While I've always loved the stories and the characters of the greater epic fictions of the past (which led to my obsession with fantasy), I really nev...moreWhile I've always loved the stories and the characters of the greater epic fictions of the past (which led to my obsession with fantasy), I really never got into the *telling* of them. The Epic of Gilgamesh is probably the only one that I've really enjoyed; far too often, I find the verse shitty, the telling annoying, and the authorial sidetracks worthless. Beowulf wasn't *that much better*, but I did quite enjoy it.
While the overlong and uninspired side-stories went on as usual (i.e. the history of the dragon, the ridiculous 12 years that supposedly went by of Grendel's terror, the history of who-cares-whose-great-grandfather-did-suchandsuch-to-the-soandsos, etc.), the meat of the story was done just beautifully -- and I think this is due to one, the kennings, and two, the real beginning of fantastic/magical realism. A kenning is a compound word made up of whole other words (as opposed to the portmanteau's parceling of words) that creates figurative images like the "whale-road" for the ocean; these are always cool, and they bring an impassioned life to an otherwise bland verse. On top of this, there is effort to convey a very real sense of life, while mixing in fable -- a sort of outlandish real land; if there is anything about fantasy that always draws me, it is that perfect blending of the real and unreal, where the line becomes blurred and then widens and then disappears.
A relatively short read, but one you should take the time to parse rightly. Because of its short length, old age, and good "fantasy", I don't think less than 4/5 would be appropriate, even though I'm not sure it quite deserves 4 stars.(less)
The first Gothic story. Not bad... supernatural dread, comedy, and romance tied together. Probably one of the better (if not the best) story I've read...moreThe first Gothic story. Not bad... supernatural dread, comedy, and romance tied together. Probably one of the better (if not the best) story I've read for my Restoration/18th Century British Lit course. Still, the writing can be annoying, and the story isn't as inspired as some of the later Gothic fiction.(less)
Read this back in college. Horrifying bad. You'd think this was a failed adaptation of the movie. A wannabe author-within-an-author "story" that flunk...moreRead this back in college. Horrifying bad. You'd think this was a failed adaptation of the movie. A wannabe author-within-an-author "story" that flunks every criterion I have for narration. The only redeeming factor about this was that Inigo's revenge is a bit more elaborate than the movie.(less)
A pale shadow of what made *Hush* so amazing. A cartoonish and bland art design instead of the slick and well-defined pages of the original. A plot th...moreA pale shadow of what made *Hush* so amazing. A cartoonish and bland art design instead of the slick and well-defined pages of the original. A plot that could have been great, but needs 100 more pages to do any real justice to what they were trying to accomplish. Dialogue so uninspired it could be seen in something like *Twilight*. Man, what a letdown after the awesome that was *Hush*. (less)
[Full review later... a great story with a lot of frustration.]
The five "books" compiled under the Corwin cycle are really novellas that, together, cr...more[Full review later... a great story with a lot of frustration.]
The five "books" compiled under the Corwin cycle are really novellas that, together, craft a single story of, perhaps, *A Game of Thrones* length. The second story -- the Merlin Cycle -- is another novel containing 5 more novellas.
Corwin Cycle (published from 1970-1978) -- 3/5 stars (*Nine Princes in Amber*, *The Guns of Avalon*, *Sign of the Unicorn*, *The Hand of Oberon*, *The Courts of Chaos*) A genuinely original story with a lot of great ideas, and a lot of bad implementation.
The bad: 1. If you thought the recaps at the beginning of each Harry Potter title were annoying, these books will tear you down. Sure, they were published over an 8 year period, but come on... sometimes an entire chapter (out of 10-13) is used to recap the previous books, and when these books are only 125-175 pages, that's just downright weak. 2. In trying to hold suspense, Zelazny allows certain characters to conveniently ignore the peculiar attitudes and changes of certain other characters. While this works as an internal mystery, it's a serious betrayal to the reader; Zelazny was trying for a kind of dramatic irony, but instead it comes off as if he is purposefully making characters temporally stupid, so he can control what gets revealed when. I may not be able to do better, but as a critic, I can say that that is a story-telling failure. 3. The shadow-shifting ellipses. Now, full-disclosure, I love ellipses, and I use them way more than I should. But man, this guy cannot control himself. I get the idea -- as shadows shift, there should be those kinds of pauses. But he'll write an *entire page* of disjointed images linked together with ellipses, and it's a straight-up turnoff. Where's the narrative? 4. The entire first half of the last book, *The Courts of Chaos*. Corwin is just riding. That's it. Just a bunch of random events. Nothing more. 5. Amber. The nobility is incredibly interesting... but I'm lost as to the rest of it. It's a whole freaking country with citizens who trade with other shadows... but how? What is their daily life like? Why don't we see the people? Absolutely *nothing* about it is explored. The whole story and setting is so well-crafted, so why am I left wanting in hearing about the little guy and the everyman?
The good: 1. The story itself. The true world of Amber, and the princes of the blood who can craft their own multiverses. The varied mysteries of Amber, the Pattern, and meaning behind it all. The conspiracies to the throne, and the adventures through shadow. The relationships explored and the plot points revealed. All of this shows a truly original mind behind the story, and I love every part of it. I went to sleep every day wishing I could be a prince in Amber, to travel shadow in search of infinite worlds. Amidst all of the bad, there is a core here of incredible and beautiful ideas. That stands as this story's greatest strength. 2. The detail in creating world and character. Zelazny does a great job with description, and the reader evolves along with some of the main characters. Detail is painstakingly thought out, and the minds of the characters are revealed and changed in realistic and interesting ways. Well done, on that front.
Yes, the bad seems to outweigh the good in terms of numbers, but the problems are less important than the core -- the story. 3/5 stars.
Merlin Cycle (published from 1985-1991) -- __ stars (*Trumps of Doom*, *Blood of Amber*, *Sign of Chaos*, *Knight of Shadows*, *Prince of Chaos*)
ToD: Merlin is a fantastically stupid protagonist, but one the reader sympathizes with. The ending to the first novella is a tell-all reveal, just like Harry Potter. Meh, it was a fun story until that part. Zelazny still shows his descriptive prowess throughout, but his grip of dialogue seems to have diminished somewhat; Ghostwheel speaks (a huge event), and Merlin's response is not noted in the narration and all he says is, "No. I was surprised." Really?! The addition to the canon of the Logrus and Frakir was interesting, though a tad forced. I suppose "sorcerer" refers to those of Chaos who can manipulate the Logrus, but from what I remember, the word was never used in the Corwin cycle, so I was a little taken aback at the mention of magic. I don't know what to think of a character's death; I mean, a number of the characters who died in Corwin's story came back, and when the death happens off-screen... I don't know. Though most of the writing was good, I felt like this was a cheap attempt for Zelazny to get back in the game.
[Will continue this review after I finish each book in the Merlin Cycle.]
*A Note on the Edition* Even though this omnibus edition comes 8 years after the last story was published (and 29 years after the first story), the amount of typos here is mind-boggling. It's not as bad as *A Dance with Dragons*, but still, after all these years, there are still mistakes like "your" instead "you" and other such silliness. Why hasn't this been fixed? Sorely disappointing.
*A 2nd Note on the Edition* I thought the editorial mistakes might be resolved for the Merlin cycle, but they've actually gotten far worse -- it is now worse than *A Dance with Dragons*. In *Trumps of Doom* alone, there were about 10 mistakes I could find, like "you" instead of "your", "now" instead of "not", "hear" instead of "here", and missing periods... some on the same page! These are all done without any additional spaces or other signs, so it's not just a printing error, and it's not just an occasional apostrophe that's missing, these are unforgivable... these are massive failures of the writing itself. Though I won't take a star off of the rating, it deserves some kind of note. And what's worse, if this is the authorial collector's edition as it seems, then there may be no further edition that gets rid of all these problems. (less)
Bloody amazing. Life-changing content in here, if you take the time to parse it.
The first time I read V, I had some issues with the art design, but th...moreBloody amazing. Life-changing content in here, if you take the time to parse it.
The first time I read V, I had some issues with the art design, but they were the superficial problems my young philistine self dreamed up. Upon a reread, I'm still not convinced the art works exactly, but not because it just isn't "modern" or "glossy," but because it's too dark and too small to get a clear picture of what's happening... which defeats the idea behind the graphic novel. Nevertheless, the ideas in this book remain totally brilliant, and I'm glad I've gone back to explore V's world again, now that I have a more mature understanding of politics and freedom.
Very cool story, and interestingly written as well. I like the length of the story, the fantasy elements, the "tragic hero" played right, and the stru...moreVery cool story, and interestingly written as well. I like the length of the story, the fantasy elements, the "tragic hero" played right, and the structure. I didn't like Pearl as much -- it's a little too Bible-thumping.(less)
Fantastic graphic design, crazed-awesome Joker plot (gave *The Dark Knight* a lot of material), and wonderful punch line at the end. Groundbreaking st...moreFantastic graphic design, crazed-awesome Joker plot (gave *The Dark Knight* a lot of material), and wonderful punch line at the end. Groundbreaking stuff.(less)
This is not Batman's story, not yet. This is Gordon's tale. Yes, and Bruce's. Miller's writing of both of these characters is fantastic... even when d...moreThis is not Batman's story, not yet. This is Gordon's tale. Yes, and Bruce's. Miller's writing of both of these characters is fantastic... even when dialogue is kept to a minimum, the internal monologue is brilliant. The conflict and responsibility that they are forced into is natural and intense. I can definitely see why *Batman Begins* drew heavily on this piece for inspiration. The graphic design is good, but not entirely special, other than a few really powerful panes, such as the bat striking through a Wayne manor window.(less)
Stunning debut. Rothfuss writes some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read. Unfortunately, Kvothe disappoints his own bravado. We see a little...moreStunning debut. Rothfuss writes some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read. Unfortunately, Kvothe disappoints his own bravado. We see a little of Kvothe the Arcane at the very end... we get a cop-out of Kvothe the Bloodless... Even though the story is about the relationship between legend and truth, I couldn't help but feel a bit let down by the power of the story.(less)