despite the seemingly dense prose as advertised in various reviews/blurbs, I found Paris a fast and gripping psychological read with a three quartersdespite the seemingly dense prose as advertised in various reviews/blurbs, I found Paris a fast and gripping psychological read with a three quarters predictable main twist - given the setup and after reading many books in its vein, most of the main twist was expected, one half kind of clear after a while (see above cover too) and one half being being one of a few possibilities so the "3/4" - and a book that took over my reading from the first page so I couldn't put down until finished
the prose (at least in the English translation which read very smooth) does indeed remind one of Javier Marias so for example if you read the 700 page Night of Time, this 250 odd page novel will seem a breeze
everything "happens" in the mind of the narrator when now as a mid thirties adult recollects the crucial events of his childhood starting with the first arrest of his father at age 9 - arrest concealed artfully by his mother and soon forgotten despite the boy actually witnessing it, up to the final disappearance of his father from his life and a shocking meeting he witnesses a few years later which leads to his mother's second main "confession" (first being the arrest one some time after but before this fulcrum of the novel)
as expected not all is explained and we are left wondering about the main repeating theme of the novel:
“One often lies to and deceives the person one loves most in order to preserve their love, or to protect them.
The protecting lie is the one you admit to when there’s no longer any need to protect, and the lie intended to preserve love is the one you never reveal.”
on the minor niggles side, there are some repetitions that I think were intended to reinforce the main theme above, but which seemed forced on occasion, while the "purely psychological" nature gives the book "a disconnected from reality" flavor where the "rawness" of life takes a second place to one's imagination; still the prose was magic and absorbed me completely
Excellent stuff as expected though it seems to be only part 1 given what we know from the Rhenn books; still enough closure and the historical mentionExcellent stuff as expected though it seems to be only part 1 given what we know from the Rhenn books; still enough closure and the historical mentions were great, bittersweet on occasion when talking about the later years of Quaeryt and Vaelora (through the journal of Gauwsn which Alastar gets from the Collegium chorister)
I quite liked the parts about more Ryel mischief (seems every generation there is a powerful and trouble-making Ryel), not to speak having a descendant of Vaelora and Quaeryt in the book in a main role as well as mentioning others tied into the Quaeryt series, like their first daughter who turned out to be a very powerful Imager under Rex Chayar, as well as lots of other little tidbits tying things with both the Quaeryt and the Rhenn times (here there is one superb connection which is not hidden but not overtly mentioned either, and refers to one of the main characters of this last series being most likely also the descendant of Vaelora and Qaueryt, though some 750 years later);
while there is clear recorded history (say as opposed to Recluce where most of the past is presented as legends or as oral history), it is also garbled on occasion (either by time drift or by purpose) and corroborating what we "know" from the Qaueryt/Vaelora novels to what is known in Alastar times (the novel takes place in 389 AL, where 1 AL's origin in the first Rex Regis times is also touched upon) and then with what we "know" from Rhenn times (that is in the 750-760's AL), makes this point about the partial reliability of even historical records very clearly
As opposed to Quaeryt and Rhenn, Alastar is already a powerful Imager when we start - the one maitre d'Image in whole Solidar - but also he is an outsider (born and lived all his life in Antiago, from a modest family which descends into poverty due to economic "downsizing", just a month or so in L'Excelsis when the novel starts, so unaware of many undercurrents, relationships etc), a childless widower and a man with a clear vision of what needs to be done in a way or another which both previous heroes acquire only gradually, so the book has a different tone - also it can be looked as a what comes next for Rhenn in a context where there is enough 'spectacular" conflict to make it a good story
As there is mostly intrigue and civil conflict, the book also resembles the last Rhenn novel in structure, with tension building until things start happening fast, when there is a non stop ride till the end
A highly expected novel that delivered in spades and will be in my top 10 - possibly even 5 for the year - ...more
Ian Whates' second novel in two months after the excellent steampunk science fantasy City Dreams and Nightmares, this one is a space opera from SolariIan Whates' second novel in two months after the excellent steampunk science fantasy City Dreams and Nightmares, this one is a space opera from Solaris and a superb book with great characters and setting as well as lots of action, mysteries and all that you want in such
There are 4 pov's of which two get the most action:
Leyton is an "eyegee", (kind of like Cormac of N. Asher's novels), a special agent with an intelligent gun for the human government ULAW which was put together at the end of a century long war between the winners (de facto) ULW (United League Worlds) and the Allied worlds who got a smaller share of the ULAW (that A); we meet him in a superb beginning action sequence where he takes down a drug lord with multiple bodyguards, robot dogs, supposedly impregnable estate...
Philip Kaufman is the young CEO of the leading space engine firm, heir of genius father Malcolm who built the firm and invented the Kaufman drive and sort of uploaded himself into a pseudo-AI (here echoes of PFH and the Mandel series not to speak of the later ones); driven to make his mark, Philip is pushing hard at the one failure his father had, the integration of human and AI and the first AI piloted starship, when a strange ship of the title The Noise Within appears from nowhere and effortlessly hijacks luxury liners and their rich passengers for ransom, though strangely encouraging people to "defect" and this is how we meet Kyle, ship engineer, war veteran, now bored mechanic on such a luxury ship, a sort of "just in case" since the vessel is super redundant; Kyle is the first to defect to The Noise Within and the strangeness there begins
Later we meet Kethi a human "intuitionist" (echoes of IMB) who is from a habitat that made itself scarce in the war, established a while ago by a reclusive charismatic "prophet" who believes that aliens will come and threaten humanity soon; since maybe The Noise Within is an alien ship (though Philip believes otherwise), Kethi makes her way with a crack team to investigate and she is the one that chooses the most likely spot The Noise will hit next
There is much more including a superb action piece where Leyton leads an assault on a rebel base, ship combat, a grand tour of the human space, slum world action, habitat action, a "hit-bar" where rich people leave names and amounts for the killing of enemies
The ending is partly cliffhanger and I am really eager to see where the series go since it starts so great (A+ and high potential to be among the best space opera series around) ...more
Great book of atmosphere and suspense; for Kate Morton "veterans", the ingredients that made her first two book successful are here too, but this bookGreat book of atmosphere and suspense; for Kate Morton "veterans", the ingredients that made her first two book successful are here too, but this book has an added edge in atmosphere and interpersonal-relationships as well as a twist or two that will surprise you. Another novel at the edge between an A+ and an A++, will see how it stays in my memory. Will add the full FBC review ~Nov 9 its US publication date...more
I finished Age of Zeus by J. Lovegrove which is a very fast read despite its almost 700 page bulk; in the same thematic with Age of Ra but this time wI finished Age of Zeus by J. Lovegrove which is a very fast read despite its almost 700 page bulk; in the same thematic with Age of Ra but this time with the Olympians taking over humanity, Age of Zeus is quite different from Ra, though it is closer to what I expected Ra to be with a mixture of low-bro comedy (mythporn says it all with titles that are hilarious in a sick way so to speak, though there is no explicit language beyond those titles but those are quite explicit), monsters and urban combat with enhanced technology, while Ra turned out to be one of the most philosophical mil-sf novel I've read
The short summary - Olympians appear 10 years ago with all the monsters from the myths in tow as well as the powers from myths and enforce peace on humanity at some cost like obliterating some cities to make a point, defeating and destroying any army sent against them...
12 experienced (army and police) scarred veterans are chosen by a rich industrialist and offered the chance to strike back using special armor that gave them powers on the Olympians scale - lower but on the same level so the attempt to overthrow the Gods has a shot; of course all take Titan names and they start by hunting the monsters (hydra, lamia, typhon, cyclops, minotaur...)
Police Detective hotshot Samantha Akerhurst aka Sam emerges as the de facto leader - though the cast is multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-cultural and as pc as it gets - and of course the rich industrialist in cause has his own secrets
The Olympians steal the show with their hi-jinks and there are a lot of "current issues" jokes, jibes and fun poked at politicians, media personalities... that are sort of recognizable at least in type if not in actual persona
While lacking the deep and mysterious part of Ra (this one has explanations which Ra does not and I thought it better that way), Age of Zeus is fun in a campy way and better than I expected; a strong A from me ...more
While it's unclear that this is part of a series and the book works as a standalone the world of the ark ship Aurora, its satellite worlds and the supWhile it's unclear that this is part of a series and the book works as a standalone the world of the ark ship Aurora, its satellite worlds and the superb society built there deserves more books
A return to the Hogan of the Giants saga combining didacticism with great world building and interesting characters, especially the stage magician Korshak and the robot Ket; the villains make a hilarious bunch with their subtle name "Dollarians" and the mystical symbol $, while their leaders go by titles like Banker and the like - though personally I thought that their ideology in the context of the book was much more suited to a Green movement since it's all about finite resources and conservation against the heroes "humanity as unlimited potential, no resource is scarce since humans can invent something else if needed"; I guess today is cool to have "Dollarians" as villains so let that be since the book is fun and a solid A from me...more
A story by story discussion with the first lines (in two cases the first "relevant" lines) included; superb collection
The Object of Worship The god setA story by story discussion with the first lines (in two cases the first "relevant" lines) included; superb collection
The Object of Worship The god settles on the table. Rose tears a piece from her toast, slathers a heap of cream cheese on the ear-sized morsel, and lays it next to the god. It consumes the tribute.
The first story and the one that names the collection starts the novel with a bang introducing a world in which gods are "real", physical and everywhere, demand worship while giving life and children, men are missing, and two young women live together in harmony with their house "god" until an "atheist" woman enters their life. A very powerful ending crowns a story that establishes the tone of the collection.(A+)
The Ethical Treatment of Meat Raymond and George had never thought much about religion. They’d tried going to services at their local church shortly after adopting the child—it seemed like the right thing to do—but the preacher said children weren’t allowed. No animals of any kind. Only people.
The first of two stories set in a zombie dominated world, where humans are "meat animals" kept for their brains on which the zombies feed and for their body parts that are used as furniture and decoration. Raymond and George seem your next door gay couple, though of course as with all the "people" here, they are not human. Just disturbing and weird, the story was on the edge of my tolerance for such and *is definitely* not for everyone. (A)
Hochelaga and Sons ...Because I can’t become intangible and walk through it. Because I can’t teleport at will. Because I can’t even punch holes in it with my bare fists.
A superhero story with a twist; when a Montreal native of Jewish origins is captured and used as lab-experiment by the Nazis, he somehow gets superpowers and later becomes Hochelaga the superhero of Montreal. However of his twin sons Gordon (the narrator) and Bernard, only the later inherits his father's abilities only to refuse to use them because they are "treyf", unclean. However when the Hegemony of Hate declares war against humanity and sends powerful "super-terrorists" against the superheroes, Bernard faces a big dilemma since his faith talks also about "Pikuach Nefesh", the duty to save lives... This story is both action filled and philosophical and another highlight of the collection (A+)
The Sea, at Bari In Bari, the pizza marinara was more delicious than in Rome.
After the above tranquil opening line, we are introduced to the world of Mario a Canadian of Italian origins whose fifth birthday spent with his grandparents in Bari transformed his life. On his 30th birthday he goes back to try and get back what he had lost then. This story is one of my three top favorites in a superb collection and an A++.
The Darkness at the Heart of the World As the boy Coro emerges from the Godpool, he sees the tears on his mother’s face.
This story starts conventionally with a boy who has a bad leg that the healing waters of the Godpool cannot cure. He sees the mighty flying angels that battle the demons every night and he wants to become one of them and soar in the sky; of course reality turns out quite differently... This story was one of my least favorite because it did not balance well and I thought it less well formed than the rest (B).
Spiderkid All the spiders in my apartment are araneomorphs, the most common type of spider. The second most common suborder consists of mygalomorphs—hairy, often large species, such as tarantulas. Mesothelae, the oldest suborder of spiders still extant, are quite rare; of the estimated hundred thousand or so species of spiders, fewer than one hundred belong to this primitive family, and they’re found almost exclusively in Asia. I’ve only ever seen pictures.
One of the two stories available online, go and read it!. Weird, disturbing and very good (A).
Njàbò Njàbò, my only child, my daughter, walks with me. She is as old as the forest, while I was born but three and a half decades ago.
The second story that's available online and one of my three top stories of the collection, again, go and read it! (A++)
A Place Where Nothing Ever Happens The first time Kyle received one of those phone calls, he was getting ready for a date.
This is another story that could have been better with a more balanced approach. Lucifer makes a deal with a phone company and allows all denizens of Hell to call their loved ones. Kyle gets a gorgeous and intelligent girlfriend; the two story-lines just do not mesh well and the final twist is visible from a mile (A-).
A Visit to the Optometrist When a pigeon chewed out Basil Fesper’s right eye while he was taking a nap in his lawn chair, he finally admitted that it was time to make an appointment with the optometrist.
The second and better zombie story; still disturbing but less so than the first, it involves the same characters from the first except that now the married couple next door to Raymond and George are protagonists. A tie-in also with the "Darkness" story above, I liked this one more than "The Ethical Treatment of Meat" but that one has an indubitable power of its own, however shocking it was (A).
Roman Predator’s Chimeric Odyssey Already, dusk encroaches on daylight, and Luna, lushly green, hangs in the sky, its fullness announcing the hunt.
Another of the stories that did not mesh well for me; werewolves and other animal/human combination in a post apocalyptic world and a mysterious alien which i did not truly get (B).
Destroyer of Worlds ...There was a deliberateness, a weight, to her gait. She was walking to her death.
The third top favorite and A++ story for me, this one is related to a comic series that somehow becomes "real" in the Multiverse; very powerful.
This Is the Ice Age Distorted cars litter the bridge, quantum ice fractalling outward from their engines, from the circuits of their dashboards. The ice has burst from their chassis, creating random new configurations of ice, technology, and anatomy.
A post-apocalyptic story when all electronic powered devices turned to ice and killed lots of people, follows two teen survivors in Montreal, while the "geek" brother of the boy starts a cult; this story is extremely powerful almost to the end but then it peters out in an unconvincing ending which takes away a little from it (A+).
All in all "Objects of Worship" (A+) is a great collection and I strongly recommend it for every lover of literate speculative fiction....more
The King of Crags continues the story started in The Adamantine Palace, deepens it and enlarges it, while the last 50 pages are just awesome setting uThe King of Crags continues the story started in The Adamantine Palace, deepens it and enlarges it, while the last 50 pages are just awesome setting up a third novel that should be a cracker. In some ways The King of the Crags is a middle novel so the major threads (the human-dragon interaction and the fight for supremacy among the Dragon Kings and Queens) are not solved, but there are a lot of things happening too. The novel is even more brutal that the first one, darker and more cynical with no-nonsense and sentimentality; the awakened dragons still hate humans with a passion and eat them when they do not burn their cities, queens and kings die, cities are burned and the prize (if anything will remain intact of course) is still there for the taking. ...more
Since the sequel appears later this year, I finally got to read this one and it's a fast, fun adventure with a mixture of paleontology, space exploratSince the sequel appears later this year, I finally got to read this one and it's a fast, fun adventure with a mixture of paleontology, space exploration and long-ago-vanished-aliens. It's a very straightforward adventure with pulp overtones but modern sensibilities and it reminded me to a large extent of James Hogan Giants saga which was a big favorite at the time; now I moved on to some extent but in the right mind-frame I can enjoy a tale like Boundary and since the characters and setting grow on you, I will definitely check the sequel at some point.
Though it lacks the scope of Grand Central Arena, I would recommend it as an addictive read (A- overall since the pulp elements are not enough compensated here as they are in GCA)...more
The ending of the trilogy is like the first volume more scattered (202-183 - so basically snippets of events rather than the pretty continuous 209-202The ending of the trilogy is like the first volume more scattered (202-183 - so basically snippets of events rather than the pretty continuous 209-202 action of the 2nd volume).
The same great battle descriptions, scenes worth the novel by themselves (Hannibal and Scipio at Ephesus is one for the ages but there are many more) and excellent character sketches.
Overall the Scipio trilogy is a great achievement and in the Roman based historical fiction, i would say that is almost on par with the greatest such - Masters of Rome (the first 3 volumes before the Caesar adoration that takes down the series from the middle of volume 3 - here Scipio is much more ambiguous with his vanity and "I am Rome" mentality that Cato exaggerated but did not invent in breaking him down, clearly on display), I Claudius and the picaresque Waltari masterpiece The Roman
The major niggle I had with the series is its structure especially in volumes 1 and 3, where we read less a novel but more a collection of stories that coheres only moderately well into a whole, though I agree it's very hard to write a novel even in 2400 pages like this trilogy and capture the complexity of events.
Where the author shines is in the battle descriptions and here I would say the trilogy is the best in any Roman fiction I've read ...more
very good (non jargon) dicussion discussion of Murakami's work with emphasis on his recent novels (including the latest) and his evolution of views abvery good (non jargon) dicussion discussion of Murakami's work with emphasis on his recent novels (including the latest) and his evolution of views about identity, reality and more
on the flip side at least one read of his major and recent works (Wind Up, Kafka, 1Q84) is required to profit from this book ...more
Excellent debut from Jon Sprunk grabs you from the first page and never lets go till the end; the subject is very conventional,kind of like the BrentExcellent debut from Jon Sprunk grabs you from the first page and never lets go till the end; the subject is very conventional,kind of like the Brent Weeks trilogy but without the panache of that, but the writing is excellent, among the most energetic in fantasy from what I read so far and that elevates an otherwise very good but generic assassin fantasy one level. An A+ for the style and the series became another get/read asap the next installment...more
huge expectations as Scarlet Tides was my top sff of last year and Unholy war delivered and more so it will be another top 5 of the year; same structuhuge expectations as Scarlet Tides was my top sff of last year and Unholy war delivered and more so it will be another top 5 of the year; same structure with multiple pov's, lots of turns and twists, pairings and splits and an ending at a good stopping point though one wants more asap
if time/energy allows a more comprehensive review will follow, though I will note that if you loved Scarlet Tides, you will love this as the action continues directly and with the same pov's/locations to start with, though of course as the story continues things keep changing
until then my review of Scarlet Tides will give you a good idea about what to expect: