Now I could be extra harsh and just give you the review of this that I gave to my girlfriend - "Too many lesbians, not enough murder," but that wouldNow I could be extra harsh and just give you the review of this that I gave to my girlfriend - "Too many lesbians, not enough murder," but that would sell it short somewhat and make me sound a little bigoted. Nevertheless I was disappointed by Trick of the Dark primarily because the story seemed so tame and rather slow, not up to the standards I would expect from McDermid.
A man is killed on his wedding day, seemingly bludgeoned and drowned by his two business partners. Later the victims prospective mother-in-law calls in a former pupil of hers, Charlie Flint, to investigate the brides new lover, successful businesswoman Jay Stewart, who she is convinced is responsible for the murder and other killings in the past. Charlie has problems of her own, with her career in tatters and another woman tempting her from her own wife, but decides the investigation would be the perfect distraction from her troubles.
The book is well written and the way the story flows does draw you along with it but the plot feels like an ITV drama with extra lesbians thrown in. Charlie Flint is a likeable lead even though she is prone to adolescent behavior towards her love life - debating on wether she will cheat on on even leave her wife of 7 years does grate on you. The story is also interspersed with extracts from Jay's memoir as she's writing it giving her version of the backstory, which works well. As with other of Val's books the dialogue sometimes feels a little contrived with elements of poetry. This is also a primarily female lead story with virtually all of the protagonists being female , (and most of them being gay also), which is fine but make it hard for me to relate to any of the characters.
On balance I think I'm rating this book so low purely because of my disappointment. The Val McDermid books I love are the Tony Hill & Carol Jordan novels and most of her other standalone stories, which are filled will tension, suspense and most importantly threat which this book sorely lacks. It reminds me of the disappointment I felt on reading The Grave Tattoo another of McDermid's books which I felt was a misfire. Val McDermid is an excellent writer and the quality of her prose is alway eminently readable but in Trick Of The Dark as with The Grave Tattoo the story is not on par with most of her other work, (especially to fans of hard crime fiction like me). ...more
I had seen this book a few times at my local supermarket and despite the rarity of a fantasy book there I had never been tempted to pick it up. I hadnI had seen this book a few times at my local supermarket and despite the rarity of a fantasy book there I had never been tempted to pick it up. I hadn't heard of the author and the cover reminded my of Trudi Canavan and the one book of hers that I've read didn't enthuse me. I have to thank the Goodreads group I recently joined, Fantasy Book Club, for promoting the book otherwise I wouldn't have thought to give it a try.
The Name of the Wind is the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicle series. In a small obscure village the keeper of the local inn Kote and his companion Bast are not quite what they seem. As distant war threatens and mysterious deadly creatures begin appearing a scribe chances upon the inn. He is determined to find the infamous Kvothe the Bloodless and extract from him his life's story.
The bulk of this story is told from the first person as Kvothe narrates his tale for the Chronicler but occasionally the telling is interrupted with interludes in the third person from the tavern where the tale is being recounted. The writing and the storyline are brilliantly executed, especially for a debut author. This books covers the younger years of Kvothe's life with two more books to follow, (in the book Kvothe tells the Chronicler the telling of his life's story will take three days and this book is subtitled, "The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One".
While a fairly substantial read I was swept along with the story and read the book in a few days. I really enjoyed this book and would have to rate it as one of the best books I have read recently. I look forward to getting my hands on the sequel. ...more
Deliverance Lost is the story of what happened to the Raven Guard and their Primarch Corax after the massacre at Isstvan V, written by one of Black LiDeliverance Lost is the story of what happened to the Raven Guard and their Primarch Corax after the massacre at Isstvan V, written by one of Black Library's B-team cadre of writers: Gav Thorpe (with the A-team being comprised of Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Graham McNeill and of course Dan Abnett). It's a solid and worthy effort but in my opinion suffers badly from two major flaws.
Firstly as a neccessary sequel to a massive world shattering event like The Dropsite Massacre there is a dearth of action and impetus from the start. Initially, conflict is replaced by intrigue and a quest to uncover the genetic secrets of the Emperor's primarch project. While this is nothing new in the Horus Heresy books it doesn't seem to work as well in this case with the build-up generally being somewhat disengaging.
Secondly this story seems to labour under the inevitability of the failure of Corax's goal to rebuild his legion, A 40k nut like me who knows the background fluff inside out knows very well the outcome and therefore there's very little surprise. One might argue that surely most of the Heresy books should suffer from this but somehow for me this is the only one where it has been a problem. The exception to this is the involvement of the Alpha Legion and their sabotage of the project, which is interesting but as with the main story just piqued my desire for information on what happens to the Raven Guard and the Alpha Legion after the events of this book. Ah well, good things come... as they say....more
The Last Four Things continues the story begun in The Left Hand of God with Thomas Cale - the young man heralded as the 'Incarnation of God's Wrath' -The Last Four Things continues the story begun in The Left Hand of God with Thomas Cale - the young man heralded as the 'Incarnation of God's Wrath' - back in the hand of the Redeemers and his erstwhile and hated master Bosco. Bosco believes that God has ordained the race of mankind to be destroyed for it's imperfection and that Cale is the instrument of the Almighty's anger.
Cale, heartbroken and disillusioned by the events in the first book, goes along with Bosco's direction as life with the Redeemers is one he understands, if not cares for. He is sent to turn the tide in the war against the Antagonists and lead Redeemer forces to victory, so that Bosco will be able to reap the rewards of his protege's successes and gain futher power. This Cale accomplishes in a typically ruthless manner.
We also follow Cale's former cronies Vague Henri and Kleist. Kleist, having abandoned his fellow Redeemers to get as far away from his former life as possible, inadvertantly saves the life of a young girl who he subsequently falls for. She brings him back to her tribe - a group of cheerfully craven bandits. Vauge Henri doggedly follows Cale in the hope that, with IdrisPukke's help, he can be made to escape the Redeemers again.
As with the first book, I am little confused with the tone. The style of narration and the prose used is both florid and knowingly sardonic. The story veers from pitch black humour to poignancy to uber-violence to ridiculous and back at breakneck speed. As with the previous installment I enjoyed the blatant potshots at the absurdity of religion which seems one of the major themes of the book.
Even more than in the first book Hoffman uses real place names to populate this world like Switzerland, The Rhine, Stuttgart and most notably for me - my hometown Leeds which is cheerfully insulted, even in a fictional world. Maybe it shouldn't be a big point but it jars me from fully enjoying the story. I get that maybe Hoffman is trying for the 'dark mirror of the real world' but Terry Pratchett manages a similar line without re-using existing names.
Having said all that I enjoyed this book immensely despite it's flaws and uneven nature. ...more
After the relative disappointment that was Gav Thorpe's Deliverance Lost, the previous Horus Heresy book I read, I knew I could trust Abnett to bringAfter the relative disappointment that was Gav Thorpe's Deliverance Lost, the previous Horus Heresy book I read, I knew I could trust Abnett to bring the series back up to form. Know No Fear is simply stunning - intelligent, visceral and immensely compelling.
The depiction of the destruction unleashed by the treacherous Word Bearers on the Ultramarines is by turns jaw dropping and gut wrenching. Following the catastrophe through betrayals, massacres and atrocities is as heart rending as world shattering events, like this should be, (even fantastical fictional ones). The description at one point of a colossal dead starship dropping through the atmosphere to impact upon an inhabited cityscape was especially evocative.
The sneak attack on the heroic Ultramarines is so complete and effective that it was hard to see how they would prevail or even if they would prevail. As any 40k nut like me knows the basics of the outcome already, (as it is enshrined in the background of the 40k universe), it is a brilliant achievement to instill such uncertainty into the reader.
Magnificent - and left me thirsting for more....more
Oh yeah! I loved the first book in this series, (Redemption Falls) and the second builds upon and expands the story and characters further. Again theOh yeah! I loved the first book in this series, (Redemption Falls) and the second builds upon and expands the story and characters further. Again the story is fast, humorous, dark and full of action. Captain Darian Frey is a compelling lead with wisecracks aplenty, his crew still the loveable, damaged reprobates from the first book. This story follows Frey and the crew being hired to recover treasure from a crashed ship in a forsaken, monster and sub-human infested jungle. Of course it's not that simple and the end up chasing the booty all over the world being robbed and robbing in turn. There are further insights into all the crew, in particular Jess and the Manes who are explored in much greater detail. Again there is no map, which is disappointing but understandable given how much the Ketty Jay travels about - Chris Wooding probably doesn't want to paint himself into a corner. As I said of Redemption Falls, this book isn't hugely original with elements from many sci-fi and fantasy tropes - but when the result is this damn entertaining I don't give a hoot. More please and soon!...more
Dan Abnett is probably my favourite author of the Black Library, so when I heard he was publishing a non-warhammer novel for Bad Robot I was intriguedDan Abnett is probably my favourite author of the Black Library, so when I heard he was publishing a non-warhammer novel for Bad Robot I was intrigued.
Embedded is a military sci-fi novel set in a slightly alternate universe sometime in the near future. Humanity has spread beyond the Solar system and begun settling other planets. Two of the largest superpowers - the United Status (America) and the Central Bloc (Russia) continue their long cold war while the distrubution of land is governed by the Settlement Office.
Lex Falk is a seasoned journalist, sent to new colony planet Eighty Six to cover a supposed low-level armed squabble blamed on insurgents. He is worn-down and jaded from too much interstellar travel between jobs. When the military try to give the media the runaround and a mystery explosion is blamed on a meteor strike, Falk smells a coverup.
Cleesh - an old friend, gives Falk the opportunity to find out what's happening out at the trouble spot by getting his perception grafted onto the consiousness of a soldier, (called sensory repositioning,) who's about to be sent out to the front line - Private Nestor Bloom. At first Falk can only experience Bloom's perceptions without any control over his host. Later, when what should have been a simple mission goes wrong and Bloom is severely wounded Falk finds he has to take over Bloom's body for his own survival. Somehow he has to get himself and the remnants of Bloom's squad out of a warzone and in the process discover why a secret war is being fought over an insignificant area of a backwater planet.
While not the finest of Abnetts books in my opinion, this is still a cracking read. The tech is sufficiently near to today's tech to understand well enough and what wasn't explained (the way humanity travels between stars, ships called 'drivers' weren't elaborated on,) didn't really need to be. Falk, although initially a grumpy bastard, grows on you and the crossover betwwen his character and Bloom's is handled very well. The story is a little slow at first but once the plot reaches the warzone it moves along at a cracking pace. The whole thing is fast and thrilling but not especially deep and the dénouement is satisfactory but doesn't get into much detail....more
A solid if not spectacular addition to the Horus Heresy series, Nemesis is still an entertaining read with further insights into the WH40K universe. TA solid if not spectacular addition to the Horus Heresy series, Nemesis is still an entertaining read with further insights into the WH40K universe. The story follows two different perspectives; that of a group of Imperial assassins sent to kill Horus and also an opposing assassin sent to kill the Emperor. The imperial assassins' storyline is fairly standard fair as the team is assembled, (one of each type of killer being introduced in series, adding two types of assassin not seen in the tabletop game) and proceeding with their mission. The interweaving story of the dark assassin as he works his way toward his objective is more interesting, (but more problematic in fluff terms - he is a pariah bonded with a warp creature, and I thought pariah's were anathema to anything from the warp, but that's just me being a Warhammer geek). For fans of 40K I'm not giving anything away by telling you that both parties fail in their primary mission and the story climaxes in a battle between the imperials and the dark assassin. The plot moves fast and is well written, there is the obligatory cameos from some of the big 40k figures; Rogal Dorn, Erebus, Horus and best of all the Emperor himself get a few lines at last. All in all I enjoyed it but it did not reach the quality of other books in the series (all right the ones by McNeil & Abnett)....more
I bought this book based on a SFX review of it's sequel (Black Lung Captain) - which I now must get to continue the story. I enjoyed Retribution FallsI bought this book based on a SFX review of it's sequel (Black Lung Captain) - which I now must get to continue the story. I enjoyed Retribution Falls immensely, it is pure pulpy joy. As a big fan of Firefly the similarities, (wether intentional or not), between the two resonated well without crossing over to downright rip-off. It isn't high literature and doesn't try to be, it aims to be fun and fast and succeeds enormously. Not that it isn't dark in places, with one characters backstory involving the murder of a little girl being particularly tragic. The characters initially come across as reprobates but grow on you as you learn their backstories, by the second half of the book you'll be rooting for them to win. The world the story inhabits is evocative with the description of the technology and magic just fleshed out enough to make the rest of the story work. I really want a map though - one thing I always want in any new fantasy world....more