In totality a solid and good, if not very good, installment. It feels very much like a story arc pivot as we reverse the course of events of the previIn totality a solid and good, if not very good, installment. It feels very much like a story arc pivot as we reverse the course of events of the previous book on two tracks (no spoilers, just tease). As with many reviewers I agree this book is somewhat long, with certainly more padding than desired in the first half, and too much Grayson angst. Regardless of Weber's offshoots into the background of Peep politics (which are rarely relevant but I guess are based at determining motivation and characterization of Peep battle commanders before they are generally doomed and blown to bits) and a somewhat turgid wading through personal emotions of professional military and political characters in an attempt to add love interest and strife the story hangs together and a sketch of the grandness of the Honorverse is achieved with the goal of having the main story in the foreground.
My ebook is 1500+ pages, I reckon a little overlong and not always compelling but the last third brought it home with gusto and left me in the best situation a large scale (and older, this was 1999) series can have - a desire to read the next book and finding out what happens in Weber's universe.
Honor continues as the infallible dues ex Honor> but by the eighth book, if you've not accepted this trait, you shouldn't be reading. ...more
Really dithering between three and fours stars for this book as the ending wasn't truly four star quality - not that there was anything *bad* about itReally dithering between three and fours stars for this book as the ending wasn't truly four star quality - not that there was anything *bad* about it at all, but there was a lack of conviction and involvement at the ending that is a little sympathetic to the grandness of it all.
Let's start off by saying this is a straight up good read from the beginning in terms of Culture - big ships, crazy Mind names, stunning explosions, epic settings, ten thousand years of history (including Culture insight), some tie-in to earlier books, limited SC-involvement (those guys are too dues ex... for every story), twisted motivations from the bio bad guys and it starts as a helter-skelter read (not, in many ways, too dissimilar from the tempo of Surface Detail). There is little doubt if you like Culture books you won't love reading this. However you might end up feeling a little deflated by the end. This is not like the pointed nihilism of Matter or the frustration of the "what was happening" of Surface Detail (this book is setup as a chase/mystery so you can't really complain about that). Instead I feel there were two main issues.
Firstly, this ended up being very much a book where the Culture ships (their Minds and avatars) were the heroes and protagonists. The main character, Vyr, was along for the human perspective and the ride but did not, at the end of the day, contribute much. Similarly the secondary human protagonist Tefwe had little except her humanity to contribute. It takes the doubt out of the story when the Minds are their omnipotent selves, we haven't seen them in credible threat in the entire series (which is the whole sort of point in one way).
Secondly, a couple of parts near the end read like loose, incomplete story lines, which is not my normal expectation of Iain Banks. (view spoiler)[The whole setup of the Zoologist came to nothing and seemed to be frittered away, and the Lady Macbeth treatment of Banstegeyn was almost surreal (plus he seemed deranged from the mid-point, with massive risks and evil-doing for little fulfilled return - was the Star renamed or what? (hide spoiler)]. It also has a sort of "rush" of events at the end with a little coda, but that's been the recent style of these books and is in part the impact of the "slow epic build" before a clash of gods (etc), but this style emphasizes the loose ends in a way as it seems like they are wrapped up hastily.
But there is still a lot of great stuff here, the scale of it all still sets the scene in a way someone who has read all of the books can't help wondering at even now (these ships are awesome and it still takes days, weeks, months, to get places), Banks crafts a solid book, the settings are foreign without being too weird (I'm looking at you Quantum Thief) and surprisingly altruistic and you just want to know what's going to happen. And when you put the book down you are torn three ways:
- read it again - gnaw desperately at something for 1-2 years until the next Culture book comes out - go pick up one of the back catalog and start reading it.
So I guess, in retrospect, I'm going to give it 4 stars.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Reasonably good story that I just couldn't fully get into. Sci-fi of the form "we'll tell a story in a wild setting using strange words and slowly youReasonably good story that I just couldn't fully get into. Sci-fi of the form "we'll tell a story in a wild setting using strange words and slowly you will put it all together" style except that either I wasn't in the flow, there weren't enough hints or I just missed stuff so didn't quite get it. This lowered the imperative drive for me - I was reading the story without aligning with any of the characters and was looking at the events at a distance (do I care about the city? or the zoku? who should I be rooting for? clearly we're playing the "hidden secrets" game with the main character (The Thief) so I'm pretty sure I'm not trusting _him_).
Off to read The Hydrogen Sonata now, Banksy often writes in that style too but in general there is the back catalog of the Culture and a track record of explaining it all enough that this style works there.
Circumstances made me take small bites of this book for a few weeks and it's general lack of compulsion did not drive me back. After the first consoliCircumstances made me take small bites of this book for a few weeks and it's general lack of compulsion did not drive me back. After the first consolidated reading today though, this book has to go.
Confusingly written by an author who is so excited about the intricate mythos he is interweaving the reader is left stumbling in a strange WTF until the initially awkward and forgivable female-teenager-POV starts to go just completely off base with some clearly specific, misogynistic and rapacious/barbaric tendencies (or just so pathetically overwritten and male-oriented it is beyond a joke). Don't read this, it's a dud. I have no inclination to try anything else by this author either. ...more
The saga of Panem through Katniss draws to a conclusion in this third volume.
Some spoiler comment follows so the brief synopsis is: Katniss continuesThe saga of Panem through Katniss draws to a conclusion in this third volume.
Some spoiler comment follows so the brief synopsis is: Katniss continues to be a less likable and engaging and whiny character and the plot mechanisms for the book become more transparent and convenient, overall this leads to an unsatisfying conclusion (regardless of storyline) and a lack of the overall page-turning imperative that managed to infuse the first volume and the "oh that's how it all works" interest in the second. The third volume is all about convenience and getting the story over with.
(view spoiler)[Let's just pull militaristic/Fremen/oh-that's-convenient District 13 out of our ass for this volume shall we? Let's just have the main character stumble from situation to situation and hospital bed to hospital bed more times than Mickey Spillane gets whacked over the head. Let's have every incompetent except maybe the main characters. Oh, and what do we call things mutts instead of mutations, why the random spelling, oh why? And what a soppy sloppy ending. (hide spoiler)]
If you are going to read the Hunger Games, read The Hunger Games, enjoy it. Stop there. Don't read Catching Fire, because whether you like it or not (I did) it forces you to read this (Mockingjay), which is poor.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Despite various comments to the contrary from friends and family, I liked Catching Fire as much as the Hunger Games. There is an increasing strain on
Despite various comments to the contrary from friends and family, I liked Catching Fire as much as the Hunger Games. There is an increasing strain on the setup as some questions start to be asked by the astute reader - one town per District, really?; how naive can Katniss be?; oh, that was all very convenient wasn't it? - but this is young adult and is no more a limited setup than other sci-fi classic such as Tripods or Logan's Run.
The ending was horrendously rushed and weak, and highlights the issue of running the storyline purely from Katniss' viewpoint so just enjoy the ride to the last ten pages, and don't think about it too much ...more
The Hunger Games rate highly due to its sheer enjoyability (sic). A somewhat linear and in most case predictable stAwesome page-turner/screen-flicker.
The Hunger Games rate highly due to its sheer enjoyability (sic). A somewhat linear and in most case predictable storyline still rallies you along from the first person perspective of Katniss. There is always the desire to find out what happens ext, and over time you start rooting for the protagonists.
I guess I can watch the movie now, and yes, I think I will read the next one. ...more
I'm sure the author hates the comparison but this is a fresh crime/thriller very much in the style of Ian Rankin's Rebus novels (especially the first)I'm sure the author hates the comparison but this is a fresh crime/thriller very much in the style of Ian Rankin's Rebus novels (especially the first). The similarities: Scotland, ex-military efficient protagonist, somewhat tortures past. The differences: Glasgow, not Edinburgh; 1946 not contemporary; semi-journalist not cop.
This book was a pleasure to read except in the gruesomeness of some of the plot elements (no spoilers) which serve to drive the story along but should make any sane and normal person go /yuck/.
A perfect thriller with page turning power I loved the Glasgow and Scotland references in general but feel that they were general enough in their scene setting that this book isn't just for ex-patriots or lonesome Glaswegians but would work well with anyone. In particular the post-World War setting was very interesting (ration books, trilby's, worn, shattered and damaged ex-soldiers) and I now wonder why it hasn't been used as a temporal setting before (only lack of reference to ongoing post-war elements such as Korea rang oddly but perhaps accurately in the less-global-news environment of the 40's) in more novels.
Shades of Aubrey and Maturin mid-series as Crucible begins with a easy setup to Brazil but detours to the Inca Empire. The majority of the book lives Shades of Aubrey and Maturin mid-series as Crucible begins with a easy setup to Brazil but detours to the Inca Empire. The majority of the book lives in the detour and with the Incas and it is not until the last thirty pages or so that the main characters are not victims of circumstance and even then there is a little sledgehammer happening with the bridge to the next book in the series. That is primarily why I find this Novik still somewhat lacking, the narrative is too often about dealing with events than driving them from the main character POV and I just find it somewhat unsatisfying. That said, Crucible of Gold picks the game up in terms of page-turning writing (no dragging here, and ok, it was an ebook but you know what I mean) and escalation of global conflict. In Novik's alternative reality, the Napoleonic Wars *are* a World War.
I hope the series continues the upswing and there is some conclusion to the twisted career of Laurence and to the doom of Napolean! ...more
I have read a lot of Mr. Banks. Ok, all of them actually, some more than once. Especially the ones with an "M" in the author's name.
I think StonemouthI have read a lot of Mr. Banks. Ok, all of them actually, some more than once. Especially the ones with an "M" in the author's name.
I think Stonemouth is probably really a 3.5 but given the slight dip in contemporary novels from Banks recently I will go with 4. Unlike other comparisons I feel the book has the clarity and crispness in describing contemporary Scotland very similar to Whit or Isis Amongst the Unsaved with the single person slightly insular perspective from A Song of Stone, although the comparisons to most of the Scottish books are fair.
Book reads well and is very engaging. There are a few minor downsides - pretty near the end, prior to the build to the climax there is a few page digression into philosophical and political pontificating that seems out of place and throws the pace, and the final ending is a little... Hollywood. Apart from that (and the occasional intuitive leap and general unwise decisions by the main character) the story holds its own and keeps you sold the whole way through.
Really not as good as billed. Starts strong and glories in being a solid worldscape with a few interesting characters. Writing quickly gets annoying tReally not as good as billed. Starts strong and glories in being a solid worldscape with a few interesting characters. Writing quickly gets annoying though with scattered storylines and many "not revealed" scenes that are later relevant to the story so even while reading them the motivations of the characters are unclear to you as the reader.
The middle was turgid followed by some really poor editing at about the 1/3-3/4 point where, unless I had majorly missed something, reference was made to events that I think might have been cut and many of the scenes felt rushed. End was moderately ok with a big Dues ex machina escape clause, so it's just as well I had lost affinity with the characters long before I got there.
I also realize I have started and stopped this book in the past, after a nagging déjà vu for the first 100 pages or so. So at some other time I have found something more interesting. This seems too harsh as it is definitely worth reading, especially for some more hard scifi after the enjoyable pulp of Honor Harrington and friends.
Setting: epic Concept: ok, but obscure so you might not like it Execution: patchy...more
Kvothe's saga continues to be told in the entertaining "story within a story" format but it feels likely is being told a minuteA very, very long book.
Kvothe's saga continues to be told in the entertaining "story within a story" format but it feels likely is being told a minute at a time. None of it is written badly, but the scope of the adventure (massive) and the level of pacing (glacially detailed) made this much more work than it should have been. Combined with some more personal irritations such as the challenges of an unreliable narrator, a main character who does not seem to be his age and seems very competent and respected in unreasonable circumstances; and a skill development that would make the hero of several separate books proud and I have become dislocated from Kvothe. This is particularly damaging given that the thrust of the saga is based only on him (so far) with allusions to a grander plan but now after two books (1082 pages in this one!) there is yet to be a relevant epic fantasy threat outside the main revenge plot line.
I'm glad I didn't have to wait four years for this, as I read The Name Of The Wind more recently as I think it would have been more disappointing in that context. ...more
A return to the Star Kingdom for Honor and a less grandiose stage than the previous story Flag In Exile. Like that book I struggle to fully give thisA return to the Star Kingdom for Honor and a less grandiose stage than the previous story Flag In Exile. Like that book I struggle to fully give this 4 stars and stop at 3, so shall we say 3.5? However I reserve the right to change.
This story is quite long and well paced, going at a fair trot over multiple set pieces that could have been climaxes earlier in the series (this is actually a nice touch, and actually the final climax isn't quite the biggest in the book) with good character development both on the side of the Manticoran's and the Peeps, and de-emphasizing Honor has helped address some of the jagged character development on her side.
The two main drawbacks of this series remains a fairly linear track with little setbacks that aren't themselves pivotal to the story line (despite her high stake situations there is rarely a setback, indeed the height of the stakes basically prevent a non-series-ending-fatality setback) and the character of Honor herself. She continues to be dominating and almost soulless and it is hard to have empathy. However this has been improving as the series continues.
(On a side note, ebook formatting was fine for this one)...more
Another solid Clockwork Century read from Cherie Priest. Definitely better than the Cheshire Red series this (now archetypal) steampunk series is fun,Another solid Clockwork Century read from Cherie Priest. Definitely better than the Cheshire Red series this (now archetypal) steampunk series is fun, tongue-in-cheek and not too demanding.
A welcome taste of a return to the Seattle of Boneshaker with several other cameos, the majority of the book is set in the general realms of New Orleans and introduces a few new characters and focuses on Andan Cly.
As my feelings are generally positive while not earth-shattering, the two main drawbacks for me are: firstly, like Hellbent there is a painting-by-numbers, nothing ever goes 'wrong', feeling to the story, this is now starting to detract from the writing; secondly there is a character element that is flung in late, adding little value or color purely for a commentary on social values. While the sentiment is good it adds nothing to the story and seems like a badly placed ad in a search results page. Not needed.
On the potentially-massively-positive-side there is a clue, nah, an inkling, of a potential arc that can lead to a major Seattle showdown in the future. Was this intentional? Will this be delivered on? Will it be epic? It isn't in this book, but if this book is in a major arc then consider it the episode written by the strong staff team and not the show runner, with little to it's detriment.
In short, if you enjoyed Boneshaker etc, then read this. ...more
After several dedicated reading sessions I managed to finish this before I had to make the difficult choice of taking it on vacation - I'm pretty sureAfter several dedicated reading sessions I managed to finish this before I had to make the difficult choice of taking it on vacation - I'm pretty sure it's 200lb weight would have damaged my baggage allowance and/or my back.
A thoroughly enjoyable epic saga that is a strange mix of Marx-brothers comedy characters and run-of-the-mill-but-good fantasy epic.
Consistently drawn with good pacing and benefitting immensely from being able to read all the volumes from start to finish I would think my only regret is not seeing the series in colour.
I received this as a gift, not sure I would ever have picked it myself, but a fine, fine, surprise.
While the sun never shines on a Rankin' Rebus this last installment manages not to instil the soul-searching bleakness of some of the prior RebuExit.
While the sun never shines on a Rankin' Rebus this last installment manages not to instil the soul-searching bleakness of some of the prior Rebus novels. There may be hope for humanity, Edinburgh and Scotland after all. Rebus; not so much.
Purely based on personal memories I recommend Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie. Anything will do but Carlton Hill and Knockin' on Joe and maybe Strangle Your Animal seem somewhat appropriate.
Don't read this as your first Rebus novel, don't feel you have to make it your last. Somewhat disappointed this didn't earn the fabled 5-star review, but a solid 4, solid Rankin, solid Rebus. ...more
Tighter than bloodshot this was a fast urban fantasy vampire story. Better than the intro to the series Hellbent tells a better story - if more tonguTighter than bloodshot this was a fast urban fantasy vampire story. Better than the intro to the series Hellbent tells a better story - if more tongue in cheek - with some arbitrary adjuncts. There are also continuing trailing threads for sequels and arcs which, as of November 2011, may never occur as it is currently a 2-book gig.
Don't take this book too seriously and it is a fun read, look for too much depth and you will come out wanting. ...more
Verging on 4 stars - indeed looking at my previous Honor ratings it probably is, or else I rated Field of Dishonor too highly.
A very enjoyable Honor rVerging on 4 stars - indeed looking at my previous Honor ratings it probably is, or else I rated Field of Dishonor too highly.
A very enjoyable Honor read; not too leaden with distraught Honor psycho babble and pathos. Although the book followed a general extended build to a multiple (!) climax the story trundles along quite well with no real sense of dragging (the length of time I took to read it was more based on my time than the book's speed).
Weber's trying to make some sort of comment about politics in here; but as I recall most of the books were written in the 90's (confirmed - thank you Wikipedia!) so it's not really worth sweating the modern parallels, let's just say he seems to be a fan of the infallible non-elected hereditary leader and highlights the failings of federalism and socialist welfare in a dramatic context that allows really big space battles and massive body counts in under 20 pages (book) and 5 minutes (story) time.
By this fifth book there is a sense of Honor being just a little "too good", despite Weber writing character and angst into her portrayal she does really pull it out of her butt rather too often to ever be in doubt (at this stage of the series anyway) of some sort of "it'll work out in the end" conclusion.
(in passing, this ebook returns to badly formatted scene transitions, which Weber uses extensively and effectively during moments of high tension, causing unnecessary confusion for the reader. this was prevalent in the first three books but not in Field of Dishonor so it's a shame to see it return)...more
Fine little steampunk in foggy London in the style of Sherlock Holmes in many ways. Catches most and more of the steampunk criteria (airships, zombiesFine little steampunk in foggy London in the style of Sherlock Holmes in many ways. Catches most and more of the steampunk criteria (airships, zombies etc) and a few nice twists. Writing was bit plain at times and not quite as fast a read as it should have been with it's short chapters and cliffhangers but pretty good. I'd certainly read another Mann in general or the next in this series....more
Somewhat to overladen in cliche and forced noir style for me; moderately interesting story with a lot of dangling hints (for what is now an extensiveSomewhat to overladen in cliche and forced noir style for me; moderately interesting story with a lot of dangling hints (for what is now an extensive series). Might suffer from being Buther's first Dresden story, maybe they hit a less forced pace later.
However, in short, a simple and fun read for urban fantasy fans....more
I read most of this book in last month. While the core of the story - the birth of the Forest Service and the Big Burn fire at the start of the 20th cI read most of this book in last month. While the core of the story - the birth of the Forest Service and the Big Burn fire at the start of the 20th century - is engaging I felt Egan meandered a little and was repetitive in some places. An engaging history, although somewhat depressing both in the politics of the day, lack of government support at the start of the Service and the morphing of the Service into the consort of the industry they should antagonize.
Worth reading if you spend time outdoors in the US, particularly the forests of the North-West. ...more
Not sure if a 3 is too ambivalent and this is a polarizing Kay book. I started off disliking it, but it clawed it's way back, but is by no means a staNot sure if a 3 is too ambivalent and this is a polarizing Kay book. I started off disliking it, but it clawed it's way back, but is by no means a standout. I think it also does not excel as being 'something different'.
Solid read, set in semi-modern day in the glorious blood-soaked south of France (because it's Europe, it's all blood-soaked). Slow going for a while, certainly the first half, lacking a rhythm and excitement of other Kay books. Once it speeds up in the second half it's a little too formula and as with several of his other books (last light of the sun and the end of the Mosaic two-parter) he has some characters that are a little too superhuman and situations that are a little too angsty.
Nice to see Dave and Kim back when the penny dropped (oh so late) although my memories of their story are probably from the first half of my life - time for a reread perhaps? ( the summer tree).
Somewhat satisfying ending, feel free to read this and Kay's other books. ...more