Honestly, I picked this up for the amazing artwork.
The story itself was okay; nothing amazing, though it does feature some lovely descriptions. The ilHonestly, I picked this up for the amazing artwork.
The story itself was okay; nothing amazing, though it does feature some lovely descriptions. The illustrations are really very good and are almost enough to single-handedly make worthwhile checking out this edition....more
This is far from my first foray into transhumanist literature, so I knew what sort of ideas to expect being presented. I did not, however, expect themThis is far from my first foray into transhumanist literature, so I knew what sort of ideas to expect being presented. I did not, however, expect them to be presented in such an ingeniously easy-to-digest manner. Nor did I expect them to be wrapped in a narrative of such great quality as that which Doctorow has strung together here.
I once described 'Down and Out' as "transhumanism lite", in that it was a nice and easy introduction to the fundamental concepts but little more than that. After having time to reflect, I believe that I was falling victim to one of the novel's greatest and most subversive characteristics; though it appears simple at first glance - shallow, one might even say - this is all but a deception! It is thanks to this facade of simplicity that Doctorow is most able to slide undetected into the reader's brain the complex implications of the novel's themes and ideas. It isn't until this further reflection that I feel I can truly appreciated 'Down and Out' for all that it is. As such I would recommend it not only for those new to transhumanist literature, but also for those who are already well acquainted....more
It took quite a while for me to warm to 'The Blade Itself' (TBI), but by the end of the book I was quite fond of several of the characters. And reallyIt took quite a while for me to warm to 'The Blade Itself' (TBI), but by the end of the book I was quite fond of several of the characters. And really, your interest in the characters will make or break your enjoyment of this book. It would be untrue to say that little happens, but the novel's focus is not on the goings on themselves but their impact upon the protagonists and their subsequent reactions.
I was immediately most interested in the narrative of Glokta, the tortured torturer, as he is the most interesting character from the outset and his thread provides a darkly refreshing view of the political machinations and back-alley intrigues of a rather corrupt ruling class. His Practicals, particularly the mirthful Frost, are also particularly vivid characters despite sparse appearances in the narrative.
From the first I also appreciated the narrative thread of Logen Ninefingers, the Northern barbarian, in that it provided an adventurous, wilderness survival counterpart to Glokta's city setting. However, it wasn't until he was described during another character's narrative - quite a ways into the story - that I understood him to be the rough cut, hulking barbarian that he apparently is, and this 'revelation' was quite jarring at the time. It was good to see (view spoiler)[The Bloody Nine in full form (hide spoiler)] towards the end of the story and to know that there's plenty more potential growth/revelation for Logan likely to feature in the next book.
But for Ferro, who is introduced quite late in the story, Jezal, the arrogant nobleman, has been the least engaging protagonist by far. His bratty egocentrism was not interesting or entertaining and he was the last of the original characters to display any substantial development.
Jezal's one-dimensionality is surpassed only by Ferro, the dark-skinned Southerner, who presents a constant and stubbornly brash facade that I had tired of before the end of even her second chapter. Considering her late introduction to the narrative it is fair to say that she's had the least amount of time to develop, but by the end of the book the only observable difference is the slight suggestion of some sort of (view spoiler)[tsundere relationship with Logan (hide spoiler)].
I could talk also of Bayaz, the no-nonsense magi who's thoroughly stolen a few scenes already; of Dogman, Logan's once compatriot who's since taken charge of his band of assorted brigands; of Collem West, whose rise from peasantry to the station of officer means he belongs truly to neither class; of Collem's sister, Ardee, who steadfastly refuses to let the expectations of others impact her behavior or identity; or of a handful of other minor characters, many of whom prove unique and interesting despite the merest of presence in the narrative.
This is truly a novel of characters, and I'll be reading its sequel.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more