Excellent kick in the butt for writers feeling unmotivated. It works best as a refresher to Pressfield's excellent The War of Art, given that the concExcellent kick in the butt for writers feeling unmotivated. It works best as a refresher to Pressfield's excellent The War of Art, given that the concepts broadly overlap. This will make a great book to reread every six months or so. It is super short and can be read in less than two hours....more
I'll admit the first few chapters left me wondering if this book was going to be any good, but it picked up after that and actually I like it quite aI'll admit the first few chapters left me wondering if this book was going to be any good, but it picked up after that and actually I like it quite a lot. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to parents. In fact, I'd say don't wait for your kids to become teenagers. I'd say 10 is probably a better age for taking this book to heart....more
I'm a fan of Stainless Steel Rat and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and this book is clearly inspired by both (probably as well as others). It wasI'm a fan of Stainless Steel Rat and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and this book is clearly inspired by both (probably as well as others). It was a quick and easy read, fun enough, and certainly I laughed in places. It just didn't hit it out of the park for me. The protagonist is supposed to be like that free spirited (and alcoholic) aunt or uncle whom you admire for their outrageous adventures, but I just didn't find him endearing enough to really get behind. Your milage may vary, so if you enjoy sci-fi humor then it's probably worth giving a try....more
**spoiler alert** I can't remember the last time I finished a book that left me so impressed with the quality of writing while simultaneously disappoi**spoiler alert** I can't remember the last time I finished a book that left me so impressed with the quality of writing while simultaneously disappointed. The Magicians has so much going for it. Grossman paints a believable protagonist and a highly engaging setting. Unfortunately, the plot is engaging only insomuch as we want to know how it affects the protagonist. This is where the book falls flat. The protagonist begins as a totally self-absorbed 17 year old and ends up seven years later (or longer) as a self-absorbed adult.
While the plot keeps advancing, no emotional arc mirrors it. The only reason we care about the plot is insomuch as how it affects our protagonist's ability to finally get his shit together. At about 60% of the way through the book when he's more self absorbed and self destructive than ever, I actually wrote back to people I'd emailed to recommend the book to say, "Uh...maybe hold off on that." Through the remainder of the book as things went from bad to worse I kept thinking he'd have to hit bottom and finally grow up. Sadly, I was wrong. For such strong writing, emotionally the book was a big letdown....more
As a reader, I have a complicated relationship with Michael Stackpole. I am a fan, and have been a fan for well more than a decade and probably approaAs a reader, I have a complicated relationship with Michael Stackpole. I am a fan, and have been a fan for well more than a decade and probably approaching two. I own and have read many, if not most, of his books. With that established, I feel that his previous two series started off strong but ended less d. After feeling let down twice in a row, I wasn't in a great hurry to start yet another series. I've had this book on my "stack" (in the Kindle) for quite a while and made no effort to fast-track it. But here we are.
According to Goodreads, I've read 34 books this year. I liked nearly all of them. A few of them I loved. But reading this book was a like a cool glass of iced water after several hours in the pool. Surrounded by the "water" of so many books, I didn't realize how thirsty I was for truly compelling writing until starting this book.
In many ways the plot starts off training-wheels simple. The setting--while "fantasy"--is the American colonies prior to the revolution but with the serial numbers barely filed off. The protagonist is an English officer (again sans serial numbers) of the Horatio Hornblower mold. But such is Stackpole's skill that within a few chapters I was totally invested in the character. Eventually the plot takes a sharp turn that is decidedly more fantasy-like, and the hero's trials and tribulations ensured I couldn't put the book down. Here's hoping the subsequent books live up to expectations set by this one. If so, it'll be a helluva ride. Hope springs eternal.
Firehurler is a well written book, both in terms of plot and writing technique. I subtracted a star only because the book would have benefitted from aFirehurler is a well written book, both in terms of plot and writing technique. I subtracted a star only because the book would have benefitted from an editor forcing the author to trim the word count. There were times when the book's pacing suffered due to runaway setting descriptions. It read like valuable worldbuilding that really served no purpose in the final draft. We don't need a page of description about a particular shortcut home where the cutpurses like to prey, if in fact (spoiler alert) no cutpurses attack said person walking home at that moment or at any point in the book. Several times throughout the book I encountered this type of well written, unnecessary detail reading like the proverbial Chekhov's Gun, and it always caused me to skim paragraphs ahead to where the plot picked up again. Rarely did I miss anything affecting the story such that I had to back up.
In the great scheme of things, my complaints are minor though. I'm still giving the book 4 stars and look forward to reading the next one in the trilogy....more