A superior story entertainingly blending the facts of the Irish Rebellion with the fictitious Henry. Doyle tells Henry's story with extraordinary craf...moreA superior story entertainingly blending the facts of the Irish Rebellion with the fictitious Henry. Doyle tells Henry's story with extraordinary craft, developing the background of the Irish cultural struggle against the British as well as creating an intriguing character to follow.
The adventure, humor, sentiment, history, and development of each really construct an interesting story. Henry's connection to his father and adventures in the Irish city and country are informative, but just plain exciting to read. From rubbing elbows with Michael Collins to refusing to call his wife anything except Ms. O'Shea, from bombs and bullets to peglegs and sewers, A Star Called Henry constructs a world of enjoyable sentiment and trilling adventure. I read the whole thing in a weekend...couldn't put it down.(less)
Julian Barnes presents a witty yet tantalizingly frightening vision of te commodifying of culture and the jump into the chasm of hyperreality. Ripe is...moreJulian Barnes presents a witty yet tantalizingly frightening vision of te commodifying of culture and the jump into the chasm of hyperreality. Ripe is Baudrillardian examples of "the substitution becoming the reality," England, England provides an enjoyable excursion into the future. The story employs an artfully balanced cast of characters, provocative discourse on history, memory, culture, and the implications of each for our future. I enjoyed Barnes's witty dialogue as well as his depiction of big-business, manipulative entrepreneurs as also deeply motivated and personable beings. The book is both entertaining and philosophical, which I consider the two essential to good reading. (less)
Complex and intriguing from beginning to end. Not only does Danielewski creating an unique haunted house thriller, but he compounds the basic story wi...moreComplex and intriguing from beginning to end. Not only does Danielewski creating an unique haunted house thriller, but he compounds the basic story with layers of perception, characters, and even ergodic text. We read the book as edited by "the editors" who edit the book from the manuscript John Truant constructed based off of notes he found inside of old man Zampano's apartment who made the notes from a documentary film made by the owner of the haunted house, Will Navidson. You can see already the complexity of the layers through which the story is presented; however, using different fonts, colors, writing styles, and story lines, Danielewski makes the shifts between each character easy and entertaining, focusing primarily on the tale of the mysterious house and John's interpretation of Zampano's interpretation of it. Oh, and Zampano is also a blind man who obviousy could never have "seen" the film he reports on, and the film technically doesn't exist...
The plot is at once mysterious and thrilling, craftily developed along many lines. When the 4 and half minute hallway appears and the house lures its curious owners into its bizarre anti-realm, the reader likewise is drawn into the story's mystery. There is a certain tension that runs through the piece -- not one constructed of fear or anxiety, but of utter curiousity. A thrilling, intellectually stimulating read! (less)
I had no idea Bobby Fischer was such a jerk. As an amateur chess player, I had always held Fischer aloft as an American hero, but now after actually r...moreI had no idea Bobby Fischer was such a jerk. As an amateur chess player, I had always held Fischer aloft as an American hero, but now after actually reading about his skills and exploits, I can hold a much more accurate picture of him. The book does a meticulously thorough job elucidating the political, cultural, and social aspects surrounding the great World Championship of 1972. The details are rooted in anecdotes, character descriptions, loads of primary sources, and a comprehensible approach to the complex events.
Although chess is fundamentally "just a board game," this book displayed how, at the Grandmaster level, it is as much a battle of psyches as of skills, as much a metaphor for ideological power as it is of mental dexterity. The antics of Fischer, and the gentlemanly sportmanship of his Soviet opponent, Spassky, make for great storytelling in which the guy we'd love to hate, the USSR, is really the more admirable of the two.
Amidst the obviously meticulously researched information and incredibly thorough portrayal of events and characters, the only defect is that the authors occassionally jump around from a particular line of description or narrative, making it difficult to follow. This is minor, however, and the largely objective and fundamentally formal tone covers over the moments of obviously biased perception. Overall, a thrilling informative work, enjoyable immediately for any chess lover of any nation.(less)
**spoiler alert** Entertaining, but pretty much just an inferior Lord of the Rings. The connections between the two were obvious, and since I already...more**spoiler alert** Entertaining, but pretty much just an inferior Lord of the Rings. The connections between the two were obvious, and since I already am a LotR fan, I found The Sword to be cliche and predictable. There were a few moments of originality and excitement, but only a few. For the most part, the text read like a melodramatic Quest fantasy that left much wanting.
The two major characters of the work, Shea and Allanon, were the two most undeveloped characters of the whole story. Shea, the Frodo-like protagonist, remains the least interesting and least deserving of attention. He is persistently overshadowed by more valiant and creative characters. Allanon, Gandalf's counterpoint, begins as a mysteriously foreboding Druid, but does extremely little throughout the text except help begin the quest for the Sword. His role disappointingly diminishes throughout the story, and he takes a surprising 200-page break from the action as soon as the real battles begin. This allowed other characters to take more prominent roles, but it seemed antithetical to have the wise, powerful, motivational Druid wandering a barren landscape alone while lesser experienced and knowledgeable characters attempted to run the show.
The thieves Panomon and Kelset are by far the most intriguing characters, primarily for their mysterious origins and ambiguous morality, although their motivation for adopting Shea's quest seems counterintuitive to their personas. Brooks' description of battle, particularly of the armies' attacks and counterattacks during the assault on Tyrsis, is energetic, depicting entertaining displays of the tactics employed by either side. Not quite the Iliad, but a respectable thrill of a battle nonetheless.
Overall, The Sword of Shannara felt rushed, sloppy, and cliche, as though Brooks wrote the story after reading LotR and just wrote, wrote, wrote with little forethought or editing. I am aware that there are other books involving Shannara, but am not interested in reading them. (less)