And for the moment he is in Rome of 1455 when a Pope has just died, another has to be elected, the Cardinals are locked in the Vatic...moreTom Swan is back!
And for the moment he is in Rome of 1455 when a Pope has just died, another has to be elected, the Cardinals are locked in the Vatican, bribery, intimidation and violence are the order of the day in Rome, and Tom's boss, Cardinal Bessarion would have a good chance of being the next Pope, only if he would accept to bribe enough as well as cut his beard so not give his detractors an excuse to brand him as a heretic Greek Orthodox in his heart despite his conversion...
And on the Greek mainland, the parts still in Greek hands are in imminent peril of falling to the Turks, rumor has it that Mohammed the Conqueror wants Belgrade next, city which is the key to Hungary and Vienna, the Holy Roman Emperor mistrusts the young king of Hungary, while the king hates his former regent and the greatest general of the age, Iancu of Hunedoara - also known as Janos/John Hunyadi - so the Sultan may have a clear path as Christianity is disunited and there is no Pope...
So Bessarion has to decide where to use his limited influence and money - help his former countrymen or help Hunyadi, though for now as all is in chaos and he is locked in the Vatican, he may find out he has no palace, no guard and no money on return...
Great peril for Tom and his friends as the house of Orsini, their powerful enemy, is on the war path, while salvation may lay with brutal condotierre Malatesta, if he chooses to side with Bessarion and if his price can be met; add in the mix Iso, his beautiful and strong willed daughter, which Malatesta - rumor has it she is his mistress too, but Malatesta is rumored to be guilty of all possible and impossible sins anyway - treasures a lot, daughter that takes a shine to Tom and that may lead to him becoming Malatesta protegee or road kill as the condotierre's whim will have it, and we have an installment of non stop action, desperate fights, intrigue, romance, though all takes place in Rome despite the title
A great ending that closes the chapter well and opens the way for the 8th part which is another asap. As mentioned in earlier reviews, I think that when the action is in Italy, the series benefits the most as Tom Swan's talents seem much more natural in the small world city state intrigue than on the big world stage, but we will see how we get to the siege of Belgrade and how that will be handled soon I expect
Overall an excellent installment, great promise for next, and I highly recommend everyone to try this mini-series as it offers an excellent ratio of superb stuff per page(less)
One of Adam Roberts "personal" books like Splinter, new Model Army or Land of the headless, beautifully written technically and with lots of clever wo...moreOne of Adam Roberts "personal" books like Splinter, new Model Army or Land of the headless, beautifully written technically and with lots of clever word play that rarely feels contrived;
These kinds of books though "live or die" mostly on how you feel about their "one or few notes" subject, here these being farming, animals, the English countryside, all in a sfnal context with musings on the nature of consciousness and AI described well in the blurb and since my interest in all the above is limited at best, I thought ulti9mately the book to be a clever but lifeless exercise that left very little impression and especially towards the end starting wearing thin its Bete/canny animals premise
The other main shortcoming of the book is the view of humanity as "predators" on nature, when imho it's simply that humans are just cleverer, hence most efficient, but there is no such thing as living in harmony with nature, as predators prey, prey reproduces and while the equilibrium may last more than our human limited view-span, it's fragile and easily shattered as the whole history of climate changes, extinctions and evolution shows
Overall, clever but lifeless unless you care about the books' themes which i do not really...(less)
while not as accomplished as the superb Station Eleven which brought the author to my attention and made me get all her novels to date, The Singer's G...morewhile not as accomplished as the superb Station Eleven which brought the author to my attention and made me get all her novels to date, The Singer's Gun is a page turner that one cannot put down, full of interesting characters - most notably Anton and his desperate quest for "normality", though cutting corners and having a troubled past may catch with him at any moment, and Elena, a Canadian illegal (!!) who also wants a regular life; the concerned US policewoman (ok State Dept investigator into smuggling of illegal aliens and fake id's) and the hard gangster Aria, cousin of Anton, are more cliched and a bit over the top, while the plot has way too many coincidences and stuff that seems a bit illogical (how his company treats Anton, the way the agent runs her investigation, why Elena who is a Canadian native, simply cannot reinvent herself in Toronto or Vancouver if her life falls to pieces here and she has to leave NY and the US, as it's not like Toronto is her native Northwestern Territories wilderness but a modern and accomplished city as almost any in the US, choice that undocumented immigrants from poorer places simply do not have), but that is par for the course for thrillers and one reason i rarely read them unless there are strong reasons like here.
The structure is also good, again not as accomplished and complex as in Station Eleven, but on the same lines, alternating past with present, slowly dripping revelations...
A very good ending - both open and close enough for satisfaction - and of course the writing magic itself and a book I again heartily recommend (less)
somewhat disappointing as the novel never manages to integrate its disparate elements or find a voice that is compelling; there are some plausibility...moresomewhat disappointing as the novel never manages to integrate its disparate elements or find a voice that is compelling; there are some plausibility issues regarding the events 10 years in the past and their echo today and the main character's thoughts regarding the main dramatic event of the current day's story struck me as unlikely at best
overall though i think that the major problem of this book is muddle, while the big plus is keeping one turning pages to see where it goes - though it's ultimately a bit of nowhere (less)
here I would add that book 3 brings the series to a satisfying end and explains most of the mysteries from the first two books but the suspension of disbelief required is even more, the cast/world is not fresh any more and I mostly kept turning the pages to see what happens rather than being engaged in the action (less)
here I would add that book 2 is more unitary and has more coherence but the suspension of disbelief required is even more, the cast/world is not fresh any more and I mostly kept turning the pages to see what happens rather than being engaged in the action(less)
an easy pass the time early Honorverse series beginning, nothing special and a bit pointless imho - if DW is determined to mine the universe to the fu...morean easy pass the time early Honorverse series beginning, nothing special and a bit pointless imho - if DW is determined to mine the universe to the full possible extent, I believe there were other more interesting periods to do a series about - but reasonably entertaining to read the next installment, though if there were none, I wouldn't mind either
it's been quite a few years since I read (and greatly enjoyed) book 1 and I was surprised when I saw that book 3 has been released this week in the US...moreit's been quite a few years since I read (and greatly enjoyed) book 1 and I was surprised when I saw that book 3 has been released this week in the USA, so of course I immediately got book 2 about which i had no idea it was out since March ...
I remembered mostly what happened in Clockwork Heart which was quite a favorite for its great mix of romance, adventure and world building and took a fast look to it for completeness, while here in Clockwork Lies the novel just starts fast from page 1 and doesn't let go until the end; as the main characters are now married (and on a diplomatic mission to start with) there is much less romance, but more world building and of course non stop action
also despite tons of steampunk novels since book 1 - in 2008 Clockwork Heart was much more novel but since then the sub-genre has been over flooded with offerings - the book still stands well because it doesn't try to be more than an easy and fun sf/fantasy which absorbs you from page 1 and while keeping upping the ante, it stays within the suspension of disbelief bounds; the ending is self-contained enough not to require book 3 immediately
overall - fun, page turner and definitely recommended especially if you have enjoyed the original Clockwork Heart, though I plan to read a few different books before going to book 3 as the series is relatively simplistic and I want to enjoy book 3 too, not get tired of "same, too soon"(less)
wonderful novel; while the topic is mundane (shy middle age doctor who still lives near his mother, ex wife and her family, troubled ER doctor, mother...morewonderful novel; while the topic is mundane (shy middle age doctor who still lives near his mother, ex wife and her family, troubled ER doctor, mother of two kids, each with his and her own problems, and separated/later divorced form her husband for no particular reason beyond drift, her vivacious sister who unwittingly both creates trouble and brings the main characters together, their families and history) and set in an Italian city early 00's or so, the way the story is told through pov's from the unborn child of Claudio and the three main characters (Claudio, Cecilia and Silvia) all going through some of the same events and showing how different they were perceived by each, while also moving the storyline and revealing past events, and the poignant nature of the prose which is both realistic and sentimental made Three Light-Years a favorite which i could not put down as well as making me look for more works by the author
overall, wonderful, life affirming, touching and a great read(less)
another wonderful book that made me immediately look for anything written by the author; now rereading it so will have a review later, while in the me...moreanother wonderful book that made me immediately look for anything written by the author; now rereading it so will have a review later, while in the meantime I just highly recommend it as beautifully written, lyrical, very well structured - going back and forth in time, space and "civilization" and managing to describe both a very convincing apocalypse (not a very original deadly and fast incubating flu but that is one obvious choice for such) and its aftermath, immediate and within a few decades;
as bonuses, the post action taking place mostly on or close to our (Michigan) shore of lake Michigan so close to where I am living now with real places like Petoskey, Mackinaw City as well as invented ones, having very strong sfnal overtones - beyond the apocalypse I mean, including the station Eleven of the title - superb characters and a meditation on what makes life worth living(less)
short and beautifully written book about mostly nothing of importance (basically the author writing about the author writing a book interspersed with...moreshort and beautifully written book about mostly nothing of importance (basically the author writing about the author writing a book interspersed with larger personal events within a NYC semi-apocalyptic context); shows why today's writers may be stylistically great but lack passion and ability to write books that will endure and play literary "glass bead" games instead
really loved a lot of vignettes in the book and the storyline of the artificial insemination (insofar that it is a story of course) but overall I felt the book could have been much more if there was a core to it instead of emptiness (less)