66º North was rather a delight to read. I received it as a birthday present this year, on the request for any books that went into the genre of advent...more66º North was rather a delight to read. I received it as a birthday present this year, on the request for any books that went into the genre of adventure. This book certainly isn’t a Lord of the Rings type adventure, put has an small amount of adventure, with more prominent themes of Crime investigation. Set in the heart of Iceland, what starts off as a simple mistake, escalates into something much bigger.
On a previous review, I saw that someone gave up after the 2nd chapter. I will admit very little happens at the start except for one thing, but certainly stick with it because these chapters really set up the story and vital characters for later.
This story has some great twists and unexpected moments along with sub-plots. The book is actually easy to read, chapters are rather small for what we consider the conventional amount, and scenes can sometimes be as short as a page. This book, prolonging that you're not one of those quick readers who devours books in three days, took me about two weeks to read.
I was surprised to find out that 66º North is the second book out of a series, known as the Fire & Ice series. I can assure you that I faced no problem when it came to understanding what was going on. I understood the main character, and the story without any knowledge of the first book.
I have to say the ending was great. Certain sub-plots that weren’t resolved in this book, must be coming back for book number 3 (if there is going to be one.) The ending features the main character Magnus confronting someone, and what happens between them finishes the book on a climax.(less)
When I looked this book up, I thought it was going to be a really good read. And to be fair when I started the book, I found it quite interesting. The...moreWhen I looked this book up, I thought it was going to be a really good read. And to be fair when I started the book, I found it quite interesting. The big problem with this book is that, during the middle, (which makes up 6/10th of the book) the plot doesn’t move one bit. If you like plot, this book is going to irritate you. The worst part is the characters do a lot of travelling without the plot moving with them.
There are tons of characters in this story. Really there must be nearly a hundred, and some of the characters keep reappearing at random intervals in the book, I didn’t recognise that the main villain was the character that had appeared earlier in the book. I advise that you keep an A4 paper folded up as a bookmark, and write down every character that appears with the page number when they first appear on the paper.
A big problem with the story is that nearly every sentence has something important to the story or chapter. And if you don’t understand one sentence you could be very confused with what’s going on. Definatly the book was not the easiest to understand. Too often there were scenes where new characters where introduced, and something would happen which seemed to have no relevance with the story.
The only good thing I can say for Stephen Hunt is well done for creating a very original and imaginative steampunk world. Too often do writers go for an alternative timeline of the Victorian period, which has already been done several times. Here he has really created his own stempunk world.
However, because of the books lack of plot, I am nowhere near considering buying sequels. (less)
When you first start this book, you’ll know it’s definitely unique in terms of the average books being published today. Mortal Engines follows the adv...moreWhen you first start this book, you’ll know it’s definitely unique in terms of the average books being published today. Mortal Engines follows the adventures of Tom Natsworthy. The opening chapter of the book, sets up the amazing world we enter in which towns actually move, and eat smaller ones for fuel!
By now it’s very well established that this book is a Steampunk novel. What’s different from the other Steampunk books is that this one is set in the future of earth. Through something known as the Sixty Minute war, the world was badly destroyed and reformed in the magnificent Steampunk land you read about.
This book features a heavy amount of adventure, something that I really like. Tom, along with the heroine of the piece, Hester Shaw, travels together on a mission. Tom’s idea of what it must be like to be a hero and have adventures is something that anyone can relate to, because he thinks it should all go smoothly and all work out in the end. However, author Philip Reeve makes his character Tom face the realities of what being a hero is really like, from fighting villains, surviving death and not always visiting exotic places. Not to mention Hester is not our typical heroine as she has a vindictive personality.
Philip Reeves characterisation throughout the story is truly amazing. Every character, from the main ones, to secondary ones, to general characters and even the one liners, are highly developed and appear so different from everyone else. Not only that, but you have a very clearly built up image of what they should look like.
The author is clever, in taking the theme of adventure and turning it on its head, and taking Steampunk and setting it way in the future. It is imaginative and original, it’s like nothing you’ve ever read before. Plus it works. The end is probably the most dynamic part of the book. (less)
I have just recently finished John Theydon’s Ring Of Fire, which I managed to purchase on Ebay at a reasonable price, roughly around March. However, I...moreI have just recently finished John Theydon’s Ring Of Fire, which I managed to purchase on Ebay at a reasonable price, roughly around March. However, I surprisingly haven’t gotten around to reading it until now. I am so taken aback by it that I have to express what I thought about it.
For starters, this book has a lot to live up to, and did Ring Of Fire come true to its expectations? Yes, is the definite answer, and there are a hundred and six reasons why. A writer once said “Any film producers looking for inspiration for their live-action Thunderbirds movie need look no further” it is undoubtedly true. If you read this book, it’ll feel like a proper episode.
There is only one moment, where I can’t imagine the puppets doing everything that get’s packed into these 125 pages where Lady Penelope goes to high kick the Hood in the head. Which I have to say was a very exciting moment.
John Theydon, has either done his research or has been given plenty of reference material. The characters are truly distinctive, if you read their dialogue whilst putting their voices to the words, it’s sounds just right. However, sometimes the Tracy Brothers do refer to each other as ‘big brother’ or ‘little brother’ on occasions, which to me doesn’t sound correct. Instead it reminds me of the American sitcom ‘Frasier’. Jeff on occasion calls Brains ‘son’ in a metaphorical sense, and Penelope and Tin-Tin as ‘honey’. It does feel a bit out of character for him.
The plot is very well developed. When dealing with a format like Thunderbirds, plot does not have to be terribly intricate. However, doing a longer story than the normal forty-five minute episode format, requires the story to have a bigger plot, and Ring Of Fire does just that. What’s great is that they don’t just stay on one problem. As the book goes on certain problems that earlier were less important, become the main focus of the plot, making the story on going. Perhaps that’s why the two Thunderbird movies weren’t that bigger hit than they should have been. Even though Gerry and Sylvia are great at creating formats and characters, and most of the time writing pilot episodes that shows exactly what their new series is about, they were not scriptwriters. Thunderbirds Are Go and Thunderbird 6 suffers heavily from a lack of plot and essentially become an extended episodes. Perhaps what they should have done was get two very good scriptwriters at the time, like Alan Fennel and Tony Barwick, to write the stories. Even better screenplay all of John Theydon’s books in the scripts.
Summing up this book, it is worth the reads if you can lay your hands on a copy. Hopefully one day, they’ll reprint these books again, and if another live action movie is made, they’ll screenplay this, along with the other four John Theydon’s books into scripts. However, it unlikely to happen for a while, as the new series is under way. Ring of Fire is a great book, and I will certainly be on the hunt for the other four stories as well. (less)
I have to say that I am slightly baffled at why this book is so popular. I was bored by this book on a number o...moreWARNING: This review contains spoilers.
I have to say that I am slightly baffled at why this book is so popular. I was bored by this book on a number of occasions. I could not care less about most of the characters, I found the book sexist and in general, badly plotted.
The book’s plot and the pace seems to take a while to get going, and will at one moment start up and just as quickly die down. This was, however, the only reason why I was able to read it all the way through and not give up. One moment these pirates are trying to ransack a ship, and then when they dramatically fail, we are see them in some bar, drowning their failure in drink. It becomes repetitive and monotonous and many times this book can easy slow down and become predictable, only to suddenly spring into life.
The characters are far from likable and I never once warmed to them. The first appearance of our protagonist, named Captain Frey, is a scene where a villain is holding a gun to one of his new crewmembers Crake. But Frey just stands they’re refusing to tell them any thing. Even after the villian pulls the trigger, and essentially plays a game of Russian roulette, Frey doesn’t care.
For one of our main characters, it isn’t exactly a brilliant opening to portray our hero in this light. You could say that Frey and the rest of his crew are closer to being anti-heroes, but they don’t do anything heroic to be heroes. They are portrayed with a lack of sympathetic/empathetic qualities and simply come across as dislikeable.
When they do commit evil acts, it just feels completely wrong for the characters. In one scene the crew bursts into a rich millionaires mansion named Quail, a character who has set them up, and Frey shoots him several times asking who he was working for. They leave him injured while his house is on fire. How can I possibly, relate, feel, have sympathy or want this character to succeed, when he has practically tortured someone else, while at the same time becoming just as bad as the villain. Quail’s actions are marginalised by what he’s received from Frey
Each character has a past that they are running away from, so in an attempt to give us back-story, Chris Woodings gives us flashbacks. Now flashbacks can be tricky to pull off, and the best way to write it, is when it is woven into the narrative. Even if it is from a character directly telling someone or else he/she is thinking about it in their mind. Wooding fails to do this on a number of occasions and has the flash backs start with a new paragraph, and told in third person narrative, as if it is present day. This honestly doesn’t work.
Flashbacks should not be cut and pasted like this. It’s almost comes across as exposition. Frey’s flashback could have easily gone at the start of the book, possibly as a prologue and would have worked better as an introduction to his character.
There also seems to be a heavy amount of swearing throughout this book. I’m not overly fond swearing, but I do feel there is a time and place for it. If you’re going to use swearing you have it said by a character as an appropriate response to whatever is happing in the story. In this book however, it just felt like the swear words were simply slapped into the text and making it a distasteful read.
When it comes to sexism I’d say that this book is both sexist to women and men. In this women can only be three things. 1. Beautiful, 2. Not beautiful 3. Whores. Some of them end up changing which one they are through out the book.
When we meet our main female character, Jez, she is described as having “unflattering practical clothes […] but she was rather plain, boyish and very pale.” Not beautiful
While another character called Samandra Bree is first described as “Young, dark-haired and beautiful,…” We are also constantly reminded of her beauty “…she really was quite strikingly gorgeous in person.”
By contest, all male characters in this story just seem to want to have sex with every lady. When Frey first meets Jez, we discover what his initial reaction would have been, if she was a more attractive women, “Frey would feel obliged to sleep with her.”
When they discover they are being hunted by the Century Guards, one of the Ketty Jay crew members makes the comment about Samandra “I’d do her”.
Now Jez, I would say is probably the strongest, and was for a time, the most positive female character in the entire book. As her ‘very cleverly woven’ flashback explains, she has superpowers.
Good examples are, she has incredible eyesight and has more strength than she realises. So she comes across as a stronger female character in comparison to so many others. The reason why I said “and was for some time”, is because of a scene towards the end of the book.
After the crew are captured, besides Jez, Frey is sentenced to be executed. However proceedings are halted when the Century guards arrive. What ensues is a shoot out and the rescue of the Ketty Jay crew.
After escaping they find out that Jez, “…made the acquaintance of a very important fellow called Air Marshal Barney Vexford at a party at Scorchwood Heights. Apparently, she had to do some quite appalling things to him to secure an audience with the Archduke’s representatives at such short notice. He is quite a filthy old man.”
We draw the likely conclusion idea that Jez slept with him. This interpretation can be backed up by the fact that Vexford has been seen trying to flirt with her in previous scenes.
For a female character who has the strength to kill others by hitting them on the back of the head with a metal pipe, can shoot someone in pitch black purely by listening to the sound of their voice and be completely unaffected by hallucinogenic gases, sleeping with a “filthy old man”, seems rather degrading and demeaning to the strong female character that Chris Wooding had built up.
A comment made about this book back in 2010, mentioned that in this book, there was a case of homophobia. After searching I believe I have found which part she means (or one example of what she meant at least). While Jez is observing the ice world of Yorkland she makes this comment “In such a masculine society, owning a craft of elegant design was viewed as best pointless, at worst penitential evidence of homosexuality. Not something to be taken lightly, since sodomy carried the death penalty out here.”
Now there’s nothing wrong with creating a world that is homophobic, as long as it serves a point, which it doesn’t in this case. It seems quite a serious subject, being hanged for being homosexual and yet this statement leads nowhere. If one of the characters was gay and they had to hide him from the inhabitants, there would be a purpose to this text, but there isn’t. These two sentences are really pointless pieces of text. Its is never developed and for such a serious subject, seems strange to mention and then dop.
Continuing on the theme of serious subjects we discover that Frey was engaged for sometime to a woman called Trinica Dracken. Despite the fact that he loved her, he left her at the altar pregnant. After that, Trinica tried to commit suicide by overdosing, but instead killed the baby. Another is such incident is one where we discover Crake had stabbed his eight-year old niece seventeen times while he was possessed by a daemon.
Now if you ask me these are really serious subjects and incredibly out of place in this book. Up till this point the violence of the book was the most shocking elements, but these scenes have serious dramatic qualities and just pop out of nowhere.
In terms of character development there is no drive, particularly for Frey, for why he changes his attitudes. At the start of the book, Frey would have happily have leaves his crew behind to save himself and the ship. However, by the end he has changed his mind and really cares for them, and would be upset if they died. The biggest problem with this is that nothing discernable happened to him, to warrant such a change.
Also we see him attempt a very strange plan towards the end of the book. During the climax, whilst a battle is going on, Frey leads his crew into a pirate city to steel a treasure chest. This is after he has safe Vardia from a big scale invasion and revealed a conspiracy. I would have thought that the best reward would have been being vindicated and not having every bounty hunter after him. However, despite these bonuses, Frey seems to think that it is worth stealing a chest of money and endangering his crew. He does this because he feels he deserves a sense of rewards. So ultimately he is only doing this for himself.
And even one of his crew members gets shot. Luckily he manages to survive and they get away with the treasure. Then, Trinica captures them and takes the treasure. However Frey is not to upset by this, “This felt right, somehow. It had been greed that made him jump at Quail’s too-good-to-be-true offer.” He goes on to think “It didn’t seem fair that he should profit from his own stupidity, at the expense of all those lives.”
Now before this all happened it did feel really stupid that Frey was going after the treasure, all because he still thought he should have been paid. The character was not learning anything but instead was going in a circle. So why did it take him till now to have his character development and not before? Nothing brought on this change?
This scene also has a bizarre mood swing. Once Trinica has taken the chest, Frey asks “…what happens to us?” and she replies “How would I know? I expect you’ll get your pardons…”. And then she let’s them go. She goes onto claim that now there is no bounty on Frey’s head that there is no need to capture him or kill him.
Now this seems really stupid. As much as she was trying to capture him because he was wanted, she very obviously wanted to get revenge and was being vindictive towards the hurtful things that she blames him for. There was a scene earlier where during a shoot out, Frey stops her running away with evidence that can prove his innocence, and he lets her go, instead of handing her in. So the fact that she lets him go could be a repayment of that, however there is no mention of that idea.
So there we are, if had to say anything positive about this book, I’d say that the Steampunk world that Wooding has created is very imaginative, and the book wasn’t completely boring, or I wouldn’t have got to the end. However, it was a struggle to read sometimes.
I don’t think you can really compare this book to the series Firefly, and I don’t think you can compare Frey to the Jack Sparrow. Both Firefly and Sparrow are more thought out, and well-developed fictional characters and stories compared to this book. The final thing I’ll say is that, I certainly don’t think I will ever consider buying any other books written by Chris Wooding.