4.5 stars really. I read this, Gemmell's first novel, and my first novel of his, many years ago, but it had a big impact on me. It brought me back to4.5 stars really. I read this, Gemmell's first novel, and my first novel of his, many years ago, but it had a big impact on me. It brought me back to the genre of Fantasy---for a while, anyway---with his gritty brand of heroism. Some might argue that it is his most raw, and perhaps it is that rawness that makes it so grand. He is one of the few authors who I would buy the new release of without even thinking.
Anyway, It's certainly better than this whole new Martin-mania deal......more
Hey, I can get away with marking it on the strength of the other contributors without looking like I'm just spruiking my own work ... right? It's a goHey, I can get away with marking it on the strength of the other contributors without looking like I'm just spruiking my own work ... right? It's a good read for science/speculative fiction readers and just good ol' short story readers generally. You click on the link to Double Dragon and you get to read a little excerpt from my humble contribution: 'Martian Colours' ... don't let that turn you off though......more
This is the book that kinda started it all for me, as far as my memory allows that is. I can remember my Dad reading me this in bed, using the drama oThis is the book that kinda started it all for me, as far as my memory allows that is. I can remember my Dad reading me this in bed, using the drama of his voice to heighten the experience, and seeing the stark ink drawings---particularly of Grendal's severed arm---and just being in a state of delicous fear and wonder.
I must have been about 8 years old or so. I went on to Robert E Howard's Conan books and then, The Lord of the Rings, but I owe a lot to Sutcliff's rendering of this great poem.
I also managed to track down a copy of the same edition that was read to me for my own children....more
A strong sense of character and place carries this novel, if a rather PC-read on religion and religious practice generally and a meandering plot thatA strong sense of character and place carries this novel, if a rather PC-read on religion and religious practice generally and a meandering plot that shifts gears a little like an old mountain man in his beat up ’57 Chevy pickup, going up a steep track the morning after Sunday drinks.
In my ‘10th anniversary edition’ I learn that there’s around 15000 words included in this edition that were cut due to editorial advice. If I was offered due recompense for my time, I believe I could make the same cuts with around 95% accuracy, and you’d end up with a better read. There are periods where this book is very put-down-able, but the moments where it isn’t still make it worth the four stars.
I’m an atheist but one who has a healthy respect for the Abrahanics and there humanising project. They were given short shrift here, which no doubt annoyed many of these kinds of theists, butt hey should be used to it by now, perhaps. It would be nice if they could be dealt with a little more intelligently, as maybe could the highly tenuous modern-pagan-esque retake on the Eostre deal: on a genuine research level she should have been suiting up with the newbies…
But, like I say, you can forgive all that for Shadow and Wednesday and there hangers-on. They are fantastic inventions and well worth the gamble to read and the gambol to read. ...more
'The moon slid inexorably into its zenith, the shadows shrivelling to the feet of all that cast them, and as Rantel approached the holl'Titus Groan':
'The moon slid inexorably into its zenith, the shadows shrivelling to the feet of all that cast them, and as Rantel approached the hollow at the hem of the Twisted Woods he was treading in a pool of his own midnight.'
I shall read the other two stories in this volume in due course, but for now, shall leave the shadows of Gormenghast, the deathly halls with their noises dark as shrinking pupils, and those people, heavy, flinching and lost between those marvelous walls...
There is much to love here. Peake writes in a visual way, very different to any other writer who I have described as being visual. Usually this means a kind of filmic-manner, like Elmore Leonard, so you can read it like you're watching it. But this is almost the opposite. You read this as if you're absorbing it. Like on a gallery wall, or perhaps on the side of a broken building, some genuine street-artist been at work.
The novel could easily be described as narrative-poetry. There are passages that you want to read over and over again, like the one above. There is a thickness to the style, as if Peake is varying his brushstroke for a purpose and an effect. When he is heavy, though, the pages start to feel lighter and want to be turned...
You can call it fantasy, but there's nothing overtly 'fantastic', other than what can be fantastic. The characters are vividly drawn to the point of hurting your eyes, making them feel like bleeding instead of tearing. The inclusion of occasional sparse illustrations add further edge. You do not love any of them, but you pity them all. They are all dark and mean and 'bad', but the degree of harm they are willing to do differs, so I enjoy the moral ontology Peake plays with.
As some reviewers here have complained, it can be slow-going. I admit to considering throwing in the towel. On several occasions, picking up the tome did feel close to a chore, but after sitting down, being sat on by a cat (not a white one...) and having a glass of Shiraz at hand in my favourite reading chair, and after the first few paragraphs, you need to go further....more
Okay, so perhaps reading this after The Brothers Karamazov wasn't a good idea, but I do usually like to read something light and genre after somethingOkay, so perhaps reading this after The Brothers Karamazov wasn't a good idea, but I do usually like to read something light and genre after something more meaty.
Not in this case.
I was expecting something a little more humourous and parodic, but this book seemed to take itself very seriously, while being of that brand of contemporary fantasy that tries to make social commentary in a ham-fisted way (although making obvious connections between 'whiteness' and being human is kind of dehumanising [orc-ifying?] to those who are not privilidged with 'pink'...).
I bought the book partially on the strength of the David Gemmell blurb which had 'wall to wall action...gritty, fast paced'. Maybe there was something more sinister during the ellipse......more
This is interesting and entertaining epic heroic-fantasy: a mostly neat marriage between Tolkien-esque world-building and gritty Gemmell-esque realismThis is interesting and entertaining epic heroic-fantasy: a mostly neat marriage between Tolkien-esque world-building and gritty Gemmell-esque realism. There is much to enjoy, from the various narrative focal points that are chapter driven, to the unrelenting pace and plot-movement. There’s enough in there for the traditional fantasy reader, and the dovetail-neatly-with-my-modern-progressive-worldview crew. Sure, you could quote material that would get up either camps nose—like, oh look, he’s a male writer and he’s writing as a pretty woman who notices her breasts as sexual things sometimes; or, ah, here we go, non-stereotypical big-strong-woman warrior who can kick arse or gonads—but Martin does his best to try and please everyone.
Which brings me to some problems.
For example, he does his best to try and please everyone.
The focal characters are full, internalised, and capable of movement; but you get the impression, sometimes, just sometimes, that they’re actors, going though the motions. Some modes used are quite repetitive, and so the character responses start to feel cardboard in quality.
I went through definite phases of engagement with this story, oscillating between really being ‘into it’ and feeling quite apart—but still being compelled to find out what-happens-next. This means that the storytelling event, I suppose, is successful, even when it’s at its worst: so an overall success.
I’m not sure if this compulsion shall lead me on to being a consumer of the series, however. It is a massive time investment for the time-poor when you think about all the books in the world that you could be reading. We shall see. ...more
For a start, I love a title based on an evocative epigraph...
Abercrombie really impressed me with this entry book for his series. There's a whole rangFor a start, I love a title based on an evocative epigraph...
Abercrombie really impressed me with this entry book for his series. There's a whole range of classic heroic fantasy plot sets here, but with interesting character-based tweaks and solid third person-particular narrative focus. It's the characters driving the story, which is something I almost always prefer in the genre.
But, in particular, it's the character of Glokta that elevates the story above so many others. Here is one of the great heroic fantasy creations, sort of fusing together a bizarre mix of Richard the third, Torquemada, Alceste and Philip Marlowe, and adding more.
At some points, the breaking of cliches become cliche, but these are minor quibbles compared to the sheer enjoyment of rolling along with the story. Shall be reading more....more
Like others here, this was the first Conan story I read, and it really opened up my early teen eyes to a different style of the genre after having reaLike others here, this was the first Conan story I read, and it really opened up my early teen eyes to a different style of the genre after having read through Tolkien. And then I was hooked. So, perhaps that is why I fall on five stars here.
I also have a framed print of the Frazetta cover from this edition on the centre-piece wall of my loungeroom. ...more