Umfassend. Ich hatte mir das Buch vor einiger Zeit ausgeliehen um ein Schiffsmodell fertigzustellen und dieses Buch hat einfach alles. Es ist drin, wa...moreUmfassend. Ich hatte mir das Buch vor einiger Zeit ausgeliehen um ein Schiffsmodell fertigzustellen und dieses Buch hat einfach alles. Es ist drin, was draufsteht. Samt Zeichnungen und Übersetzungen der behandelten Begriffe in Englisch UND Französisch. Ein sehr hübsches Nachschlagwerk + Übersicht. (less)
There are reviews of this recommending you to get the audio book version, since the jokes gain something when delivered by Stephen Colbert rather than...moreThere are reviews of this recommending you to get the audio book version, since the jokes gain something when delivered by Stephen Colbert rather than just being written. But with the audio book format you lose all of the graphics – and since some of the graphics what made me laugh out the hardest, you might have to get both editions. Maybe this shouldn't have been a book. Perhaps they should have turned it into a movie, or made like a TV show out of it … hm…
So long story short, this book is pretty much like the show: same type of humour, same opinions, very similar delivery. But whether you chose the written word or the audio book you might feel like you're missing out on one layer of funny.
The book is funny though! Having taken so long to finally read it after buying it made me fear that some of the material would be outdated, but I needn't have worried. I was actually surprised when I looked up the publishing date and noticed this book had been published in 2012. I was convinced it couldn't have been older than a year, especially since writing and production of the time must have eaten up quite a lot of time as well.
The fact that the material satirised in this book appears so topical right now (i.e. the last quarter of 2014!) is what turns some of the cynically funny material into cynically depressing. E.g. there is a chapter devoted to stories of American police departments using predator drones to recover disappeared cows, and ordering tanks to protect the local pumpkin festival. Does that sound familiar to you for some reason? (less)
Der Erzählstil in diesem Band ist um einiges konventioneller als noch im Vorgänger. Fort sind die Briefe und Tagebucheinträger. Stattdessen wird Fort...more Der Erzählstil in diesem Band ist um einiges konventioneller als noch im Vorgänger. Fort sind die Briefe und Tagebucheinträger. Stattdessen wird Fortunas Fluch aus ganz herkömmlichen Erzählperspektiven berichtet: Einmal aus der Sicht von Stella, einem Charakter, den wir noch nicht kannte, aus der Ich-Perspektive, und zum anderen von Graf Trubic, dem wir schon in Des Teufels Maskerade begegnet sind, in einem Mix aus einer personalen und einer neutralen Ansicht: Zwar folgt dieser zweite Erzählstrang Felix und nur Felix, aber die Erzählperspektive ist zu distanziert als dass man wirklich die ganze Zeit über in seinen Gedanken stecken würde.
Diese Distanz von der Handlung konnte man auch schon in Des Teufels Maskerade zeitweise schmecken, sie passt zu dieser personalen Erzählperspektive aber noch ein Stück besser.
Etwas konventioneller ist dann auch die Handlung ausgefallen - für einen Phantastikroman wohlgemerkt. Was einfach nur bedeutet, dass die Bodenständigkeit des ersten Bandes etwas aufgegeben wurde und die phantastischen Elemente diesmal deutlich, wirklich deutlich (!) zahlreicher auftreten: Feen, Tore in eine Parallelwelt, Geister, die in Metallautomaten stecken, Zaubersprüche, und ein größerer Auftritt der beiden Drachen (view spoiler)[(Was passiert jetzt eigentlich mit dem Alten Drachen, nachdem seine Tochter auf der anderen Seite ist? Ich will eine Fortsetzung, verdammt!) (hide spoiler)] gestalten das phantastische Aufgebot diesmal etwas klassischer - Aber doch wirkt nichts wie müde aufgegossen. Tatsächlich dachte ich mir an einigen Stellen tatsächlich "das liest man in der Fantasy zu selten" - etwa, so nette Worldbuilding-Erkenntnisse, wie, dass es in der Feenwelt keine Gemeinsprache gibt (was man sicher auch als Seitenhieb auf unzählige andere Fantasywerke verstehen kann). Die Charaktere stellen sich solche und andere intelligente Fragen, die einem in der Phantastik nicht alltäglich über den Weg laufen.
Ebenfalls erhöht wurde der Actiongehalt, aber auch die Bodenständigkeit des großen Handlungsbogens wurde etwas aufgehoben: Diesmal war die Weltordnung im Kaiserreich - und vielleicht sogar die Welt - doch ein bisschen bedroht. Nun ja, irgendwie muss man den suizidalen Gehorm und die Opferbereitschaft unseres Grafen ja begründen. Die letzten großen Konflikte des Buches sind dann aber wieder die sehr persönlichen: Dejan geht unglaubliche Risiken ein um Felix mal wieder aus der Patsche zu helfen. Einerseits mag man ihn schütteln, andererseits ist man einfach fasziniert von dieser komplizierten Beziehung (Fortsetzung bitte!). Zumindest bei mir haben all diese Kniffe wunderbar funktioniert: etwa die letzten hundert Seiten über konnte ich das Buch noch weniger aus der Hand liegen, als das beim Vorgänger der Fall war - auch wenn daran natürlich zum Teil die Vorarbeit Schuld ist, die der erste Band geleistet hat. Schließlich habe ich die Hälfte dieser Charakter schon durch einen 500-Seiten Roman begleitet! Da hängt man an diesen Herzchen einfach schon mehr dran als noch im Einführungsband.
Das soll aber keineswegs heißen, dass sich das Buch bloß als schnöde Fortsetzung lohnt. Auch die neue Ich-Erzählerin, Stella, konnte ich gleich ins Herz schließen und hätte nichts dagegen noch mehr über sie (view spoiler)[und ihren Feenvater (hide spoiler)] zu erfahren (Fortsetzung bitte!).
Ach, und es gibt so ein paar Themen, mit denen kann man mich, gerade was das Fantasygenre, angeht immer locken. Eines davon ist das Voynich-Manuskript. Das ist auch so ein Grund, wieso dieser Band ganz viele Pluspunkte bei mir gesammelt hat. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is a fun little read narrated in a humurous tone accompanied by cute illustrations (although sadly those are black and white in both the ebook an...moreThis is a fun little read narrated in a humurous tone accompanied by cute illustrations (although sadly those are black and white in both the ebook and the printed version. What with the big price for such a slim volume I had hoped for a dash of colour). While this book is immensely enjoyable to the reader who is simply curious about some of the more or less obscure supersitions at sea (sailors hate bananas, who knew?), it is certainly not recommended as a tool of research, since it lacks citations. I was also a bit disappointed that there is little information given about in what region or period most of the described superstitions and myths emerged. There could have at least been a couple of words on when and where some these myths were most prevalent. It's still pretty clear, if not explicitly stated, that the book focuses on myths and superstition of the English speaking seafaring world mostly.
This is a great quick-read, but I can't help but think it could have been more than that. (less)
I somehow made it through Les Larmes du Cardinal suffering nothing worse than tedious boredom. And I even enjoyed myself a bit reading the s...moreI give up.
I somehow made it through Les Larmes du Cardinal suffering nothing worse than tedious boredom. And I even enjoyed myself a bit reading the smutty and slightly offensive Sowrd & Blood (which was apparently written by the same author as this series?). But this innocuous little murder mystery is where I give up. I did not even make it through a fifth of this book before I could not take it anymore.
I binge-read the complete d'Artagnan romances this year, and having this book claim it takes place in the same universe as those did not make me happy: The characterisation for our Inseperables is just way-off! And the book does not even get basic details right like their hair & eye colours or where they live! Why then create an elaborate foreword to claim that these are exactly the characters from Dumas' d'Artagnan romances (oh, btw. the book constantly misspells d'Artagnan as well)? In addition the murder-mystery plot doesn't grip me at all. Even the first couple of descisions our heros take upon discovering the body are so outlandish and out-there, that I can't get into the plot at all. And on top of that the characters prefer to monologue to themselves, providing the reader with info-dumps, rather than act. This is simply bad style. (less)
I felt conflicted picking up this novel at all. I'd love to read more fantasy novels set in the age of sail (or the budding age of steam as it is the...moreI felt conflicted picking up this novel at all. I'd love to read more fantasy novels set in the age of sail (or the budding age of steam as it is the case here). But a horror novel speculating about a real life tragedy, featuring historical figures as its main characters who end up as monster fodder?
It seemed somehow immoral if not disrespectful.
And yes, I somehow dare to write that sentence when I've read and immensely enjoyed countless other books featuring fictionalised clones of real people. But Horror just somehow feels like something entirely different from the sillier varieties of fantasy in this regard.
While people can't say for sure which fate befell each of the expidition's members an accepted theory is rather more that they died of starvation, exposure and scury than from an encounter with Cthulhu who then made them all eat each other.
Still, I was simply too curious about this book not to pick it up. I had found it through a list by a ... I think it was The Guardian? Anyway the list touted recommending only horror novels that were actually scary, and that focused less on a gore fest, but on suspenseful writing. It made The Terror sound immensely intriguing - and reminiscent of At the Mountains of Madness which is one of only three or four Lovecraft stories I've ever found remotely frightening.
So there I was, a person who usually regards the horror genre with more than a little suspicion and disgust, picking up a horror novel of just under a thousand pages, not knowing what I was getting into.
Let us begin with the good bits. The ones, that despite the many problems I eventually had with thid novel, still made it well worth the time I spent reading it:
The prose is fantastic. The long winded sentences, the distant tone and the detailed descriptive passages may not be to everyone's taste, but there's no denying that this books succeeds in going for a distinct style, sinking its teeth into it, and never letting go. There's no awkward phrasing. The style is consistent and extremely readable - if you like this type of writing, of course. I do, and so I enjoyed the mere act of reading this thing a lot.
However the lavish descriptions and attention to detail and historical as well as geographical detail make the plot move at a snail's pace (phew! Colsely avoided a glacier pun there!)
Going by the bibliography listed at the end of the book the research for this novel must have been extensive. And it shows in the amount of detail the author manages to cram into each and every description of different kinds of ice or snow. There are long, long paragraphs explaining exactly what happens at -50 degrees Fahrenheit when flesh touches metal if only briefly. Or what the symptoms of scurvy look like. Or snow blindness. Or how the native population goes about seal hunting. Or about how glaciers/snow/floes/pressure ridges work. Or how the squishy bits of a person feel when you cut them open, because you're a surgeon doing a post-mortem.
In this regard The Terror is a true historical novel more than anything else. In fact, it has the habit of stopping to be a horror novel for chapters upon chapters. The supernatural apsects of The Terror take a backseat to the very natural terrors the characters must face: There are 130 people trapped in a relentless, hostile environment of eternal cold and darkness. And you know none of them will survive.
It is this knowledge and the endless descriptions of the relentness white waste and what it can do to people, and what it drives people to do, that create a suspenseful atmosphere much more than the supernatural aspects do.
But somehow this book thought the dreary situation of these real, historical figures slowly passing away one by one, miles and miles away from home, and beginning to realise there isn't a chance in hell they would escape the ice, wasn't horrific enough, so the books adds a... spirit? demon? alien? That picks the crews off one by one and starts playing with their minds in increasingly cruel fashion.
But the book would have worked as a tale of horror just as well without a monster stalking the explorers on the ice. In fact, for long stretches of the novel, the monster is in fact the least horrible thing in the book. Because at least the fear of the creature is a distraction from the constant sense of hopelessness at knowing that there is no help coming for these people. I find the passages about the advancing ice and characters realising but trying not to that they are going to die much more disturbing.
This takes me to one of my problems with this book: The fact that you're reading a story with a forgone conclusion is never countered by any other aspect of the novel. After a while I started asking myself why I even kept reading. Any investment in these characters, any form of development, no matter how small, would only end in failure. And a lot of the characters, especially those whose head we enter only for a chapter or two, are not fleshed out enough to even showcase a tiny effort in character development. There is nothing to learn from these cahracters, and maybe nothing to gain from the novel as a whole other than some information about the geography of the arctic perpetual ice.
True, you will be thrilled for a while simply by the suspenseful ride the book offers. But I found myself getting annoyed at the way the book kept raising the characters' hopes when you knew these would be dashed only a couple of pages later. And with increasing page count the way the plot would crush its victims' hopes became ever more predictable and annoying.
With regard to that my greates gripe is with the character of caulker's mate hickey. Not only does he trigger an abundance of tired plot clichés, he himself is an amalgation of various Age of Sail stereotypes that not only will bore you to tears if you know your way around that genre at all, I was actually offended at how badly this character was handled. (view spoiler)[And then in the end, the book wants to make us believe that the character does not even have a soul for the Tuunbaq to devour. Or at least one so spoiled, so corrupt that the monster refuses to touch him. Seriously? Well, I believe this character doesn't have a soul, because he is so flat, such an obvious tool of the author rather than a proper character that I was not surprised at the revelation. Still, something so silly as a character being too evil to have a soul is not what I would have expected from a book that featured almost naturalistic descriptions of people dying from scurvy. The whole storyline carved out by this character felt out of place and contrived in this novel that otherwise showed a surprisingly realist maturity for a book about a monster. (hide spoiler)]
I was also less than pleased to find whole chapters infodumping about Inuit mythology in the last 10 percent of the book. Why could this information not have beeen distributed more evenly around the book? An event that would have allowed the myths to be narrated, revealed one by one occured already around the halfway point of the novel (view spoiler)[the mental link being established between Silence and Crozier. He could have dreamed about these things much, MUCH earlier (hide spoiler)]. It would have kept my interest in the Monster alive much longer. As it was, it stopped being a source of suspence around the same time the myths could have begun to be woven into the narrative, so I'm wondering why the author decided to do it differently.
When the characters stopped caring about whether it was the ice or the monster that killed them so did I. Consequently there was a long stretch after about the halfway point of the book when I felt distinctly bored, which is about the worst thing a horror novel can do to a reader.
A final word on the fictionalised historical personas: Occasionally I felt like the book was almost derisively judgemental of its characters' 19th century sensibilites. Like it was pandering to modern readers' sensibilities, assuming we're unable to understand that people centuries ago simply had a different outlook on things that needn't be defended or derided in order for the author to clarify that he does not approve of viewpoints we nowadays recognise as racist or sexist. I'm sorry, but when I read a horror novel like this I want to empathise with the poor doomed characters. This kind of holier than though attitude added an unecessarily mean spirited layer to the whole narrative. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)