn't indulge in much! Certainly when I'm in a place of action, or listening to my heart, that's when I'm FURTHEST from internal dialogue. His point here would have so much more weight and conviction if his writing reflected it.
Another aspect is that often he spends time with characters in conversation or somesuch, acting like NOTHING HAS HAPPENED since we last saw them, acting out some dialogue to move the story forward (or not! sometimes it seems like he just wants to give us a chance to get reacquainted and know the characters aren't dead) but with minimal sense that they've talked with each other in the interval. I find it annoying and distracting to encounter these moments, like he assumes I think of these characters as just characters that he's moving around...I'd rather they were having lives of their own while we're not reading about them.
And that's the last thing. Often the author is telling us that things are a certain way, and expecting us to ignore the inconsistencies, rather than telling us a STORY and letting us draw our own conclusions.
And did I mention that rather than have strong story lines, he has characters explain away weak plot points? Ai.
I expected more. Try David Zindell's The Broken God (not on audible, though, too bad!).
I love Shakespeare, and I love improv, but I was sadly disappointed by this. It seemed terribly inane, didn't quite have the energy to carry their ideas. Ah, well....
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