The Killing Moon is one of the finest fantasy works I have read in recent times. From its unique world to its representation of religion to the utterlThe Killing Moon is one of the finest fantasy works I have read in recent times. From its unique world to its representation of religion to the utterly human characters, it is utterly brilliant. Jemisin does a wonderful job at slowly building up the world and its complex workings while maintaining the narrative at a steady pace. I haven't had the chance to read a lot of fantasy that is centered around a religion (magic in all its forms is usually treated in a more secular form in most fantasy works), so it was quite a delight to read such a well-crafted fantasy-faith. ...more
On the outset, this is the story of a cautious man, Tony Webster, who has lived an ordinary life, the sort of life he could always keep at a distanceOn the outset, this is the story of a cautious man, Tony Webster, who has lived an ordinary life, the sort of life he could always keep at a distance (what he calls a "peaceable life"). It is apt that the story begins with a set of visual memories that serve as comforting placeholders, substitutes for certain key events in his life. Tony recounts the story of his early life with his friends (Adrian, Colin and Alex. Colin and Alex are pretty much the Rosencrantz and Guildernstern characters here. Shadows at the edge of the stage), his awkward first relationship which is tenuously linked to Adrian's suicide, the perfect mundaneness of the latter half of his life until he receives a letter from an attorney. There is some faint nostalgic regret attached to the ordinariness of his life: "I rarely ended up fantasising a markedly different life from the life that has been mine...I'm not odd enough not to have done the things I've ended up doing with my life."
Barnes is brilliant in presenting the imperfections of Tony Webster's recall of events from his past. The narrative evolves around the fallibility of memory and how our remembering of things and events and people is restructured by our false image of ourselves, our personal conceits or shadowed by our unacknowledged feelings towards the remembered things. As Tony remembers while recounting his past, "History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation."
The heart of the narrative rests in the impulsive, unconscious acts of petty cruelty committed casually, offhandedly by people, the effects of such acts, and the unbearable burden of remorse that follows which can never be written off or forgiven. Though I'm not sure I quite like the shocking climax bit before the end, it is a little smudge on an otherwise awesome work. ...more
A sprawling narrative spanning political intrigue, the harsh mechanics of medieval warfare, climate change, the walking dead, dragons, the classic WesA sprawling narrative spanning political intrigue, the harsh mechanics of medieval warfare, climate change, the walking dead, dragons, the classic West/East dialectic and some other things, A Game of Thrones tries to accomplish a lot. With respect to plot and narrative, it succeeds in places. But the writing betrays it in many other places. Repetition of stock phrases (the Stark motto, the Lannister gold, the Targaryen dragons, the Dothraki code, etc.) serve only to pigeonhole otherwise complex characters and situations into certain stilted, hackneyed positions. Of the characters presented, it is perhaps Tyrion Lannister who shines out best as an individual-in-himself. The others are subsumed within the elaborate web of a plot Martin lays out before us, pieces being moved by invisible hands on the greater board of the world. The plot is a sheer pleasure to follow, however. Unlike the strict clinical precision with which fantasy heroes, villains, creatures and whatnots usually operate, Martin allows his characters the luxury of bad judgement, of acting blindly without forethought, or being stupid. While not the best written fantasy novel out there, it is still a fun read and a very interesting world to explore. ...more