This is an odd one. For starters, I really, truly like Kenneth Tam (the author, I don't know the man). He writes well, his books researched, planned aThis is an odd one. For starters, I really, truly like Kenneth Tam (the author, I don't know the man). He writes well, his books researched, planned and well executed.
Which brings me to THIS. This .... let's backtrack. In 2010, Tam published "The Grasslands", a historical science-fiction novel which introduced us not only to the New World (which one reach through a space-time-warped tunnel in the Rockies), but to The Wall and his by's of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
Imagine my delight when I first read the blurb. Historical! SF! Alternative history to boot! Military! Non-USMC/SEAL team 6/etc/and so forth troops? My fondest dreams. (Ok, I lie, but it's close).
I subsequently maratoned my way through "The Frontier", "The Reprisal", "The Expedition" and came to "The Empire". The others I'll give 5 stars, since there's no sixth to give. THIS one I give two.
The reason is spoilerish, but I can say this much: I hate the GoT idea of building a character up, then kill'im off. I hate the idea of building a strategy that works against an enemy, just to abandon it (yes, we DID know in 1914 that attacking machineguns was a Really Bad Idea and how Not To Do It), and establish a voice of a character just to throw it away.
So this one gets a "Bah. Not reading THAT again". The others I'll keep treasuring as great fun. Did you really write this one, Kenneth? :(...more
And he bloody well does it again ... if you know Ben Aaronvitch, you'll also know he's behind two of the very best Dr. Who serials ever ('RemembranceAnd he bloody well does it again ... if you know Ben Aaronvitch, you'll also know he's behind two of the very best Dr. Who serials ever ('Remembrance of the Daleks' and 'Battlefield'), and that he's been an excellent reason to read New Adventure books and listen to Big Finish audio dramas. And if you didn't know, you do now.
It is therefor I boggle. 'cause he does this again and again: write excellent books. Truly excellent, not the current, inflation-ridden 'excellent' thrown out too often to convince a body something was worth paying money for.
No, this book has all the bases covered (it's well-written, with good spelling and prose; the plot is internally consistent, and not a single veggiesaurus is in sight), the story put down and bedded in, and the characters very nicely thrown out of their comfortable little slots and into the big, and in the case of poor PC Grant, really, really dangerous world.
He thought he knew how to be a wizard, did he? HAH! He was certain he knew how to be a boyfriend? Double HAH! He was convinced he knew policing? Double HAH with sugar on top.
Yep. Ben did it again: HIGHLY recommended for being funny, entertaining, and thrilling....more
Let me be blissfully brief - something Nuttall did not quite manage. The book reads like a political manifesto, where the author's and clearly the autLet me be blissfully brief - something Nuttall did not quite manage. The book reads like a political manifesto, where the author's and clearly the author's views are prominent.
The story would be interesting, if it did not try to "explore" the future by way of a seriously twisted idea of what the present is.
If I want political propaganda, I'll read Das Kapital. Nuttall will not be bothered by my patronage in the future....more
Lindsay Buroker may well be best known for her Emperor’s Edge series, but she has by no means restricted herself to the quasi–steampunk genre.
This, thLindsay Buroker may well be best known for her Emperor’s Edge series, but she has by no means restricted herself to the quasi–steampunk genre.
This, the first book in a theoretical new series, is set in a contemporary US of A which both USians and others will easily recognise. The overall genre is fantasy, drawing heavily on the relic hunting sub–category, as well as archaeology, mystery and even a very faint whiff of romance. Quite a bit of humour is in here, tho this is not a comedy.
The language is English — as always I recommend reading books in their original — and flows easily. Naturally, as a norwegian, I am not competent in judging the prose itself, but there are no snags; no need to go back and re–read to understand what the author attempted to say.
The writing does not come across as overly simplistic, childish, or stuffed with «he said, she said»s. Dialogue and scene description mix cleanly, and info–dumps are handled by intermixing required information with the action. It is also clear that the author has a good thesaurus, in her head or on paper. Very rarely do I run across the problem of repetition so common to newly hatched writers — myself among them. Quite chuffed with the style here, in short.
How about the plot? It certainly is unique — at least in my experience: a self–professed explorer (she does indeed avoid the word «scavenger») plus (business)partner hunt for reasonably modern–day relics in the backwaters of the US. Their speciality, this season, is in old mining equipment; young enough not to attract undue attention from museums and governments, but old enough to be collector’s items. From this they make a meagre living until all hell breaks lose in the form of a likely–not–accidentally decapitated body pops up. Can’t blame Br’er Bear for this one, kids.
With the arrival of two very strange fellows (not strange because they drive Harley–Davidson motorbikes. That just show they got poor taste…:) with odd clothing and queer speech, events speed up and twist. When an old girlfriend turns up, followed in rapid order by a brace of LEOs, a school of national guardsmen and –women, a single ex colleague and — remotely — a host of drunken–and–getting–worse scientists, the scene is almost set.
The magic sword complete it. Is fantasy. Has elves too. Of sorts. The single strangest elves since Tanya Huff’s di’Taykan and Mercedes Lackey’s Serrated Edge variants, I might add. Twelve out of ten for that quirk :)
Delia and Simon make up our protagonists. Together they run Rust & Relics, selling old coffee grinders and claw buckets, making a meagre living and more often than not camping out in Simon’s old Volkswagen Vanagon — Transporter for us Europeans — nicknamed Zelda.
The naming of the ’wagen gives us a clue to Simon’s personality — he’s a gamer. Such clues, allowing the reader to assemble their own mental image of both characters, are sprinkled liberally throughout the book. Such a methodology can only be applauded. 10/10 for the effort.
We learn that Simon is Simon Jimmicum, a gamer, a geek, a part–time hippie, full time programmer, and reluctant Makah native american with a love–hate relationship with his heritage.
Delia is, by her own admission, a child of the only Greek eco–hippy community in the world, an archaeology graduate by vocation, an Indiana Jones fan complete with self–made whip and self–made sarcasm.
Both are well–rounded, three–dimensional, characters whom you can easily start to care for. I want to see how things work out for them – I ought to add, in relation to the third main character: Artemis «Temi» Sideris, new on–probation–only–hiree at Rust & Relic, owner of a Jaguar, a mean reputation on the tennis courts, and a contrary leg.
She, however, is a mite flat at this point. We know a great deal of her, but she remains so firmly in the background that, at times, she disappear — one of my very few gripes with the story. Even in circumstances where one would expect Ms. Sideris to be part of the dialogue, she remain strangely quiet. Five out of ten for this one, mainly because while she isn’t a main character, she’s not a supporting actress either. Between two chairs she fall.
Stuff — that’s one of those professional terms we reviewers use — get very confused, very fast; our two protagonists are never quite sure where they stand and it doesn’t let up until well past the final scene. The two quite realistic humans are left with more questions than answers, a little bit more money than they used to have, new friendships and the above mentioned magical sword.
They make mistakes, they fail, they succeed, they get into and out of trouble. In short: they are human, and well described.
Does the story make sense, then? Yes, and no. It is written from the point of view of two entirely ordinary individuals who lacks the big picture. They simply don’t know, and what little they learn are not enough for them to make sense of what has happened — and neither do we. The truth may be out there, but we are stuck with not knowing it. If experiencing the story as the characters does is not your cup of tea, I cannot suggest Torrent.
But if you accept that you are riding shotgun with the characters, knowing roughly what they do, seeing what they see and learning what they learn, then a very, very warm recommendation for Torrent.
And Ms. Buroker? You ask, in the end, whether readers think you should write more in this series? To quote myself on Twitter: HELL, yeah. ...more
And an odd version it is - hence the two stars. Is the book really by Kerry Greenwood? I wonder.
Lately I'vNote: This applies to the US Kindle version.
And an odd version it is - hence the two stars. Is the book really by Kerry Greenwood? I wonder.
Lately I've had a grand ol' time reading through the Phryne Fisher mysteries. Despite a certain curiosity as to why vol. 1-3, then 10-18, but not 4-9 is available to me in the Kindle store, I've very much enjoyed the books. Some are better, some are worse, but all are entertaining.
Until this. Until a book which appears SO MUCH out of character that I wonder if the author is really the author. Suddenly, when a discreet doctor is needed for a female victim, Dr. Mac isn't even mentioned. A sister so effectively used in the previous book is suddenly ... not even mentioned.
Let's ignore the suddenly horrendous typography and layout, which made the Kindle book near unreadable. Let's skip the out-of-character behaviour of the main characters.
The plot. What about the PLOT? "What about the plot?" I hear you ask. Yes. What about it? Where was the plot? I shan't spoil, but honestly I am tempted to retitle this volume: "The Chase for the Itinerant Plot".
This one was a shock to my system after the lovely #13 ("The Castlemain Murders") and the absolutely delightful #14 ("Death by Water").
Again: was this REALLY written by Kerry Greenwood? Ya could'v fooled me....more
Let's dispense with the "This is crap literature!" crowd right away: you won't like me or what I write.
Dan Brown did, with "The DaVinci Code", createLet's dispense with the "This is crap literature!" crowd right away: you won't like me or what I write.
Dan Brown did, with "The DaVinci Code", create a mystery based around old symbols and myths, meshed together in what was quite a fun "little" book. There's nothing to be gained what so ever from claiming "It's not true!". No, it isn't. It's fantasy, and it was well done.
"Inferno", on the other hand, is simply one more of the same. Nothing wrong with that, but the mystery isn't mysterious any more, even tho the symbols are as complex and the clues as obscure. It is one, long list of complex and obscure.
The problem - the very REAL problem - for me was the philosophical claptrap. You might want to avoid the next paragraph.
(view spoiler)[ Highly intelligent people. They suffer so much. Schools bore them; society wish to imprison them in politically correct muck. Society even HATE them for being, well, smart, and good with math.
Not really. We don't understand "intelligence", and we don't really hate those who think differently - unless, of course, they are artists. Could someone explain why a darned clever person would let ANYTHING bore her?
Rant over - but "Inferno" contains two supremely intelligent people; so intelligent that they have insights the rest of us cannot fathom, and since we cannot fathom how RIGHT they are, they have to act without asking. Paraphrased: "Would you in cold blood murder an innocent child to save another innocent child?". The big, moral question of the book. Added to a mix of Transhumanism (that's the "movement that epitomizes the most daring, courageous, imaginative, and idealistic aspirations of humanity" to quote one of them. The rest of us don't have daring, courageous etc aspirations), evolution, politics on the right hand side of things, and some truly FLAT characters .... no. Sorry, Dan. It's soup, and it isn't even very tasty. (hide spoiler)]
But mainly it bother me that the book could have been split in two: one travel handbook for the symbolically inclined; one, thin, very thin, mystery.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The concept is simple: a US Navy WWWI-era so-called "four stacker" warship is, during a firefight in the early days of WWThis was fun. Really. It was!
The concept is simple: a US Navy WWWI-era so-called "four stacker" warship is, during a firefight in the early days of WWII with japanese battleship Amagi, transported by unknown means to an alternate, if eerily similar, universe. The Earth they end up in has subtle, and a few not so suble, differences to our own, yet conflict and strife means the now-lost Destroyermen must chose side in a war unlike any they've ever experienced.
There are TWO major problems with the story. I'll hide both for reasons of spoilage.
(view spoiler)[ Problem No. 1: Minimum Viable Population. There are five female nurses, roughly 150 male sailors. There MAY be survivors from earlier crossovers, specifically sailing ships from the east-india trade. They rarely carried hundreds of women either. So, the species is probably doomed. Perhaps he'll cheat in later books?
Problem No. 2: The Lemurians have equality of the sexes. Very much so, to the extent that they do not understand the USians views. And yet the author has very, very few female characters on the Lemurian side. (hide spoiler)]
But it was FUN :)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Fun concept, mediocre writing and far, far too much BDSM-style sex for the story to carry pulls the rating down. The characters pull it up, but a twoFun concept, mediocre writing and far, far too much BDSM-style sex for the story to carry pulls the rating down. The characters pull it up, but a two is as much as I can give.
Sex, in a story, is neither wrong nor out of place -- IF it fits in the tale. Here it does not....more
Romantic drama and/or comedy is not my style - not normally - but I shall admit to a certain weak spot for author Jae and her world(s).
No spoilers herRomantic drama and/or comedy is not my style - not normally - but I shall admit to a certain weak spot for author Jae and her world(s).
No spoilers here: the two main characters have depth; the story - while not wholly original - is handled very well, with humour and grace. Any romantic story that can make me laugh is worth the price of admission.
Congratulations, Ms. Jae; very well done indeed. A star off for one or two annoyances with the third tier characters, but otherwise all is well.
A suggestion, tho: set the next in Europe. Just for a change :)...more