I'm currently rereading the Song of Ice and Fire series because of the HBO series (almost as good as the books!) and because of the publication of the...moreI'm currently rereading the Song of Ice and Fire series because of the HBO series (almost as good as the books!) and because of the publication of the long-awaited fifth book coming out in July 2011.
The first book is every bit as good as I remembered, and then some. I'm amazed at how much I missed on the first reading. There are layers of subtext, history, and characterization that hooked together in whole new ways for me on the rereading. (less)
Historical novel with a touch of fantasy set in the time of the Vikings. Robert Low has created an adventure story for the modern reader which has the...moreHistorical novel with a touch of fantasy set in the time of the Vikings. Robert Low has created an adventure story for the modern reader which has the mythic and lyrical tone of the old Nordic sagas. Bloody battles, a quest for a fabulous treasure, curses, ghosts, and a boy on the threshold of manhood thrown into the world of the warriors and coming to terms with his past. (less)
Murder mystery set in an alternative post-WWII timeline in which the world's Jewish refuges have found a temporary refuge in Sitka, Alaska after the s...moreMurder mystery set in an alternative post-WWII timeline in which the world's Jewish refuges have found a temporary refuge in Sitka, Alaska after the state of Israel collapses.
A great example of the way an author can blend genres to produce a unique novel that is in a class by itself. The Yiddish Policemen's Union won the Hugo award for best science fiction novel of 2007, but it is also a complex mystery in the best noir tradition and a fascinating and a finely detailed portrait of Yiddish people at a point in history that never happened.
Michael Chabon has a large number of literary balls in the air here, in a juggling act that falters a bit at the end but doesn't fail to dazzle. 4/5(less)
I picked up the first book (A Shadow in Summer) of the Long Price Quartet on a recommendation from author George R.R. Martin's blog and was impressed...moreI picked up the first book (A Shadow in Summer) of the Long Price Quartet on a recommendation from author George R.R. Martin's blog and was impressed enough to move on to volume 2 (although not quite hooked enough to move on as soon as I put the first book down).
The Quartet has a lot of things in common with Martin's Ice and Fire series, enough so that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as a readalike. I'm also set to pondering, given the huge popularity of Martin's series and the critical thumbs up being given to the Quartet, if we're not seeing the newest face of fantasy literature. The books are set in imaginary worlds that are similar to our own and are epic in scope, but with an attention to political and economic detail that set them aside from the sword and sorcery epics of the past. They focus on a cast of complicated, well developed characters. The fantastical elements take a back seat to the political and personal drama on stage.
The single magical element in Abraham's Quartet books is the presence of the andat, beings formed and bound by a perfect description created by a class of poets. The andats each have an extremely powerful yet narrow magical ability, which is harnessed by the nation that controls it for economic advantage. These powers also have a potentially cataclysmic destructive potential, and given that the andat are not willingly bound to servitude in this world, the potential for disaster is a thread of tension throughout.
A Betrayal in Winter, however, focuses on a crisis of dynastic succession. It takes place 15 years after the events of A Shadow in Summer, and while the first book describes where the characters in the sequel are coming from, the reader can read #2 as a stand alone novel. The Khai of the city of Machi is dying, and by tradition his three eldest sons must fight to the death so one of them emerges to claim the throne, younger sons are given a few unpleasant options. Otah, the sixth son, rebelled years ago and fled, determined to make a life for himself outside Machi, but events have drawn him back to the city and its power struggles against his will.
I may give the series overall a 5 star rating. The author has put a tremendous amount of thought, care, and creative energy into the creation of this world, its political and economic structure and the characters who people it. On a book by book basis, this care almost seems a bit too much, slowing monumental events down to a personal level. Characters have plenty of time and more to internalize events and emote. I'm not sure this is a bad thing, but it does seem to give the plot a measured pace that doesn't always make for a page turner.