Keyes' prose is good, but the story itself? Meh. Like an adult version of Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" work, it's full of wasted potential. I...moreKeyes' prose is good, but the story itself? Meh. Like an adult version of Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" work, it's full of wasted potential. I didn't even bother reading the subsequent volumes.(less)
This is a sci-fi series masquerading as a fantasy series, a post-post-post-apocalyptic masquerading as an epic. This is a series which introduced my b...moreThis is a sci-fi series masquerading as a fantasy series, a post-post-post-apocalyptic masquerading as an epic. This is a series which introduced my brother and me, as boys, to the core concepts of quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle. This is a series which meditates on the power hate can grant us, on the power fear holds over us, and on the terrible sacrifices things like love and faith and hope and trust demand. This is also a series about the value of a friendly dog.
This is the final volume, but it is not the end; the Wave is unending and the Wave acts to corrects itself.
(If only the Wave had bothered to correct the bright, colourful, and entirely uncharacteristic covers of this and the preceding volume!)(less)
Overall, this is an excellent review of Jewish history from the beginning of the Second Temple period to the Rabbinic period of the middle ages. It is...moreOverall, this is an excellent review of Jewish history from the beginning of the Second Temple period to the Rabbinic period of the middle ages. It is exceptional for its focus on the Jewish perspective of history and for its focus on the Jewish people. Schiffman is a devout Rabbinic Jew himself, but where his prejudices are evident (which is very infrequently) he is refreshingly honest about them.
My only complaints were the way he sort of "skipped over" the Jewish reactions to Christianity (a single half-hearted mention of the prayer/bans agains the "minim" is insufficient) and completely ignored the ways in which institutionalized Roman persecution of Christians was legalized, in part, as a result of Jewish renunciation of Christians/Christianity. Reading his account, one would think that the Empire's decision to legally distinguish between Jews and Christians was the beginning of a glorious golden age of toleration of/preferential treatment for Christians, rather than the beginning of centuries of brutal persecutions (so brutal, in fact, that the Coptic calendar begins reckoning time with the ascension of Diocletian to the Imperial throne). He also makes the common but serious mistake of using "anti-Semitism" when he means "anti-Judaism", thus making it sound as though Christians of Semitic ethnicity or linguistic heritage were being disenfranchised right alongside their religiously Jewish fellows... This edition is badly indexed, too, so that the indexed page numbers frequently don't match up to the actual text -- it's usually only off by a couple pages, but it took me a couple days to figure that out.
Not without its flaws, but definitely a classic and well worth reading. (less)
Quick Survey: Were you aware that Christianity once flourished throughout Africa, supplanted only after the conquest by Islam when people were offered...moreQuick Survey: Were you aware that Christianity once flourished throughout Africa, supplanted only after the conquest by Islam when people were offered the options of either converting, dying or living as second-class citizens? Were you aware that Christianity once flourished in China, disappearing for centuries only because Buddhists and Confucianists saw them as a threat and initiated a series of violent anti-Christian pogroms? Were you aware that Persian Christians were the victims of similar persecution by the Zoroastrian emperors, motivating many of them to head for China in the first place? Were you aware that Christian communities, tracing their origins from alleged visits by the Apostle Thomas in the first century CE and incorporating elements of the Hindu caste system, have thrived in India for nearly two millennia? Were you aware that the recent rise of Christinaity in Korea began as a manifestation of post-WWII anti-Japanese sentiments? Were you aware that the Boxer Rebellion was in part a Chinese religious revival, involving violent anti-Christian attacks based on a belief that China was being punished by spirits and gods for abandoning their ancient religions? And were you aware that many people in China have recently begun publicly "coming out" as Christians, due to the slackening of Chinese anti-religious policy?
Chances are, no, you weren't aware of any of these things. The Western and Northern European academic narratives, especially in recent decades, have promulgated a view which restricts Christian history to Europe, Russia and America, and which portrays Christians as uniquely oppressive and intolerant -- an ahistorical view which relies on Western ignorance of world history. But historians are aware of the historical realities, and they have been for nearly two millennia -- this book collects many of the best scholarly articles detailing much of the real history of Christianity throughout the world. While the initial chapter on the Second Temple period and the origins of Christianity makes some specious (philosophically-motivated) claims, the rest of the book is composed of well-researched and objective articles by numerous scholars who are either experts on the history of Christianity, on the history of the regions under examination, or both.
A word of warning to readers who are either proponents or opponents of Christianity: this is a "warts-and-all" examination of Christian history throughout the world. It pulls no punches, indicting Christians and members of other religions/philosophies equally. The result is a much richer and much fuller understanding of both Christianity and the history of the world as a whole. (less)
A trifle uneven, but that's to be expected from this volume -- it's a collection of one-shot stories focusing on the lives of some of the active-duty...moreA trifle uneven, but that's to be expected from this volume -- it's a collection of one-shot stories focusing on the lives of some of the active-duty BPRD protagonists. Roger (pre-death), Abe, Liz, Johann, Daimiyo all get their own chance to shine as Mignola & co. fill in the gaps between the present day war and the beginning of the "plague". Some of the stories are better than others, especially Daimiyo, Johann & Roger's, but those great ones manage to compensate for the less-inspiring ones (Liz & Abe respectively) and bump this from a 3-star to a 4-star entry in the series.(less)
An excellent continuation of the series, building on the revelations with which the previous book concluded and expanding the scope of the narrative....moreAn excellent continuation of the series, building on the revelations with which the previous book concluded and expanding the scope of the narrative. The revelation of the truth behind Temeraire's origin was an excellent penultimate step, though I'm not sure how I felt about the ultimate one. (less)
This is the best thing Brandon Sanderson has written to date. It's rich, exciting, the world-building is complex, and he avoids all of the tropes whic...moreThis is the best thing Brandon Sanderson has written to date. It's rich, exciting, the world-building is complex, and he avoids all of the tropes which typically ruin his novels. There were several characters I expected to wind up as typical Sanderson Mary-Sues/Marty-Stus, but in each and every case he inverts or subverts the reader's expectations; what is more, he actually creates a world that feels like it's populated and that it is more than simply a stage upon which his characters can strut and speak. It feels like an actual PLACE -- something I could never say about the settings for any of his other novels. I have NEVER been so unreservedly fond of a book by Sanderson, but here we are. I can't wait for the next novel in this series! (less)
Nothing is as it seems when giants rise from the dead, faerie courts lose their kings, and Hellboy learns the hard way that no good deed goes unpunish...moreNothing is as it seems when giants rise from the dead, faerie courts lose their kings, and Hellboy learns the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished. Possibly the best "Hellboy" story in ages, full of stunning revelations, shocking betrayals, terrifying new foes, heartbreaking choices and a spectacular mixture of Hellboy's past, present & future.
While the "B.P.R.D" series faces the coming apocalypse with unflagging seriousness, "Hellboy" is a beautiful mixture of light and dark. The title character may be the Hell-born offspring of a rapacious demon and a penitent witch; he may be destined to overthrow the Devil and bring the world to ruin and ash; but Hellboy refuses to accept that his unholy origins must define him or that this dark fate is unavoidable. A sarcastic, no-nonsense character in the vein of old school pulp heroes, he faces every challenge with grim humor, a good heart, and a strong right hook. Given the horrors that he faces, especially in this volume, these frequently prove both his most powerful weapons and his strongest armour. But, as "The Wild Hunt" reveals, in the end even they may not be enough.
NOTE: One of the funniest scenes occurs early in the volume. Old acquaintances mention that Hellboy has been staying with a pair of sisters in Italy; Hellboy acknowledges that and calls them a couple of "nice old ladies" he met a few years back; the old acquaintances point out that he met them two decades ago and that they've been dead for years. Hellboy's response? "Well I don't see how that's any of your business."(less)