It seems like the series is getting something of its plot back, but as always rather losing track of its characters. I swear everyone but Peter is becIt seems like the series is getting something of its plot back, but as always rather losing track of its characters. I swear everyone but Peter is becoming less fleshed out, from the regular supporting cast, to the villains, to the personalities of the various suspects and victims of the specific case. Still a fairly fun read, but the series seems to be fast losing whatever substance it had and sliding into a certain nonsensicality of lamesish one liners ("I was going to say something witty only I was cut off," is used, and you can't twice in one book) and messy action scenes without much connectivity. ...more
Ok, but feels a bit underbaked. More an outline of a novel than the proper thing. It is a touch refreshing, on the one hand, to get a fantasy that isnOk, but feels a bit underbaked. More an outline of a novel than the proper thing. It is a touch refreshing, on the one hand, to get a fantasy that isn't meandering and self-consciously epic. On the other hand, this becomes stripped down to a kind of thought exercise, characters moving through events, relationships and moral choices without ever quite - just barely, but still - climbing up to being a story, immersive and worthwhile in and of itself, it's messages and lessons arising from engaging rather than the other way around.
I look forward to whatever Tchaikovsky does next, but have to admit this was a bit of a disappointment. More might have been more, in this instance. ...more
Perfectly enjoyable paragraph by paragraph but never quite there, never quite as good as I kept hoping it might become. The characters, setting, histoPerfectly enjoyable paragraph by paragraph but never quite there, never quite as good as I kept hoping it might become. The characters, setting, history, etc, all just never managed to come alive for me. The eponymous city seems like a particularly glaring miss, a potentially fabulous bit of worldbuilding that stays cornered to the occassional descriptive passage. ...more
The more ambitious this series gets, the more, alas, eyerollingly, distractingly, preciously didactic I find it. The oh-gosh-really moment of the inveThe more ambitious this series gets, the more, alas, eyerollingly, distractingly, preciously didactic I find it. The oh-gosh-really moment of the invention of currency is adorable enough, but what really made me chortle helplessly and give up on the book as an actual story I cared about, rather than an instructive on the subversion of fantasy trope X or Y, is Geder's cackling geek-boy-at-his-worst, like he's a psychological profile of someone who emails Anita Sarkeesian misogynistic comments. Interesting, sure. Admirable? Perhaps. A good read? ...more
A little style-over-substance, and the style wears itself very thin quite quickly. I liked the beginning, but well before the end I was just waiting fA little style-over-substance, and the style wears itself very thin quite quickly. I liked the beginning, but well before the end I was just waiting for it to be over. Story and character just dissolve under a terribly contrived plot (that demands people constantly explain it to each other to give it any substance) and that exhausting, over the top writing. A shame - this is the rare book that I wish was actually longer. It feels like an over-long novella, but with the potential to be a longer, more patient, more substantial novel that I would have enjoyed a lot more. ...more
Ok, this is absolutely gorgeous and the imagery is wildly imaginative and the quips are snappy and everything, but I just can't make it come togetherOk, this is absolutely gorgeous and the imagery is wildly imaginative and the quips are snappy and everything, but I just can't make it come together in my head into a story I can actually care about and think about. There aren't enough words. ...more
Thoroughly enjoyed this one, after the slightly mechanical, no pun intended, eighths book. The cast of characters is enormous, but they each get enougThoroughly enjoyed this one, after the slightly mechanical, no pun intended, eighths book. The cast of characters is enormous, but they each get enough careful attention to create distinct personalities and motivations, and Tchaikovsky has a knack of taking those characterizations and crafting arresting, dramatic, brutal moments out of them. The series probably most interesting aspect, the questions of magic and technology, also comes full circle and i'm dying to know how it's going to play out in the next book now. It's also astonishing how far all the characters have come, in a way that even series with much higher pretensions of scope usually fail to achieve. In short, read this, fantasy fans....more
I guess i'm the only person who didn't mind the amnesia plot? Given that the Temeraire books are not exactly a font of deep and introspective characteI guess i'm the only person who didn't mind the amnesia plot? Given that the Temeraire books are not exactly a font of deep and introspective characterization, even a fairly cheap device like amnesia was fairly effective at wringing some out.
I don't know if this is a particularly unusual way to read the books - my impression is that i'm in a minority, anyway - but I've always cared a great deal more about Lawrence than I have about Temeraire. Temeraire is just kind of twee and cute and modern politically correct all the time. Lawrence actually has a fairly complex and difficult character arc buried under all the reticence and good manners (well, and a degree of authorial disinterest), from having his whole life upheaved, reassesing his sense of duty and doing it all while, at least in the early books, still being a product of his time. I'm beginning to lose track of all the war stuff and who is against who and the dragon emancipation business which feels like pandering to reader sensibilities. I could, however, spend a whole book reading Lawrence having awkward conversations with his mother and trying to decide who to promote to lieutenant.
Anyway, back to this book - that's why I liked the slower, lost-Lawrence stuff of the beginning. Afterwards when we're back to adventuring around and such, well, it isn't bad, but it all gets to be rather the same after a while. ...more
Twisty, frenetic, loaded with fun quotes and neat imagery, and with a more interesting, more character focused story potentiating at the margins but nTwisty, frenetic, loaded with fun quotes and neat imagery, and with a more interesting, more character focused story potentiating at the margins but never emerging. So, as usual. ...more
So that was...a book. I suppose. Just kind of a mess. Some interesting notions and concepts, but all tumbled together with no particular unifying toneSo that was...a book. I suppose. Just kind of a mess. Some interesting notions and concepts, but all tumbled together with no particular unifying tone. I didn't care about any of the characters - probably because the book wanted me so, so badly to care about them, and to care about them just so - and even less for the world/threat/big bad/coming war/something. (I don't really know what was going on. Due to not caring.) Also, Morgan - at least here - is extraordinarily bad at doing that basic thing which is a touchstone of the subgenre, the gradual reveal of both ancient and immediate world history along with the character's backstories. It's just a mess here. Maybe I wasn't paying attention, but I haven't the foggiest of who did what in what war and who that war was fought against and who's coming back where and so on and so forth. Given all that, the point where it finally picks up and stuff stars happening and dramatic reunions are had and mysteries are revealed and so on was just a lot of whatever. ...more
It's funny, this genre mixing business. Sometimes it ends up being overwhelming, and sometimes, you kind of end up with nothing much. In this instanceIt's funny, this genre mixing business. Sometimes it ends up being overwhelming, and sometimes, you kind of end up with nothing much. In this instance, it's a sort of pulpy noir meets pulpy sword-and-sorcery, but it's not terribly noir, not terribly S&S, and not even terribly pulpy.
Oh, don't get me wrong, the building blocks are all there - roads are dominated by random bandits who die really easily, the hero has a secret murdered-girlfriend past, bands of child-thieves dominate murky alleys, buying someone a drink at a tavern is the best possible form of intelligence gathering, all women are jaded yet salacious, and prostitution appears the be the chief economic activity of the entire planet. Sadly (sort of) all of it remains a little sketched-in and lifeless. To rise above utterly bland this kind of thing needs to be turned up to 11 with the pulpiness, or have something going for it with the genre juxtaposition or something, which this is really far too tame to deliver.
Part of it might be that it's really a little flimsy, plot-wise. Kind of feels like a computer game: travel to location A. Kill the monster and find the hidden scrolls that lead to location B. Repeat. Still, it's short, it moves along, the prose won't kill you and the use of totally modern language ("dude") and stuff (gay interior decorators) in a kinda-maybe technologically medieval society is occasionally novel, in a breathmint-in-the-morning sort of way. ...more
I liked the atmosphere and the writing, the kind of clarity that they both have. The emotional lives and tragedies of the old couple are beautifully -I liked the atmosphere and the writing, the kind of clarity that they both have. The emotional lives and tragedies of the old couple are beautifully - and occassionaly devastatingly - drawn. At the same time, the story felt a little insubstantial and petered out. The most interesting current, for me, was the question of the end. It's a fairy tale. You know how it ends, how it must end, (I grew up with Snegurochka, which I had forgotten, so the story settled into a worn groove,) and yet found myself questioning that anyway. Could the story change direction? Why not? Could the characters do that? Can the author do that? Can a reader accept that? ...more
Swash you buckles! Ok, This book is just absurd, adventure fun, but heres the thing, adventure fun is hard to do. The shelves are littered with booksSwash you buckles! Ok, This book is just absurd, adventure fun, but heres the thing, adventure fun is hard to do. The shelves are littered with books that picked up a bit of history, a bit of fantasy, a bit of a Zombie and a bit romance, stirred them all together and were sure they had arrive at glorious adventure, but actually fell oh-so-short. ("Throne of the Crescent Moon", I am looking at you.) This one actually makes it!
I'm not sure if the plot makes any sense because it went by too fast and the characters all talk like Bond Villains with tragic pasts and hearts of gold, all the time.(This is perfect. "I must have my vengeance", "he shall pay with his life","You are sure to fall in love with me, I have a very fine collection of waistcoats".) Like with Riveted (i'm reading this series backwards) theres a current there of something slightly more serious, on the characterization level, but where in Riveted it fits in to the story well and adds a lot of depth, here it's just kind of makes one go 'huh', every now and then. Whatever. It's just so perfectly pulpy - without toppling over into stupid or offensive - that I can forgive it rushing by maybe being a better book for the achievement of definitely being a fun one. ...more
Well, that was a hot bath and a cup of tea on a rainy day of a book.
Hero - not an asshat! Heroine - not stupid! How amazing that that's remarkable. TWell, that was a hot bath and a cup of tea on a rainy day of a book.
Hero - not an asshat! Heroine - not stupid! How amazing that that's remarkable. The worldbuilding is laugh-out-loud charming, the plot happens at the proper pace, there's a dastardly villain and just enough complexity to keep it from getting dull - all in all, pretty much perfect for what it sets out to be.
...that said. Yes, it's got that kind of prim political correctness about -isms that leads to easy answers that I don't think do the cause much service, in the way that literature is supposed to. Then some of the character angles it sets up could have been...weightier, or were wiggled out to easily. Let's just say the sex scenes could have been a hell of a lot more interesting if they'd been primarily from David's perspective, and (view spoiler)[Kalla's choices kind of sort themselves out very neatly by the end. (hide spoiler)]The romance, of course, is endlessly convenient, but that's ok.
Like, the book is good enough that i'm almost kind of torn - on the one hand, why am I reading about sweet romance and giant mechanical trolls and mad scientists and secret lesbian communes when theres all this great stuff all over the place that could be a darker and more intense story about vulnerability, technology, masculinity, secrecy, society, etc, whatever, and with themes and whathaveyou and everything? On the other hand, dude, giant mechanical trolls and mad scientists and secret lesbian communes!
I guess overall it pretty much manages to hit a good balance. Maybe there is a messier, more conceptual book tucked somewhere in there, but it very possible that it wouldn't be as enjoyable. I'll take what I can get. ...more