The perfect revenge tragedy. Do yourself a favor and read the unabridged version. If you've already read the abridged, go find the unabridged and read...moreThe perfect revenge tragedy. Do yourself a favor and read the unabridged version. If you've already read the abridged, go find the unabridged and read it. I've been thanked by several friends for the peer pressure I've given them to do so. Dumas is the master of the plot arc, and you will enjoy all of the 800 or so pages. There doesn't seem to be any demographic naturally opposed to this book; it's one of the few I've found that I can universally recommend.
TCoMC is the paragon of the revenge tragedy. "He done me wrong, I'll make sure he gets what's his." Many credit Dumas with perfecting the Comrades-in-Arms genre with The Three Musketeers, but I actually think his genre-perfecting reputation is better served by Monte Cristo. There is not a single misstep in this book.
Two things I'll note: After the "done me wrong" events occur, there is the "build up to the oh-so-sweet revenge" section. At one point during this section, you will have a desire for Dumas to get on with it, skip to The Dish Best Served Cold. That's fine, it's natural, but trust me: The buildup is so well accomplished that it's what makes The Dish so delicious when it comes around.
Note Two: The first time I read the book, I had to do a little character tree. I had a little sheet of paper with names and relationships on it, yes. Because the events of the book span 2 (technically 3) generations, this means that characters have children who become important characters in their own right, and some of the characters later on go by names and titles different from their initial introduction. In spite of the buildup period and the length of the overall work, when things start happening it really moves, so we get hit with a number of characters all at once. It helps to have a reference to get over the hump.
Great work. I reread some few books; I've returned to Count more than any other, 4 or 5 total readings. It's just so delicious, and rarely if ever have I read a better finale.(less)
This guy is the Tolstoy of fantasy writing. Between the heavy cultural impact of the Lord of the Rings movies, the explosion of the Harry Potter serie...moreThis guy is the Tolstoy of fantasy writing. Between the heavy cultural impact of the Lord of the Rings movies, the explosion of the Harry Potter series (both books and movies) and now GRRM, I have hopes that Fantasy will finally be vindicated as a genre. HBO seems to agree.
Read this book if you like fantasy. Read it if you like well-written characters. Read it if you like fiction. Just read the series. I hope GRRM doesn't fizzle in his writing or die mid-series, because there's a lot of momentum and a lot of expectations at this point.
For the actual review: Each chapter is told from the perspective of one character at a time, and GRRM rotates through the different characters. The story takes place in a world estimated to be about the size of Europe, plus a bit beyond that (the Free Cities and the rest). There are a lot of characters, and a lot of conflict and cooperation and machinations between and amongst them. This book is the first part of a large work.
It's easy to forget and slip into the mindset that GRRM is writing "low fantasy," that is, fantasy that is mostly realistic and doesn't allow for magic and otherworldliness. Chapters and plot arcs will come and go with no reference to anything more mystical than a reference to superstition or children's fairy tales. But never forget the opening preface of Book 1. Otherworldliness is there, lurking at the periphery, awaiting its moment.
GRRM doesn't hew to traditional tropes and narratives. Spoilers for Harry Potter: When Dumbledore dies in, what, book 6?, it came as a surprise to many. With GRRM, you learn very quickly that you will not be happily predicting where any character goes, that no character exists in a bubble immunizing them from outside forces. With GRRM, Dumbledore's death would never have waited for book 6. Harry's wouldn't have awaited book 7, and he certainly wouldn't have come back to life afterward.
Turn your brain off and expect well-trod narrative arcs at your own peril. You will love the effect of this, and you should read Umberto Eco's essay on tropes and Casablanca if you want to understand why. (less)
This book is on the "With a Twist" shelf because it is an homage to The Count of Monte Cristo, specifically mentions that book, and has a similar plot...moreThis book is on the "With a Twist" shelf because it is an homage to The Count of Monte Cristo, specifically mentions that book, and has a similar plot line.(less)
Colleen McCullough writes some of the best historical fiction I've read. She's highly educated, although her degree in Letters was awarded mostly as a...moreColleen McCullough writes some of the best historical fiction I've read. She's highly educated, although her degree in Letters was awarded mostly as an honorarium for her Masters of Rome series. However, each work is highly researched, and has many pages of endnotes. There have been numerous incidents wherein I've thought she added in a situation merely to raise the level of drama, or took artistic license, and I've gone on to discover that she was quoting directly from the historical record.
So, in summation: If you want to learn about the last days of Rome really well, from Gaius Marius to Sulla to Caesar and Antony, and to learn it in a gripping narrative format, I suggest you read her books. Or vice versa: If you want a fantastic read, and don't mind learning awesome history in the process, turn to McCollough. I pick up her books and typically finish them within days, in spite of their size. I just can't put them down. (less)
This book is on the "With a Twist" shelf because the author attempts an homage to Three Musketeers. The plot is influenced, but is a bit confused (or...moreThis book is on the "With a Twist" shelf because the author attempts an homage to Three Musketeers. The plot is influenced, but is a bit confused (or maybe I don't understand the "Rochefort = The Devil" theory, from Three Musketeers, well enough) by this attempt.(less)