I picked this up at a library book sale because I had heard a lot of talk of the Black Company series in "dark fantasy" circles.
I went into it with ze...moreI picked this up at a library book sale because I had heard a lot of talk of the Black Company series in "dark fantasy" circles.
I went into it with zero expectations or knowledge of what the series would involve, aside from the fact that it involves some kind of mercenary company in a fantasy universe. I was pleased to find myself enjoying the book so immensely that I finished it in a matter of days.
The prose is excellent. I have heard criticisms that it is somehow juvenile or boring, but I found it to be efficient and engaging. I can remember getting to page 180 or so in this book and feeling like a lot of fairly major plot developments had happened and I was only halfway through the book. It isn't cluttered up with a narrative that switches between 12 characters, there aren't dozens of pages of unnecessarily long exposition to setup the history of the world in the books--rather it is sprinkled throughout as needed with just enough fleshing out.
The bottom line for me--as in all my reviews--is I was intrigued by this story and the people in it. I didn't get bored but it also didn't lack depth. I cared about who was in it and why what was happening was happening to them.(less)
Pretty enjoyable story with a well-constructed world and characters I was interested in but not as involved as I could be. Very much follows the "loom...morePretty enjoyable story with a well-constructed world and characters I was interested in but not as involved as I could be. Very much follows the "looming threat to the kingdom" motif, with its own unique touches. The role of magic is handled well and has some nuance to it.
One of my main gripes with this is the few sex scenes in it. They are pretty out of place and needlessly detailed, almost like this author has written romance novels before and felt she needed to squeeze some of it in for some reason.
Apparently this is part of a large work of separate trilogies that take place in this world. For going in to a world I'd not been familiar with yet, it did a good job stringing me along without treating me like a child.(less)
Got a little antsy in the beginning, started to think this was going to be some childish caricature demonizing evil scientists as being mean to animal...moreGot a little antsy in the beginning, started to think this was going to be some childish caricature demonizing evil scientists as being mean to animals, which it was in the beginning. It turned out to be a pretty captivating story about two dogs coming from very different places in life with relation to other animals and of course with humans. It can also be said to involve a similar exploration with regard to the human characters and the different ways they feel connected to animals.(less)
I'll refrain from giving this book a star rating because I didn't finish it. But if I had to pick a rating based on what I did slog through, I'd give...moreI'll refrain from giving this book a star rating because I didn't finish it. But if I had to pick a rating based on what I did slog through, I'd give it one star. In the interest of fair disclosure, I only read this book up until about page 60.
The main reason I stopped is because I felt like the narrator thought I was a moron. Things are summarized and repeated 20 pages later unnecessarily. The word choice for descriptions and the emotions of characters struck me as lazy and there is a near complete lack of attempts to SHOW me what the character is like rather than just flat out tell me, which is what this book does.
I was also incredibly annoyed by the slipshod way in which the author seems to want to show off all the cool stuff he learned while researching for this book. I get that he did a lot of research into medieval society and architecture, but it is shoved into the narration very jarringly. Every single time the main protagonist sees a building or a piece of architecture, I was completely sucked out of what little immersion there was so that I could read a 2-paragraph soliloquy about the way an arch supports a vaulted ceiling or the proper way to put mortar in between stones so that it won't crumble. This happens frequently and with complete disregard to what is happening in the scene. There is even one point where the main character is chasing a thief through the grimy, crowded city streets of Salisbury and stops in his tracks to lecture his son about the proper way to support a *blah blah blah*.
I cannot finish this book. If I am this annoyed and insulted by the way this author treats his readers only 60 pages in, I am not going to force myself to slog through 900 more pages. This book seems like a poorly edited, inefficient bloated mess that a better author could probably do in a third of the pages.(less)
My choice of the number of stars for this sums it up fairly well.
"I liked it." is what you see if you mouse of the third star in the rating system. Ov...moreMy choice of the number of stars for this sums it up fairly well.
"I liked it." is what you see if you mouse of the third star in the rating system. Overall I'd say if you have an interest in reading it to just go for it. It'll entertain you and you may enjoy it more than I did. Don't expect anything earth-shattering (not that everything has to be or even can be).
I read through it fairly rapidly, I wanted to know what was going to happen so that I could confirm whether or not my own intuitions about the plot twists would pan out. As far as characters go, Blomkvist and Salander are of course the two biggest by far. I was left somewhat fascinated by them, but not very invested emotionally in what happened to them. I would say Salander is the more interesting character. There may have been a bit too much exposition at times in order to introduce the characters, but it wasn't too jarring.
Apparently the original title of this book translated to "Men Who Hate Women" which is a much more fitting title given the subject matter. On the surface it is just a murder mystery thriller with some very chilling/disturbing discussion of violent acts against women. There are a few points in the story where the author came close to venturing a bit too far from the story by talking about crimes against women in Sweden, but I wouldn't say it detracted from my enjoyment of the story.
It may seem like a quibble, but the most jarring parts of this book were the specific mentions of what sort of Apple product Lisbeth Salander is using. I get that this is a "techno thriller" or whatever other jacket blurb snippet I could use, but do we really need this?
"Unsurprisingly she set her sights on the best available alternative: the new Apple PowerBook G4/1.0 GHz in an aluminum case with a PowerPC 7451 processor with an AltiVec Velocity Engine, 960 MB RAM and a 60 GB hard drive. It had BlueTooth and built-in CD and DVD burners.
Best of all, it had the first 17-inch screen in the laptop world with NVIDIA graphics and a resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels, which shook the PC advocates and outranked everything else on the market."
It may be only one example but it was *very* jarring and sucked me right out of the immersion. It's perfectly fair for the author to include some tech info in the book if he was trying to emphasize the "tech" aspect of the story (which I would argue didn't play in much later on during the meat of the plot), but...do I really need to know that it had an nVIDIA card in it? I suppose I can appreciate the reference since I'm a tech myself, but it does absolutely *nothing* for the story and this whole passage severely broke the immersion for me. Do I really need to know that it "shook the PC advocates"? Is this product placement in a novel? Why on earth would anyone need to do that? It really left a sour taste in my mouth but I tried hard not to let it influence my rating of the book too much. I still stand by my "I liked it" rating. (less)
I picked this up at the library after reading a short story of Erikson's called "Goats of Glory". Apparently Erikson's signature world is called Malaz...moreI picked this up at the library after reading a short story of Erikson's called "Goats of Glory". Apparently Erikson's signature world is called Malazan. Goats of Glory and Crack'd Pot Trail are my only exposures to it and it seems to hold promise.
Coming in at 200 pages, the book is an efficient use of narrative length. There are more characters than one would assume belong in a book this short, but I feel the author was very honest about introducing them all at once at the beginning of the book. I did find myself having to flip back to the introductory chapter quite a bit to keep them all straight, but I feel the author did a good job of showing/reminding throughout the book by way of the words, actions and reactions of the characters.
It may seem like a base criticism but the prose in the book was very long-winded at times. I found myself having to go back and reread sentences in order to sift through all the commas and fragments. For me the wordiness came dangerously close to hindering the narrative at times, but then pulled back at the right moments. I believe it was intended to be this way based on who the narrator is in the story, so it was easy to adjust to and overlook when needed.
This is my first significant foray into the Malazan world. I was very skeptical that such a short book that was not meant as an introduction to this world would pull me in, but it did so efficiently and captivatingly. The characters were as well fleshed out as they could be in 200 pages. Most importantly, the author seems to understand the "show don't tell" school of character building. I was amused by and interested in what happened to whom.(less)
An adept execution of a pretty standard hero story arc, complete with romance and the culmination of both personal and "big picture" story lines at th...moreAn adept execution of a pretty standard hero story arc, complete with romance and the culmination of both personal and "big picture" story lines at the end of the book. As far as pacing goes, Cornwell really knows how to vividly narrate a battle. As always, the story is full of useful bits of information about weaponry, armor, and fascinating battle strategies of the time.
The violence is narrated extreme graphically. Absolutely no punches are pulled here. Eyeballs are popped, blood gushes from helmet visors, groins are cleaved with axes, all manner of appendages are shattered and broken and smells and sounds are described with the same attention to detail. So, be ready.(less)
This is a tightly focused narrative about a rage virus outbreak in New York City. It is told in third person and alternates focus between 3 or 4 diffe...moreThis is a tightly focused narrative about a rage virus outbreak in New York City. It is told in third person and alternates focus between 3 or 4 different US Army soldiers of varying ranks. I went into my reading of this knowing that it wasn't going to have a single protagonist, which I think helped. When read with this in mind, the book is very honest and unpretentious. A lot of military jargon and soldiers' names and rank is thrown in, which made things a bit hard to follow at times, but didn't hurt the story overall. The book has a lot of good strengths, one of which is the narration of action, which is interspersed with enough of a glimpse into the thoughts of the "protagonists" to give a good sense of their motivations and how this outbreak is affecting them. The soldiers portrayed in this book are not all flawless, dedicated stoic heroes, but they're not all gung ho maniacs either. The book seems to focus in on the number of characters it does in order to show a variety of ways in which the outbreak changes these soldiers and how they react to the prospect of having to mow down their own citizens. The outbreak forces them to examine what it is to be a soldier, who exactly it is they "serve" and how far they will go to follow orders, or conversely how easily they will turn tail and look out for themselves. Technically speaking, there was a fair amount of glaring typos and editing errors that broke the rhythm pretty frequently, but didn't cripple my reading too badly.(less)