I won this book on a goodreads giveaway; the first one I've won so far. Fairly sure this is the author's first book, so I don't think I was expecting aI won this book on a goodreads giveaway; the first one I've won so far. Fairly sure this is the author's first book, so I don't think I was expecting anything amazing. But I did actually quite like it. In fact, as soon as Captain Jace Spade put on his eye patch and lit up his cigar, I decided it was going to be a fun read! There were a few parts where the writing came across a bit clumsy or unrefined, but I think thats understandable in a first book. However it didn't seem to matter so much, because the author had a great knack of story telling and adventure, and it all came through despite the slight roughness. I liked the characters, I like how the heroism was tempered with self-preservation. I loved how Genie the cyborg struggled with her programming and fought for her own free will. The battle and fight scenes were done really well I thought, I liked how we got a good visual description of things, and then everything was clarified through one of the character's own point of view. Because ashamadely I often struggle with battle scenes, because my visual imagination can't cope with it! But this was pretty easy to go along with. All in all, a good read. 4 stars :)...more
Let me start by pointing out that I'm already a huge fan of Sarah Monette. I love everything I've ever read by her. I suppose that could make me biaseLet me start by pointing out that I'm already a huge fan of Sarah Monette. I love everything I've ever read by her. I suppose that could make me biased towards her works, but I'd actually like to think that it only makes me more harshly demanding. Afterall, if I've rated most of her other works 5 stars this one has A LOT to live up to.
But oh look - ANOTHER 5 Star Rating. She's done it again! damn I love this woman.
Kyle Murchison Booth is a quiet, shy, reserved man; an insomniac with very little social life, and seems to spend most of his time at the museum where her works, cataloguing old books and papers. He does however stand out from the crowd, being that he is well over 6 foot tall and all his hair is mysteriously and prematurely pure white. And then add in a brush with necromantic magic that has in some way attuned him to the darker side of life, so that he's practically a ghost magnet. Well. He's certainly my kind of protagonist.
The Bone Key is a collection of 10 short stories (in which Booth is the first person narrator), most of which were originally published separately in various horror zines and publications. Obviously they can each be standalones, but they're much better collected together in one giant ghoulish smorgasboard. Apparently Monette's chief inspiration for Booth was Lovecraftian horror. I'm afraid I can't comment much on that, as I think I was born a little too late in the century and lovecraft completely passed me by! But honestly, this? This was some bloody good horror.
The best things about The Bone Key are probably also the worst things. Hear me out.. The Good: They're scary as f*ck. The Bad: They're SCARY as f*ck. The Good: The individual stories are quite short. You can get through them really quickly. I'd rather not be stuck in the middle of a horror mystery just at bedtime.. I'd 've never get any sleep! The Bad: They're short and they're over quick. Yes they're that good.
The Doctor and Rose 'trespass' on a human prison planet, and as punishment they get locked up themselves. Rose is in Juvie pretty much, and The DoctorThe Doctor and Rose 'trespass' on a human prison planet, and as punishment they get locked up themselves. Rose is in Juvie pretty much, and The Doctor is banged up in a prison for aliens, where he has to bunk up with two Slitheen, and made to work on research and development (futuristic prison labour!). This was even a bit better than the last doctor who I read - Doctor Who: The Clockwise Man, although, I don't think think I can push it up to 5 stars, because it's a tv-tie-in, not a literary masterpiece.. is that mean? :P The doctor who was very definately ninth doctor, totally well done on that. I got a bit fed up with the Slitheen in the series, and by the time I could actually say rexacoricafallipatorius I was totally bored of them. But they're a bit better in written form, I guess it's because the writer gets to be as creative as he likes without worrying about budgets.
The Doctor and Rose take a trip to 1920s london, and end up stuck there and entangled in a mystery, when someone steals the tardis. The story was realThe Doctor and Rose take a trip to 1920s london, and end up stuck there and entangled in a mystery, when someone steals the tardis. The story was really well thought out, very good as a mystery/whodunnit style that makes me want to read more detective novels! I love the clockwork elements; the clockwork have been my favourite throughout the new doctor who series, it's almost steampunky. I thought the characters were pretty well written, contrary to other reviews on this book, I really could see it as Doctor Nine and Rose. Maybe it was well written or maybe I have christopher eccleston's voice stuck in my head? Anyway, 4 stars! I'm glad I picked up the boxset, onto the next one!
It's 1976, and the world's population has been wiped out by an unknown affliction. Robert Neville is the last man alive. Immune to the plague by someIt's 1976, and the world's population has been wiped out by an unknown affliction. Robert Neville is the last man alive. Immune to the plague by some trick of fate, he is left alone in the world, with nothing but an unescapable will to continue living.
After dark, the dead population come to stand outside Neville's boarded up home, to taunt and torment him. He keeps them away with garlic, crosses and mirrors, lest they come after his blood. During the day he goes through houses staking the people as they lie comatose in their beds. His nights are sleepless, and his days are bleak and lonely. Eventually he turns to investigating the disease, mainly as something to do, basically teaching himself the biology from scratch, and trying to bring scientific reason to vampirism.
Matheson's writing is really just amazing. For the majority of the book, Neville is entirely alone, just doing whatever is necessary to survive, and the majority of the dialogue is just Nevilles own crazy internal thoughts. And for that to continue for so long, and yet to be the complete opposite of boring.. it was exciting. It's so good in fact, that I read the entire book in one go, and I don't often do that.
I had previously seen the movie (the Will Smith version), which I actually liked very much, don't flame me! But this book of course is quite different. And then someone had explained the plot of the book to me, after I saw the movie, but despite this, I still found so much in the book that was just unexpected.
(view spoiler)[The one point that I'm left confused on, is whether Neville survived or not, I just can't get my head around it. For those people that have read the ending it might be clear to you. But I just can't get past the fact that this book is the point of view of Neville, it's almost as if he wrote it. And how can he tell a story if he is no longer alive? I would love to ask Matheson if he did it this way on purpose, to make me confused, or whether it's just a writers trick to have his protog tell his story from beyond the grave.. (hide spoiler)]
Additional Warning: If reading the new SF Masterworks edition, Do not read the introduction before the book, it's a bit too spoilerific, it would have been better at the end of the book as a review.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Alexia Tarabotti, is a half-italian, allegedly unnatractive, past-her prime (at 26) young woman. Living in Victorian britain. Who has nothing left forAlexia Tarabotti, is a half-italian, allegedly unnatractive, past-her prime (at 26) young woman. Living in Victorian britain. Who has nothing left for her in life, but to escort her younger and more eligible sisters to parties that she has no interest in (apart from the food, or lack thereof). She also happens to have no soul.
Then Alexia gets accosted by a hungry vampire in the library, and inadverntently kills him while fending him off. Vampires aren't actually suprising in this version of victorian society, nor in fact are werewolves. But what is mysterious is that the vampire was not sired by any other vampire, and was untrained and mostly unaware of his origins. This is the mystery. And that seems a good point to introduce Lord Connal Maccon, Alpha of the local wereworlf pack, and head of BUR (which stands for something pompous to do with paranormal investigation or beurocracy or spies or something). Maccon is apparently big, gruff, scottish, etc, everything that is expected of an Alpha werewolf. And Alexia and he don't get on at all, which is to say, they're blatantly denying the mutual repressed attraction for one another. Adventure follows.
Suprisingly, I gave this book 3 stars. I actually liked it. But I feel like I shouldn't have. I think this is similar to the reaction that some people have when you mention 'twilight' to them, they don't want to admit that they might actually have enjoyed it, or be tempted to read it if they hadn't, and their reaction is always over-emphatically "No, that stuff is awful". Well I rated twilight 5 stars, and I actually stand by that unashamedly, but this novel is different, this must be My version of the twilight dilemma. What I mean is, I feel slightly ashamed of my 3 stars. While I was reading it, my notes (yes I write notes now while reading) were largely about what was annoying, or just plain wrong about the book. And yet I ended up enjoying the thing anyway. I feel like a little bit of a literary failure.
So what was wrong with it? Well where to start.. Alexia is a spinster apparently, we get told this repeatedly, despite the fact that she's only 26 and as such is far from being past child-bearing age. Either this is part of the 'relate to the heroine because she's apparently unnatractive and unworthy but she proves them wrong' trope. Or the author just really loves the word 'spinster', like she loves all other unnecessary words being thrown about, without regard to conventional use or grammatical correctness, because it feels all victorian or something.
Many people have claimed that the book is very 'Austen', No no no no, it's not Austen at all. Thats the kind of thing you might say if you thought you knew or liked Austen, just because you've seen the crappy new Pride and Prejudice movie, or heaven forbid.. bridget jones diary. No it's not Austen. Not any more than Terry Pratchett is JR Tolkien. Not to say that either is worth less than the other, but really, to compare them like that is probably to an insult to at least one of them. This is not Austen style writing, and it's not Austen style wit. It does have it's own brand of humor, and it goes for a faux-period comedic style of writing, that I actually enjoyed, but it's certainly in it's own class, not miss Austen's.
The one thing that was most jarring about the writing, and stopped it from being otherwise a fairly smooth read (despite ignorable grammatical errors), was the quantity of modern American terms used. I'm afraid to say that Alexia had 'jelly' on her breakfast instead of jam, and 'creamer' in her tea instead of just cream. Greatly spoiling the illusion of what was otherwise a fairly enjoyable alternate steam-punk victorian setting.
And so, it may have annoyed and irritated me like mad, it may have been stereotypical on the wallflower heroine/Alpha male hero romance front, Alexia's soulless state had a distinct lack of effect or involvement apart from one supernatural ability which could have been explained by any other non-explained-title, it may have misused and abused the english language.. But I admit. I enjoyed the damn thing. Because if I get over it, it's just fun, and it's got cool steampunk type things, and it's kinda quirky and it grows on you even if you really hate it, similar to a grumpy scottish werewolf I suppose.
Jhereg is a fantasy with a sort of reverse murder-mystery twist; where the protagonist's dilemma is not 'Whodunnit?' but 'How do I do it?'.
Vlad TaltoJhereg is a fantasy with a sort of reverse murder-mystery twist; where the protagonist's dilemma is not 'Whodunnit?' but 'How do I do it?'.
Vlad Taltos is a skilled assassin, but his latest target is a little tricky to tackle and a little hard to find. But luckily Vlad has a small cadre of friends of varied talents to call upon, including his assassin wife, and his psychically bonded pet jhereg (a sort of miniature dragon).
Vlad is also living proof that not all assassin characters have to be darkly brooding, friendless loners. And the banter with his pet jhereg shows how lighthearted a character he can be. Not that he doesn't ever have questions about what he does, but the overall tone is quite light. I suppose in a world where death is not generally a permanent state, this certainly makes some sense. Most assassinations, (if not done with a morganti weapon) can be easily remedied by a sorceror, and the assassination serves more as a threat or a public humiliation than anything else.
Brust has built an interesting world for his series. The incredibly long-lived race of dragaerans, with their occasionally pointed ears, and love of sorcery are reminiscent slightly of elves. But their infighting and their tendency to be not always good guys certainly makes them different. Normal humans do live quite comfortably in this tumultous empire, but are often looked down upon by the 'superior' dragaerans. Vlad himself is a human, but has set himself up quite well, and made some good allies. One major reason why I'm likely to read more of this series is to find out just how Vlad is such an ally of questionable dragaerans like the character Morollan. Hopefully later books in the series will explore Vlad's past in greater detail.
In summation, this is a lighthearted yet detailed fantasy romp, with some good worldbuilding and a troop of interesting characters. If a little tiny bit deus ex machina in places. Recommended to fantasy lovers, especially if you like antihero types....more
Just the other day, I discovered an astonishing fact: Scott Lynch keeps a Live Journal.
This is just not possible.
Scott Lynch is not a mere mortal liJust the other day, I discovered an astonishing fact: Scott Lynch keeps a Live Journal.
This is just not possible.
Scott Lynch is not a mere mortal like you and I. He should not keep a blog. He should not be seen at conventions. He should not have relationships with other writers. He should not live anywhere mundane and earthly like Winsconsin.
Scott Lynch is not a man, he's a legend. His books are not written by mortal hands. They are written with unicorn hair quils, inked with dragons blood, suffused with the breath of elves, carried to us by the hands of angels, who float on sunbeams drifting across the universe to us from far distant galaxies.
Thats why they take so bloody long to arrive.
The plot: The city of Camorr is a fantasy city reminiscent of a mediaeval venice. Composed of several islands and networked with canals; from the filthy squalor of the slums to the shining spires of elderglass. Street thieves, pickpockets, gangs, merchants, priests, alchemists and nobles all packed into one interesting city. Locke Lamora and his group of gentlemen bastards began as thieves, but were taught to be something better and brighter. Now they spend their time conning noblemen out of their riches, and conning Capa Barsavi into thinking they're still just honest street thieves. Locke and gang are in the middle of their biggest, most elaborate con job yet, when the elusive Grey King decides to use them in his own nefarious games.
Thoughts: Locke is one of the best anti-heroes I've read. He has a wit to rival that of Tyrion Lannister. And his ability to plan so intricately and meticulously, with every contingency prepared for, and with twists upon twists, is just awe-inspiringly beautiful. The lure of the character is that even the omniscient reader doesn't know what Locke ultimately has planned until it all unfolds, and he does it with such a hillarious sarcastic wit too. But don't worry, Locke is saved from the terrible fate of becoming a Gary Stu, by being remarkably not at all tall or handsome or strong. And by the fact then when he does get foiled in his plans, things have a tendency to go horribly messily wrong.
The story is told in a really interesting manner, as an alternating series of flashback episodes (Locke's childhood learning his trade as a con-artist) and 'present day' episodes (The gentlemen bastards current con job). At first I was inclined to be a bit frustrated by this, as each part ended just as it was getting really interesting and flicked to the alternate time. But the brilliance of this soon becomes clear because each flashback links directly to the next 'current day' episode, for example, showing how locke learnt a particular trick of the trade that will shortly be useful in the present con-job.
The Lies of Locke Lamora also contains one of my absolute favourite fantasy tropes; that of the ancient but long-lost, highly advanced civilisation which has left behind some mark upon the world, but on which very little is known. In the world of Gentlemen Bastards there are structures made of elderglass, a magical, beautiful and super-strong glass; including impossible tall towers. The citizens happily make use of elderglass, and some claim to understand the properties, but yet no one knows how it is made and who made it. Did I mention I love this device in fantasy novels? As if Locke's fantastic personality were not already enough to keep me reading, the mystery of the elderglass and it's alien origins is sure to keep me begging for sequels.
In summary: I loved, loved, loved this novel. It was just all shades of fantastic. Highly recommended to any fantasy lover.
This particular cover had on it a shining recommendation from George R.R. Martin himself, so that should tell you particularly how good it is. Because everyone knows that GRRM's books come from another Galaxy too. If you're a fan of Tyrion Lannister - you're probably going to like Locke Lamora too! ...more