“With the first two novels in the Culture series, Iain M. Banks has showed us all why he is a true master of his craft. The Culture is now one of my f...more“With the first two novels in the Culture series, Iain M. Banks has showed us all why he is a true master of his craft. The Culture is now one of my favourite series and I think The Player of Games may be one of my favourite novels. Unmissable.”~The Founding Fields
I loved The Player of Games that much. In fact, I’m struggling to find anything negative to say about it. Iain M. Banks’ novel is not only standalone (but can be read with his other Culture novels), but also a great entry point to new readers like myself to the Culture series, even though I have read Consider Phlebas beforehand. Iain M. Banks has nailed everything in this novel, and I think it might win the award read this year but not released this year. It’s just… epic. There are no other words to describe it.
But I’m going to have a go anyway, as this would be a short review otherwise.
"The Culture – a human/machine symbiotic society – has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy.
Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game … a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life – and very possibly his death."
What makes The Player of Games one of the best novels that I’ve ever read is that Banks seems to do everything right. We’ve got an even pace, some great world building, and we really get a look into Gurgeh as a character, his motives, his thoughts, and we really want to root for him in this book, even if he is not the most likable of characters. He’s not a character that I’m going to forget quickly either, for Banks has created a memorable character to undertake this new challenge. He develops over the course of the novel and it’s very interesting to see where Gurgeh ends up by the time we put the book down. What makes him interesting is that he’s far from a perfect character – after all, he’s human.
“A fast paced, gripping novel that delivers an explosive, satisfying conclusion to Tc McCarthy’s Subterrene War Trilogy. Amazing stuff.” ~The Founding...more“A fast paced, gripping novel that delivers an explosive, satisfying conclusion to Tc McCarthy’s Subterrene War Trilogy. Amazing stuff.” ~The Founding Fields
The Subterrene War Trilogy’s opener, Germline, if I remember correctly, was one of the first few novels that I received for review outside of tie-in fiction and it’s been a fantastic ride right the way through. Exogene was a stunning follow up that didn’t let me down, and now – having read Chimera in a super quick time, having not being able to put it down, I am pleased to say that Tc McCarthy has written three brilliant novels that will leave me eagerly anticipating any future works by him, whether it be in his already established universe or in a new setting. Although it may not be a perfect read, it sure as hell is a entertaining one, and something that I haven’t heard any negative reception for from the whole trilogy, which is a great achievement especially as it’s Tc McCarthy’s debut trilogy.
"Escaped Germline soldiers need to be cleaned up, and Stan Resnick is the best man for the job. A job that takes him to every dark spot and every rat hole he can find.
Operatives from China and Unified Korea are gathering escaped or stolen Russian and American genetics, and there are reports of new biological nightmares: half-human things, bred to live their entire lives encased in powered armor suits.
Stan fights to keep himself alive and out of prison while he attempts to capture a genetic, one who will be able to tell him everything he needs to know about an newer threat, the one called “Project Sunshine.”
Chimera is the third and final volume of The Subterrene War Trilogy, which tells the story of a single war from the perspective of three different combatants. The first two volumes, GERMLINE and EXOGENE, are available now."
Chimera, despite being in the same universe as Germline and Exogene, and even featuring a character from Exogene, manages to feel just as new and refreshing as Exogene did to Germline. We’ve had three characters to guide us on our tale over the course of the trilogy, and they’ve each been entirely different. First, Germline gave us Oscar Wendell, a war journalist. Then we got a view into the Germline soldiers themselves, with Catherine, and finally - Chimera has given us Stan Resnick, another male protagonist, but shares more in common with Catherine than Oscar. He’s a hunter of escaped Germline soldiers, and it’s interesting to see how he develops over the course of the novel. Having a novel told only from the first person perspective of one character, it’s always going to be a bit of a risk – if the reader doesn’t enjoy the narrative, then chances are, they’re not going to like the novel. But Tc McCarthy has improved on his first-person narrative over the course of the trilogy, and delivers an astounding conclusion to The Subterrene War.
“An awesome novel that is one of my favourites so far this year. For those who thought that Christopher’s Empire State would be the best of his novels, then think again - Seven Wonders is much better. Reads like a superhero comic book in novel form. Unmissable.” ~The Founding Fields
Empire State was one of the novels that I read towards the end of 2011, and the only reason why it wasn’t included in my Best of 2011 list was because it was well, an Advanced Review and the actual publication of Adam Christopher’s first novel is due in 2012. So, Empire State was the first novel on my Best of 2012 list, before the year had even started – I was completely blown away by it.
And now, with Seven Wonders, Adam Christopher’s second novel that is not a sequel to Empire State, but a new novel that could potentially be the start of its own series, Christopher has managed to blow me away yet again - Seven Wonders has just become one of my favourite novels of 2012, making it two out of two. Seven Wonders is probably going to be high on my list for best novel of 2012 as well, competing with Empire State and several other novels that have been released. It was that good.
Tony Prosdocimi lives in the bustling Metropolis of San Ventura – a city gripped in fear, a city under siege by the hooded supervillain, The Cowl.When Tony develops super-powers and acts to take down The Cowl, however, he finds that the local superhero team Seven Wonders aren’t as grateful as he assumed they’d be… The blurb tells you the basics of the plot, but in reality, Seven Wonders will take you completely by surprise if you go into it expecting something along the lines of the aforementioned blurb. Sure, that’s included in there as well, but you get a lot more action and awesomeness than you bargained for, and I’m going to say something here – the actual plot is a lot better than what the blurb makes it out to be, and that made me enjoy the novel even more. It’s fast, action-packed and reminds me to epic graphic novels such as Watchmen, only in prose form. The plot’s complicated and with several twists and turns, you never know where you’re going to end up.
If you want to read some superhero fiction that isn’t a graphic novel/comic book, then Seven Wonders will be the perfect place to start. It can be read as a standalone and is not a sequel to Empire State (that’s Christopher’s next book, Age of Atomic), and its ending allows the opportunity for a sequel (which you won’t think is possible until you get there). The prose is fantastic and there isn’t a dull moment, with the author managing to keep you reading throughout. With praise heaped upon it by authors such as Greg Rucka (Alpha, the Punisher), Mike Carey (The Unwritten, X-Men) and Phillip Palmer (Hell Ship, Artemis) and more, Seven Wonders is one that you will not want to miss out on.
The characters are many and varied, and in this book Christopher includes more superheroes than you’ve ever seen in one novel before, using up any names that haven’t already been thought of, which characters such as the Dragon Star, Aurora’s Light and many more being included to ramp up the tension and create some epic scenes that will keep your eyes glued to the page (or the screen, if you’re reading an eBook version of this like I was), with development happening throughout the novel. The main focus is split equally between the Seven Wonders, the superhero group that are the main ‘heroes’ of the novel, as well as Tony Prosdocimi, who starts off as your average Joe living in a city filled with the extraordinary, who allows the reader to get an interesting perspective to superheroes, one that we don’t often see in the comic books. (Or at least, the ones that I’ve read anyway). I should point out that Tony’s transformation and the journey that he takes is an epic, action-packed one full of twists and turns, and by the end of the novel his virtually unrecognisable from the character that he was at the beginning.
As well as the superheroes and Tony, we’re also given the POV of the main super villain, the Cowl – and his accomplice, Blackbird. Both are the main villains for the first half of the novel and Christopher has even allowed for the Cowl to develop as a character over the course of the novel, and he, like Tony – undergoes a massive journey throughout the book. Blackbird is also an interesting character to look at, and she is also a key player (perhaps even more so than the Cowl himself) in Seven Wonders.
The world building of Seven Wonders is fantastically created, and set in the fictional metropolis of San Ventura, Christopher has fully fleshed out the city including various locations such as Wonder Tower (the Seven Wonders HQ) that get visited over the course of the novel, and has managed to do this without bogging down the story.