Though this installment has a bit of a downer ending (fortunately, this is resolved in the final book), it was still fun. I wish the motivations of thThough this installment has a bit of a downer ending (fortunately, this is resolved in the final book), it was still fun. I wish the motivations of the guy obsessed with traditionalism for witches and dragons and such had been explained, but that's really my only complain. Whereas I found the previous book, which was from Mendanbar's perspective, a little hard to get into, this one was fun right from the start. Morwen is a great character, and her cats are very real and very funny. Thus, I enjoyed this installment quite a bit. ...more
This was a very good book. While this is written in a style very similar to that of the actual Icelandic Sagas, it manages to have more psychologicalThis was a very good book. While this is written in a style very similar to that of the actual Icelandic Sagas, it manages to have more psychological depth and complexity to its characters. The story ends on a somewhat ambiguous note. It's in some ways a simple one, but it raises some interesting issues and is told in a way that forces the reader to decide how much they're willing to sympathize and identify with the various characters. It also contains themes and situations that are definitely still relevant to the modern day, though presented in a way that makes them seem natural in the Viking Age setting. The scale was somewhat different from the sagas, and overall I found I enjoyed it as much as them, though for very different reasons. The setting was a little bare, and though I know I could find books and other resources to learn about Viking Age Norway, I still wish there had been more details. All in all, this was a very enjoyable read and one that I think even people who aren't otherwise interested in the time period the novel is set in will enjoy. I definitely want to read more of Undset's work at some point in the future....more
This is a bit like Firefly, if it was set during rather than after a major war and Joss Whedon was even more kill-happy than he already is. The main cThis is a bit like Firefly, if it was set during rather than after a major war and Joss Whedon was even more kill-happy than he already is. The main character is a shapeshifter, though it at times felt like this concept was a bit underutilized. I liked how he had some natural weapons in addition to the shapechanging, though, and in general the way that humanity is more an umbrella term for a variety of genetically modified humanoid species than a single unified thing was pretty cool. The other characters were interesting, and I appreciate that Banks developed them a bit even when he killed them shortly after introducing them. I think I would have liked to see more than one major machine character, but hopefully they'll be a bigger aspect of the other Culture novels. The way discussions of the Culture and Idiran motives were integrated into the story worked fairly well, and though I'm kinda curious to see more of the Culture, I know it's the focus of a lot of the other books, and so I feel like the amount of time spent there in this book works fairly well. The action was quite well written, with combat especially towards the end written as hectically and confusingly as it would be in real life. I do wish there'd been at least one mission that went well, though. There were some elements, like Horza's shapeshifting and the Orbital, that aren't particularly new to sci-fi, but Banks made good use of them and didn't focus overly much on how they work - instead, they were used as cool parts of the story, which I liked. Over all, I definitely enjoyed this, and I plan to read the rest of the Culture novels at some point in the future....more
This was a fun read, but sadly not quite as good as the other Diana Tregarde books, especially considering that it's the last one in the series. ThisThis was a fun read, but sadly not quite as good as the other Diana Tregarde books, especially considering that it's the last one in the series. This time, Di has to deal with a bunch of high school students who've come under attack from a magical masquerading as a teenager. Sadly, a lot of time is spent from the point of view of the high school students, and they aren't as interesting as Di. Some of them do have powers, but they never really end up using them. Deke, the student who draws Diana into the story to begin with, is a jerk for a large portion of the novel, and though there's some magical reasons for his behavior, he never really acts like enough of a good guy for me to really like him. Monica, his sort of love interest, is better, what with her desire to be a writer and her difficulties dealing with both class and race issues. Still, Diana was definitely the most fun character aside from the villain, who was kinda entertaining to read about.
The plot is okay. Diana spends a lot more of this book metaphorically stumbling around in the dark than she did previous books. She doesn't seem to be able to figure out what's going on as well as she did in previous books, and there isn't really a strong enough reason why. Thus the sense of investigation and mystery is somewhat lost. There are still some fun scenes of magical conflict and intrigue, but over all this is sadly the weakest installment in the series, especially since it has a fairly unsatisfying ending. This book especially makes me wish there was more material with this character - at this point, all I've got left to read is a prequel novella....more
This was a fun book. It definitely starts off much more quickly than the previous installment of the series, since it opens with Diana's perspective.This was a fun book. It definitely starts off much more quickly than the previous installment of the series, since it opens with Diana's perspective. I was still disoriented by the setting a bit, since it turns out that this is a prequel to Burning Water and Jinx High, something that isn't indicated anywhere. However, I had fun reading about one of Diana's earlier adventures, as it answered some of the questions I had after reading Burning Water. It was nice to see Andre, Diana's vampire boyfriend. He was a good character, and he provided a good contrast with the villains, a group of psychic vampires. Diana herself continued to be a great character, and I actually liked her a bit better here because the story gets inside her head a lot more. She's snarky but also caring, which is a combination I always enjoy. I also appreciated the inclusion of some gay characters, who were handled quite well.
The plot is generally good. Reading about Diana minding a shop was fun, and I liked seeing her in the days before she was a popular enough author to support herself on writing alone. Once again, the reader knows what's going on before Diana does, but Lackey does a good job of maintaining suspense and making the story interesting. The rock band was pretty fun to read about, and the idea of a rise to fame that comes as a result of psychic powers was entertaining. I also liked learning about Guardian House, the apartment Diana lives in, even if it doesn't quite seem to match up with how it's portrayed in the Bedlam's Bard books. I appreciate that as with the previous book, a fair part of the plot was research to find out who was behind the evil activities. Once again Diana and her friends considered creatures and magic from a variety of cultures, which I really like. Over all, I continue to enjoy this series while also being sad that it's so short....more
**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this book right up to almost the very end, and then the last 20 or 30 pages completely ruined it. Bebris has done a**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this book right up to almost the very end, and then the last 20 or 30 pages completely ruined it. Bebris has done a fantastic job of capturing the characters and writing style of Pride and Prejudice. Darcy and Elizabeth feel just the way they should, and they have a number of cute interactions with each other. The new characters are introduced relatively cleanly and in a way that justifies the reader never having heard of them in the original book despite their importance to the preexisting characters. The plot is nicely mysterious and creative, with a number of strange incidents hounding the Bingley family, and a number of potential suspects.
But then everything completely falls apart at the end. Throughout the book, there are hints at the supernatural, including a sort of professor of wizardry who plays an important role. This seemed like extra color that would be revealed to have a perfectly rational explanation. Instead, magic is a very real and present force in this world, and the resolution of the mystery hinges on magical artifacts used for mind control. This completely destroys any suspense and sense of fidelity to the source material the author had thus far built up. Magic is completely beyond the world of Pride and Prejudice, and it is an incredibly lazy and boring way to wrap up a mystery. Paranormal mysteries are valid, but they must approach magic rationally and make it clear it exists from the start. This novel completely fails to handle the fantasy element well, and instead uses it to incredibly disappointing ends. I spent much of this book excited and looking forward to reading subsequent volumes, but now I am terribly disappointed and have no plans to read anything else in this series. I cannot recommend this to Pride and Prejudice fans because it manages to so totally clash with the original book. I give this two stars rather than one only because the vast majority of the book was so good....more
This was a really great book. I absolutely love Gaiman's writing style. There are so many clever turns of phrase and nice bits of humor, and the way hThis was a really great book. I absolutely love Gaiman's writing style. There are so many clever turns of phrase and nice bits of humor, and the way he integrates trivia about London and its history into the text adds to the plot. The characters are well written, and I especially liked that Richard is afraid of heights. Since I share that fear, it made him more relatable and realistic. I also liked Door's power to open things, and I'm jealous of the marquis's coat that seems to hold just about everything. London Below was a well-developed and really cool setting. I definitely want to find out more about it, and it rates highly on my list of fantasy settings I wish were real. The plot was good, and there were a number of twists that I didn't spot coming - yet I never felt they were poorly written or came out of nowhere. The ending, which I won't spoil, was amazing and makes this perhaps my favorite of all fantasy stories about an ordinary person entering a fantasy world and saving it. My only regret is that it's taken me this long to read this book. I'm eagerly looking forward to reading a lot more of Gaiman's works....more
Well, this was moderately less frustratingly awful than the previous two books in the series. I mean, it was still fairly bad, but since Dracula himseWell, this was moderately less frustratingly awful than the previous two books in the series. I mean, it was still fairly bad, but since Dracula himself was given a lesser role, there wasn't so much of his arrogant and ridiculous personality making this a terrible read. Instead, this book is bad for slightly less frustrating reasons. A big part of this is that there's far too much telling and not enough showing when it comes to the interesting bits. Because of the constant shifting between different characters, a number of cool fight and action scenes are skipped over and left for the reader to find out about afterwards. This is fairly awful, especially when what I got instead were such dramatic things as a young woman driving through a snow storm. I was also annoyed by the fact that there's a woman who becomes a vampire early on in the story, and yet there's very little of her perspective on this transformation or how it changes her. In fact, the characters are generally fairly static and somewhat cliche. I never got the sense that Kate and her boyfriend were actually in love; they just act like it because the plot says so. The story is also annoying because I never really came to care about any of the characters. They're apparently the descendants of Mina Harker, which is why Dracula cares, but that didn't do anything for me.
Also, a lot of stuff about the ending bugged me. (view spoiler)[Kate magically turns back into a human. Why? I really don't know. There is literally no good explanation for this, other than "sometimes it just happens". The big bad's plot is horribly underdeveloped. According to the back cover blurb, she's Morgan Le Fay, which is ridiculous because Morgan Le Fay is not a vampire, and because she's never identified as such in the actual text. Further, her alleged reasons for being angry at Dracula are never expounded upon. The climax itself is incredibly boring, as it consists of Dracula and two humans slowly chasing Morgan and her vampire ally on foot through snowy Chicago. There's basically no tension and nothing interesting about it. I didn't even get to see Dracula kill Morgan - it happens off screen. (hide spoiler)]
All in all, this was an awful book, and it has made me certain that I'm never going to read another book in this series. I was hopeful that moving away from the Victorian era might make these books slightly better, but it's clear that they haven't improved any. When Dracula isn't being insufferable, the writing is still terrible and dull. Maybe this seemed good in the 70s when novels with vampire heroes were rare, but nowadays, there's no reason at all to bother with it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I wanted this to be good. After all, it's Sherlock Holmes meeting Count Dracula - quite possibly the best idea for a crossover of late Victorian charaI wanted this to be good. After all, it's Sherlock Holmes meeting Count Dracula - quite possibly the best idea for a crossover of late Victorian characters. And yet, I was even more disappointed by this book than I was by the previous work in Saberhagen's series. There was some good at the start. The sections written from John Watson's point of view do a good job of capturing his style and character and don't fall prey to the all too common modern trope of Watson the bumbling fool. The portion from Dracula's viewpoint was aided by putting him into an amnesiac state at first, which reduced his frustratingly arrogant voice. Even once he regains his memories, he's less annoying to read than he was in the first novel. And the idea of exploring the Giant Rat of Sumatra case was entertaining, as was the concept of Sherlock Holmes coming face to face with the supernatural. However, by the end, everything more or less fell apart. The character assassination and strangeness that occurred in the first book persists by the introduction of some of the characters from the original Dracula. A series of ridiculous plot twists manage to ruin this version of Holmes, and the resolution of the plot is at least somewhat unsatisfying, especially in that the villain of the piece is never given a proper motivation. All in all, I'm sad I actually bothered to read this, as any idea I could have imagined simply based on the title would have been much better. I may take one more stab at this series, since I do happen to have the next book, but I'll admit that I'm really not expecting much....more
The premise is very interesting, and I like how Stross uses real historical figures like Gagarin and Sagan. The Gagarin part also feels like Stross isThe premise is very interesting, and I like how Stross uses real historical figures like Gagarin and Sagan. The Gagarin part also feels like Stross is riffing on Star Trek, which is amusing. The ending is interesting; I'm not sure if I like it or not, but unlike some other works I've encountered I think this adds to the story rather than detracting from it....more