An epic page turner filled with memorable lines and some deep philosophic introspection. The most anti-climactic climax I've ever read that was incred...moreAn epic page turner filled with memorable lines and some deep philosophic introspection. The most anti-climactic climax I've ever read that was incredibly frustrating and absolutely perfect. McCarthy is a wordsmith, plain and simple, and his take on drugs and their influence in modern America is harrowing and accurate (I suppose). What a book.(less)
Had me a bit of a 16 hour drive. Needed something to "read." This one kind of fell off the audio-shelf at the library. Been on my TBR a while anyway.
T...moreHad me a bit of a 16 hour drive. Needed something to "read." This one kind of fell off the audio-shelf at the library. Been on my TBR a while anyway.
The Road is the only novel I've read by McCarthy, and I thought it tremendous. The Border Trilogy has long attracted me by its premise. All The Pretty Horses was a tight and concise novel, restrained though epic in scope. John Grady Cole and his cousin Lacy Rawlins set out on horseback on a trip from Texas into the heart of Mexico. They're running, the From and the To don't really matter. They encounter various situations along the way, and All the Pretty Horses tells of those. There is love. Betrayal. Murder. Violence. Horses. Spanish. (Lots and lots of Spanish, so make sure you know some.)
All in all, I found the characters fleshed out and real. The dialogue was wonderful. The plot was rich. The humor was great, too, even. An excellent book. I reckon I'll be diving into the rest o' the trilogy at some point.(less)
Shy South is a foul-mouthed piece of barbed wire layered thick over a sandpapered-yet-beating heart. Her life consists mostly of tending her farm, alo...moreShy South is a foul-mouthed piece of barbed wire layered thick over a sandpapered-yet-beating heart. Her life consists mostly of tending her farm, along with her step-dad (Lamb), her two siblings, and a ranch hand. When she and Lamb return from a trip to town to find their farm burnt to the ground, the ranch hand hanged, and the children missing, Shy’s life changes.
Temple is a man of many professions, most recently employed as a lawyer to a gang of ruthless mercenaries. Temple always takes the easy road in life, no matter the cost. But the years of this taking the easy road are catching up with Temple, and sooner or later something will have to give.
Red Country is Joe Abercrombie’s sixth book in the world of The First Law. Years have passed since the original trilogy. The Union is ever growing, expanding to the prairies and empty lands of the Near Country and the Far Country. Dark skinned Ghosts attack with the wind, quick and sneaky, eager to cut the ears off of trespassers on their lands. Through this wild and untamed country Shy follows a trail, stopping at nothing to get back her brother and sister.
I find it interesting that Abercrombie, a master of trope subversion, falls back on a rather clichéd incident for Red Country . A burning farm. Kidnapped children. This is nothing original to the Western genre. Nevertheless, taking these tropes and placing them in the blurred fantasy world Abercrombie does yield some entertaining reading, albeit flawed.
It seems like many people enjoy Abercrombie’s gritty Realism feel. I like that style to a degree, but this is not the predominant reason I like his books. Indeed, this was what I rather disliked with Best Served Cold. Abercrombie writes characters who are amoral and wretched, often portrayed with little-to-no redeeming qualities. Altruism does not exist in his world. Because of this, the reading is often heavy and bleak. What I like about Abercombie’s world is his worldbuilding. The history is mysterious and deep. The magic is barely there, but enough to keep me intrigued. I’m okay with shady characters, but I really connect with the worldbuilding.
Red Country is a Western and it’s a Fantasy. I’ve been a fan of Westerns for a good portion of my life (at least through film). I like the slow pacing of a Western, the simplicity of the plot, the landscapes and colors. Red Country was slow (almost too slow, honestly) when it needed to be, but the action was intense whenever presented. Abercrombie did a wonderful job of painting the untamed countryside. He even did a great job blending this genre into his already developed universe.
So after all of this, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with Red Country . In some ways it was anticlimactic, as if Abercrombie matter-of-factly orchestrates events for these characters with little fanfare. I was also somewhat underwhelmed with Shy. It felt like she was reluctant to open up to even herself, and throughout her POV chapters I often felt as a viewer. Temple, on the other hand, was engaging and much more interesting.
Despite some disappointment, I still very much enjoyed Red Country . It improved upon the bleak, violence that Best Served Cold (my review here) offered. It also had a more interesting plot than The Heroes (my review here), even if the action was less intense. All in all, Joe Abercrombie knows how to craft an entertaining story. More importantly, he knows how to keep me interested enough to read more of his works. I can only hope to get a little more information about the Fantasy side of his universe with future books. Give me some magic. Just a little bit. And stop making everything so bleak. Red Country probably isn’t for everyone (especially people that despise Westerns), but it is a worthy addition to Abercrombie’s growing catalog.(less)
Can you read a book and dislike the protagonist? That was the question I pondered while reading Lev Grossman’s immensely successful book The Magicians...moreCan you read a book and dislike the protagonist? That was the question I pondered while reading Lev Grossman’s immensely successful book The Magicians (my review here). Because I very much liked the book, at least its worldbuilding and its plot, even if I did very much dislike its protagonist Quentin Coldwater. I was unsure at the time whether or not I would read the sequel, The Magician King, and on a whim at the library last week I picked it up and gave it a shot.
The Magician King begins a few years after the events of the first book. In the intermediate time Quentin has matured in his outlook on life. He’s less of a nihilist, less pessimistic. Sure, he’s still got a long way to go, but his inner monologue was much more palatable from the get-go. Quentin is a king of Fillory now, along with King Eliot and Queens Julia and Janet. They live in a magical world filled with happiness, and through it all Quentin realizes that he’s bored. Be that as it may, Quentin is relatively happy and satisfied with his life, something new to him.
One of the problems with The Magician King is that there is a lack of obvious conflict until very late in the book. There are conflicts for the characters, but nothing seeming to unite them, at least not at first. Quentin is bored and longs for more excitement in life. That’s the gist of it.
Format-wise, The Magician King spends about half of the book continuing the story of Quentin Coldwater. Concurrently, chapters alternate with a “flashback” style story, developing Julia’s past and how she came to be a magician. The reasoning for this doesn’t become clear until over halfway through the book, and while it is effective and works at toying with the Reader, it’s also jarring to the pace of the novel at times. To me, Julia’s journey just wasn’t as wonderful as Quentin’s.
Regardless of these two drawbacks, the sequel was an enjoyable book. Grossman continued to pull me into the world(s) he’d created, making me somehow care about Quentin this time around in the process. The latter half of the book was very exciting, with a climax rising up quickly for Quentin’s plot, while Julia’s logically built to an unforgettable-yet-terrible climax.
I have no doubts that there will be a sequel to this book. The Magician King opens far too many boxes that it doesn’t shut. Will I be along for the ride whenever the book comes out? Without a doubt, yes. Grossman’s universe is too interesting for me to abandon. I’m drawn to his pop-culture filled fantasy, curious as to how the whole thing will wind up. The Magician King surpasses its predecessor in every way, but the biggest improvement was the tone of this story compared with that of the first. Quentin was a more mature protagonist, and for that I was thankful. He’s still developing as a character, and I look forward to watching Quentin grow.(less)
This brings the series up through Issue #96. I'm very strongly considering stopping at #100, or whatever Volume 17 brings us through. Not enough going...moreThis brings the series up through Issue #96. I'm very strongly considering stopping at #100, or whatever Volume 17 brings us through. Not enough going on to keep me engaged any longer.(less)
Hot on the heels of The Great Hunt, this book had more than enough to keep me entertained, but not that special *mmph* to make me really like it. Stil...moreHot on the heels of The Great Hunt, this book had more than enough to keep me entertained, but not that special *mmph* to make me really like it. Still, an enjoyable read that helped pass the commute. I shall continue on, methinks.(less)