It's been ages since I read a non-Howard Conan novel (not counting the outstanding Conan graphic novel series by Dark Horse). This was an excellent enIt's been ages since I read a non-Howard Conan novel (not counting the outstanding Conan graphic novel series by Dark Horse). This was an excellent entry to the series, and much more in the Howard vein than the Conan books by Robert Jordan, etc. that I vaguely remember from the 1980s. While Poul Anderson is regarded as a giant in SF, he's an author I've never quite gotten into before. I remember trying to start a couple of his books in high school but never getting very far into them. Maybe he's someone I need to give another try.
Anderson captures the style and feel of Howard's world perfectly and, because of the advantage of time and experience, is able to bring a few more elements to the Conan universe than Howard himself managed. For one, he gives the nations of Hyborea a more "lived-in" feel than Howard did, putting much more into the depictions of the markets, the countryside, and the everyday people of the different cultures clashing in this novel. Also, toward the end of the book in particular, Anderson is able to create a feeling that Conan himself might be in actual danger - a feat that Howard seemed to have trouble with after he'd made Conan nigh-invincible in his own stories....more
I'm consistently amazed at how good this comic continues to be. Vol. 5 is more of a page-turner than Vol. 4 due to the multiple storylines all focusinI'm consistently amazed at how good this comic continues to be. Vol. 5 is more of a page-turner than Vol. 4 due to the multiple storylines all focusing on the same thing: finding and/or freeing baby Hazel from the the crazed robot who kidnapped her.
I do need to serve notice, though: Since this is one of those series where, like in Game of Thrones, no characters are safe, Brian K. Vaughn better not do anything bad to Lying Cat or Ghus or I'm hunting him down....more
Nope, sorry, couldn't do it. Seven hours into the audio, and just thinking about listening to the remaining 25 (!) makes me want to tCould not finish.
Nope, sorry, couldn't do it. Seven hours into the audio, and just thinking about listening to the remaining 25 (!) makes me want to tear my hair out.
I can recognize that the book is very well written, and very clever. I recognize that the audio production is very well done and the reader is excellent. I recognize that the setting of the novel (British polite society ca. the Jane Austen era) is well-loved by many, though not by me (which makes the book problematic for me just going into it).
One quarter of the way into the book, and every single character, every one, I kid you not, is a horrible, pompous bore. Every one. It's so bad that at first I thought the author was actually making fun of the era in question. Now I don't think so. I know there's an audience for this sort of thing, but the one thing that could save this novel for me at this point would be for a Dothraki Horde to sweep into England and wipe out the lot of them....more
See? Prequels don't have to suck. The Sandman: Overture might end up being the perfect exception to prove the rule that prequels do. And make no mistaSee? Prequels don't have to suck. The Sandman: Overture might end up being the perfect exception to prove the rule that prequels do. And make no mistake, this is definitely a prequel. While taking place before, and leading into, the opening of Preludes & Nocturnes, Overture is a story that is very much informed by and resonant with everything that comes after. It also, thankfully, reminds us why we all fell in love with The Sandman in the first place, instead of (as prequels usually do) make us wish that the original creator had kept his distance instead of trying to recapture the magic. Instead, Overture will make you want to track Gaiman down, lock him in a closet, and make him write more Sandman at gunpoint.
I could go on about the story, but I won't - just read it. JH Williams' art is fantastic as ever, and perfectly suited to Morpheus's adventures, which I don't think he's ever illustrated before. On a personal note, the final issue of Overture also marks the end of my monthly comic-buying hobby I've been indulging in since 1988. I expect I'll still be indulging in the occasional trade (after all, I'm hardly done with Saga), but from here on my weekly comic-fix is done. This was a great one to go out on....more
I picked this up as an ARC at the 2015 ALA convention and read the whole thing on the flights home. It knocked my socks off and made me immediately waI picked this up as an ARC at the 2015 ALA convention and read the whole thing on the flights home. It knocked my socks off and made me immediately want to rewatch all my Hayao Miyazaki DVDs. That's a good thing.
Saki is a typical girl in middle-school obsessed with fitting in with her cohort and making sure she has enough bars on her cell phone. The last thing she wants to do for her summer vacation is travel out to her grandmother's place in the country for the ancient, traditional Obon festivities, which will necessitate being out of touch with everyone she knows except her annoying brother and doing lots of chores. In an attempt to fit in with the local popular kids, she gets tricked into a relatively minor act of desecration in an old cemetery which nevertheless invokes a Death Curse for which Saki is pulled for three nights into the spirit realm on a quest to set things right.
There is so much to recommend about this novel. First off, it's a wonderful adventure story, rich to overflowing with fantastical (and likable) characters. Also, Saki herself makes a great gateway for any children interested in Japanese culture. She's western enough that American readers can easily identify with her, and through her they can experience both traditional Japanese life and the richness of Japan's mythological landscape.
Saki is also an interesting character in her own right. She's neither a horrible, entitled brat, nor is she a goody-two-shoes. Instead, she starts right on the line between being a reasonably good kid and being insufferable, giving her emotional journey both a direction to go and danger to be avoided.
Loved this book. Now I've just got to figure out who to give my ARC to next. ...more
Got this as a freebie from a Tor author panel at ALA. It hadn't been on my to-read list before, but Marie Brennan was so interesting in the discussionGot this as a freebie from a Tor author panel at ALA. It hadn't been on my to-read list before, but Marie Brennan was so interesting in the discussion that I got to it in short order. So glad that I did.
It's weird that I would like this since the world of the book approximates a "Jane Austen" era of British society, a setting which normally gives me a splitting headache. The crucial difference is that the heroine (and future Lady Trent) doesn't fit into this society at all, would rather be a scientist and explore the wild parts of the world. I kept thinking, what if Mina had insisted on accompanying Jonathan Harker to Transylvania because she was so keen on studying vampire anatomy. That's this book in a nutshell, just with dragons.
This book makes the little cataloger in me itch. Is it fantasy or science fiction? It's set in a fantasy-style secondary world (to use JRRT's nomenclature) that approximates a familiar period in Earth history, and it's got dragons. So does Pern, though, and that's very much science fiction. Like the Pern novels, A Natural History treats its subject matter scientifically and there's not a hint of real magic, just back-woods superstition that gets unmasked Scooby-Doo style. I think the key difference (and why I still have to put this on the fantasy side of the divide) is that you can draw an imaginary line from our present to the future world of Pern and can imagine that you can eventually get there from here. I don't think you can do that with Brennan's book, although future installments may prove me wrong....more
Silly me, here I thought this was going to be G.R.R.Martin's attempt at a children's novel. Not that it's been marketed that way or anything, oh no. ISilly me, here I thought this was going to be G.R.R.Martin's attempt at a children's novel. Not that it's been marketed that way or anything, oh no. It almost works as one, though, except for the war, dismemberment, and characters being burned alive. Still, taken on its own, it's a wonderful, tragic (albeit brutal) tale of children and dragons. And who knows, today's kids would probably yawn through the original Mad Max trilogy and not bat an eye at the violence in the story here.
One note: some of the descriptions I've seen posted about this book imply that it's set in the Song of Ice and Fire universe. It isn't. It was originally published in short story form back in 1980, and you can see Martin working through some of the themes of summer vs winter, dragons and magic, and the effect of warfare on the common folk....more
Waylander has the bones of a fantastic novel. It combines an epic quest with intense city-under-siege warfare, and while there are some definite goodWaylander has the bones of a fantastic novel. It combines an epic quest with intense city-under-siege warfare, and while there are some definite good guys and bad guys, the "good vs evil" aspect of the book isn't quite that clear cut, and David Gemmell has a lot of fun playing around in the gray areas of right and wrong. He's also an author who isn't afraid to be cruel to his characters and has a good sense of when to deliver a gut-punch to the reader without being as gratuitously cruel as G.R.R.Martin. All in all, this could have been a completely enjoyable reading experience.
Too bad Gemmell's such a horrible stylist. Waylander is a textbook case of just about every bad thing an amateur writer can do with English prose. Passive voice, overused adverbs and adjectives, "telling, not showing," summarizing whenever the author seemed bored, and stilted, stilted dialogue like something out of the Bible or Arthurian legend. There is a lot of dialogue in the book, but not one natural-sounding line. Gemmell's characters don't just talk to each other, they make pronouncements, declamations, and full-on speeches, and every single one in the same "Book of Job" voice.
Gemmell's style smooths over every now and then - he can really write mass combat effectively - but the rest of the time his ham-fisted, hackneyed prose makes what should have been a classic of the genre into what often feels like the novelization of a 1980s sword n' sorcery B-movie. Come to think of it, the best thing I could say for Waylander is that it would have made a great Corman flick....more
The conclusion of P. Craig Russell's adaptation of The Graveyard Book continues the outstanding work on display in Vol. 1. The centerpiece of part 2 iThe conclusion of P. Craig Russell's adaptation of The Graveyard Book continues the outstanding work on display in Vol. 1. The centerpiece of part 2 is the extra-length climactic chapter "Every Man Jack" illustrated by Scott Hampton. The artwork in this volume, while still following in the Russell style and pacing, is decidedly darker and more mature than in part 1, as befits young Bod's aging and growing outlook as he ventures further and further from the safety of the graveyard into the world beyond.
My only possible quibble would be to question the wisdom of showing how the hero defeats the villain on the cover of the book. Oh well. This is still an outstanding graphic novel - some of the best work of Russell's career. And Gaiman's....more
I was really surprised that I didn't like this book, but for long stretches it was just a tedious slog with tedious characters. I would have thought tI was really surprised that I didn't like this book, but for long stretches it was just a tedious slog with tedious characters. I would have thought that such a well-written piece of Harry Potter / Narnia fanfic would have at least been fun. While there were enough good scenes to keep me going, and the resolutions at the end were satisfying enough, the whole enterprise just didn't seem worth it.
I think it's a problem of stakes. For most of The Magicians there simply aren't any. I get that this is supposed to be a "what would magic school be like in the real world" kind of deal, so I'm not asking for epic quests or snarling villains. What I need, though, is for something - anything - to matter to the protagonist, and that's just not the case with Quentin Coldwater. Except for a handful of moments, the only thing really at risk for the first 75% of the novel is that the main character might get bored. As a result, the reader is treated to chapter after chapter of boring, jaded college kids living boring, jaded lives where they don't even have to pretend not to care about anything, because they really don't. Doesn't inspire me to read book 2....more
I don't comment on every graphic novel I read, but I just want to say this was an outstanding introduction. Self-aware genre humor is so hard to pullI don't comment on every graphic novel I read, but I just want to say this was an outstanding introduction. Self-aware genre humor is so hard to pull off, but Rat Queens does the whole sword & sorcery gaming routine with perfect timing while also managing to sneak in occasional moments of genuine heart. If this series can keep going with the same tone, pace, and characterization (and without getting canceled too early like every other indie series I read) I'm eager to find out where this story is heading....more