I had this vague memory of reading this back when I was a teenager, and enjoying the atmosphere, so I thought I'd try it again now that King has finisI had this vague memory of reading this back when I was a teenager, and enjoying the atmosphere, so I thought I'd try it again now that King has finished the series. All I can say is that I've either confused it with another book, or I was using a different brain back then; this is awful.
The style is overblown and over-sylised. The language is angsty and melodramatic. The villain wears a black hooded robe and capers madly while cackling and setting elaborate traps for no reason; I don't think he has actually twirled a moustache or tied anyone to railroad tracks yet, but it's early days still. Our hero is an arse-hat teen male empowerment fantasy. He's dark and mysterious and never shows emotion. He goes by a title - "gunslinger" - instead of a name. He carries guns when no one else has them, so he's powerful. He wanders into a town so poor they eat dirt, flashing gold coins and not asking for change, so he's rich. And yet he doesn't need his money because the womenfolk of this amazingly poor town want nothing from him but sex in exchange for the information and supplies he needs; despite being silent and cold, he is also irresistible.
All of which might not bother me that much, but he's also boring and evil, so I'm not inclined to cut King any slack. Boring because, as much as the language of the book tries to sell him as hard and enigmatic, his actual words and actions come across as wooden and two-dimensional. He doesn't care about anyone in this town; only his quarry, the man in black. He barely notices the woman he's sleeping with, except as a source of information about the man in black. He doesn't even care about the pregnant madwoman (who is also a priest, in case that pushes some additional outrage button for you) that he rapes with the barrel of his gun. He doesn't do it because he particularly wants to - or in spite of particularly _not_ wanting to, because after all he has no emotions, ever - he just does it because it's the most convenient way of torturing her into giving him information about... the man in black. The end of _that_ scene is where I put down the book, with no desire to go back. It's like King actually said to himself "well, I need to get my readers emotionally involved in this book, and I don't want to have to write any plot or characters with any depth, so how can I offend as many people as possible?" And he doesn't even do that particularly skillfully; not that I wanted any more details, but it's more a laundry list of offensive factoids about his victim than an actual description of an offensive scene. Possibly because we weren't supposed to notice that our "hero" was raping a woman with his gun? Yeah, sorry Stephen; that little detail did creep through the cloying prose somehow. If someone shot the Gunslinger in the head at this point in the story, I would stand on my chair and applaud.
So I'm only 80 pages in and I'm giving up, but I've had enough. So far we've had no plot whatsoever, but I can't imagine this character doing anything that I'd care about anyways....more
I'm sorry to all of you folks for whom it's a nostalgic romp through your childhood, but I read this for the first time as an adultThis is pretty bad.
I'm sorry to all of you folks for whom it's a nostalgic romp through your childhood, but I read this for the first time as an adult, and it is not good. The characters are a series of not-even-two-dimensional cardboard cutouts that are caricatures of themselves:
That's all you need to know about them; and indeed, all you seem to find out about most of them. There are too many of them, and most are entirely unnecessary to the story; it's like reading a phone book. They're presumably all here because they were present in the original role-playing game this was all based on, because you can hear the dice rolling behind most of these pages. They're mostly all just dumped on the reader as "old friends reuniting", but their shared history doesn't have any depth or weight to it. The elf is there to provide brooding angst; the other non-humans are strictly lame slapstick comic relief.
The setting is a typical fantasy tourguide listing of the Environments section of the Dungeon Master's manual: tree village, mountain, forest, swamp, underground lost city, elven city. We get as little detail about most of it as we get about the characters moving through it. The enemies are over-the-top, mustache-twirling, puppy-kicking evildoers who are stupid and easily-tricked; our heroes defeat them by dumb luck most of the time anyways. I've noted the inherent racism in epic fantasy before, but it's particularly strong here: murdering sentient goblins who are unaware of your presence is considered good fun and good riddance, and everything non-human besides the noble and wistfully-romantic elves is comically stupid.
The plot seems to center around one of the characters having stolen something off-camera, in a dream, before the book even started, and the efforts to get it back from them. Various powerful beings - including a few gods - tell our heroes where to go and what else to steal, and then they just do it. But it's all ok! Because the people telling _us_ what to do are shiny and bright! And the people telling those guys what to do are stinky and dark! Get em!
I have to admit to not finishing this - I seem to have lost the thing 3/4 of the way through - but I think I'm fine with that; it didn't seem to be getting any better.
(Favorite moment of Fantasy Physics: Two giant buckets connected by a pulley. Caradmon holds down the lighter of the two with all his strength, mighty thews straining, then jumps in the bucket along with another large heavily-armoured man, and the bucket shoots upwards, freed from his immense gravity-defying power!)...more
This was surprisingly good, for something based on a wargame. Some good characters, a bit of rollocking action, a reasonable plot that only fell apartThis was surprisingly good, for something based on a wargame. Some good characters, a bit of rollocking action, a reasonable plot that only fell apart in a couple of places if you looked too close (Wait; some of our heroes will sneak painlessly into the city under siege, while the rest of our heroes go... to exactly the same place, via trials and tribulations? That seems... odd.)
It felt like some sort of point was being made by the fact that all three main PoV characters, along with one of the two main villains, were female. Nothing wrong with that - and I honestly think that if the author had gone to the same effort of depicting a largely egalitarian society, and then made all the main characters male, it would have been just as slightly odd. And in fact I think the author did a good job of differentiating the hero from the leader from the spy as separate individuals, instead of just that cardboard archetype of the "woman warrior" you get in so many fantasy novels. No, I have no problem with the characters being female, and I wouldn't even have had any problem with the author using that to make a point; the only reason I even mention it is that something about the way it was presented made it _feel_ like the author was making a point... which then never quite materialised. (For the record; I like it better without it being some sort of moral, so it's just the presentation that came across a little off. Can't really even quite put my finger on why, so maybe it's just me.)
Doesn't look like the author has done any more of these (shame, I would have liked to follow-up on one or two of the characters) so I'll have to check out his other stuff....more
The one in three parts, where Vlad meets Khaarven.
I still love Brust's language (and the stilted 3-musketeers dialogue just cracks me up, though it miThe one in three parts, where Vlad meets Khaarven.
I still love Brust's language (and the stilted 3-musketeers dialogue just cracks me up, though it might annoy others.) But it suffers from not really having a plot, which is the exact opposite of Brust's normal fare. I enjoyed reading it, but felt like nothing much happened by the end of it....more
If, by some strange chance, you are reading this having read nothing else about this book - not even the Goodreads summary - then don't read anythingIf, by some strange chance, you are reading this having read nothing else about this book - not even the Goodreads summary - then don't read anything else before you read the book, if you're going to. The true setting of these books is... well not really a spoiler in the "sudden reveal at the end of the book" sense, but worth not knowing. And because it's not really a spoiler in the classical sense, everyone seems to feel free to spell it out everywhere in their summaries and reviews. Basically, Wolfe does a lovely long, slow reveal over the beginning of the first book - it's not hidden information, it's just not discussed outright - and he does so artfully enough that it's a shame not to watch it unfold.
The story itself is fascinating, but somewhat slow-paced and marred by some jerky discontinuities, where the narrative skips over large sections of activity with no explanation. Some of the skipped details are even referred to later as if we'd read about them, to the point where I started to wonder if my copy was missing chapters. I liked some of the characters quite a lot, but mostly they don't actually _do_ anything; they just tromp back-and-forth across the city having long drawn-out conversations with one another, while things happen to them. Wolfe builds a wonderfully-detailed world, but the passivity of the characters and the jarring starts and stops meant it was only 3 stars for me....more
I really wish they'd chop that bit about (view spoiler)[starships (hide spoiler)] out of the Goodreads plot summary. It's a shame to drop that on peopI really wish they'd chop that bit about (view spoiler)[starships (hide spoiler)] out of the Goodreads plot summary. It's a shame to drop that on people who haven't read it yet.
It's not that it's a spoiler in the sense of a major plot twist that you wouldn't otherwise see coming, but Wolfe does such an artful slow reveal of the setting that it's a shame to foul it up by telling everyone where they'll end up in advance.["br"]>["br"]>...more
Not Pratchett's best - there didn't really seem to be much of a plot, just lots of classic Pratchett comedy, and cameos from old Discworld charactersNot Pratchett's best - there didn't really seem to be much of a plot, just lots of classic Pratchett comedy, and cameos from old Discworld characters - but bad Pratchett is a damn sight better than a lot of other people's good....more
This started out slow, flirted with hokey (space vampires!), but then ended up quite good. Probably 3 1/2 stars, but we'll round up.
My biggest problemThis started out slow, flirted with hokey (space vampires!), but then ended up quite good. Probably 3 1/2 stars, but we'll round up.
My biggest problem with the beginning is that it's a very similar setup to Zelazny's This Immortal, but doesn't pull it off nearly as well. Which is... what? Praising with faint criticism? It's a high bar, so not quite hitting it is not exactly the worst thing ever. But it quickly diverges, and gets interesting in it's own right....more