OK, this series has come into its own. I've liked each book one star more than the previous. Halfway through book 3 I had already decided it is gettin...moreOK, this series has come into its own. I've liked each book one star more than the previous. Halfway through book 3 I had already decided it is getting 5 stars, but had a niggling doubt that it may just be because I was getting more into the characters (those who actually still survive). The doubt was misplaced. The thing kept getting better. I'm going to re-read the last 400 pages as soon as I finish $$
The odd thing is, my buddy put the series down after this book, saying that he understands it is all part of GRRM's grand plan, but he just wasn't interested in how the author was going about it. Me? I'm on that train. Pass the Kool-Aid.(less)
Markedly better than the Book 1 (3 stars); not quite 5 star material yet, but within striking distance. I just didn't feel enough of that frisson. Hop...moreMarkedly better than the Book 1 (3 stars); not quite 5 star material yet, but within striking distance. I just didn't feel enough of that frisson. Hopelessly addicted. Continuing series without delay.(less)
Let me state at the outset I'm not very big on YA. This book highlights the reasons, starting with the lack of depth or detail in world-building or re...moreLet me state at the outset I'm not very big on YA. This book highlights the reasons, starting with the lack of depth or detail in world-building or research. If the world setting is going to be either uninteresting or, as is this case here, vague and obscure, then the story better really pop. Instead, we are treated to a long treatise on the emotions and misguided impressions of an insipid young girl. I was bored, even frustrated by Katniss' cluelessness about her own feelings for Gale and Peetah, and especially theirs for her. So even though it was much better, this aspect reminded me too much of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight. It probably didn't help that my edition has a vapid Meyer quote right on the back cover. I realize they are trying to sell more books, but it is a double-edged sword.
There was so much potential in having powerful opponents fight it out and play against one another, which is usually right up my alley. Unfortunately I just didn't care for the execution of this plot. What can I say, I'm obviously not the target audience. I may be too jaded by certain dark tastes, which are not for everyone, and portray violence in a much more viceral and bracing way. I'm thinking about how various other genres handle bloodshed and death - Cormac McCarthy, Charlie Huston, even Stephen King make you feel the impact and horror of it, or otherwise revel in it a la Johnny the Homicidal Maniac or Richard Calder. These I enjoy much more. I realize I have press-ganged 5 different genres into service here, but as I stated at the outset, I'm not big into YA.
I still enjoyed it well enough, dwelling above only on the negative. Hence the three stars, though I did seriously consider two. The makeshift partnership with Rue and not losing sight of the evil perpetrated by the Capitol in conducting these Games injected a needed note of seriousness that earned that 3rd star.
PS: Kids in the woods hunting, trapping and hacking away at each other with knives, spears, swords and a bow and arrow is known as fantasy, not sci-fi. A shower with 100 settings and some fancy outfits cannot make it sci-fi.(less)
As I have at least briefly reviewed all the books in this little-read series, I may as well continue, even though I don't have that much to say. The p...moreAs I have at least briefly reviewed all the books in this little-read series, I may as well continue, even though I don't have that much to say. The poor writing was annoying, but less so than in previous books. Still overwhelmingly too many characters, though we did kill off a few here. The cast of characters at the end reads like a phone book. And why can't we spell normal names normally? He's really just adding a bunch of letter h's and y's to modify names like "Jasper" to Zhahspyr, or something equally convoluted.
Anyway, less action, but this was actually a good thing. It was understated, you know, less is more. And the battles we did have really counted.
The other good thing is we're actually starting to make some progress on the technological front. Rifled artillery, ironclads, 130-lb exploding shells. . . the next book even promises steam engines. I mean, now we're getting somewhere. I was starting to worry in book 4 we'd never get out of the Master and Commander era. Elements of military sci-fi are showing up, even though we're firing muskets instead of hetlasers and HVM.(less)
Please note this is not a proper review. This is a GRRM reader's guide. In order to help anyone living in the 21st century understand some of the lang...morePlease note this is not a proper review. This is a GRRM reader's guide. In order to help anyone living in the 21st century understand some of the language in A Song of Ice and Fire, I have supplied the definition, in modern english, of a number of recurring archaic, borrowed, or downright obscure terms. None of the common words on the right exist in GRRM's vocabulary. Instead he unerringly opts for the term on the left. It's actually kind of cool that these remain consistent over 5,000 pages.
comely = attractive wayn = wagon lichyard = cemetery craven = coward/cowardly mummer = actor thrall = slave jape = joke cloak = coat rushes = rug leal = loyal capon = chicken smallclothes = underwear grandsire = grandfather sept = church (of the seven gods) milk of the poppy = morphine little and less = not much half a hundred = 50 paramour = lover maid = virgin teat = breast bedchamber = bedroom privy = bathroom style = title
Also, I am going to make a guestimate of the Westeros equivalent monetary system, although I could be way off here: 1 copper groat = $0.25 1 copper star = $1 1 silver stag = $100 1 golden dragon = $10,000
Finally, I would like to add with compliments to karen's review: You know it's hard out there for a (less)
Alas, the poor writing got the better of the better of this book. There was one good sequence when Merlin rescued Empress Sharleyan from an ambush of...moreAlas, the poor writing got the better of the better of this book. There was one good sequence when Merlin rescued Empress Sharleyan from an ambush of no less than 200 temple loyalist assassins, but almost everything else is affairs of state. And it has gotten simply ridiculous to have to re-read each and every event 3 and 4 times from different perspectives. Oi vey!(less)
There are a couple more epic naval battles - especially entertaining is the last 15 pages, when High Admiral Lock Island finally unleashes the most re...moreThere are a couple more epic naval battles - especially entertaining is the last 15 pages, when High Admiral Lock Island finally unleashes the most recently invented Charisian weapon on the Navy of God. But Christ, is it ever a long, slow slog through the other 600 pages. Here is a recommendation to easily find the battles, which can be a challenge in 3600 pages - they have 1 to 3 section breaks per page, as opposed to 1 section break every 3 to 5 pages.
I'm going to keep reading this series because I'm addicted, but I can't recommend it to anyone who isn't already a fan of naval history or David Weber in his space-opera mode a la Honor Harrington series. Oddly, I was not a fan of either of these before, but I'm really hooked by the Civilization-building aspect. I continue to be annoyed by the hokey writing and subtle conservative bent (example: the unredeemably, ultra-evil arch villain's name is Clyntahn, a thinly veiled Clinton) but whatever.(less)
Staggeringly uneven. I maintain that the ideas behind it, the principle, and quite a few scenes are profoundly good. But it keeps tripping over hokey...moreStaggeringly uneven. I maintain that the ideas behind it, the principle, and quite a few scenes are profoundly good. But it keeps tripping over hokey writing and too too too much verbiage. I want some realistic, succinct dialogue. I don't want every conversation to be approached with the characters intimating what they're about to say, and then describing their every thought on every thing, aloud.
We were steadily cruising towards a 5 star rating for the better part of 300 pages, and I thought Mr. Weber had finally hit his stride. But it kept wallowing without ever reaching a climactic battle. The Church is still at least a year away from producing its monster fleet, which will obviously just get "reduced to driftwood" within a day of meeting the Charisian galleons... let's get on with it!
I'm all for the "civilization" aspects of this series, the history-building. It's cool when our heroes press their technology advantage to crush their foes under 3,000 rounds of 30-pound shot. It's cool when characters are glacially slowly let in on ancient secrets of Old Earth. But c'mon, how many thousands of pages are we going to dwell in the cannon-firing naval era? There was such promise early on, in Book 1, when it seemed we'd progress through recent, modern, and future technology and warfare, to finally reclaim the stars and destroy the Gbaba. But at the current rate of advance, that won't be until Book 37. Here's hoping the series will eventually deliver on its sci-fi pedigree. (less)