It was a bit of a chore but I finally finished this 627 page monster.
So many people have touted this book and the whole series as outstanding that I m...moreIt was a bit of a chore but I finally finished this 627 page monster.
So many people have touted this book and the whole series as outstanding that I may have let my excessive expectations color my enjoyment of the story.
The story involves a woman named Claire Randall who steps into a Stonehenge type circle and is dropped 200 years into the past from 1945 to 1743. She meets, marries and falls in love with a Scottish Laird, Jamie Fraser, and decides to stay in the past. There is a lot of ups and downs in their relationship and in Fraser's life as he is wanted for murder by the British authorities.
I often have trouble with first person accounts (the Moby Dick effect) and this story was no exception. Claire's constant reflections on her situation became boring. Her stupid behavior in many situations was frustrating. I never thought I would say this but there was too much emphasis and too many detailed descriptions of Claire and Jamie having sex. Jamie's stubbornness in the face of obvious danger was also frustrating.
On the positive side, the supporting characters are excellently drawn. The descriptions of life in the mid-eighteenth century are very well done. The main villain John Randall is truly evil but also believable for that time.
In summary, the story just dragged too much for my taste. It occurred to me that maybe I just do not have the sensibilities to enjoy a romance/adventure novel such as this. I think I'll wait a couple months and then decide if I want to try the second volume in the series or just go ahead and list it on Bookmooch.com. (less)
I was surprised by how much I liked this book. I've had it for a long time and somebody wanted to mooch it so I thought I'd scan it before giving it a...moreI was surprised by how much I liked this book. I've had it for a long time and somebody wanted to mooch it so I thought I'd scan it before giving it away.
I ended up cruising through its 488 pages in three days.
The story is well plotted and moves along quickly. The characters, especially Repairman Jack and the villains are well-drawn and fun to read about.
The introduction of a mysterious group called "The Others" who come from "Otherness" was a plot device the story did not actually need but it did help the reader make sense of the drug "Bezerk" that changed its molecular structure and lost its hallucinatory properties every new Moon.
Without having read other books in the Repairman Jack series, I suspect that strange creatures from "Otherness" are part of every story and help explain why Jack gets called in to fix things when the weirdness starts.
The ending was neatly done, tying up the loose ends without straining credibility.
I will undoubtedly try another Repairman Jack story and maybe some of F. Paul Wilson's other titles. (less)
There were times this story was very exciting and moved quickly and other times it was slow and boring. I almost gave this book away because I was so...moreThere were times this story was very exciting and moved quickly and other times it was slow and boring. I almost gave this book away because I was so disappointed in Excavation. Fortunately, someone on Goodreads suggested I read it. I'm glad I did.
The action scenes, as unbelievable as they may seem, and the characterizations are the strongest parts of the story. Even the military types, who often get stereotyped in stories like this, are fully drawn here.
The weakest elements involve the number of close calls that almost every major character survives, as minor characters are killed, and the number of fortunate coincidences. People just happen to be in the right place at the right time. While a certain amount of this kind of artifice is needed to keep the plot moving, I think Rollins overdoes it in this novel.
The plot is complicated and there are many twists as well as a number of surprises as the story unfolds. The ending is perhaps a little too neat and the epilogue a little too saccharine but, maybe, that's what the majority of thriller readers want. I prefer a little more realism like Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child provide in the Pendergast series.
Overall, though, I liked the book and will most likely try another Rollins effort.(less)
I have always admired Kurt Vonnegut and liked his writing. I'm not sure about this collection of essays, speeches, short stories and what-all.
For one...moreI have always admired Kurt Vonnegut and liked his writing. I'm not sure about this collection of essays, speeches, short stories and what-all.
For one thing, I acquired the audio version and listened to it while driving. I think I might have appreciated the work more if I had read it rather than listened to it. Rip Torn, whose acting I admire, narrated and was almost laughable but not in a good way, especially when doing accents and dialects.
The volume contains a number of un-published writings. I wonder if the publisher was trying to take advantage of Vonnegut's recent death. The introduction by his son came across as filler rather than a real contribution.
The stories, speeches and essays are all anti-war and anti-violence. Many of the entries hark back to the Dresden bombing which Vonnegut survived and memorialized in, perhaps his greatest work, Slaughterhouse Five.
I would rather remember Vonnegut for his novels than this conglomeration of stuff. And so it goes....(less)
I cannot believe I liked this book so much. It should appeal mostly to adolescents but I was caught up in the story and had a hard time putting it dow...moreI cannot believe I liked this book so much. It should appeal mostly to adolescents but I was caught up in the story and had a hard time putting it down.
It follows the adventures of 18 year old, Midshipman Nicholas Seafort, who through a series of unlikely events becomes the captain of an interstellar space ship.
First there is an inexplicable accident in which many of his superior officers are accidentally killed, then he becomes involved with a mutiny on a deep space mining outpost, followed by an encounter with an extremely weird alien race that is killing humans. In between there is a lot of interpersonal conflict as Seafort struggles with his new role.
The book is reminiscent of the Patrick O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin series that takes place during the Napoleonic wars. The United Nations Naval Service (U.N.N.S.) is run pretty much the same way the British Navy was in early 1800s, when communication was slow and undependable and the Captain was the absolute authority. They even have a form of flogging called "The Barrel" and they hang mutineers.
The characters are surprisingly well-drawn and the situations while straining credulity are exciting and believable, taking into account that this is Science Fiction.
I am not a particular fan of Fantasy Literature, "Lord of the Rings", notwithstanding. However this particular book, the first volume in the "A Song o...moreI am not a particular fan of Fantasy Literature, "Lord of the Rings", notwithstanding. However this particular book, the first volume in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, grabbed me in much the same way "LOTR" did and I could hardly put it down.
The plot is not particularly inventive but the attention to detail is astounding. The characters are wonderfully human even when they are being superhuman. As I got deeper into the 800 page story, I also got deeper into the world that Martin has created. I was able to experience the characters as they changed, some growing, some regressing and some becoming more and more evil.
With the HBO series now fully available, I, personally, am reading the book in concert with watching the individual episodes. If you haven't seen the HBO version and haven't read the book, doing both simultaneously is a great experience. If you've already done one or the other, you will not be disappointed if you add the missing piece.
It isn't often that a book or series transcends its genre, but I think "A Game of Thrones" does just that. I can hardly wait to move on to "A Clash of Kings", the next book in the series. (less)
This may be the best of the first four books in the series. It certainly is the most exciting. Martin's technique of telling the story through the poi...moreThis may be the best of the first four books in the series. It certainly is the most exciting. Martin's technique of telling the story through the point of view of the characters takes some getting used to but I have grown to enjoy this approach to story-telling. I do sometimes get frustrated when Martin leaves the character hanging in a certain situation and I feel forced to look ahead to the next chapter that features that particular character to find out what happened. This is not a linear tale.
There is more fantasy and supernatural events in this volume than the two that preceded it. The medieval context is so well drawn that I sometimes have to remind myself that this is not historical fiction but rather historical fantasy. The appearance of the "Others", zombie-like animated corpses, impossible to stop, brought me up short and helped me realize what I was reading. Martin also uses words very close to their English equivalent, like "ser" for sir and "Sothorn" for Southern. This technique, I believe makes it easier to follow the story-line.
Martin's settings are also recognizable as their earth counterparts, the dessert, the swamps and bogs, the sea, etc. all have recognizable features. He also creates his people so they fit the climate they come from and also have their earth-like complements. Yet, always making them just different enough to help the reader know this is a fantasy.
The story itself, in this volume, continues the saga as the Lannister, Stark, Tully, and Tyrell families struggle with each other for dominion over the seven kingdoms. All of this is complicated by the danger from the Wildings, who inhabit the frozen wastes north of the Wall. Across the sea, the Princess Daenerys, the last of the Dragon line works to build a military force that will allow her to reestablish her family's rule over the Seven Kingdoms with the help of her three young dragons. All of this done in a way that draws the reader deeper and deeper into Martin's world.
I look forward with a lot of anticipation to reading volumes 4 and 5.
The least of the series. If you haven't started already DO NOT read this book first.
The book focuses on minor characters with the exception of Cersei...moreThe least of the series. If you haven't started already DO NOT read this book first.
The book focuses on minor characters with the exception of Cersei and Jaime Lannister, the Regent queen and her twin brother, erstwhile lover and Commander of the King's Guard. . The author says he did that because the original was too long. Five long years later he finally finished the next volume, "A Dance With Dragons". The result is that we spend a lot of time following Brienne, the woman knight, Samwell, the craven Brother of the Wall, Sansa, the now not so naive Stark daughter, Arya, Sansa's little sister and a few others as they witness and in some cases participate in the destruction of the seven kingdoms.
The title refers to the crows that eat the dead bodies littering the landscape or hanging from tree branches. The descriptions are graphic and there is enough violence to keep the plot moving. There is also enough supernatural goings on to remind the reader that this is a fantasy, even though it often reads like historical fiction.
In spite of its drawbacks, I liked the book and was always eager to get back to it when I set it down for a while. I'm glad I won't have to wait for five years to read volume five. In fact, I just ordered it. (less)