Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a "real-life" love story kind of reader. But I decided to give this book a chance for a variety of reasons, and...moreAnyone who knows me knows that I'm not a "real-life" love story kind of reader. But I decided to give this book a chance for a variety of reasons, and wound up loving it. The premise is rather depressing - it's about a man trying to deal with the tragic and sudden death of his wife - but it quickly became a combination love story/story about conflict between mother and daughter that had you rooting for all parties involved. It was also a stark reminder that people always have secrets, and we don't always know people as well as we think we do. Even seemingly perfect people have a past, even if they don't share it.
And if the twist was a little obvious, who cares? I don't know that she was trying to hide it all that hard.
I hate to be a whore for Stephen King, but this book was amazing. King's ability to balance plot with subplot is masterful - the love story could have...moreI hate to be a whore for Stephen King, but this book was amazing. King's ability to balance plot with subplot is masterful - the love story could have been intense on its own, but mixed in with the attempt to stop as assassination just raised the stakes and made the story riveting. As far as his concept of time travel goes, well, I'd say that's up there with the greats. Realistic consequences and ever increasing paradoxes or "harmonies" made the time travel really believable.
Also something I've long admired with King's writing is his ability to connect stories and events - the most obvious of course was the connection to Derry and It, still my favorite of King's stories.
Finally, King creates a disturbing dichotomy between nostalgia for the "Good Ol' Days" of the 50s and 60s and the reminder of the fact that the Good Ol' Days weren't so great for everyone.
A fantastic take on one of our country's watershed moments, and an inspired view of time travel. Kudos once more, Senor King. (less)
I'm a sucker for a book with a dragon on the cover, and bane is one of my favorite words, so I picked this up at the library the other day. And it was...moreI'm a sucker for a book with a dragon on the cover, and bane is one of my favorite words, so I picked this up at the library the other day. And it was solidly OK. I did enjoy it. The characters were engaging and certainly had their own style, voice, and distinct personalities. It certainly passed the "can you tell who's speaking without attribution" test - everyone was unique in their own way.
Plot-wise, I thought this book had a huge amount of potential. It was a great premise, and I felt like the world and the overall conflict were very well thought through and developed. It was the execution where this book fell flat. The plot was very convenient. Characters just knew things, and made assumptions and guesses that struck me as outside the bounds of character knowledge. Another book where characters were force fit into plot elements, despite the characters themselves being strong. And then the final climax of the book just fell flat. The conflict was so well set up, but then was stepped away from in favor of minor conflicts. In the end, the major protagonist/antagonist conflict didn't even really happen - a minor protagonist defeated the major antagonist in a quick, almost effortless way. Very unfulfilling.
That said, I'll probably read other books in the series, because the concept has a lot of potential - and I loved the new look at dragons. (less)
It was a good book, and read in the context of the historical climate of the time, it was really interesting to see how Harper was so thoroughly engag...moreIt was a good book, and read in the context of the historical climate of the time, it was really interesting to see how Harper was so thoroughly engaged in the conversation around race and Reconstruction. That said, as an independent piece of literature, I did enjoy it - but it was very symbolically over the top and not even remotely subtle. It was a good story with heartfelt characters - but they were almost caricatures of themselves, and their conversations with nothing more than political dialog of the time.(less)
This was a very formulaic fantasy story, with a single twist - it was about the bad guys instead of the good guys. This was a great imagining of what...moreThis was a very formulaic fantasy story, with a single twist - it was about the bad guys instead of the good guys. This was a great imagining of what orc culture would be outside of the rather one dimensional interpretation of J.R. Tolkien (no disrespect to the master intended - they were monsters, not characters in Lord of the Rings). They have everything that makes them scary - violence, strength, aggression, anger, and fierce fighting ability - but they also had real feelings, and a deep sense of camaraderie that I really appreciated.
The writing certainly wasn't literary, but it got the point across. The fight scenes were vivid, if a bit repetitious and, dare I say, formulaic? But the simplicity of the writing makes this a very accessible story, and one that would probably be good for beginners to the fantasy genre. The strongest piece of the writing I felt was the dialog, with each character adopting a unique voice that really showcased their personality.
Storywise, Orcs was again straight-forward. The story stuck to the formula - the troop of orcs needed to find a certain treasure, then had to overcome some sort of quest to retrieve it before the evil queen could, and there were two or three battles, with cliffhangers about whether certain characters would die or not. But the formula worked, and I kept reading, whether they were fighting trolls or vicious mer-people or religious fanatics. In the end, I still wanted the world to be saved from the evil queen.
Then I got to the end, and the story fell apart for me. I won't give away exactly what happens, but I was not at all happy with the choice of the main character. I considered it the magical equivalent of deus ex machina combined with a main character fleeing his responsibilities. Sorry, Mr. Nichols, but you copped out on that one.
All in all, I would consider this a good fantasy beach novel. Nothing special, but an enjoyable, mindless read. Follows all the formulas - but you know what? Formulas can work. (less)
It’s disappointing to find a book as well written as “The Dragon’s of Babel” that was so lacking as far as pure story and character goes. This book ha...moreIt’s disappointing to find a book as well written as “The Dragon’s of Babel” that was so lacking as far as pure story and character goes. This book had so many things going for it. Swanwick has a great narrative voice, and a very clever way of describing this world that he created. The mixture descriptive humor, clever use of real technologies, and unapologetic use of magic made so many passages in the book a delight. And the creativity of the world was just brilliant – I loved every location that I was introduced to, and felt like I had really been there. I mean, what else could a fantasy novel be lacking, right?
Well, character and plot continuity. The main character, Will, was just not believable at all. There was no character development as the story progressed. No question – Will changed throughout the book. But the changes were abrupt and almost random. Will didn’t grow with his experiences – his personality and even skills changed to fit the needs of the current situation. There was no shred of the original young man who began the story in a small village. The story just followed different people who happened to also be named Will. How did he keep acquiring all of those new skills? And why was Esme in this book?
Then there was the plot, which wasn’t really a plot. It was more of a collection of different scenarios thrown together, without any common thread, other than the fact that they followed this ever-changing character Will. I like a bit more of a story arc. If I wanted to read a series of unrelated events, entertaining though they were, I’d go get a book of short stories.
The big plot-twist at the end? Couldn’t possibly have been more obvious.
With the character and plot disappointments in mind, I do recommend The Dragons of Babel to any true fantasy fans. It is a well imagined world, and I particularly like the treatment of magic, not as something mystical that needs to be explained, but as a reality of life that just is. And like I’ve said, the writing itself is excellent – I just wish the same care had been put into the character and story development. (less)