You've already read it. I don't know why you're bothering to look at my review.
It's a lot of fun! But, I've GOT to go with only 3 stars, because ther...moreYou've already read it. I don't know why you're bothering to look at my review.
It's a lot of fun! But, I've GOT to go with only 3 stars, because there are nine thousand people (more or less) on this site giving it TOO MANY stars. It's a good book. But, in my oh-so-humble opinion, not as great as everybody says it is. (less)
This book was really fun. I'm definitely hooked enough to continue the series (as soon as I get ahold of the second book). Need reasons to read the bo...moreThis book was really fun. I'm definitely hooked enough to continue the series (as soon as I get ahold of the second book). Need reasons to read the book? Okay. Gigantic arctic warrior bears. Controversy over the book's religious contents. A protagonist that compulsively makes up hilarious lies. And, the climax of the book takes place at an aurora borealis. If you like adventure books, this is definitely one you ought to read.(less)
Here's a review for this whole series: the first three are terrific. The fourth one is half-assed. And, the rest aren't out yet. I'll be sure to notif...moreHere's a review for this whole series: the first three are terrific. The fourth one is half-assed. And, the rest aren't out yet. I'll be sure to notify you if this guy ever actually finishes the series, which I doubt he will.(less)
I may eventually review all of the Sandman volumes, but I'm doing this one first because it's probably my favorite.
I'm fascinated by mythology, relig...moreI may eventually review all of the Sandman volumes, but I'm doing this one first because it's probably my favorite.
I'm fascinated by mythology, religion, and death. The Sandman is a comic book which ran for (I believe) ninety-some issues, and these are some of the focal subjects it dealt with. I can't emphasize this enough: there's truly nothing else like the Sandman. But, it didn't really start focusing until book 2, so I wouldn't recommend starting with #1. Start with one of the middle numbers, and if you're convinced to keep going, THEN go back and read them sequentially.(less)
This book is very funny and unusual. As well as I can remember, the main character is a hoodlum who spends most of the book doing unsavory things...an...moreThis book is very funny and unusual. As well as I can remember, the main character is a hoodlum who spends most of the book doing unsavory things...and it has a happy ending that works. I'm only giving it three stars because I can't remember it very well, and if it had been extra-special, it would be more firmly etched into my brain. (less)
The second book of His Dark Materials, from page 1, changes your expectations of the series. This book is startling, complex, and every bit as enjoyab...moreThe second book of His Dark Materials, from page 1, changes your expectations of the series. This book is startling, complex, and every bit as enjoyable as The Golden Compass. I am just as excited about the series as I was after finishing book 1, and that's saying quite a bit.(less)
Cormac McCarthy is an exceptional writer. He has a style that is very unique, and very distinct. I enjoyed this book more than the first volume of the...moreCormac McCarthy is an exceptional writer. He has a style that is very unique, and very distinct. I enjoyed this book more than the first volume of the trilogy, but so far I've loved both of them. McCarthy's spare, punctuationless prose that frequently moves between Spanish and English without apology seems perfect for writing about the locale of this trilogy, which is the border between the United States and Mexico.
Volume one told the story of one child's journeys into Mexico. Volume two told the story of another boy's journeys, which were even more tragic than the first. All I know of the third book is the two children finally meet, and I'm excited to see where it goes from here.(less)
So, Robert Jordan. Since brevity is the soul of wit, I shan't be as wordulent as he in summarily dubbing The Wheel of Time the most obese hero's journ...moreSo, Robert Jordan. Since brevity is the soul of wit, I shan't be as wordulent as he in summarily dubbing The Wheel of Time the most obese hero's journey that I ever held the futile hopes of reading in its entirety. But, I finished this volume. And it only took two tries, and a whole lot of willpower. I even kind of liked this one most of the time.
(Note: I'm reviewing six or seven years after having read the book. The details are sketchy, so I'll talk mostly in impressions.)
I enjoyed the way Jordan did magic here. And worldbuilding. He is good at worldbuilding, which is something many authors are short on. His badguys are hateable, his good guys mostly likeable. Our Hero Rand is a bit of an emo kid, whining about his sad, sad fate even more than Harry Potter does. I must admit wanting to bitchslap Rand a bit more, probably because he doesn't have charming sidekicks like the Potter kid does to make him more entertaining. Instead, he has Matt and that other guy. The other guy is forgettable (obviously), while Matt is the most interesting part of the story. If my memory is correct, he's the bad boy of the trio, gambling and carousing and whatnot.
Unfortunately, I must report the female characters are no more interesting than the other guy. I remember several, vaguely, but can't remember the details.
In general, the characters suffer from a lack of depth, which is quite an achievement for an opus this verbose. (I'm generalizing about the series right now, not just talking about this particular doorstopper.) So, despite Jordan's knack for creating a very cool fantasy world, his story and characters feel no more complex than a David Eddings series.
That being said, I understand the appeal of the series: for those that (1) like traditional hero's journey fantasy; (2) enjoy Tolkienesque worldbuilding without it being as totally xeroxed as Dragonlance; and (3) actually prefer series fantasy to shorter works, this is the beginning of a really cool series. But these aren't all good recommendations for a reader like me.
In reading this book, I don't remember feeling genuinely surprised a single time. I never cared much about any of the characters. I didn't like that everyone was good or evil, not shades of grey. And, although I have a tolerance for them, I don't like cliffhangers. (*SPOILER ALERT FOR THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH*) And I fucking hate when out of the blue somebody discovers their insanely developed magical powers after never having used them before, AND conveniently discovers them right when all the goodguys would've died otherwise. If you're already saving characters in this sort of lame way at the beginning of the series, what should I expect for the rest of the series? More predictable, lame escapes? No thank you.
This review of The Wheel of Time is to be continued. . . in my review of The Great Hunt. (less)
I've always meant to go back and read another translation of Musashi's book. This one is, as you can tell by the title, geared towards martial artists...moreI've always meant to go back and read another translation of Musashi's book. This one is, as you can tell by the title, geared towards martial artists, and this ties into the whole presentation.
Perhaps I should give a little background: Musashi was a Japanese swordsman in the seventeenth century who fought in some ridiculous number of duels and won them all. He wrote a book of strategy called "The Book of the Five Rings" that is considered by many martial artists to be of a comparable worth with "The Art of War." So, Musashi was a martial fighter, but fought in a very different context than the modern martial arts: he fought in duels to the death, and fought with a sword. I've heard from multiple sources that the chance of surviving a single samurai duel was roughly 1 out of three. This is because a high number of duels resulted in both samurai killing each other. So, surviving a bunjillion duels and then dying from a disease in his 60's is quite a feat.
What I liked about this was the practicality of the fighting philosophy. However, much of this knowledge is now intuitive to those who know anything about military tactics or martial arts: find high ground, be prepared for different types of terrains, etc. But, it gives one piece of advice that has helped me win (or sometimes just survive) in lots of sparring matches: always be on the offensive. It might sound counter-intuitive to someone who hasn't tried applying the philosophy; what if someone with a greater level of expertise is coming at you fast? But, this is actually the situation where this technique has served me the best.
For a while, we sparred every friday night at a youth center in a little dojo ran by a second degree blackbelt, and most of the time he would join in the sparring rotation. He was a battering ram. He didn't know how to NOT move forward while fighting. I could never beat him, but I was the only person who could score points on him because he wasn't used to people moving forward to meet him.
But, in martial arts philosophies like Aikido, the idea is to use your opponent's energy against them: redirect their force and use it to toss them away, or slam them down on the ground. Actual attacks are usually part of this kind of redirection.
I think that the idea of being on the offense has more to do with space though, and doesn't necessarily mean you aren't parrying attacks. Even Aikido fighters can catch opponents by surprise more effectively when quickly moving toward them. And, in a case like my example above (where you really aren't as good as your opponent), surprising your opponent might be your only chance to win.
Could also get you killed, though.
But this advice has served me well. Most of the other strategies are good, but few are surprising. And, because it is modified to apply specifically to the martial arts, it can't be adapted all that well into non-combat aspects of life. For those interested in the martial arts, it is a very good read. For the rest of you, I'd give it a pass. (less)