This is a good book. This is a more than decent final book to Discworld. This is a book as written by a man who has been fighting for years with an ilThis is a good book. This is a more than decent final book to Discworld. This is a book as written by a man who has been fighting for years with an illness that threatened his own mind. And it's actually an excellent draft for a finished novel. It is not, sadly, a very good Terry Pratchett book.
It is a done story. As the afterword says, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end, with all the proper connecting dots. But you can see where it is unfinished, where Pterry would have polished more, where characters needed depth and are little more than cardboard cuts, where stories like Nightshade's needed more time and more breathing room, where cuts would have been made, and gentle edits edited (particularly all the gendered stuff, whoo boy).
I am not sad at this book being the end of Discworld. It's certainly a better fit than Unseen Academicals or Raising Steam. But I'll admit, I do wish it had been written at the height of his writing prowess, because it would have been brilliant. ...more
Una storia molto bella e toccante di vite che si intrecciano sul mare e nella Plymouth di inizio diciannovesimo secolo. Quattro stelle solo per un eccUna storia molto bella e toccante di vite che si intrecciano sul mare e nella Plymouth di inizio diciannovesimo secolo. Quattro stelle solo per un eccesso di prosa arzigogolata che spesso appesantisce la lettura e la narrazione, già densa di riferimenti letterari e citazioni poetiche....more
Harriett is a hamster princess cursed to inevitably fall asleep on her 12th birthday. Does she sob and pine? Of course not. She becomes a monster-slayHarriett is a hamster princess cursed to inevitably fall asleep on her 12th birthday. Does she sob and pine? Of course not. She becomes a monster-slaying heroine! After all the curse must keep her alive until she's 12, which means that she's invincible until then. But when the birthday looms over, things do not go exactly as planned and all plans go astray...
Another lovely romp by Ursula Vernon, this time with extra glitter and spunky hamsters. ...more
**spoiler alert** So I lied and read this one straight after Rebirths. I blame Amazon for putting the ebook on sale.
I think I'm glad I read Deaths bef**spoiler alert** So I lied and read this one straight after Rebirths. I blame Amazon for putting the ebook on sale.
I think I'm glad I read Deaths before this one, because I don't know if I'd have been interested in reading the rest of the series otherwise. Several plot points like Penetra are mentioned but never really used, left open for the sequels. Antonio is a non-entity, only needed to put Jill in trouble. Jill herself is a carboard cut-out compared to the next books, and it's hard to reconcile her with the no-nonsense political mastermind of Deaths, with or without Quasing.
It's an OK novel and a quick, fun read, but it's so busy being an origins story that it just doesn't have the same grip and sense of urgency as the others. ...more
3.5 stars, rounded up because I ultimately liked it.
Is it weird to judge a series of which you haven't read the first installment? Well, I started rea3.5 stars, rounded up because I ultimately liked it.
Is it weird to judge a series of which you haven't read the first installment? Well, I started reading with The Deaths of Tao, which I got as part of this year's Hugo package and, while I do intend to read The Lives of Tao at some point, I do not feel the urge to do it right now. Apart from some initial confusion, Death and Rebirth stand well on their own.
My main impression of Rebirths, however, is that it doesn't feel like the last book in a series - more like the middle one, where the tide turns and the game changes. I'll echo the sentiment of another reviewer: we're told the world is about to end, but we don't really get much sense of urgency. And while we hope for our underdog heroes to be able to bring down the Genjix, Chu needs to minimize the impact of their actions so he can write more stories in this world. Win the fight, prolong the war, so to speak.
This driving slowly into the apocalypse has also the ultimate side effect of having our characters react rather than act most of the time. While it's entertaining to watch the heroes get repeatedly kicked like sacks of potatoes, to me it gets very close to that stretching point where I find it almost unbelievable that they can win in the end by anything but sheer, dumb luck.
Cameron. Well. Portraying a non-annoying teenage character in the middle of a bunch of adults is never easy, especially when one of them is thousands of years old and in his head, and Chu manages - barely. I find his chapters to be the weakest of the bunch, though (thankfully) he never manages to be so annoying as Enzo. Dude. Mental sparring with your Holy One is one thing, but when you never agree on anything, maybe you're just not a very good host.
You might be asking how this book can get a 4 when I seem to have disliked so much of it. First: I only niggle about things that emotion me. I don't get argumentative about stuff that leaves me 'meh'. Second: Roen. It's evident that this is the character that Chu has the better grip on, that has the best humour and most of the best lines, and who he loves more to beat up to an inch of his life. There could be a miniseries of just Roen slamming into things while trying to make a sandwich. It's that good....more
I'll admit that I was the tiniest bit disappointed by the length of the book when it arrived in the mail: it seems to be for very young readers, whileI'll admit that I was the tiniest bit disappointed by the length of the book when it arrived in the mail: it seems to be for very young readers, while (for some reason) I expected it to be middle grade, a la Dragonbreath.
Kate Beaton's illustrations and humour, however, are top notch as always, and Princess Pinecone is just freaking adorable. ...more
I liked this book, but I'll admit I wasn't entirely blown away. In part it's simply because I prefer Gaiman's longer works; in part because I had readI liked this book, but I'll admit I wasn't entirely blown away. In part it's simply because I prefer Gaiman's longer works; in part because I had read many of the stories in this collection before, whether online or in other books, so it was mostly like a reunion with old friends rather than the thrill of the new.
Each story comes with a small introduction, and I wish they had put each one right before the story, rather than lumping them all at the beginning. I did a lot of back and forth while reading.
Black Dog, the new Shadow novella, is quite good - but then I'll easily read anything with Shadow in it. It's odd, but I like him more as a main character after American Gods. Either hew grew up on me, or I grew up, or both. ...more
This book is a heavyweight - and not just because it's almost twice as big as the earlier ones.
(mild spoilers follow)
Whereas Valour and Vanity was a hThis book is a heavyweight - and not just because it's almost twice as big as the earlier ones.
(mild spoilers follow)
Whereas Valour and Vanity was a historical heist novel, Of Noble Family could be seen as a psychological thriller. What should have been a simple engagement or even a relaxing vacation turns soon into horror, and Jane and Vincent have to bear the effects of the cage they're trapped in - not strictly a physical cage, but one made of threats, promises, and obligations. Both characters are subject, in different degrees, to mental and physical distress that would make lesser people crumble.
Luckily, in addition to each other, they find good allies in the slaves and freedmen of the plantation, who share some of their mutual goals, as well as the black doctor Jones (who may or may not be named Martha) and the delightful character of Mrs. Whitten, who makes her first stunning appearance right on the book cover. Rather than being stereotypical white saviours, Jane and Vincent are quite often chastened and/or rescued by the locals, who are more savvy of local customs, wary of the dangers of Antigua (whether from the weather, the corrupted soldiers, or the plantation master), and decidedly not prone to fall victims of cultural appropriation. I dare anyone not to fall immediately in love with Nkiruka and her endless amount of sass.
The thing that vexed me most, being the last book in the series, is that Jane is once again incapable of using glamour for most of the story. Since (almost) everything is described from her point of view, that means that we get verbal descriptions but never get to actually see how the different styles of African glamour work behind the scenes. As someone who loved the 'technical' parts of the previous novels, this was a bit disappointing.
Apart from that, this is as close to perfect as it can get for a series finale. I admit that I'll miss Jane and Vincent and the folds of glamour, and I hope that one day we'll get to read more stories from this world and its people (like Louisa and Zachary, dismantlers of slavery? pretty please?)....more
This book was... nice? OK? I really have a hard time finding much about it that I didn't like, but there isn't much of particularly exceptional eitherThis book was... nice? OK? I really have a hard time finding much about it that I didn't like, but there isn't much of particularly exceptional either. (Except for Csevet. Csevet rules.)
(mild spoilers follow)
Maia is a particularly nice main character whose main characteristic is being nice. Granted, I'm extremely glad that he has enough political knowledge not to be the stupid kind of nice who makes the kind of choices a 3-year old would see are wrong (a staple of many lesser fantasy novels). But his life as a recluse (pre-start of the book) and Emperor later means he doesn't get much in the way of personal character development outside of the throne. He doesn't read. He doesn't dance. He has no hobbies. He only gets to start riding because his grandfather basically forces a horse on him. Yes, his ignorance is part of the plot points, but it also makes him a bit of a blank slate beyond his good heart.
Many other things feel like a "good idea, need to expand it more". We know there's steam and clockwork in this world, and yet they use airships rather than, say, trains. Why? Geographical difficulties? Lack of proper terrain? We know there's magic, and a whole caste of magic users, but the only time it's used is for a sleeping cantrip and offscreen, in the space between two paragraphs. We know there's another race, close enough for interbreeding but treated as different/foreign/inferior, but it's not clear how far down this racism goes. Similarly, other main characters, like Cala, get enough hints at characterization that it gets frustrating when they do not follow.
On the other hand, Addison lets some of her worldbuilding get the better hand of her, creating extremely cumbersome names and making it difficult to follow who is who, when family names and honorific titles change at every minute. I mean, I know my D'ni and I dabble plenty in Sindarin, but even I have an issue when the first name I meet in the book is Untheileneise and it goes downhill from there. It also doesn't help in identifying with Maia: to him, one of the main difficulties is the gap between what he knows (formal etiquette) and what he doesn't (the realities of life at court, political alliances, and so on; to us, however, it's all a jumbled mix. Actually, we could probably spot the intrigues well before him, if we could just remember what an Os'merrem was.
But the main fault of the book, IMHO, is that there is a constant lack of tension, either actual or implied. Part of this is Maia's incredibly level-headed approach at things, and we're seeing everything from his point of view. Part of it is that the threats just appear, rather than build up, and the rest of the story is lost on political etiquette, rulings, balls and whatnot, like in an elven version of Downton Abbey. On one hand it makes for an extremely leisured read; on the other it also makes it kind of forgettable.
(Disclaimer: I got an ebook copy of this book as part of the Hugo 2015 reader packet)...more
It's not mystery that I adore Kingfisher/Vernon's down-to-earth, sensible protagonists, so of course I adored Bryony from the get go. And of course shIt's not mystery that I adore Kingfisher/Vernon's down-to-earth, sensible protagonists, so of course I adored Bryony from the get go. And of course she would find her perfect match in a witty and sarcastic Beast.
While the story is in great part more humorous and light-hearted compared to the previous Seventh Bride, it takes a real quick turn for the dark towards the end (the corridor of roses will haunt me for a while).
Only 4 stars as I was a little let down by the resolution, though it's the thin line between "perfection" and a mere "extremely good"....more
Haunted castles! Stitched-up minions! Walking suits of armour! Bats! donkeys! Several kinds of not-quite-dragons! And a 12-year old Wicked Witch who iHaunted castles! Stitched-up minions! Walking suits of armour! Bats! donkeys! Several kinds of not-quite-dragons! And a 12-year old Wicked Witch who isn't exactly who she says she is. These are the ingredients of Ursula Vernon's latest novel and all I can say is I need a sequel now.
If you read my other reviews you already know what I love about Ursula's books: the humour, the clever resolutions, the characters and their snappy dialogue, and that down-to-earthness that makes her stories of magic extremely realistic and relatable (I'm not talking about grimdark here, but rather things like the start reality of having to pull weeds from a garden, or the need to steamroll the carpets in your ancient arcane vault because they certainly won't get clean by themselves).
Castle Hangnail definitely gives all this and more. In an age of catastrophic dystopic YA, this is a real breath of fresh air. Well, maybe not too fresh. Those rooms haven't been opened since the vampire lord died, you know....more