Outstanding action and momentum kept me reading, and within pages, I bought the sequel. You'll find werewolves, vampires, sorcerers, evil overlords an...moreOutstanding action and momentum kept me reading, and within pages, I bought the sequel. You'll find werewolves, vampires, sorcerers, evil overlords and quite a few fight scenes. Genre-wise, it straddles historical, horror, fantasy, and thriller, but the overall effect is urban fantasy. Nate Garret's skills and proclivities make him something of an urban fantasy James Bond. McHugh skillfully juggles parallel medieval and contemporary stories, no mean feat--especially for a first novel. Dialogue is well done and quite clever and the characterization is strong. One disappointment: the contemporary story is set in London but he makes little use of the setting, perhaps because of the mostly indoor scenes that could be anywhere. The narrative voice `sounds' very American. (American spellings are used in the Kindle edition.) I was jarred at every mention of London because except for a few bits of dialogue, it just didn't feel very British. Highly reccommended to readers of Ben Aaronovitch, Jim Butcher, Carrie Vaughn, Benedict Jacka, and Ilona Andrews.
Note: Some of the lower-rated reviews complain about editing. I was intrigued by the positive reviews, but poor editing (something I do professionally) is a red flag for me. I downloaded the sample, thinking this might be a candidate for the "Shelf of Shame" I use in writing classes. For sure there are some glaring gaffs, but not many more than what I see in many "professional" books from major publishers. The character, pace, and story are so compelling I breezed right along without a lot of editorial turbulence. Proper editing would've earned another star from me.(less)
These amazing and very original stories took me back to the days of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock TV shows. Great examples of spec fiction--n...moreThese amazing and very original stories took me back to the days of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock TV shows. Great examples of spec fiction--not quite sf, just solid stories with something a little off.
Interesting blend of fantasy, romance, and paranormal. I liked the world, the characters (except the Darcy-esque Declan, although he did grow on me),...moreInteresting blend of fantasy, romance, and paranormal. I liked the world, the characters (except the Darcy-esque Declan, although he did grow on me), and the touches of humor. It has some of the standard romance trappings but some unique elements as well. I'd give it four stars but the blending of these ingredients was a bit clumsy though I cut some slack for it being a first novel. A promising start to the series. (less)
First in a series about Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere), this volume covers her life from age eight to sixteen. This is not the whimsical world of the Swords i...moreFirst in a series about Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere), this volume covers her life from age eight to sixteen. This is not the whimsical world of the Swords in Stones or Connecticut Yankees, but the visceral and bloody world of 5th century Celtic Britain that owes more in terms of tone to Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles and the gritty fantasy of Robert Holdstock than fanciful Hollywood interpretations. There is no shortage of action and intrigue. The writing is spectacular, imagery rife with metaphor and simile evocative of the era and setting. Linguistic, historical and cultural details are authentic and blended skillfully into the narrative. Use of magic is understated, for the most part, but very well handled. You’ll recognize some of the usual suspects (Vortigern, Merlin). I’ve been a fan of Arthurian tales since my father read Prince Valiant to me out of the Sunday papers. This raises the bar. A must-read for anyone who appreciates realism and believability in their fantasy.(less)
Suffers from the same problems as A FEAST FOR CROWS--too many new characters, too many characters period, and too little information on characters we'...moreSuffers from the same problems as A FEAST FOR CROWS--too many new characters, too many characters period, and too little information on characters we've been following from books 1-3. In addition, some of the events in this book pre-date what we know from AFFC. I think it was a mistake for GRRM to 'give us a full story for half the characters, rather than half a story for all the characters.' Neither of these volumes (4 & 5) give us anything close to a 'full story,' just plodding updates on each. Few if any segments approach anything close to resolution. I'd rather have read these segments in something closer to chronological order. From the ever-widening cast of characters and continuously branching story threads, I sense that Martin is a 'pantser' (seat of the pants writer as opposed to an outliner. I write the same way and have some sympathy for that, but five books into the series, he should have some idea of the end point and be writing toward that instead of branching into infinity.
Despite these complaints, I'm still hooked on the story (such as it is) and the world he's created. Hopefully the HBO series will provide an easy way to refresh my memory on the earlier books when and if the next volume comes out--I'm not about to reread 5000 pages for two months plus just to get back up to speed.(less)
My wife insisted I'd like this YA dystopian novel and I couldn't put it down. Great premise and I can't help but wonder if the inspiration for it didn...moreMy wife insisted I'd like this YA dystopian novel and I couldn't put it down. Great premise and I can't help but wonder if the inspiration for it didn't come out of the Myers-Briggs personality types and its derivatives, which always fascinated me. Fans of THE HUNGER GAMES will like this series. The sequel comes out in may.(less)
Continues the saga, but GRRM shifts focus and introduces a number of new characters and fans are left wondering for 1000+ pages about the fate of prom...moreContinues the saga, but GRRM shifts focus and introduces a number of new characters and fans are left wondering for 1000+ pages about the fate of prominent characters that we have been following throughout the series. Judging by the Amazon reviews, this is not sitting well with fans who've waited years for this installment. Martin explains this somewhat in a postscript but it does not pacify disappointed fans. One reviewer compared it to George Lucas making a Star Wars sequel focusing on Greedo, Jar Jar, Admiral Akbar and Jawa #2 and ignoring Luke, Han, Leia etc. That's not far from the truth, but the book does increase readers' understanding of the geography, politics, and even religion of his world. That's a small payoff for 1053 pages, but I'm game enough to continue to book 5.(less)
More sedate compared to the first two (despite a few surprising turns and developments. This one represents something of a plateau in the action. With...moreMore sedate compared to the first two (despite a few surprising turns and developments. This one represents something of a plateau in the action. Without the momentum of the first two novels behind it, I suspect some readers may tune out about 2/3 of the way thru this one. Things do perk up at the end and I'm moving on to A FEAST OF CROWS. Note that in the Kindle versions of this and CLASH OF KINGS are free of the typos that plagued the first volume. (less)
I had doubts wading thru the first few chapters since it's been a while since I've dared take on something this lengthy and complex, but it soon grabb...moreI had doubts wading thru the first few chapters since it's been a while since I've dared take on something this lengthy and complex, but it soon grabbed me and I couldn't stop reading. Fans of Hobbits and unicorns may find the grit and violence too disturbing, but I welcome the realism.
The world-building intrigued me, but GRRM doesn't spend a lot of time elaborating on it. Some of his character and place names seemed unimaginative and derivative, and others way too similar (e.g., Arrya/Arys). The matter is not helped by the incompetent editing and profusion of typos in the Kindle version. "i£," should you encounter it, is 'if' and 'Your' is frequently rendered as 'Tour.' You can probably figure out that 'sells word' is 'sellsword' but you shouldn't have to. A few sentences and paragraphs just stop, italics and hyphens appear at random. These errors were distracting and are not present in the paper version, so apparently at some point Bantam had someone who knew how to proofread and edit. Considering how much time I invested in this, I'd have been better off reading my used paperback copy and ditching the Kindle. The good news is that they on't charge extra for the errors, you pay the same price as the paperback. (less)
I was fortunate enough to have had a glimpse of the early manuscript of this novel in 2004, and I’m happy to see that the finished product lives up to...moreI was fortunate enough to have had a glimpse of the early manuscript of this novel in 2004, and I’m happy to see that the finished product lives up to the brilliant premise I saw back then. The thing that surprised me most was how the action in the novel obeys laws of physics—something I wish more authors of adventure thrillers would do.
The dialogue and internal monologue is witty and clever. (There is a lot of mental dueling between the protagonists.) The world-building is very well handled – hints within context, no info dumps—serving to construct an intriguing and original time and place.
Although constructed in the romance tradition (back and forth POV between hero and heroine) the novel has a solid mystery at its core which should attract an audience beyond the romance genre. This promising debut should appeal to fans of historical mystery and urban fantasy as well as paranormal romance. (less)
Liked this quite a bit, but I wish the author did a better job of establishing the world up front. I assumed a 'traditional' sword & sorcery mediv...moreLiked this quite a bit, but I wish the author did a better job of establishing the world up front. I assumed a 'traditional' sword & sorcery medival fantasy world, but touches of the modern world popped up here and there--guys wearing suits, bar maids with name tags, cops sticking parking tickets onto the saddle horn of your horse, 'name brand' swords (a la Colt, Smith & Wesson, Glock, etc.). All this was fun, but it made me keep revising my image of the world. Very solid noir story and I've downloaded the second. One annoying point that many fantasy authors make--his protagonist wears his sword on his back--try sticking a yardstick down your collar and see how easy it is to draw quickly.(less)
A major disappointment from an author I usually trust. Liked the first book (Shaman's Crossing) but the second (Forest Mage) took a dive and this one...moreA major disappointment from an author I usually trust. Liked the first book (Shaman's Crossing) but the second (Forest Mage) took a dive and this one was a real slog. I expect a character to be a bit unaware or naive at the begining of a trilogy, but if they haven't wised up or taken decisive action by book three, it becomes a chore to read. I can only tolerate so many pages of stupid in a protagonist. The last 30-40 pages were a redemption of sorts but too little too late and it did not make up for 600 dreary pages. If I wanted to read about depressed and helpless protagonists, I'd read literary fiction.(less)