Book V in the A SONG OF FIRE AND ICE series seemed long to me. Plot elements that took up a ton of pages didn't seem to further the overallLoved it.
Book V in the A SONG OF FIRE AND ICE series seemed long to me. Plot elements that took up a ton of pages didn't seem to further the overall series story at all, and could have been cut altogether without affecting anything but the book's length. I think that was GRRM working through the comprehensive world he's built up over the course of that series. There is just so much information in that series that there are things he must address, and, for me, at least, that took away from the lightning excitement of the first three tomes.
A KNIGHT OF SEVEN KINGDOMS was free of that intricate web of existing plot. There is a little historical info that is referenced in A SONG OF FIRE AND ICE, sure, but for the most part GRRM got to start fresh. New garden, new seeds, and without the deep roots or long creepers that he must tend as his series wears on. This book had the feel of a single character's story in A Game of Thrones, when readers (like me) were discovering his world anew.
A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS is a blast. Martin does a fantastic job at something difficult to many writers — convincingly showing the world through a point-of-view character who isn't that smart. "Dunk the Lunk" could have been a cliché dummy slugging his way through the world, but he comes across as an endearing, brave character who is possibly "too dumb" to take part in the evil plots of others and is therefore the most honest man by default.
Plus, heraldry! That's right, kids, we have knights and shields and swordplay and jousting and blood and mud and all the things that make for a grand fantasy tale. ...more
As I have never served in the armed forces, as a police officer, or had to use lethal force in self-defense in any encounter, I'm probably missing theAs I have never served in the armed forces, as a police officer, or had to use lethal force in self-defense in any encounter, I'm probably missing the real benefit of this book. Col. Grossman is exhaustive in his approach to helping those to protect us. I would guess that any cop/vet/serviceperson would get more benefit from this book than I did, and I got quite a lot.
For fiction writers, this is a wonderful book that helps get into the mind of people who use lethal force. The reality of combat is not the boom-dead-done approach of movies and most TV shows. Combat can change people (and characters) forever. I drew an enormous amount from this book that will go into my future stories.
So why only three stars? The repetitiveness of the content. Grossman seems to treat this book the same way he would train people for active shooting situations, by repeating the same information over and over. Despite the stellar content, it started to feel like a college final essay where the author was ten pages short of the assigned length, and started pasting things already covered but rewording them so they at least looked like original content. The repetition was so dramatic it was difficult to finish the book....more
Yet another strong piece of work from Lord Grimdark. Very enjoyable book, enough so that I hope to make time for the next two in the trilogy. Would haYet another strong piece of work from Lord Grimdark. Very enjoyable book, enough so that I hope to make time for the next two in the trilogy. Would have been a five-star for me were it not for some coincidences that pushed things a bit too far for me, considering gritty reality is the big thing that draws me to Abercrombie's work. Still, I know crazy coincidences are a huge part of fantasy, and Joe's work in particular, so I was able to roll with it. ...more
Monday, December 21, 2015: Folks, I just submitted the ALONE outline to my editor at Del Rey. The outline is 45 freakin' pages long. That might indicatMonday, December 21, 2015: Folks, I just submitted the ALONE outline to my editor at Del Rey. The outline is 45 freakin' pages long. That might indicate a huge book, but probably not —it means I've broken the plot down in specific detail. I don't want to choke the book with excess verbiage, so the challenge will be to make those 53 chapters tight and punchy.
I will say this: the ending is big. That's the ending of both this novel, ALONE, and the entire Generations Trilogy. I know it's pitched as YA, so forgive my French, but the shit's gonna get real.
As AC/DC would say, if you want blood, you got it ...
It is difficult to review this book without spoilers, and since I hate spoilers in all forms, I will keep this short. I would say if you like StephenIt is difficult to review this book without spoilers, and since I hate spoilers in all forms, I will keep this short. I would say if you like Stephen King or Peter Straub, this is right in your wheelhouse.
First of all, though, this is one of the most interesting main characters I've ever seen. It's not a spoiler to say this guy has an eidetic memory. Now sure, dozens (if not hundreds) of authors have used characters with photographic memories, but I've never seen the mechanism for remembering spelled out in such clear and fascinating terms. The main character's instant recall becomes a storyteller's device for building drama and suspense. It's fantastic.
Without spoiling any of the story, here's all I can say about the rest of the book:
A flat-out modern-day thriller with a wild scifi concept that delivers. F. Paul Wilson has been doing great work for a long time, and this book is noA flat-out modern-day thriller with a wild scifi concept that delivers. F. Paul Wilson has been doing great work for a long time, and this book is no exception. PANACEA reads like a movie — fast scenes that deliver key information, moving the story forward. I'll be shocked if this isn't immediately by a big studio. ...more
The second book in the Joe Ledger series. Three parts science, two parts gore, five parts testosterone, all mixed with gasoline and nitro and moonshinThe second book in the Joe Ledger series. Three parts science, two parts gore, five parts testosterone, all mixed with gasoline and nitro and moonshine and poured into a flask made of dynamite. This is serious summer blockbuster stuff, folks. ...more
Such a fun book. Vampires and Nazis — what could go wrong? An isolated keep full of ne'er do-wells from the Third Reich, but oh man do they get theirSuch a fun book. Vampires and Nazis — what could go wrong? An isolated keep full of ne'er do-wells from the Third Reich, but oh man do they get their comeuppance at the hands of a very old bro who is pissed as hell that someone be all up in his hizzouse.
The only knock on this book is the dated damsel in distress plot line, the unbelievably beautiful woman who, for most of the book, is little more than a cowering, confused lass that can't come to grips with the reality in front of her. This ain't no Dana Scully, gang. But, the book was published in 1981, so I think you have to give it some slack as a product of the times. Our heroine isn't completely helpless, that's for sure.
All in all, I highly recommend this book. I loved it. ...more
The best yet in this series. Empire of Ivory delivers several gut-punches. I am so happy I started this series after it is mostly done, because afterThe best yet in this series. Empire of Ivory delivers several gut-punches. I am so happy I started this series after it is mostly done, because after the cliffhanger ending in this book I would have been fit to be tied. As it is, I'm already listening to Book V, Victory of Eagles....more
It's very rare for me to read more than one book in a series, simply because I have lots of author friends and I wanThis series is a goddamn delight.
It's very rare for me to read more than one book in a series, simply because I have lots of author friends and I want to experience their works. Usually I read book one and move on to the next, simply because of time limitations (I will grow old and someday die with a huge to-be-read pile sitting on the nightstand next to my death bed, because people are rude and keep writing good books). Novik's Temeraire series, however, has taken over my iPhone for running, walking, and my apartment has never been cleaner because I find excuses to "pick up" so that I can listen to the audiobooks a little more.
Like war stories? Like dragons? Like books about deep, unshakable friendships? This is for you.
The only flaw so far is that both the human main characters (Lawrence) and the dragon main character (Temeraire) are both "good people" to the core and don't seem to have any personal flaws. They are thrust into enough morally ambiguous situations, though, that it makes up for it....more
Book II of this wonderful series takes Lawrence & Temeraire to China and introduces a new dragon/human culture. Book I was straightforward in presBook II of this wonderful series takes Lawrence & Temeraire to China and introduces a new dragon/human culture. Book I was straightforward in presenting the concept of an "air force of dragons" in the napoleonic wars. Book II delves a little deeper, using dragons as a metaphor for the abolitionist movement and exploring the definition of what it means to be a sentient being deserving of inalienable rights. Novak doesn't get preach at all with this, and delves into the concept from the perspective of someone who lived in early 1800s rather than the more elevated views of the modern day.
And, dude, dooooooood1> freakin' dragon aircraft carriers. Come on, man — Novik is the bomb. ...more
I am so utterly, completely, absolutely jealous of Novik and this book. Adding an "air force of dragons" to the Napoleonic wars is a brilliant idea, aI am so utterly, completely, absolutely jealous of Novik and this book. Adding an "air force of dragons" to the Napoleonic wars is a brilliant idea, an idea that Novik absolutely knocks out of the park. Hard-hitting military action combined with a deep bond between two brothers in arms (one happens to be a dragon). If you loved Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight series, you will love this book.
As an author, I really, really, really, really wish I'd thought of this idea first.
I'm already on book three of the series. I have them as audiobooks, which are exceptional.
Update 1/27/2016 — WIN A COPY OF ALIGHT Goodreads is giving away copies of ALIGHT! GET SOME!click here to enter to win one of 24 copies. Deadline is FUpdate 1/27/2016 — WIN A COPY OF ALIGHT Goodreads is giving away copies of ALIGHT! GET SOME!click here to enter to win one of 24 copies. Deadline is Feb. 6. Enter! Share the contest with others! Be a good human!
Update 12/10/15: I am borrowing a page from my author-buddy Michael J Sullivan and posting updates about my books in my "review" of the book itself. Seems to work well for him.
ALIGHT is in the final copyedit phase. I'm watching the talented folks at Del Rey catch the last few little typos and small continuity errors (at least I hope they are the last errors ...). Sometimes as an author, you are too close to the story, and you've read it so many times you miss small things. The fresh eyes of a copyeditor go a long way to ironing out those wrinkles.
I'm really exited to bring you this book. I busted my hump on it to create something that breaks the mold of the typical trilogy — this Book II is a story unto itself, not a place-holder between Book I and Book II. I want to keep you guessing right up until the end.
I hope you dig it! If you're looking forward to ALIGHT, add it to your "to read" shelf....more
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Lovely storytelling that touched me deeply. Even though I know the story of Foggy and Matt, the way they spun this stBeautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Lovely storytelling that touched me deeply. Even though I know the story of Foggy and Matt, the way they spun this story had me riveted. ...more
I can see why this book produces such mixed reviews, but, as a writer, I loved it. Percy has a talent for description, for painting pictures of peopleI can see why this book produces such mixed reviews, but, as a writer, I loved it. Percy has a talent for description, for painting pictures of people, settings and creatures that dance through my thoughts. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Holter Graham, and Graham's performance may have played a factor in how much I enjoyed Percy's lyrical writing style.
There are monsters galore in this a Lewis & Clark expedition across a shattered. There's even a Sacagawea (in this book, simply "Gawea") in the mix to guide them across a landscape bled dry from dozens of disasters.
Percy plays fast and loose with the science of evolution, but the rapid mutations leading to entirely new species aren't the meat of the story, they are there to hang a backdrop of our familiar landscape turned alien and hostile. His description of how Things Went Horribly Wrong, however, feels rivetingly accurate, as if the process could begin tomorrow. That might have been my favorite part of the book.
If you're in it for pure action, yeah, that's there, but if that is *all* you want it might not be for you. THE DEAD LANDS is very much a "literary" story and there's ample amounts of breathtaking writing. Percy's chops are sick.
I can sum up my feelings for this book in one final sentence: I really hope there is a Book II. ...more
An absolutely spectacular tale of a stranger in a strange land, an epic example of world building at the highest scale, and a truncated end so defeatiAn absolutely spectacular tale of a stranger in a strange land, an epic example of world building at the highest scale, and a truncated end so defeating and abrupt it seems clear an editor called Mr. Clavell one day and said, "James, look, it's 1600 pages long and we can't sell that, so cut it down to 1,200. How? Hell, I don't know, how about you chop off the last 400 pages that include the giant battle you've been building up to in the first thousand pages?"
I wanted to love this book, and I did, but after 52 hours of audiobook listening to hear the entire build-up brushed away in three paragraphs, I was mad as hell.
This book was an unquestioned five-star up until the end.
I'm not an expert on the "Grim Dark" style of fantasy fiction, but I have to think this book heavily influenced many writers of gritty fantasy. This book is brutal and unforgiving. I suspect it may have even influenced George R.R. Martin, due to the extensive palace intrigue, the brutal deaths of characters major and minor alike, and even the use of the phrase "Winter is coming."
So if you dig fantasy with complex relationships and shifting political alliances, you'll love it. If you live for that final battle scene that closes out character and plot arcs, you'll hate it.
Also, Mr. Clavell was clearly trying hard to accurately show the overly polite culture of feudal Japan. However, the repetitive use of phrases — which, again, probably accurately reflect dialogue in that culture — really wore me down by books end. "Please?" "Understand?" "So sorry." "Neh?" "Please, forgive me." I can't count the number of times I heard these phrases, over and over again. Even Ralph Lister's fan-fucking-tastic reading of this book couldn't pull those burrs out of my listening saddle.
As for the broader scope, it seemed to me Clavell took great pains to show the strength of women in the Japanese culture. The subtle manipulation of men, other women, even entire governments by individuals with very little "real" power was another element echoed in Martin's A Game of Thrones. Women don't't serve in the military, are often little more than property in this story, and yet they plot and scheme and divide just like the men who wage war.
Finally, I really enjoyed his ability to paint a truly alien culture, and show the difficulty of not only a language barrier, but entirely different ways of thinking. Every group thinks every other group are "barbarians." Characters struggle to understand not only words, but motivations and behaviors that seem like they belong to a different species. Clavell knocked this part of the book out of the park, and was probably my favorite element of the entire tale. ...more
Mid ninth-century. Here come the Danes! Vikings invade Britain, there is much carnage and bloodshed. This is rooted in real history, using at least soMid ninth-century. Here come the Danes! Vikings invade Britain, there is much carnage and bloodshed. This is rooted in real history, using at least some actual events to anchor the story. The historical angle is what Cornwell is famous for: giving you a first-person view of the battles and events that shaped history. I loved his SHARPE series and learned a great deal about the Napoleonic wars by reading those books. Fascinating stuff.
In typical fashion for Cornwell, he lets you see the hopes and motivations on both sides a sprawling conflict. Our main character is a Uhtred, a Northumbrian boy who is taken captive by the invaders, and raised to be one of them. Uhtred spends much of the book conflicted as to where his true loyalties lie. His father was killed by the very group that takes him in, that makes him part of their tribe. Uhtred learns the Dane's way of life, style of fighting, learns the joy of the longboat, lives and loves in that tribe's way. But he is constantly drawn by his roots and his birthright: is he one of the conquerers, or is he destined to lead his true people in rebellion?
In a book that takes place before England was formed, we see how cultures clash and merge — invaders become natives, to later be invaded by others.
If you dig history, fantasy, medieval tales or all of the above, I recommend it. ...more