The historical detail is the appeal of the story, and the reason it manages not to be a cardboard cutout action tale. It would be nicer if all the the...more
The historical detail is the appeal of the story, and the reason it manages not to be a cardboard cutout action tale. It would be nicer if all the then current tech wasn't presented as 'the next great thing that just came out'
There were spots the whole thing didn't hang together for me, it gets quite disjointed at times when the focus shifts around the couple of main characters.
Let's be clear here - for me personally this book barely rates two stars... But I'm Waaay in the minority on this one. This type of fantasy has almost...moreLet's be clear here - for me personally this book barely rates two stars... But I'm Waaay in the minority on this one. This type of fantasy has almost nothing for me.
The first third of the book is as drab and depressing as possible. The word grey appears more often than 'the'! The first time we see the sun it's called an assault on our senses...
While it perks up a bit later on, it never really lifts itself out of the mire.
Then there's the best/worst part - the awesome imagination of the authour shows up again and again in these little glimpses of background material, then it's ignored or at least not explained further for the rest if the book. I felt like he was teasing me over and over - "Look how cool this is! Whoops, Sorry, said too much already!"
And the ending? Plot twisted to make a bunch of points all with the subtlety of a car crash.
Odds are you'll like this book - most people do. Odds are it's the last Miéville book I'm buying. (less)
The first chapter of this book is required reading for anyone claiming to be a sci-fi authour. Through the eyes of a child we learn so much about his...moreThe first chapter of this book is required reading for anyone claiming to be a sci-fi authour. Through the eyes of a child we learn so much about his world, without it ever being explained.
I loved this book when I was younger, and read it more than once then. Now re-reading it again after many many years I still love it.
The best and worst of three different communities are all spread out to see clearly, and everyone can pick out something to identify with.
Perhaps the scariest part is how horrible all three are in the end.
What saves it from being a gloomy critique of mankind is the cast of characters that all seem real, with something to love in all of them.
But what does it say when the world we live in now self destructs and turns into three more full of believable, likeable people who create their own little hellholes?
The younger version of me loved the story of the outcasts persevering and triumphing. The older version of me reads it differently, but still enjoys it. A great short easy read for anyone.(less)
There are books that never go where you expect. And then there are books that never go where you want them to.
This book is both of those at different...moreThere are books that never go where you expect. And then there are books that never go where you want them to.
This book is both of those at different times.
First off the obvious - it's a sequel to a personal favourite story that's arguably one of the best sci fi novels ever. And no, it's not any where near as awesome. (They never are).
If you haven't read that book, this one probably won't make much sense, or even convey how wonderful the original was.
This book is a very different kind of story - the original draws the backdrop the new one plays in front of.
The contrast between the two is striking.
This book is so much smaller in scope. It encompasses only a small portion of a single planet rather than most of the Milky Way. There are only a handful of characters, not dozens of groups scattered all over, and instead of millions of civilizations of billions of people dropping like flies, tragedy here is very small scale and personal.
The biggest tragedy might be the weak ending trying desperately to segue into another (as yet unwritten) sequel.
Chunks of it are adventure tale, chunks of it naive politics, there's even a hint of romance here and there. But it's all one thing, then the next, changing jarringly from section to section. Just as I'd get into it, I'd have the rug yanked out again.
It has potential, and it's moments, but ends up falling short of what it could have been.
If you loved A Fire Upon The Deep, pick this up as a return visit to Tines World to fill in some local colour.
For me it's mostly a miss I had a hard time judging on its own merits.(less)
The book revolves around marketing, logos and brand perception, and the current culture of the time, b...moreAn interesting book, that's aging very quickly.
The book revolves around marketing, logos and brand perception, and the current culture of the time, both off and online.
When written, it was almost but not quite futuristic. Now it's a reach to drop yourself back into a world where toaster Power Macs and clamshell iBooks are admired rather than giggled at.
In fact, that's what makes the whole novel hard to appreciate - all the characters are driven by attachments to styles and fashions that seem so meaningless now, several years later, or perhaps my own biases are showing through.
There are threads here that eluded my grasp - I don't understand the Stuka at all.
If you're willing to put some work in, perhaps you'll adore this book as much as many reviews, but it will take some flexibility in outlook.
Objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear, indeed. (less)
This book has an absolutely awesome backdrop with wonderful characters.
Brin has enough great ideas and possibilities here for a half dozen novels, no...moreThis book has an absolutely awesome backdrop with wonderful characters.
Brin has enough great ideas and possibilities here for a half dozen novels, not just one.
In so many ways it's Brin at his best... but it's still not enough to save this one from being mediocre at best I'm afraid.
In pacing it really reminds me of his Earth novel. It starts out interesting but moderately paced, then around two thirds of the way through starts spiralling out, getting wilder and wilder.
In Earth, it worked. The craziness was still believable, and never completely threw you off the ride.
Here, it just doesn't work.
There's two things that make it impossible to hold on.
First, the ditto concept is the coolest part of the novel, and spotting the differences between the almost identical characters is part of the fun, but it's tough sledding at times. You often end up feeling lost. The result is a centre which just can't hold you through the insanity coming.
Part two, (and the biggest sin) is the weirdo plot progression. It starts out a detective novel, wanders into an honest to god multi-party conspiracy theory I still don't understand, then caps it all off with a convoluted theology section that bears almost no resemblance to the rest of the novel.
I wanted to love this book, but it's neither fish nor fowl, bread nor wine. It's just a big mishmash painted on a gorgeous backdrop.(less)
This is an interesting book, with lots to recommend it. It's also got lots of bits in it to offend you, so be warned.
The main character enjoys pain a...moreThis is an interesting book, with lots to recommend it. It's also got lots of bits in it to offend you, so be warned.
The main character enjoys pain and sex, the religion if the day is a clearly twisted Christianity, Jews wander, Roma steal and the Celts take heads...
But for all that, the "near but not really" background is both fun to spot the references in and a handy anchor to keep you from getting confused. The whirlwind journeys and blizzards of secondary characters can get overwhelming, and the politics of the day are a tangled mess.
The magic is very restrained except for one over the top character, and the numerous sword battles aren't the focus of the novel either. The sword work in particular is a bit bipolar, sometimes described "blow by blow" in gritty detail, and sometimes glossed over to the point of "guy with blond hair and shiny sword is wonderful".
The plot, driven by those crazy politics, alternates between quests that are too easy (and repetitive) and sections that could have been stand alone works in their own right.
While everyone seems to find either something they love or something they hate in this book, in the end it's the handful of main characters, lovingly crafted, that will make or break the story for you.
You will really like parts of this book, but most likely not all of it. Worth reading nonetheless. (less)
A very interesting book that always leaves you wanting more.
It's done completely from the point of view of a teenager, and that's exactly where it get...moreA very interesting book that always leaves you wanting more.
It's done completely from the point of view of a teenager, and that's exactly where it gets it's mixed reviews from.
Most of the complaints are for me describing a big part of it's magic.
A fifteen year old often feels like the world is mysterious and inexplicable, and in this book you never really know what the hell is going on.
It's an interesting approach that (I'm pretty sure) was deliberate by the authour.
Here's the problem. The environment, plot line and cute links to other works of the author have you dying to learn more page after page, and for the most part that goes unrequited.
It could have been a pretty cool, but typical fantasy series spanning three novels or so. It's written by someone who's done just that before, spectacularly well. (If you haven't read the Fionavar, go do that now, come back to this later... seriously....) It isn't. Get over that, and you might be charmed by this quick read. Don't, and you'll be disappointed.(less)
It's not what I expected. Four distinct threads, two if them I enjoyed, and with only two of them actually joining at the end. In the end it was too di...moreIt's not what I expected. Four distinct threads, two if them I enjoyed, and with only two of them actually joining at the end. In the end it was too disjointed, and too unresolved for me to enjoy. (less)
Not a bad one, as these ones go, but the state of preservation if the final ship wreck was hard to swallow (yes, more than usual). Summer gets the sho...moreNot a bad one, as these ones go, but the state of preservation if the final ship wreck was hard to swallow (yes, more than usual). Summer gets the short stick too, brother getting almost all the good action parts...(less)
Cool premise. Somewhat interesting characters. Watered down, dragged out plot that never develops the interesting bits you really want to go somewhere...moreCool premise. Somewhat interesting characters. Watered down, dragged out plot that never develops the interesting bits you really want to go somewhere. By the time they write four or five more books they'll likely have written a couple decent ones and three more that should have been left on the cutting room floor. (less)