I like the concept of following Prospero's daughter on a mystery. But why undo his character development when all you're going to dI don't understand.
I like the concept of following Prospero's daughter on a mystery. But why undo his character development when all you're going to do is repeat it with his offspring? Why go against the word of what Shakespeare says went on in the story for the sake of a simpler tale? At the end of Tempest, Prospero broke his staff and swore to no longer practice magic - the events of this book would have been little different. Miranda, after all, swore no such vow.
But even accepting the author's premise, Miranda is an unlikeable slave driver (literally) caught outside her home century with outdated morality and a questionable drive. She is cruel and heartless to her servants, only mildly interested in the fates of her siblings, and disturbingly devoted to her father. I'm OK with protagonists that are not heroes, but something about her naive behavior after four hundred years of living rubs me the wrong way.
Then there's the plot, which meanders quite a bit, parceling out tidbits here and there between larger segments where Miranda gets distracted. By the end of the book, the text can only offer us the barest of cliffhangers, leaving the main issue - Prospero's titular disappearance - regulated to mere scenery.
I'm probably not going to read the rest of the trilogy. I recommend you not bother at all....more
A good coming-of-age novel of someone who got a lucky break.
It's effectively a magic talisman (not really, but go with me here). It allows our hero toA good coming-of-age novel of someone who got a lucky break.
It's effectively a magic talisman (not really, but go with me here). It allows our hero to land a job as a reporter and get great scoops, but as a result, he never really learns how to find the scoops himself. In any other story, the talisman would break, or someone would find out, or he'd learn that he did it all on his own - but none of that is true in this tale. Our hero may surprise you.
I say "hero" not because he is particularly heroic, but because he firmly believes - rightly - that he is the protagonist of a story, and thus expects (and receives) various fortunate coincidences. It is when he puts that thinking aside does the novel end, because he has outgrown it.
There are other elements of the story, but they are less important: a mad scientist, a devastatingly beautiful chess player, a blind madman, a treacherous mayor, a pair of desperate editors, an ancient socialite. All of these, and the subplots they spawn, are only window dressing to the larger tale. As such, they are quickly dropped at the end of the book, almost as I'd they had been wholly devised by the protagonist to rationalize their actions in his personal narrative....more
I must have bounced off of this book earlier, because the first half seemed really familiar.
The setting is during a time of war, but really, the mainI must have bounced off of this book earlier, because the first half seemed really familiar.
The setting is during a time of war, but really, the main characters try to stay well away from the fighting. This is a tale of how a few people, in the right place, at the right time, can shape the history of a nation. In this case, they also have the added talents of prescience and magic, but that's almost secondary.
Secondary to the overall story, but not to the plot. This is a well-thought-out system of magic, and the rules are consistent and balanced. The people are appropriately flawed and admirable, and I was at times rolling my eyes at their decisions and rooting for their successes.
The pace can feel a little slow at times, meandering it's way through an exploration of the world and concepts, but things really pick up speed in the last hundred pages as the plot suddenly catches up with everyone....more
Another well-spun tale by Abercrombie. Grim, bloody, and cynical, he weaves a tale with multiple protagonists on both sides of the conflict, and driveAnother well-spun tale by Abercrombie. Grim, bloody, and cynical, he weaves a tale with multiple protagonists on both sides of the conflict, and drives home the undercurrent that war is good for no one but empires.
An epic in miniature, in many ways. The story takes place over just three days of battle, but it's a decisive battle over a site of strategic and symbolic importance. Don't expect heroics or heroes; the only laudable people are long since dead and buried. These characters fight and die quickly and often, or survive at the whims of chance....more
This is, in gamer parlance, an expansalone. While it is technically an expansion of the rules as laid out in Edge of Empire, you could do just as wellThis is, in gamer parlance, an expansalone. While it is technically an expansion of the rules as laid out in Edge of Empire, you could do just as well buying this book alone and run a game.
That said, as someone who owns the previous book, it feels a little overpriced. Large swaths of the text are copied directly from the other book, with the only notable additions being a couple of new races, classes, and the "duty" system (to replace obligations).
The concepts as introduced work fairly well, though I had to create a lot of house rules to get my Stormtrooper campaign off the ground. An OK rulebook, but you may want to think twice if you already own the first one....more
So, let me review every Holt book I have read thus far:
A guy is in a boring, often soul-sucking occupation. Something Happens that reveals that the woSo, let me review every Holt book I have read thus far:
A guy is in a boring, often soul-sucking occupation. Something Happens that reveals that the world is not quite as expected. The guy begins to regret ever lamenting his fate and almost (but not quite) pines for earlier days. In the end, he learns to cope with his new outlook on life, and even manages to do a little better than before.
It's not a bad formula, and there's enough wiggle room in there to tell a significantly different variation every time, but, whatever you do, don't read a bunch of his work one after another.
This one's pretty good, but the story never really settles on whether or not the general public knows about magic. Supposedly it's not common knowledge, but the protagonist doesn't meet even one person ignorant of the larger world....more
A sequel, of sorts, that does a fine job of being set in the same world, but dutifully ignores the characters from the first book until the new characA sequel, of sorts, that does a fine job of being set in the same world, but dutifully ignores the characters from the first book until the new characters are properly established.
This story tells the well-worn tale of the lazy son who makes good, and thus it's not quite as good as the first book, which played more with fairy tale tropes. Still a good read, though, with some lines that made me laugh out loud....more
An interesting fantasy world that starts off in mostly familiar territory, only to veer off suddenly in a direction all her own.
Another way of lookingAn interesting fantasy world that starts off in mostly familiar territory, only to veer off suddenly in a direction all her own.
Another way of looking at it, though, is as a disturbing tale of brainwashing. This is, like many fairy tales, a love story, and in this world the magic has a mind of its own when it comes to how a story should end. Thus, when the romance finally comes to a head, it's hard to shake the feeling that it's not true love, but something that happened only because the Tradition thought it would be a good idea at the time.
Still, it was clever, internally consistent, with a strong female lead that turns fairy tales on it side....more
An OK story that would have been better told in order.
The novel starts with the end of all the fighting, successfully dispelling any tension as to wheAn OK story that would have been better told in order.
The novel starts with the end of all the fighting, successfully dispelling any tension as to whether or not the rogue AI will succeed in its stated goals.
The rest of the story is made up of well-crafted vignettes framed by spoilers, which, again, destroy any tension and generally make it so the reader doesn't have to think or realize connections between characters themselves.
It's an interesting world, but I would have liked a better approach to it.
To get the best effect: skip the prologue, and don't read the text in italics at the beginning and end of each chapter. When you get to the epilogue, flip back to the prologue, read that, then close the book....more
**spoiler alert** A disappointing novel; not a good example of McDevitt's work. To be fair, the work was only half his.
I have no regard for worthless**spoiler alert** A disappointing novel; not a good example of McDevitt's work. To be fair, the work was only half his.
I have no regard for worthless people. This book is full of them.
Unused Chekov's guns litter the narrative, pop culture references are already irrelevant, and many characters are all looking for the highest bidder. Throw in a jibe at the sci-fi publishing industry (because why not?), set things in a zeerust 2021, and you've got the basic idea of the backdrop the plot is set against.
The ending is the worst part. All the characters have some degree of moral outrage over the very existence of a fifty-year conspiracy, but then decide in the final pages to continue the charade. Which, really, just makes half the plot a complete waste of time....more
The first two-thirds of the book follow a person named Loeser as he desperately tries to sleep with a girl. I tried very haA tough struggle of a read.
The first two-thirds of the book follow a person named Loeser as he desperately tries to sleep with a girl. I tried very hard to care.
Along the way, Loeser finds his way out of pre-WWII Berlin and into Los Angeles, where he meets up with a whole new selection of characters who only exist to introduce him to another set who actually set the plot in motion.
That's right: I haven't even touched on the plot. Neither does the book, really, until almost two hundred pages of prolog.
Then, in the third act, everything picks up tremendously with some of the best writing I've seen. There's some good ideas here, and it really feels as if the author started at the end and then filled in the rest to up the page count. But what's wrong with a novella? It would be a small number of edits to eliminate the first two-thirds of the fluff so the reader can focus on the excellent chewy center ... to mix metaphors.
What makes it worse is that Loeser is also seen struggling with a book, one which he can only bear in small doses, to the point where it takes him 30 years to make it through the entire tome. I felt like that at times with this book, right up to the two hundredth page.
If you do decide to pick up this book: read the first twenty pages, then skip to about page 175 or so. It's not like there's any character development you'll miss....more
My first-ever Tom Clancy novel. I found a terrifying distopia with an unsettling ending, and nary a hero to be found.
Set in a world where an ex-spy waMy first-ever Tom Clancy novel. I found a terrifying distopia with an unsettling ending, and nary a hero to be found.
Set in a world where an ex-spy was made President of the U.S. for five years, stepped down, and now wants to be reelected. The current administration cuts funding for field agents, but that's OK, because the former President had a plan: set up an ultra-secret spy organization, privately funded and accountable to no one, and trust them with the security of the nation.
On top of *that* mess, this former President also signed a hundred blank pardons to be used if one of these ultra-spies gets caught doing something untoward on American soil.
Scared yet? These are the *good guys*.
The bad guys are, of course, Islamic extremist terrorists who are, in turns, good at infiltration, ruthless in covering their tracks, and above all else, lucky.
Their ruthlessness is actually their undoing. By leaving a large trail of bodies in their wake, they attract more attention than if they had just paid the money and moved on. Their insistence on "dead men tell no tales" provides a majority of the leads for the protagonists to follow.
I initially wanted to like this book; after all, I like superheroes, and what are those but vigilantes striking a blow for freedom outside the bounds of the law? But while I can appreciate what soldiers must do in battlefield conditions, I cannot condone willful murder or torture.
Even if I was OK with the actions of the protagonists, they're so inconsistent as to be nearly laughable. The former President frequently says, "don't publicly criticize a sitting President," but then does just that when it is politically advantageous. The ultra-secret spies claim to be watching for signs of mental instability, but let someone who's brother was just killed out into the field the next day. We are told that torture only gives unreliable results, that it's not worth the lousy intel it provides, but guess what comprises the last chapter?
I can only assume that this story was a rich and varied satire of action hero clichés. Any other conclusion would just be depressing....more
A nice piece of fan fiction that provides a plausible reason for the Borg's origin ... and their destruction.
There are a lot of ties to the TV seriesA nice piece of fan fiction that provides a plausible reason for the Borg's origin ... and their destruction.
There are a lot of ties to the TV series and movies, as expected. There are also a lot of nods to other novels (I think - I haven't read many, so the events alluded to could have been mere noodle incidents). The aliens are more alien than a TV budget or even Hollywood would allow - reptiles, three arms, scales - it goes far and beyond simple rubber foreheads.
The Borg are appropriately terrifying, and the new characters are convincingly human, but the characters from the TV series appear a bit miscast. Troi and Riker seem, as a bonded pair, weaker than their constituent parts. Picard falls all too easily into a deep depression, evidencing none of the rage we saw in First Contact. Only Worf and Ezri Dax appear stronger and more defined than their screen counterparts.
The story is engaging, but is prone to sagging a little towards the end. It becomes incredibly obvious as to what the resolution of the conflict is going to be around the middle of the second book, but it takes one and a half books to get everyone in the appropriate positions with the right knowledge to actually affect change.
Overall, yet another trilogy that might have been better as a duology, but still a satisfying look into a climactic Borg-driven apocalypse....more