This is one of Lackey's better books, with a fast-moving plot and well-handled emotional turmoil. Some of the characters are a bit weak, but Lan is stThis is one of Lackey's better books, with a fast-moving plot and well-handled emotional turmoil. Some of the characters are a bit weak, but Lan is strong enough to carry the whole book ... which he does. Even though I knew what was going to happen to him before I started, I kept reading because I wanted to see how his thought processes and the events that happened would lead to that point. One of my favourite Valdemar books, and it's nice that it's a standalone....more
I haven't read any of Hamilton's other books so I was completely new to the setting. Which didn't bother me, as there is enough info in there to pickI haven't read any of Hamilton's other books so I was completely new to the setting. Which didn't bother me, as there is enough info in there to pick it up quickly. So you can read it without having read any of his other stuff. Whether you want to or not is a different matter.
It started off great: a ship being swallowed up by a mysterious "void", a space-forest of pods and scary man-eating aliens, a desperate escape to an unknown planet and doppelgangers appearing out of nowhere. Very suspenseful and a good mix of mystery and horror in a sci-fi setting. Then it switches to outside the void in the future, and a rescue mission by Nigel is set into motion. Also quite interesting. But it goes downhill from there. A large chunk of the book is taken up with a communist-style revolution in a low-tech society. It just takes up too much time, and is quite boring, with a heavy focus on the mechanics of how the revolution is going to work, all the cells and communication methods and long talks about what to do with the government, etc. It dragged. A lot. And once it gets into that plot-line, you only see the other, more interesting ones in very short bursts, until the very end when it finally all comes together (and that was kind of lackluster too). So I think it had a great start and lots of potential, but was put together clunkily and ultimately didn't live up to all that it could have been.
Other things: the setting was good, the writing was good, the characters were potentially good. But for such a long book, it surprised me that I never really felt like I connected with any of the characters. I think because you see them only in short bursts because of the switching plot-lines, and the ones you do get to see for an extended time are overshadowed by the focus being heavily on the mechanics of the revolution. The only character I really got emotional about was Laura in the Desert of Bones section, and that was a very brief episode (also the best in the entire book, in my opinion, very gripping and a wonderful "horror" moment).
So. If you like other books of Hamilton's I guess you'd like this one. There are enough moments of brilliance in the story that if you think you can get through the slow revolution bits then it's probably worth having a go....more
Maybe this should be 2 and a half stars, but I rounded up to three for potential.
The main characters are pretty good, particularly the two in the RooMaybe this should be 2 and a half stars, but I rounded up to three for potential.
The main characters are pretty good, particularly the two in the Roost. The story gets off to a slow start but is also good. There was enough of it in this book to keep me satisfied and I can see it going to interesting places in the next book. The world building took me a while to get into, but eventually it made sense and is interesting.
The writing is decent, but not great. Some of the descriptions get a bit repetitive (e.g. the "tear all his clothes of and run screaming" thing shows up quite a bit), some more originality would have been appreciated. I didn't like the use of random toilet humour (farts, etc.). And there was a lot of sex and sexual references which were not particularly well done and were almost totally unnecessary to the plot. Probably put in to try and have a Game of Thrones vibe, but I think that was a misguided decision. It would have been much better without all the swinging c*cks.
But I will still read the next one for the sake of the plot and the characters....more
The second book was better than the first one, and this book is better than the second. It's definitely the strongest of the trilogy. It's not my favoThe second book was better than the first one, and this book is better than the second. It's definitely the strongest of the trilogy. It's not my favourite book of Lackey's, and it's not earth-shatteringly great literature, but it is a decent piece of entertainment, one that I think is best suited for teenagers.
Despite the frustrating episodes of characters making things worse by not talking to each other, and the somewhat one-dimensional nature of many of the characters (the villains are especially cliche), the story is interesting enough to hold you and carry you past those weaknesses. Stuff is finally happening, and the vague conspiracy from the first two books actually has a point in this one, coming together nicely and throwing you a few surprises along the way. The writing is ok, not great but not too bad either.
The one thing I really didn't like was (view spoiler)[the rape and how its aftermath was handled. Talia was already being tortured, the rape just felt like the writer was adding it in to take the easy and obvious way of reinforcing how evil the villains are. And then afterwards it was like it never even happened (so what was the point of including it at all?). Talia only mentioned once that she was having problems dealing with men after it, and never actually showed that she was having issues in any way, and then a couple of weeks later she's all magically mind-healed and ready to marry Dirk and have his babies. Plus she then tells him that the girl who dumped him years ago did the equivalent to his soul - how is that even a legitimate comparison??? Yeah, not handled well at all. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It took me a while to decide between two and three stars but ended up going with two. It felt like not much really happened in this book. The writingIt took me a while to decide between two and three stars but ended up going with two. It felt like not much really happened in this book. The writing was ok (though you could tell this is Lackey's first novel, not as polished as her later work and heavy-handed with the world building), the concept had potential. The characters were all right but Talia especially was a bit too much of a Mary Sue. But my main problem was the lack of any real plot. It was interesting enough for me to keep reading all the way to the end but, really, not much happened.
The majority of the book was focused on Talia's training and adjusting to life in the Collegium. The political intrigue was very much secondary to this, and didn't really ramp up (using that expression generously, as even then it didn't feel particularly climactic) until half to two-thirds of the way into the book, was pretty simply, and was wrapped up very quickly every time something new happened. There weren't really any antagonists. A huge amount of the action happened "off screen". It felt a bit slow. More attention on the conspiracy would have helped make it more exciting. Oh, it's also a bit heavy on genre tropes, but I'm a genre person so I usually don't mind that.
I wouldn't recommend people start the Valdemar books with this one, as it may bore them a bit and put them off reading the others, which are generally much better. That being said, it is a pretty easy read if you're not looking for anything too heavy. I would say it's more suited to the earlier end of the YA age range, maybe even pre-teens, and they would probably love it. But for me as an adult, it was all right but underwhelming....more
I usually love Mercedes Lackey's books, but this one was disappointing. The mix of German/Wild West was interesting, but sadly that was about all thatI usually love Mercedes Lackey's books, but this one was disappointing. The mix of German/Wild West was interesting, but sadly that was about all that was. The characters were only so-so. The plot rambled too much with too many random and not necessary events and solutions came too conveniently for the heroes. There was hardly any sense of conflict, danger or drama throughout the whole thing. It fizzled out with a "climax" that was resolved so quickly and with such ease that it didn't feel rewarding at all.
If you want a shortish book that you don't have to think too much while reading, maybe it would be ok. But for me, it was a let-down....more
This was one of the most interesting novels I've read this year. I would highly recommend it to just about anyone (particularly sci-fi/fantasy fans) .This was one of the most interesting novels I've read this year. I would highly recommend it to just about anyone (particularly sci-fi/fantasy fans) ... with the advance warning that they need to be prepared to invest in it.
I say that not because of the book's length (600+ pages), but because its biggest strength - many different plot-lines weaving together in a suspenseful dance - is also a bit of a pitfall in the very beginning. Because there are so many different characters to introduce, we only see each one very briefly before Pears takes us on to another one, and then another. There's not quite enough time to get interested in any one character or see that they do have a story, until you've read several sections that belong to them. And while there are hints that the different times and settings are converging, it takes a while to truly realise just how interesting and thrilling that will be to watch.
But don't despair! Don't give up and throw the book out the window or relegate it to a doorstop. If you keep going, you will find your patience is amply rewarded.
After a while you get to know the characters and become interested in their individual stories, which are entertaining in their own right (particularly Rosie's and Angela's, for me). And the true genius of the book reveals itself as all those individual plot-threads start to come together and you realise that all those stories, which may seem quite ordinary on their own, are actually part of one extraordinary whole. I loved all the "ah ha!" moments I had as something I read four chapters ago clicked into place with the current information being revealed. There were also enough clues that I had plenty of thrilling moments of "could that mean that x is going to happen?" or "if you do that then that means...", looking ahead and then seeing if I was right when I got there. The more things connected the more exciting it got. And any fears I might have had about such a glorious build-up fizzling out in a dissatisfying ending were put to rest when I got to the end. It wraps things up nicely and leaves just enough unsaid that it still leaves you thinking and you get to make the final leap yourself.
There are some good thoughts provoked and themes explored t0o: what is reality?, identity, consequences, responsibility, etc.
The story, plotting and pacing are all brilliantly done, and Pears isn't too shabby with the rest of his writing either - it's not especially brilliant, but it's not bad either and doesn't weigh the novel down or hold you back, and the 600 pages doesn't feel like a chore to get through. I would perhaps say the characters are a bit ordinary, but I don't think they need to be spectacularly complex because the story itself compensates for any lack.
There is an app too which you can apparently choose to follow through particular character threads from start to finish, but I didn't use it so I can't really comment on it, except to say that I think something would be lost experiencing it that way - I really liked the suspense of finding all the connections, and following one thread from beginning to end probably wouldn't result in as subtle a weave. It would be like reading a plot synopsis of a murder mystery with all the clues explained for you rather then letting you figure it out yourself as you go.
So to sum up: stick through the slow beginning (the only reason it lost a star for me, and if Goodreads did half stars it would only be a half) and you'll really enjoy it!
Side note: It was really difficult to classify at times, as each new revelation took it into a different direction than I expected. In the end I went with: a fantasy sci-fi dystopian universe-hopping time-travelling Shakespearean spy political thriller. Whatever it is, it's something good. ...more
I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you Text and Goodreads! Ilka Tampke's Skin is a fascinating story, an excellent blend of historicaI won this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you Text and Goodreads! Ilka Tampke's Skin is a fascinating story, an excellent blend of historical fiction and fantasy.
Much of what we know of Iron Age Britain and its religion and culture comes from the Romans (who are just starting to invade the island in Skin), and even their accounts are sketchy. Despite this, Tampke has created a very believable and fascinating world, one which is full of flavour and yet still clearly backed by good research. While I admit it took me a while to get my head around what "skin" actually meant, I found myself enjoying the learning process as more of the tribes' beliefs were revealed.
The characters fit perfectly into that world, and are equally as believable, reading as very "human" and "real". The story itself, centred on Ailia's hunger for identity and knowledge and woven around the Roman invasion, is entertaining and draws you onwards. While the events at the very end are somewhat predictable, throughout the whole of the book I never felt bored, and there are some satisfying twists to the tale.
All this is packaged in a writing style that is easy to read, carrying the reader along without jarring them and doing a perfect job of building up the world, characters and story.
I will definitely be reading the next book in the series....more
3 stars (given it 4 because Goodreads doesn't let you do halves)
It was the beautiful cover that first drew me to She Rises by Kate Worsley. I spotted3½ stars (given it 4 because Goodreads doesn't let you do halves)
It was the beautiful cover that first drew me to She Rises by Kate Worsley. I spotted it on a shelf in a bookshop, read the blurb, and decided to give it a go. The blurb hinted that this book was going to give a less often seen perspective on an interesting historical period (this is not about the glamour of balls and moneyed gentlemen, but the somewhat grubby, lower-class foundations overshadowed by it), as well as drama, romance and maybe even a spot of mystery. In 1740, Louise Fletcher, a naive dairy maid from the country, becomes the maid of a wealthy captain's daughter in a bustling port city. Her mother asks her to see if she can find out what happened to her brother, Luke, said to have been "stolen by the sea", but Louise is somewhat distracted by her new mistress...
I can't say much more than that without giving everything away. So on to my review. It was an interesting concept. Clearly a lot of research went into the historical setting (though I confess I'm not sure how accurate the gender issue is - particularly the way Louise handles it). The voices and language used sound very authentic and give a wonderful flavour to the writing, as does the unique, descriptive turns of phrase. As far as language and the technical side of writing goes, I'd say Worsley does a superb job.
She also does a very good job building up the characters of Louise and Luke, and most of the secondary characters. They are interesting and believable, fleshed out with subtlety. The only character I felt let down with was Rebecca, who seemed far too unlikable for me to understand Louise's feelings toward her.
The interweaving storylines of Louise and Luke are a good idea and I think the story is much better with that structure than it would be without it. However, I don't think that structure was executed as well as it could have been. The stories are too separate for too long, seemingly very disconnected with only a very tenuous, static link which is never expanded on or developed. And then in the space of a page and a half the two storylines collide into each other with a crash and a bang and quickly tumble together to the conclusion. Yes, it was the main and surprising plot twist, and yes, it was a climax, but, as with all climaxes, it's always better with anticipation. I feel like I would have gotten much more satisfaction out of it if there had been more hints and clues leading up to it, even if they had been subtle ones. I felt apprehension as the two stories played out (and not apprehension about how the stories are connected, but rather about the two separate and probably dreadful fates I had imagined for the two characters), but not anticipation.
I also felt that while Louise's story develops nicely, Luke's does not progress at all until the aforementioned plot-collision, simply going through different reiterations of the same thing while waiting for Louise's storyline to catch up.
Because of that separateness, stagnancy, and abrupt move forward in the plot, I felt like the mystery hinted at in the blurb was not delivered at all. History, romance and drama, yes. Not so much mystery, because you are given all the answers to the mystery (how the two storylines connect) in a big rush just after you start to think there even is one.
Overall, I think it was a well-written novel with a great flavour-filled voice and an interesting story that was handled well, but not as well as it could have been. If you're interested in this period of history and/or in gender and identity dramas, then I'd recommend reading it.
Also, it has sex scenes. Just thought I'd let people know in case that swings them one way or the other ;)...more