The descriptions of his interesting ideas on physics and game theory left me putting down this book at times in favor of other materials to gain moreThe descriptions of his interesting ideas on physics and game theory left me putting down this book at times in favor of other materials to gain more detail. The stories of the man himself make him seem like a prick. An absent father, an unfaithful husband, and a self-obsessed military contractor. Peter Byrne did a decent investigative job here, but there's only so much enjoyment to be had reading about this guy....more
Harper Lee provides some interesting, and at times, insightful commentary on race relations following Brown v. Board of Education, viewed through theHarper Lee provides some interesting, and at times, insightful commentary on race relations following Brown v. Board of Education, viewed through the lens of the white, privileged class. Comparisons of proponents of segregation to Southerners during the Civil War are simplified in terms of states' rights arguments and fear of cultural change, but in any event, history shows Southern aristocracy was defeated both times. The book works best when detailing a young woman's journey to discovering her father is an imperfect man, a realization many of us have about our fathers long before the age of twenty six, but it is especially poignant for Jean Louise after the events described in "To Kill a Mockingbird." Overall, I enjoyed Lee's writing style and the more complex nature of her characters than were shown in her more famous work. It could have used some editing, but I understand the controversial aspect of this release and the reason to publish it as-is....more
I enjoyed meeting the new characters and settings of Dorne, Braavos, and the Iron Islands, so I was not entirely displeased with the lack of principalI enjoyed meeting the new characters and settings of Dorne, Braavos, and the Iron Islands, so I was not entirely displeased with the lack of principal characters from the first three books. I also did not mind the slower pace of events in this book after the shocking and epic moments from a A Storm of Swords.
Overall, I liked this book more than A Clash of Kings. Cersei's political machinations here were more interesting than Tyrion's were in ACoK. Sansa had more meaningful personal development here than in ACoK, and many of the new perspectives, like Brienne's, surpassed the new perspectives of Theon and Davos from ACoK in terms of likability and empathy. ...more
What a disappointment after A Game of Thrones. General spoilers without detailed specifics ahead.
An almost complete lack of progression, plot-wise orWhat a disappointment after A Game of Thrones. General spoilers without detailed specifics ahead.
An almost complete lack of progression, plot-wise or in character development, is my first major complaint. After 700+ pages, Sansa is still basically the same Sansa, in situations and in emotional maturity. Dany, likewise. Tyrion, who was constantly in danger in the first book and had to use his quick wits to survive, is wasted in this book playing a game of political intrigue that doesn't amount to very much. The conclusion of events in A Clash of Kings would probably have been the same without him. Jon, in AGoT, had some very intense, well written moments that gave the reader a window into a boy trying to define himself and coming out of his ordeals a man. Here, not so much. Arya was the most interesting character in ACoK, and even her plot-line and character development went at a snail's pace. The new perspectives of Theon and Davos were satisfactory, but not great.
My second major complaint is that an epic setup of brother against brother is robbed from the reader in the cheapest way possible. If you want to know how magic should be done in a story, look at the character of Raistlin in Dragonlance Legends. Most importantly, arcane knowledge and power should come with a price, always. Scratch that example, no need to look further than AGoT. The price of magic for Dany at the end of that book was gripping.
My last complaint is an utter lack of good action scenes until the last hundred pages or so. AGoT was also lacking in action, but still had a better balance of politics and combat than this. What's worse is that epic battles were occurring in the world much of the time, but you only heard of them briefly and second-handedly. Don't get me wrong, I don't read these books for cinematic actions scenes, but throw me a bone every now and then.
With all that bitching done, I still have faith in the series. Friends tell me that A Storm of Swords is the high mark, so I may have to give it a shot....more
I recommend this to fans of the fantasy genre, having not yet read the other books or watched the television series. One trait that I would consider nI recommend this to fans of the fantasy genre, having not yet read the other books or watched the television series. One trait that I would consider neither pro nor con, but that I found very interesting, is that this is a book dealing with mankind in a very direct way. That is, many of the tropes of fantasy literature that are used as an exaggeration of, or a proxy for, man's ambitions, dreams, and failures are missing or have a limited role. This includes directly interfering gods or the typical anthropomorphic fantasy species, like elves and dwarves, that are commonly used in metaphors on race relations or exist to focus specifically on certain typically human strengths and weaknesses. Magic is mentioned, but is not used a plot device to cause world changing events or drastically alter the balance of power (at least not for most of the book). This is a novel about war, politics, deceit, friendships, enemies, and loves, and it is not masked.
Pros: In addition to the required heroes and villains, you have the charismatic, morally ambiguous characters that you can't help but root for.
Great pacing, I felt every chapter moved the plot along or challenged a key character.
Great character development, some characters actually grow and learn from their mistakes, most are multi-dimensional and can surprise you without seeming like that acted completely against their nature.
Cons: Every fantasy world needs to have a great level of detail in setting because, obviously, it is not our world, and I feel the balance of description in A Game of Thrones needs adjusting. Many times, I did not have a clear picture in my head of the landscape or architecture of the world, but I damn well knew every piece of armor, leather, or tunic a character was wearing. I often knew far more about the wardrobe of a character than I did about his or her facial features or how they moved.
Action scenes weren't quite as cinematic as in one of my favorite fantasy series, DragonLance, and some epic moments (I won't spoil them here), seem to come and go at the turn of the next page. Overall, the pacing was excellent, but sometimes I wished the big moments took their time.
In closing, this was a great read that motivates me to continue with the series. ...more