As far as debuts go, this is really good. In fact, as far as novels go, this is really good. The two main perspectives create two intertwining stories...moreAs far as debuts go, this is really good. In fact, as far as novels go, this is really good. The two main perspectives create two intertwining stories that gradually reveal details and you always want to see more and find out what happens. I found the earlier perspective to be perhaps more compelling and more interestingly written, but the later one was by no means poor. Some of the prose in this is absolutely divine to read, too - Harris has a really good way with words.
Flaws? Well, I think it suffers from a common fault to mystery stories where the author reveals a bit of information and it's meant to confirm something for the reader... except it confirms what was already obvious and you end up screaming (internally) at the later perspective for not working it out earlier. It seemed like an anti-climax in a way, because it was such a big clue that had essentially no relevance.
If there's one thing this book is, it's misleading. I got the impression that it would be full of trivia about the Romans, from significant events to...moreIf there's one thing this book is, it's misleading. I got the impression that it would be full of trivia about the Romans, from significant events to small details about their way of life. But... it's more of a brief history of the whole of the Roman Empire. Split into chapters covering specific periods in Roman history, it details the founding of Rome through to the end of the Empire, each section being an explanation and then a series of details which don't necessarily progress chronologically.
Whilst it can be a fascinating read, it left me a little sour. It didn't seem to actually detail the end of the Roman Empire, instead coming to an abrupt end not long after Christianity becomes the religion of the Empire. There's no epilogue, conclusion, summary. Nothing. You don't know you've finished until you turn the page and get hit with the bibliography. It also loves to mention gossip and rumour, yet during the parts about Caesar, it fails to mention that Caesarion's parentage is disputed (i.e. Caesar may not have been his father), nor that for all the women he slept with over his life, at no other point has he been known to have fathered a son. It's also worth noting that Jones criticises Cicero over his view on slaves whilst never mentioning Cicero's most notable slave Tiro, again, removing context or contradiction from that segment.
The tone of the book is also inconsistent. Whilst it can be funny, there are too many sly comments or digs at contemporary politics. They'll either not mean anything to the reader or date the book. I was also a little worried by how the author's views were portrayed - he defends homosexual behaviour in Roman society, makes no comment on reporting a woman having intercourse with a bull during a show put on by an emperor, and then later refers to Emperor Elagabalus as a "sexual deviant" (with no further details), further telling us that Elagabalus "made himself as female as possible, expressing the desire for a sex change". Whilst it is impossible to know the intimacies of Elagabalus' identity, I was shocked by this segment, because there was no separation of Elagabalus' supposed sexual deviancy - and no detailing of it for context! - and it made me uncomfortable.
On the whole this book is an easy and often entertaining read, but by slimming down the history of the Roman Empire, we're left with not even half the picture. This lack of detail takes opinions, views and actions out of context and often misrepresents them. Whilst we are warned this book may need to be taken with a pinch of salt, I found it to be marketed poorly (i.e. it isn't quite what it says it is) and to have too many issues with how it presents information, not to mention the abrupt end.(less)
Not my favourite Discworld novel, but has its moments of humour and wit. Felt like the plot wasn't handled as good as it should have been, and that th...moreNot my favourite Discworld novel, but has its moments of humour and wit. Felt like the plot wasn't handled as good as it should have been, and that things happened just Because, rather than for a logical reason. But maybe that's just me.(less)
An absolutely excellent and essential read for anyone interested in women's history or classical periods, and not just for its subject matter. It is n...moreAn absolutely excellent and essential read for anyone interested in women's history or classical periods, and not just for its subject matter. It is never blind to the unreliability nor bias of its sources, and it puts forward some interesting ideas that are backed up with logic.
Sadly, whilst this is excellent, it won't lead to Cleopatra's image of a whore queen who, in a love-sick fugue, killed herself with an asp being destroyed... despite how wrong it is.(less)
This is a harder guide to review, because its building tips are few and far between and relate to creating simple (but visually impressive) buildings...moreThis is a harder guide to review, because its building tips are few and far between and relate to creating simple (but visually impressive) buildings or decoration rather than mega-projects. Instead, it serves best as an inspiration guide, showing what dedicated players (or groups of players) can do with Creative Mode and a lot of time, thus inspiring players to get with their friends or family to create their own mega projects.
If you want inspiration, get this. If you need building tips, there's plenty of online resources that would be better.(less)
This isn't a particularly bad guide, but like the others, it does repeat information from earlier guides. The topics it covers are enemies, weaponry,...moreThis isn't a particularly bad guide, but like the others, it does repeat information from earlier guides. The topics it covers are enemies, weaponry, defensive creations (e.g. dispensers), building techniques, late-game crafting (brewing, enchantment), The End and multiplayer combat. The coverage of each topic is pretty brief, but it is fairly thorough. I think The Nether should have had coverage in this book too, but the information on its enemies is somewhat useful.
There are mistakes and issues, however. One example would be it doesn't list Zombies as being weak to sunlight, but on the same page tells you to lure them into sunlight as a combat tip. I also need to try the building instructions, but if they're like other guides then they won't be as easy to follow as they should be. (less)
This is a fairly simple Minecraft book - one could argue it works more as a sampler for the guides (currently four volumes). There's only about four o...moreThis is a fairly simple Minecraft book - one could argue it works more as a sampler for the guides (currently four volumes). There's only about four or five building suggestions, a few basic block/enemy/animal guides and a host of Minecraft-themed puzzles. It's not going to be of much use to the hardcore Minecraft player, and the younger ones (if using console versions) won't really need the crafting recipes (as they are built into the interface, whereas the PC version relies on user memory), but the puzzles might keep some entertained.
This isn't going to change any Minecraft player's life, and if you're looking for a guide, then you're better off with the current series published by Egmont/Scholastic.(less)