Brampton, Ontario, Canada | Member Since 2001
A fresh concept - take a common childhood tale, and tell the story behind the story. Talk about the motivations and the story behind some of the non-core characters, and best of all, turn the concepts of good and evil upside down.
Wicked starts off well enough, with the birth of the Wicked Witch of the West to an ordinary enough family, with a bored, unfaithful heiress as a mother, and a stiff boore of a minister as a father. The story quickly deviates from the expected with its exploration of adult themes, ribald humour, and extensive political commentary.
Oz loses much of its magic, with the magic made mundane through its commonality and ultimate futility - in fact, magic doesn't play much of a role at all in the book.
However, as the book starts to move towards the familiar plotline of the Wizard of Oz, there is a feeling of events rushing headlong to inevitability. The reckless, but lovable character of Elpheba (the witch) strangely disappears, to be replaced by an almost characterless stereotype. Many lovingly developed characters, such as Glinda and Fiuro, are essentially tossed into the trashbin.
Ultimately, the story leaves us wondering still about the motivations of some of the characters, so fails as an expose of these events. It definitely left me scratching my head at the unresolved plot points.
Also, there is a common theme of homosexual tension throughout the book, which felt artificially inserted unnecessarily. I certainly understood the context, but it just didn't seem to make sense.
A good read, but disappointing in the end.
If you're a fan of the Gears of War game series on the XBox 360, you'll appreciate Karen Traviss' books to fill in the backstory and to fill the gaps between the games. Written primarily as a prequel to the games, this book fills in the blanks on just why Marcus Fenix was in prison, and what is the relationship between the Locust Queen Myrrah and Adam Fenix, that is alluded to heavily in GoW3. The book ends (unsuprisingly and without spoilers) shortly after Dom frees Marcus from prison, where the first GoW game starts off. How Marcus ended up in prison, how long he was there, and how he ended up there alone, are all answered.
Along the way, Traviss really humanizes these characters. She lets us really see the heart of the brotherly relationship between Marcus and Dom, the repressed feelings between Marcus and Anya, and the complex balance of power between Chairman Richard Prescott, Colonel Hoffman, and Adam Fenix. Along the way, we see the explanation of just why Azura exists.
Unfortunately, there are still many questions left unanswered - who are the sires? Where did the Locust come from? What really happened to Elayn Fenix? Who is Myrrah?
I've seen the internet theories, but I'd like to see this properly explained, the main game series is over now so perhaps its time to fill in the blanks properly. Then again, maybe we'll see some infill games now that will explain this better.
The biggest surprise to me was the humanization of Chairman Prescott. The games leave the impression that he's just a power-mad jerk, but this book really shows us that he's doing the best he can in an impossible and hopeless situation.
I like just about everything Karen Traviss writes - lots of infill, interesting and believable characters, gritty story, etc. Definitely a worthwhile purchase. I can't wait for the next one!
Dan Brown (via his main character Robert Langdon) again returns to Italy, the previous setting of Angels and Demons, this time with a mad plot centered on the themes of Dante's Inferno. An interesting twist on the story, is that the main villain kills himself in the first scene of the book, but has set in motion of series of horrifying events that conjure up a feeling of unspeakable dread and inevitability.
Starting with the somewhat hackneyed premise of the amnesiac waking up in a hospital, and not remembering where is he or what he's done, the story soon picks up the pace and basically doesn't letup until the end.
A few interesting plot twists along the way turns some of our initial conclusions and beliefs on their heads, and Dan Browns familiar obsession with symbology, art, conspiracy and secrecy, all make their welcome return. Unfortunately, so does his moralizing on the latest issue of the day, overpopulation of the planet, and justification of ecoterrorism. At least he has the decency to present both sides of the issue and let us derive our own conclusions rather than bashing us over the heads with his own viewpoint - though the story I think, ends with his own viewpoint reigning supreme.
At least the "terrorists" are not the stereotypical arab or Muslim villains.
Definitely a worthwhile purchase if you are a Dan Brown / Robert Langdon fan.
Unlike some authors, Abercrombie truly wraps up his trilogy in - shocking - 3 volumes! :)
He wraps up the main storyline while leaving enough loose threads handy for followup stories (which are also excellent by the way). I'm very happy I was tuned in to this author.
As for the story, we see the various plot lines for the Cripple, the King, the Wizard, and the Bloody Nine and his gang, come to somewhat surprising conclusion. We learn the true nature of the Bank, and the true villain is....!
Great dialogue, clever lines, and some great, over-the-top violence.
I have since gone on to consume the next three books set in the same world, and each continues the tradition of bloody excellence!
As usual, Sanderson bring his imaginative A-game, with a new and interesting premise of a man with multiple personalities that he manifests to solve different problems. This was a good introduction, I'd like to see it developed in a longer format, to fill in more of the sketched-in background and pick up some of the undeveloped plot threads.
You can't beat free, and it was more than worth its price! :)
The book was a bit difficult to get into, with many new, fictitious words being introduced without the proper context, kind of expecting us to understand what they mean. Eventually most of these are described or defined, either through the story or through short passages from the "New Dictionary".
While the overall plot doesn't have a lot of surprises, its the exposition on the basic philosophy behind the plot, that provides the real meat of the story. An interesting view into a world where academia becomes a world of its own, quite literally separated from the rest of society both physically and socially, with its own world of custom and practise.
Give it time, and you'll come to enjoy the story - there are no great heroics, but the characters are likeable.
Oliver Wyman is the main narrator, the others provide supporting voices for things like chapter headings and definitions.
The story progresses well in this latest installment, and there is a good amount of plot development, with a greater focus on land battles than the naval battles of previous volumes.
The narrator might be tolerable enough, he has a good range of voices and does a good job adding some "character" to the various individuals, especially with the cast of hundreds that Weber typically has in these books.
However, I cannot for the life of me understand why the narrator had to change the accents, voices, and even the prononciations of each of the characters. I can understand a shift in tone with a new narrator, but I winced each time I heard him butcher the prononciation of each word, whether the name of the countries, or the names of the characters. Did he not even listen to the previous volumes to get a bit of consistancy? That was just inexcusable. Where were the producers?
I have listened to the entire series from the beginning on audiobook, and while the two previous narrators were both good, the shift in accents for the main characters was jarring enough when switching between the first and second narrators. With the shift again with the third narrator, it very much undermines the relationship that we listeners have built with the main characters, and the change in how the names are pronounced (Nimoo to Nimoway - phonetically), etc is very jarring.
A fast paced start to the trilogy, it seems that the characters have just been introduced before the story is over. Each of the main characters is deeply flawed in some major way - a vain, shallow aristocrat, a bloody, psychotic barbarian, a murderous, crazed former slave-girl, a sorry, slow, magician's apprentice, and a bitter, crippled inquisitor. All have been marked deeply by life, and pulled together by a brotherhood of mages to take on an ancient evil reawakened.
A more unlikely group of heroes, I don't think I've come across.
The narrator does an excellent job of imbueing each of the characters with distinct voices, and just the right tone of voice to capture the the subtler nuances of each characters circumstances. He even manages to bring a "voice" to a mute character with no tongue.
Just enough of the history and geography of the world has been established to whet your appetite for more.
I look forward to the next volume!
An interesting premise - finally an explanation for why the anonymous "Red shirts" from the famous TV series keep dying off. I felt though, that most of the characters lacked depth (or was that intentional?), and it was a bit "meta". However, it was a good, enjoyable comedy along the lines of many Christopher Moore books with some dry humor and a break-neck plot pacing.
A good light-hearted diversion.
The book fills in much of the backstory that was just hinted at in the games, and serves to tie together the plot from both Bioshock games. No real surprises, but it did make me want to go back and replay the first game, and finally finish the second. If you were a fan of the Bioshock games, then you'll want to buy this book. If you were not, its still a good read, though not very subtle or particularly well-written. That's not really a knock against the author - the story had enough twists on its own, but he's working within a very rigid framework, more so than other works set in rich IPs.
There are very few books that I literally could not put down, and this is one of them. While the real identity of the "villain" was pretty obvious (at least to me), the constant, breakneak pace just does not relent, driving Robert Langdon (and ourselves) constantly through a single, helter-skelter night. The only disappointment I had was the wishy-washy moralization and prosletyzation at the end of the book.
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