Inventive, engrossing, thought-provoking, and funny as hell. Scalzi continues to prove he is just one hell of a writer.
When John Perry turns 75, he o...moreInventive, engrossing, thought-provoking, and funny as hell. Scalzi continues to prove he is just one hell of a writer.
When John Perry turns 75, he opts to join the military, which in the far future is a place for the old, not the young. The reasoning behind this -- as well as the mysteries of how a bunch of senior citizens are going to race around and protect Earth's far spread colonies -- are just some of the wildly inventive things John Scalzi has cooking up in "Old Man's War", a novel very retro in its style and yet very modern in its sensibilities.
A must have for fans of sci-fi and all around good fiction!(less)
Mark Lawrence follows up his brilliant "Broken Empire" trilogy with a new series, and while I can't say it was engaging as "Prince of Thorns", "Prince...moreMark Lawrence follows up his brilliant "Broken Empire" trilogy with a new series, and while I can't say it was engaging as "Prince of Thorns", "Prince of Fools" is still a hell of a good yarn.
Prince Jalen is a model of decadence and laziness, a young Prince who uses his status to acquire women and drink but who knows he'll never have to actually amount to anything because he's so far down the line of succession. All of that changes the day he and a captive Nordic warrior named Snorri are magically bonded by a curse, and Jalen learns that the quest to rid themselves of their plight will take them on a dangerous mission into the heart of dark territory, and into the arms of a most unwelcome foe...
While the story feels somewhat recycled and the novel does tend to drag, what made it so enjoyable for me was Jalen's narration. This guy is funny. I mean REALLY funny. It's easy to get over how annoying and utterly unscrupulous he is because of the humorous prose and dialogue, and even if you don't get swept along by the plot, Jalen's voice and the character of Snorri (he's one badass hero) make this a highly enjoyable ride. I might not have liked Prince of Fools as much as Lawrence's earlier work, but there's no doubt I'll be checking in for the next installment.(less)
For some reason, new ensigns to the starship Intrepid die at an alarming rate -- going on an away mission wit...moreJohn Scalzi has written a hell of a book.
For some reason, new ensigns to the starship Intrepid die at an alarming rate -- going on an away mission with any of the senior staff is a near guaranteed path to an early grave, and no one seems to even notice. No one, that is, but Ensign Dahl and his fellow new arrivals, and rather than walk meekly to meet their fate they decide to start asking questions. They don't like the answers.
A wonderfully well-thought out homage and parody of Star Trek, Stargate, and a host of other shows, Redshirts is engaging, exciting, moving, and side-splittingly funny. The dialogue is crisp and fresh, familiar concepts are executed in very unique fashion, and the story remains unpredictable right to the very end. One of the most entertaining books I've read in a long, long time.(less)
A terrific epic fantasy, with detailed characters, a nice and unique world, and a number of unexpected twists. I look forward to re-entering Mr. Stave...moreA terrific epic fantasy, with detailed characters, a nice and unique world, and a number of unexpected twists. I look forward to re-entering Mr. Staveley's world.
I do wish we would have seen more of Adare (she was criminally under utilized), and the book felt a tad overlong even with her story being shortchanged, but the highly original setting, central mystery and deft character development all make this a highly enjoyable read.(less)
The City & The City is pure Mieville, a solid and original story with a fantastic setting and totally original ideas wrapped around a dense and th...moreThe City & The City is pure Mieville, a solid and original story with a fantastic setting and totally original ideas wrapped around a dense and thickly layered plot.
Beszel and Ul Quoma are two cities, blended into the same metaphysical space. Conjoined in reality yet entirely separate, citizens from each modern metropolis are trained from birth to ignore those things on the other side, to not see people who exist on the same streets in the other place, to drive so they avoid cars from the other city, to stay within the restraints of their home, and not the other. Mirror images, co-existent yet intolerant, shadowy reflections.
When the murder of a young woman is revealed to be part of a larger conspiracy linking the two cities to a fabled third city -- Orciny, a place rumored to exist between -- Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Beszel Extreme Crime Unit finds himself embroiled in a cross-city investigation, searching down rumors of rebellious "Unificationists" and working with the dour Inspecor Dhatt of Ul Quoma.
As always, Mievelle gets maximum mileage out of his highly original setting, brilliantly conceiving a world whose rules remain ever just out of reach and elusive. The means he conceives by a which a crime could be committed across these co-existent cities is brilliant, and the separate locales are richly detailed and tangible.
The story is unfortunately saddled with undeveloped characters: Borlu, especially, is cold and distant, and while this disconnected nature plays into a central aspect of the story's resolution it still makes him difficult to empathize with. The central mystery, for as convoluted as it seems, is also fairly easy to predict in terms of "whodunnit" (though I will admit the motive itself was highly original). In any case, these minor distractions didn't impede my overall enjoyment of the novel.
Another brilliant effort from Mievelle -- part sci-fi, part weird fiction, part police procedural, all tied together in an original and well-crafted yarn.(less)
I'm embarrassed to admit that prior to now I hadn't read any of Joe's work. I'm proud to say that after reading "The River is Dark", I'll be reading i...moreI'm embarrassed to admit that prior to now I hadn't read any of Joe's work. I'm proud to say that after reading "The River is Dark", I'll be reading it again.
Liam is a former cop haunted by recent trauma. Drawn home by the brutal murder of his brother's family, Liam is soon embroiled in a dire small town mystery as he tries to track down a crazed killer before he strikes again.
Joe does a terrific job of taking familiar elements of the mystery/thriller and infusing them with new life, and on those rare occasions when the pacing lags the characters are so well-drawn and likable that the reader is likely not to care. Liam, in particular, is extremely well drawn, and the mysterious circumstances regarding his past are nicely handled.
That being said, it's not a perfect book. The "killer reveals all" segment near the end felt a little overlong (but, to be fair, that's often the case with mystery/thrillers), and the level of gore a) make clear Joe normally writes horror and b) is largely unnecessary. Are those problems enough for me to mark it down from a 5-star ranking? Hell no.
Read this book. It's gripping, it's exciting, it's scary, and it'll make you want more.(less)
Bruce Blake is a heck of a writer. I was a huge fan of "Blood of the King", and when Bruce announced he was starting an epic 6-book series called "The...moreBruce Blake is a heck of a writer. I was a huge fan of "Blood of the King", and when Bruce announced he was starting an epic 6-book series called "The Small Gods" I jumped right on board.
One thing that's clear from the start -- Bruce had a lot of story to tell. Much of this first book feels like setup for what's to follow, but the world is so richly developed and the characters so nicely fleshed out it's hard not to get caught up in things. Yes, Bruce takes his time with unfolding his tale, and though the first section of the book requires some patience to get through it's easy to savor the details, dialogue and wry wit Bruce has come to display in all of his writing.
There are a few minor problems, of course, like the afore-mentioned slow development of the early portion of the book and the excessive "sailor speak" used to narrate some of the chapters, which I found a bit irksome, but overall the good here far outweighs the bad. Unusual, original characters connected by fate in ways that aren't yet entirely clear, a very carefully crafted setting, a simple but effective climax and an ever-growing sense of menace all make this book and this series one to watch. I'll definitely be grabbing Book 2 real soon!(less)
An excellent epic fantasy adventure brimming with a unique and original magic system but bogged down by somewhat stere...more3.5 out of 5 stars (rounded up).
An excellent epic fantasy adventure brimming with a unique and original magic system but bogged down by somewhat stereotypical characters.
J.V. Jones creates a place where magic is yielded through art, and brushstrokes can turn men into monsters and change the course of a person's history, where intelligent artifacts drift between worlds and shift the fates of others and where a young woman (Tessa) is sucked away from Earth and thrust into the middle of a deadly swashbuckling adventure.
There's plenty to like here. Jones' prose is as vibrant and elegant as ever -- the woman can make walking down a city street seem like a trip through the Iliad -- and the world she's crafted is unique and brilliantly constructed. Unfortunately, even as real as Tessa and other characters like Ravis, Camron and Emith seem, they're all...familiar. And not in a good way. I feel like I've seen all of these people before, and I know Jones is capable of so much more originality that I found the individuals populating this fascinating world to be something of a letdown.
Not much in the book surprises, but it is a well-spun yarn with some terrific page-turning moments and a finely crafted, beautifully detailed atmosphere. Recommended for the prose and the world-building; not so much for the plot or characters. (less)
Mark Lawrence expands his impressive vision of a gritty, conflict-eaten world as Jorg, the dark-hearted anti-hero of "Prince of Thorns", continues his...moreMark Lawrence expands his impressive vision of a gritty, conflict-eaten world as Jorg, the dark-hearted anti-hero of "Prince of Thorns", continues his quest for power.
As in the first volume, we're given two different stories in "King of Thorns", presented in two different times: in one (set four years in the past, shortly after the conclusion of "Prince of Thorns") Jorg races to try and save his mutant friend Gog, whose powers are growing out of control, while in the present say he scrambles to keep his realm from being conquered by Orrin, the righteous Prince of Arrow.
Everything Lawrence did right in the first book is here in evidence, only...better. There's no easy to describe it, nor any easy way to describe how much this series has awed me. Told with wry gallows wit and filled with scenes of surprising tenderness (considering the dark lens through which we're seeing the story presented), this book literally dares you to stop reading, and I'll tell you...it's tough. ;D
I'm still not a big fan of 1st person storytelling, but Lawrence once again proves he's more than up to the challenge. Jorg matures by leaps and bounds in this book, and the inclusion of snippets from his forbidden love Katherine's diary is a very nice touch, as is the "mystery" we're presented with about halfway through the novel after Jorg had parts of his memory willingly secreted away. My minor issues with the origin of "The Builders" from the first volume have been abated, for the most part, as I've come to appreciate the way Lawrence is using those strange artifacts and machines and making them seem as "magical" as necromancy, pyromancy, and all of the other "mancys" he has dancing around in here. "King of Thorns" boasts a truly impressive cast of villainous mages.
All in all, this is a breath of fresh air for epic fantasy, and a work that I'm flat-out jealous of. I wish I'd written it. :D