I'm going to try not to gush in this review but I am very happy to end 2007 with this book. This book on many occassions brought tears to my eyes as I...moreI'm going to try not to gush in this review but I am very happy to end 2007 with this book. This book on many occassions brought tears to my eyes as I read momments of great sadness and momments that touch the heart. All of this is interlaced with a brilliant narative, characters that are painfully real feeling, and a world also rendered equally real.
I've savored this book over the last 3-4 months, partly to prolong the experience but also for fear of running out of great fantasy to read. I started the series out of lack of anything else to read, and then continued it as something to hold me over until George R.R. Martin could finish the 5th book in his "Song of Ice and Fire" series. This is probably the best compliment I can pay to Robin Hobb, that I find her fantasy on par with that of George R.R. Martin (quite possibly the greatest writer of epic fantasy I've ever read). This series has much of the qualities of Martin's series, but with a bit softer edges.
I can't really say anything about this final installment I haven't already said about the previous 2 books in the trilogy. Its fantastic. The use of magical elements in it are subtle and precise, not hamfisted and blunt as in much of epic fantasy today. Too often epic fantasy is more about magical powers than about people, this book and Hobb's others are a welcome change of pace. They are more works of literature than much else I've read in the fantasy genre. I am just not sure what else to say. Read this series, it will astound you. If you are a veteran of the fantasy genre and know it well, you can start with this trilogy for Hobb is very good at exposition about previous happenings (yet the exposition feels natural and infered not tacked on and extenporanious(sp?)). If you are new to fantasy and want a truly great read, start with the "Farseer Trilogy" and then move onto the "Liveship Traders Trilogy" and finally onto this trilogy the "The Tawny Man". I found it interesting to start a trilogy about someone with a past. It was nice to start an epic fantasy with someone who already had experiences and a past. Too often all stories start and end in such an ordered and, sometimes, mundane fashioned way. So check this out. I give it my stamp of approval.(less)
This is only the second Robin Hobb book I've read, and I already thing higher of her than most other authors of "fantasy". He first book in this trilo...moreThis is only the second Robin Hobb book I've read, and I already thing higher of her than most other authors of "fantasy". He first book in this trilogy was very good. I started out thinking it was going to be another "magic" driven fantasy novel. Where the magic is more important than well thought out plot and characters. Not so at all! Being as I was and still am waiting on the next installment of the Song of Ice and Fire series, I was happy to find a fantasy series with similarly toned narrative and of a comparable caliber to boot.
The second book, this book, blew me away. If the first one was great book, this is a truly AMAZING book. Fitz is such a great and deep character. He is truly noble and holds himself to a high stander, yet very flawed and knows this of himself. The end result is someone who is a kind of every day man forced into the role of cut-throat white-knight. I say white knight purely to indicate his boyscout-esque qualities. I'm actually glad I came to the character as an adult with a past(him, not me. I have no past, or at least known that it is safe for you to know...lol..:P), rather than reading about him as a child that turns into the person I read about now.
But you know what really does it for me in this book. The non-traditional relationships. My heart when Fitz confronts the fool about their relationship and how the fool mite want more from it. The fool is an amazing character, so multifaceted that he is less gold, and more diamond. I can't say too much about this part with out giving away much that will be better to discover on a readers own.
The plots and intriques. They are great, every level of this story is well crafted to perfection. I'm having to hold myself back from reading the 3rd and final installment because I don't want it to be over any sooner than it has to be. (less)
So it is the 27th century and dead people are possessing the bodies of people through cruel and brutal mental and physical torture. At this point a fe...moreSo it is the 27th century and dead people are possessing the bodies of people through cruel and brutal mental and physical torture. At this point a few of them are coming to prominence such as a non-dead Satanic cult leader that is so disturbingly inhuman that he repressed the soul possessing him and mastered its dark powers, Al Capone is no in charge of a planet and an army of possessed flunkies, A lucky star ship captain is trying to stop a woman who has the most dangerous weapon humanity has ever thought up, and the human confederation is finally awake to the problem of the possessed. I know I know, it sounds like too much for any one series to be about and not be absurd but I'm telling you this is excellent Science Fiction. Its smart, thoughtful, intriguing, and action packed all while still having a lot of heart. Pick this up if you haven't already, the first book in the trilogy "The Reality Dysfunction" is one of the 100 must read Science Fiction novels.(less)
I love this book, and was sad to finish it knowing that it means I've only got one more book to go till its all over. If you love sci-fi and want to r...moreI love this book, and was sad to finish it knowing that it means I've only got one more book to go till its all over. If you love sci-fi and want to read something unlike anything else out there (check my books to know, I know what I'm talking about) then check this out. Its got it all, war in space, terrifying insidious threats from beyond our world, sentient space cities, compassion, and of course cyborgs and robots. If you read the first book "Reality Dysfunction" and even just "liked" it, then read this one cause it gets even more awesome and crazy.(less)
You know, the premise of this book actually sounded good. A wizard P.I., sure why not. I like wizards and I like P.I.s, so what could be the problem....moreYou know, the premise of this book actually sounded good. A wizard P.I., sure why not. I like wizards and I like P.I.s, so what could be the problem. The problem was I over estimated this author's abilities.
The main character is like some kind of emotionally retarded uber-geek's idealized life. He lives in a basement and subbasement. He ALWAYS wears a black duster and cowboy boots (even when he's wearing sweats and a t-shirt). He has an abnormally large alley cat that likes to drink coke and doesn't get violently ill from the caffeine. He can't get anywhere with women, for no real reason at all. The first woman that broke his heart, he actually killed (but for good reasons, I mean she was evil). I could go on and on. The protagonist of this story is an immature weiner. He is a walking dorky cliche, that feels like he is some kind of Peter Parker wizard. Constantly bemoaning the weight of the world on his shoulders, even when its actually not on his shoulders. Add to this the characters inability to have basic levels of trust for his friends/allies, lack of common sense, and a very low level of intelligence for someone that relies on brains and willpower for their strengths. And you end up with a guy that is very annoying to read in most any situation.
Now throw that character into a Noir Detective style situation. This is not a confident man, nor is he a physically tough man, and he lacks much in the way of street or even book smarts. I find it highly unlikely that this guy should have survived past the first 100 pages, let alone through all the other blunders he makes through the entire book. Take a gander back to the beginnings of the Noir Detective genre, and you'd be ashamed that this man besmirches the genre's good traditions. Sam Spade has no magic what so ever, but he could quite easily have out smarted and out fought this guy with his bare fists.
Don't even get me started on how annoying magic is in this book. Not since the magic of Terry Brooks' Shanara books have I felt magic meant little to nothing. This guy is constantly like, oh shit I don't have my wand or staff or special ring, so if I do my magic now I'll kill everyone. What the fricking good is magic that can't be used unless you've got your stick of power. If magic is going to be used the way it is in this book, as basically a crutch to hold the rest of the weak aspects of the book up (as it is in most non-awesome fantasy); then at least have it around to do its job and make cool things happen.
So to close, this book is immature and not fun to read. There was a time in my life when I would have found this book awesome, when I was going through that phase of life where you're 13, emotionally retarded, and just discovered AD&D 2nd edition. Which there is nothing wrong with, that's a phase that me and most other nerds went through. Then we grew out of it, because we matured in to adults. But this book isn't be lauded to me as "great writing" by 13 year old nerds and geeks, its being held up as a "Great Book" by adults, and that's who its marketed to. Look if you like this book and you're in Junior high then fine (though I could recommend better things for you to read that are aimed at your age group), but not adults. If your an adult and you think this is even just "good" writing (and again I'll state that most tell me its "great" writing) then I think you need to try reading some other stuff by much better authors. Go find and read Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Joe R. Lansdale, Walter Mosley, Warren Ellis, or Charles Stross. These are all writers that have written either modern fantasy/Horror or Noir and/or Crime fiction, so they are working on some similar concepts. Then if you don't find those to be far better book written by actual good writers, well then I'm just going to have to say that you and I may be from different planets or something.
This book is not fun to read. Its poorly constructed. The plot is about as complex as 6th grade math, and less original than that. The characters are 2 dimensional at best. Magic is used a focal point of the story rather than something to enhanced the flavor of original and real feeling plots and characters. At one point the author describes someone by saying he looks like Sean Connery's character from the Highlander, instead of I don't know just describing the dude as having a pony tale (since that was where those two character's physical similarities ended). Most of his other descriptions of characters are like police descriptions of people being given to me by the narrator which completely takes you out of the narrative. The author at one point even wrote "I was a wizard" when his point of view character is lamenting about going into a house or building to solve a problem and I was thinking "wait did you stop being a wizard at some point?". If you're going to write in the first person perspective then learn to write in the present. Of course one would expect a decent editor could have fixed this, but I'm going to assume that decent editors get assigned to decent writers. Look, its not a good book. I didn't make it a bad book, it just is. I'm told that the book get much better after or on book three (so some day I hope to get a copy of his second book for free and see, though I have my doubts since I've read enough bad authors in my day to know they don't usually start becoming good authors, just more experienced bad authors) but that's a really spurious argument since I need ALL book I read to be good if not great right away. I'm not going to recommend an author to someone because his first work was really awful but if you just read two more books by him he gets good. Well then perhaps he should have just started with book three and spared us the bad books. Its bad and I don't recommend it to anyone who's not reading it as a goof to lampoon it in there own head. End of statement.(less)
This book is Neil Gaiman doing what he does, making superheroes look awesome and smart all at the same time. As well as making them into archetypal fi...moreThis book is Neil Gaiman doing what he does, making superheroes look awesome and smart all at the same time. As well as making them into archetypal figures of myth, or maybe its the other way around and he is turning archetypal figures of myth (gods and old school "heroes") into awesome and smart superheroes. Either way its amazing, and John Romita Jr.'s art is impressively textured and epic as ever.
Read this, because Gaiman doesn't doe a ton of comic stuff anymore, and we should all cherish his brief returns to it.(less)