This is perhaps the most beautiful and creative depiction of dreams I've seen in comics. I've never read the original strip, but I'm going to seek outThis is perhaps the most beautiful and creative depiction of dreams I've seen in comics. I've never read the original strip, but I'm going to seek out some of the collections....more
So, an audio adaptation of a comic series. Doesn't seem like it should work, does it? But it does, and really, really well. I loved the entire run ofSo, an audio adaptation of a comic series. Doesn't seem like it should work, does it? But it does, and really, really well. I loved the entire run of the comics, and this was a perfect alternative take on the story.
The reason you can take a strictly visual medium and turn it into a strictly aural medium comes down to the production value. This has great voice actors, great sound effects, and great mood music. It's never unclear what's going on, who's talking.
The thing is, though... I don't see how this will ever be a viable medium. Audiobooks are a big business now, but there is so much more involved in the production of something like this. Instead of one narrator standing in front of a microphone for a few days to record a novel, you've got 30-something actors doing different parts and a hell of a lot of editing and producing to do. It's more like recording a music album than an audiobook.
But Audible is giving this out for free at the moment, I suppose to gauge the amount of interest in this new medium. If people get excited about this like I am, I'm all for further productions like this. Bring on the audio comics!...more
Ohhhhhhh man that was awesome. I binged the entire series in a week and that's the way it should probably be done. DoTHIS APPLIES TO THE ENTIRE SERIES
Ohhhhhhh man that was awesome. I binged the entire series in a week and that's the way it should probably be done. Do yourself a favor and get a subscription to Scribd ($8.99/month for tons of ebooks, digital comics, and audiobooks; I have no affiliation with Scribd and I'm not getting paid for saying so, but seriously, it's the best deal around) and read all of this wonderful, addictive, mysterious series.
I kept thinking that this was what LOST was trying and failing to do. Locke & Key sets up a fantastic world with mysteries that intrigue but all make perfect sense and which all have answers. There are no reasonless polar bears running around, designed only for a WTF moment to hook the reader. It's also character-based, focusing on the lovable but extremely flawed Locke family.
It would make a terrific TV show or series of movies. Come on, Hollywood! Stop rebooting things that have been done already and make something new and fun and creative....more
This was my first sally forth into the Arthurian legend and it was absorbing, surprising, and absolutely lovable. This is a very different picture ofThis was my first sally forth into the Arthurian legend and it was absorbing, surprising, and absolutely lovable. This is a very different picture of Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table than I got from Disney's The Sword and the Stone. For one thing, it is much, much darker. Arthur is a very Oedipal character, going to extreme lengths (e.g. drowning a shipful of infants) to avoid Merlin's prophecy that he would be murdered. Fun fact: did you know that Excalibur was not the sword that Arthur pulled from the stone? Nope, the sword from the stone broke after a bit and he just threw it away. Excalibur was a sword that was offered up to him from an arm that came out of a mysterious lake.
It's a fount of delightfully messed up characters. There's the aforementioned Arthur, the star although he is in the background of most of the book, playing second fiddle to some of the more active noble knights. His most beloved knight Lancelot, who (in a very unchivalric manner) spends years cuckolding the king. Arthur's sister, the powerful sorceress Morgan le Fay, who serves as this universe's mischievous Loki. She buried Merlin alive with spells; as far as I can tell, he's still somewhere in the belly of the earth, subsisting on earthworms. Sir Brewnour, a colorful antagonist who established teh custom of dueling to the death every man who visits his castle and killing every woman who is less beautiful than his own wife.
Of course, it all ends tragically and nearly every character meets an unhappy end. And that's all just part of the fun. I can't wait to delve deeper into the Arthurian world.
I don't know why I didn't review this when I first read it. Now, a month later, much of it has slipped from my mind, which is a telling thing; it meanI don't know why I didn't review this when I first read it. Now, a month later, much of it has slipped from my mind, which is a telling thing; it means that it's not a wonderful book. A wonderful book sticks in my brain and doesn't let me go.
One scene, however, has really stuck with me. The protagonist, who is in transition from human to devil, gives a passionate and intense speech in the woods to a gathering of snakes. In this fiery sermon, he spews blasphemy after blasphemy and makes a compelling argument for the devil being the truly loving divine entity, rather than God. It's a pretty compelling and disturbing bit of writing. It's taboo enough to still make me feel like I shouldn't be reading this, I shouldn't be reading this, I'm going to get in trouble, I'm going to go to hell, and if my parents found out I'm reading this, they'd disown me....more
...Or is it? Is it really? Is winter really coming? I hesitate, because I've read 4,849 pages of characters telling me that winter isWinter is coming.
...Or is it? Is it really? Is winter really coming? I hesitate, because I've read 4,849 pages of characters telling me that winter is coming and it's still not winter! I'm beginning to doubt.
Which is a good theme for this review: doubt. After finishing A Storm of Swords, my expectations were at an all-time high. I believed that George could do no wrong. He somehow managed to write a thousand page book that did not feel unnecessarily padded. There were so many gut-punches packed into that ream of a book that I honestly didn't know if I could take another book of that intensity.
It turns out that I didn't have to worry, because George, apparently, could not handle writing another book of the same intensity. A Feast for Crows was a terrible disappointment and this, while not quite as dishearteningly dull, is just a weak offering.
I can see George's process, though. While writing A Storm of Swords, Martin was reading Alexandre Dumas's novels and infused that cloak-and-dagger intrigue and conspiracy and action into his own writing. Then to prepare for A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, he sat down for a marathon viewing of C-SPAN and thought, "now how can I replicate this type of political dialogue and butt-numbing tediousness in my writing? How many meetings with heads of state can I pack into a thousand pages? How much sitting and talking can I stuff into this?"
The answer: a lot. There's a whole bunch of sitting and talking here. Not a lot of doing.
Also, there's no dancing with dragons in this book. Not a single instance of a dragon cha-chaing or tangoing or even doing the white boy shuffle. None of this.
But then... there are always a few gems in these books. Every now and then, George pulls out a genius mystery that inspires incredible speculation and anticipation. For this book, my favorite moment of mystery is the introduction of Robert Strong. Check out this link if you want to investigate who this mysterious knight might be.
So no matter how far George stretches out this series and no matter how much he pads his story with boring office meeting banter and political debate, I'm going to keep coming back for the incredible spots where his creation shines....more
Sometimes I really love listening to Beethoven's seventh symphony. It's a beautiful, moving, and intricate work of art. Other times I need the adrenalSometimes I really love listening to Beethoven's seventh symphony. It's a beautiful, moving, and intricate work of art. Other times I need the adrenaline rush of Girl Talk—a thing expertly designed to make you dance like a maniac, a mashup of different elements, some great, some not, that come together in a whirlwind of awesome.
I wish I could tell you more about this book, but everything in it is so unexpected that the novelty is in discovering it for yourself. Don't get me wrong; this isn't a fancy, exquisitely prepared meal. But it is a delicious, greasy Wendy's Baconator after a few days of camping in a tent and eating cold hot dogs because you forgot to bring matches....more
Patrick Rothfuss has conformed to the typical fantasy author's philosophy of more is more, the plague of fantasy literature. He sacrifices a hero storPatrick Rothfuss has conformed to the typical fantasy author's philosophy of more is more, the plague of fantasy literature. He sacrifices a hero story for a sense of epic, a focused narrative for unnecessary complexity, adventure for worldbuilding. I generally hate the accusation of pretension as criticism, but this is a novel, not a showcase of the author's vast liberal arts education, and it simply comes off as pretentious.
While reading the first volume of this trilogy, I was impressed by the elements of scholarship injected into the fictional world, such as the magic system's use of sympathetic magic described by James Frazer and actually practiced by various non-modernized tribes throughout the world. But in this second installment, it becomes too much; it's clear the author is trying to make the point that he knows a lot of stuff and that he can create a big, crazy, fantastical world. Kovthe's clever musings are just thinly veiled Patrick Rothfuss's clever musings. Kvothe knows so much about so many subjects because Patrick Rothfuss knows so much about so many subjects.
And let me not forget the length or the metafictional frame of the story. The main action of the novel is told by Kvothe, who says he needs three days to tell his life story, hence three books. So Kvothe and his company wake up early this morning and begin recording the middle section of his story... but this second book is 43 hours long as narrated in audiobook form. Perhaps the author forgot to mention that days in his intricate, finely crafted Four Corners of Civilization are twice as long as Earth days?
And it's important to note what new information we have gained by listening to the second day of Kvothe's story. I shall list:
1) He is always poor. (Oops, that's not new.) 2) He is really, really, really good at lute. (Not new either.) 3) He loves Denna, a wandering girl who may or may not love him back. (Again, not new.) 4) He's got an archenemy named Ambrose who will do anything to destroy him. (Hmmmm...) 5) He had sex. (Yay! That's new!) 6) He became a ninja. (Huh?!)
I would have been perfectly happy if Kvothe kept his interests to artificery, sygaldry, naming, etc., but instead he spends half of his mega-day opining on his newfound mastery of sex and of the Lethani, a thinly veiled generic Eastern code of ethics and fighting. Just get on with the story, please. The title of this trilogy is "The Kingkiller Chronicles", but two-thirds of the way through I have yet to hear about any king Kvothe has killed.
And of course, I'm sure that the author would say all of this is necessary. And I'll take his word for it. He makes abundant use of what I like to call the "Slumdog Millionaire", which is the lesson the protagonist learns early in the story which makes his survival or success much later in the story possible. For example, without defeating the denner resin-crazed draccus (an entertaining but completely unnecessary plotline for the first book), he would not have been able to diagnose Maer Alveron's poisoning by denner resin in the second book. But Slumdog Millionaires are not a sign of great writing, especially when they are as long-winded as this.
I'm not sure yet if I'll finish the trilogy whenever the third book is released. I've already committed this much, so I think I probably will. But I will be much less optimistic about its ability to please me....more
It's official. I'm through with Stephen King. For a few years, King has been my audiobook guilty pleasure, but that pleasure well has run dry.
I thinkIt's official. I'm through with Stephen King. For a few years, King has been my audiobook guilty pleasure, but that pleasure well has run dry.
I think his stories are compelling, his writing middling to atrocious, his follow-through rarely satisfying. I'm confused by people who say he's great at character development, because from what I can tell, his characters are all walking cliches (this one's an alcoholic, this one's a virgin, this one's abused, and each act in a manner befitting their respective "-ism").
I shudder to think of my reaction to this book had I read with my eyes rather than listened. To have spent my time reading a Stephen King novel longer than War and Peace, to invest my time in a plot and characters totally undeserving of its length, and to be utterly let down by one of the lamest climaxes imaginable, would have demolished me. If you keep reading this review, I will spoil this book for you. I advise you to keep reading this review, and let it be spoiled, so that you will not be tempted to read this tome for yourself.
The Stand begins with a standard apocalyptic flu epidemic, which is the best part of the book, or rather, it would be if it were 100 pages long instead of almost 3,000. The United States government is making a bioweapon that is accidentally released into the main population and kills 99.9% of the world's population. Why they were making a bioweapon that would inevitably spread across the whole planet is a mystery in itself.
Then King throws the supernatural into a perfectly plausible science fiction story, which at first seems unnecessary, but that's okay. You just have to remember that even though you've read nigh upon 5,000 pages, you're still in the beginning of the story. Beyond my expectations, the supernatural elements worked to an extent. The survivors of the plague have shared dreams of two opposing figures, one representing good (a 100 year old black lady named Mother Abigail), and one representing evil (Randall Flagg). The survivors migrate, or more appropriately, make a pilgrimage to either Boulder, Colorado, where Mother Abigail resides, or to Las Vegas, which is a ridiculously obvious place for Randall Flagg to chill like a villain.
They all settle down, several hundred miles from each other, but Flagg wants to kill everyone in Boulder for some reason. Because he's evil, I suppose. No other reason is given. Mother Abigail disappears into the desert for no apparent reason other than a thinly veiled reference to Jesus' and other prophets' spiritual wilderness retreats. She comes back, tells the good guys to go beat the bad guys, dies. The good guys travel south to Sin City, get captured, are about to be killed, when a guy named Trashcan Man brings in an atomic bomb and a ghost hand comes out of the sky and blows up Las Vegas.
If you feel like I rushed through the climax, it's because I did. And I did because King did. This is what happens when you read The Stand: you read nearly 45,000 pages of poorly composed prose for a barely foreshadowed deus ex machina ending contained within a few paragraphs. And it's not only the atomic bomb and the "hand of God" that detonates it that bothers me. The title bothers me. It's called "The Stand". Mother Abigail tells them to make a "Stand". The good guys travel 500 miles by foot to make a "Stand" against Flagg. When they go to make this "Stand", one of them breaks his leg on the way and waits in the desert to die, the rest get captured by the bad guys, put in jail cells, one of them is shot dead, the final two are slated to be executed... and what is the "Stand" they make? They get blown up by an atomic bomb that they had absolutely nothing to do with. You know what's better than the good guys going to Las Vegas to be blown up with the bad guys? The good guys staying home to hear later about the bad guys blowing themselves up. The titular "Stand" that the good guys didn't even actually take makes absolutely no difference to the plot.
(I actually misspoke when I called that the "ending", because there are another 3,000 pages of prologue about characters you need not care about.)
And could King be any more obvious? Not only is there the duality of good and evil, but he also must characterize good and evil in the most ridiculously obvious (and racist?) way. Mother Abigail is Mammy-type figure, a sassy but pious Christian woman. Randall Flagg is a white guy who appears to be into Buddhism, as he floats in the air when he meditates. He also possesses a black and red eye that can float around the country and spy on you, a blatant theft from Sauron in The Lord of the Rings.
That's probably enough griping, so I will just summarize the moral of this review: read not this. In fact, read not Stephen King. Read something that will make you smart. Or entertain you, but not frustrate you. Read something with interesting prose, that uses vocabulary you don't know. Read something with characters that are like people in the world, not people in a book. If you want to read a 1,200-page book, read War and Peace instead of The Stand. Read something lovable. ...more
I'm skeptical when someone says there is a great new high fantasy novel, because, while the bar is set pretty high for high fantasy (Tolkien, of coursI'm skeptical when someone says there is a great new high fantasy novel, because, while the bar is set pretty high for high fantasy (Tolkien, of course), contemporary fantasy writers just seem... not great to me. At least not compared to the usual, non-genre stuff I'm used to reading. What makes this great is its influences. Unless I'm really wrong, Rothfuss got his system of magic from "real" magic systems, that is, the way magic works in tribal or "primitive" societies. I didn't go back to check this to make sure, but sympathetic magic in Name of the Wind follow the same rules set out in George Frazer's chapter in The Golden Bough entitled "The Principles of Magic". And like in tribal societies, the magic is not really magic, it's just another branch of science. It follows natural laws that are just a bit more complicated than what the average person understands.
I just decided I don't have the energy to finish this review right now. But really, the book is pretty great. Now I'll just list some random thoughts without explanation: crazy dragon addicted to meth, Tarbean is like Dickens' London, Hogwarts-University, I hate Ambrose, much better than Game of Thrones, coulda picked a better name for your main character, kinda wish Kvothe and Denna had started a Breaking Bad-type endeavor with the denner resin they found....more