If you are new to the Deryni series, go out, buy/borrow every book in the series and read them all back-to-back-to-back. IMHO, they are the very bestIf you are new to the Deryni series, go out, buy/borrow every book in the series and read them all back-to-back-to-back. IMHO, they are the very best in fantasy/medieval/semi religious/mystical fiction.
I am saying this to let you know how I feel about Kurtz and her books. This book is NOT set in the Deryni universe and as such I was a little disappointed. That's not fair to this book and I freely admit that. YMMV.
This book is set in the late 18th century around the time of the birth of the United States. It's a fictional account of how somethings might have happened in the life of General George Washington. Because of movies like "National Treasure", there has been some recently interest in that time period and what if any role free masons may have played in the birth of this nation. If you have doubts, pull out a dollar bill and look at it. The masonic symbols are there and hard to deny. Truth be told, after I read this book, I went to Wikipedia and read about the House of Stuarts and the transition from the Stuart monarchs to the Hanover monarchs in England.
Pros: In classic Kurtz style, it is meticulously researched, accurate in historical details (obviously except where she took liberties for the sake of the story) and tells rich stories of the lives and the development of the main characters.
Cons: It is not set in the Deryni universe. (Grin) Some people hold the stories and legends surrounding the birth of our nation as almost sacred and maybe offended by the supposed involvement of the free masons in our nation's birth. (though to those folks I would say, "This is a work of fiction!")...more
**spoiler alert** This is a very entertaining book in the usual Grisham manner. It is however somewhat different from the more pure "legal" novels tha**spoiler alert** This is a very entertaining book in the usual Grisham manner. It is however somewhat different from the more pure "legal" novels that he has written. It is more akin to "The Broker" or even the "The Firm" in that it involves a man on the run. I would say that if you enjoyed these 2 books, you'll probably enjoy the "The Partner." If you didn't, you probably won't.
Pros: I loved reading about people who use their wits, and clever plans to outwith their enemies and survive on the run. Alas, [SPOILER ALERT!] he ends up getting caught and the rest of the novel is about his legal maneuvers as well as the doings of his partner in crime.
Cons: 1. Unlike the more purely good guy that the protagonist in "The Firm" is, this protagonist is not so purely good. (as wasn't the protagonist in "The Broker.") The people he's running from aren't really "good" either, but I was ambivalent about wanting him to get away with his misdeeds. So again, I had mixed feelings when the protagonist gets caught. (This is really not a "con" per se. It may be just that Grisham knows how to create complex characters.)
2. I found the ending abrupt and bizarre. I freely admit that I had to stifle a "What the heck?" reaction as I read the ending. You may decide that it was a "just" ending for a man such as the protagonist, but I found the ending too implausible and abrupt. I almost feel like Grisham was going to write a couple more chapters to set the scene up, but got tired, busy, whatever--and said "publish it." I am NOT happy about the ending. I really don't care whether he gets his just desserts or not. I just don't think Grisham set the scene properly for such an ending. Very strange... I would have given this book 4 stars except for the ending....more
This is classic Crichton. He picks a controversial topic (in this case Biotech/Genetic Manipulation run amok (or even science in general)) researchesThis is classic Crichton. He picks a controversial topic (in this case Biotech/Genetic Manipulation run amok (or even science in general)) researches it meticulously, and writes a chilling, thought provoking, highly readable story about it. BUT, I have some reservations...
1. If any topic that Crichton writes about interests you, buy his books and read the bibliography section in the back. He is one of few novelists that I've read that has done such extensive research. Want to know about Global Warming? Look at the bibliography in "State of Fear." Want to learn about Nano Technology? Look at the bibliography in "Prey." Want to learn about genetic science? Look at the bibliography in "Next." Frankly, I didn't agree at all w/ Crichton's position on Global Warming, but you can look at the science that Crichton used for his research and decide for yourself.
2. Crichton knows how to tell a compelling story. He generally knows how to tell a great story and hold a reader's interest until the very end. HOWEVER,
1. It is Crichton's style to simultaneously tell several mini-stories at the same time and then tie them all together at the end. When these seemingly disconnected bits come together to reveal the whole picture at the end, it is a very satisfying moment. Unfortunately, I didn't feel that the disconnected bits came together very well. The disconnected bits stayed... well... disconnected. What I was left with was a bunch of unresolved vignettes. UNSATISFYING! I can sort of stretch and twist to make the different story lines come together, sort of, but it really didn't pull together for me.
2. It seems to me that Crichton is getting quite preachy lately. Granted, the Dr. Ian Malcolm character (played by Jeff Goldblum in the movie) gets quite preachy about the dangers of playing god with nature in "Jurassic Park," but instead of letting the reader draw his/her own conclusions about the folly of man trying to play god, he explicitly comes out and preaches in the back of "Next" and also makes it quite clear that he thinks Global Warming is based on a lot of junk science in "State of Fear"
Even in "Prey" he didn't get so preachy about the dangers of nano-tech so I'm not sure why Crichton is getting so preachy lately. I generally tend to agree with Crichton about the hubris of man trying to play god, but I was annoyed by all this... YMMV....more
Skipping all of the philosophical babble, the characters battle over the question, "Do the ends justify the means?" especially in terms of solving geopolitical problems?
I've never seen ethics applied quite in this way and this becomes a novel idea.
Actually, this is a very important question that we must all ask ourselves because, it applies to our current events directly.
President Bush most likely lied through his teeth to the American people about WMDs, Saddam's connection to 9/11, etc... (even one of Bush's former aids said so. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/29/was...) But, I have no doubt that both he and the neocons who supported the invasion of Iraq said that the *ends* of protecting American national security justified the *means* of lying to the American people.
Ahem, please excuse my brief jaunt off on a tangent. But anyway, my point is that this is NOT just an abstract philosophical notion. It actually has a profound effect on American foreign policy as well as on our daily lives. Ludlum does a skillful job incorporating this battle of ideas into this novel....more