For the most part, this was a fun, rompy swords & sorcery. Unfortunately, I felt very unsatisfied by the ending. Without going into spoilers, the...moreFor the most part, this was a fun, rompy swords & sorcery. Unfortunately, I felt very unsatisfied by the ending. Without going into spoilers, the way Egil & Nix solved the major conflict felt like it undermined the themes and character development that had come before. (less)
This book is really held back by being a YA novel. The genre conventions such as single point of view, focus on a love story, and minimal explanation...moreThis book is really held back by being a YA novel. The genre conventions such as single point of view, focus on a love story, and minimal explanation of the world-building detract from Sanderson's ability to do what he does best--big epics in well thought out and well explained worlds. The magic system either had more holes or less explanation, the main character is more interested in girls and fighting Epics than learning the rules behind them, and some of the plot points were a little too predictable.
Overall, not a bad read, but I prefer Sanderson's bigger stuff. It had a strong last act, at least, so I was enjoying it by the end.(less)
I ended up stopping this one about a third of the way through. This one's on me, though. When the premise involves an undead army invading, and a ques...moreI ended up stopping this one about a third of the way through. This one's on me, though. When the premise involves an undead army invading, and a quest to bring a sample of a dead king's blood to a necromancer, I really have no excuse for being surprised when things took a turn for the grimdark.(less)
The Light of Kerrindryr largely tells the story of Cob, an escaped slave on a quest to redeem himself by facing judgement in a religious ritual on the...moreThe Light of Kerrindryr largely tells the story of Cob, an escaped slave on a quest to redeem himself by facing judgement in a religious ritual on the other side of the (highly oppressive and theocratic) Empire. But the Empire isn't having any of that and deploys a super-powered assassin to track and capture him. Most of the story is a chase.
Cob himself is an unlikely protagonist. He's a short-sighted, bigoted zealot who shuts down any scenes of exposition by sounding off about lies and blasphemy and Darkness. This immediately puts him at odds with me because I'm a fan of good world-building, and he prevents the author from talking about it. The world-building is there, but it often goes unspoken and impenetrable.
Darilan is more conflicted. His motives change so often that I never got a good handle on what he actually wanted.
The book had some high points. The action scenes were well done. The world-building was strong, even though it was largely obfuscated. I liked the idea of an Empire with many contending factions barely managing to work together. I complain about Cob's personality, but he was well-written and served the purpose intended.
At the same time, the book felt bloated and directionless. Pacing was a major issue. There's a section early on where Cob is first making his escape that is written in a dreamy, opaque style that made it a chore to get through. Around 3/4 of the way through, something similar happens yet again. The story changed directions sharply about halfway through, and the author didn't seem to know what to do with some of the characters involved. To cite another pacing issue, there's a particular event that basically divides the book in two and would have been a great cliffhanger. Instead, the story continues in the same volume, yet resets as if a new book had started. Character motives changed drastically as a result and all momentum was lost. In that sense, the book contains its own sequel, yet still didn't seem to resolve any plot lines.
This book also helped me realize something about my own tastes. I don't really care for stories where the characters are just being jerked around by circumstance and constantly reacting. Cob in particular had almost zero agency for the entire book. In small doses, removing a character's agency is good for conflict and tension. In large doses, it feels like the author is railroading the characters, as another review pointed out.
Overall, not a bad book, but it would have benefited from tightening the focus of the plot and letting the world-building show. It might have even benefited from being split into two. (less)
“A Confederacy of Dunces” is labeled as one of the funniest books ever written, and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize. I don’t see it worthy of either ac...more“A Confederacy of Dunces” is labeled as one of the funniest books ever written, and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize. I don’t see it worthy of either accolade.
The main character, Ignatius Reilly, is a delusional, arrogant blowhard and a bit of a bully. If he went to a restaurant, ordered a sandwich without mayonnaise, and received a sandwich with mayonnaise, he’d be on the table screaming about conspiracy theories, personal attacks, and communist threats to the very fabric of America. If that’s the sort of humor that appeals to you, and you want to read 50 more variations of that exact joke, then you’ll enjoy this book. If you want a little more complexity in your humor, as I did, you’ll be left wondering what the big deal is.
And that’s the fundamental problem: the humor just isn’t complex. Every character has one or two major quirks, and they each faithfully play their shtick until the end of a scene. There’s no wit, no wordplay, no jokes, no satire. It’s just a bunch of idiots running around interacting within their own particular idioms, and the humor rarely progresses beyond, “Get a load of this moron.” The humor derives solely from the expectation that the reader will laugh at the antics of misfits and the mentally unwell. Overall, it’s a mean-spirited book.
There are far funnier authors out there: Wilde, Pratchett, and Thurber come to mind. This one has a wholly undeserved reputation. The one character I found at all amusing was Jones, because he at least had discovered sarcasm. When sarcasm is the most advanced technique in a “comic masterpiece,” I have to wonder who decides these things. (less)
I shouldn't have started the series with the prequel. "A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born" is the story of how James DiGriz went from teenage punk to...wel...moreI shouldn't have started the series with the prequel. "A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born" is the story of how James DiGriz went from teenage punk to...well, teenage punk with purpose, I guess. Had I started with "A Stainless Steel Rat," maybe I would have enjoyed it more, but I have an aversion for origin stories, and I didn't have any attachment to the character, so a lot of the events and character developments didn't mean anything to me. (less)