I often worry about the health of my favorite authors. If Douglas Adams hadn't died at the age of 49, just think of what he could have done! Of living...moreI often worry about the health of my favorite authors. If Douglas Adams hadn't died at the age of 49, just think of what he could have done! Of living authors, Terry Pratchett perhaps concerns me the most, with his posterior cortical atrophy (related to Alzheimer's). It's upsetting to think about what will happen when he can no longer produce a new book once a year, right on schedule, for infinity. A sad day for comedic and fantasy literature, and really for book fans everywhere.
In any case, the reason we care so much is just because of how good the work is that he turns out. Perhaps "good" isn't the right word here, since it's more like a homecoming. The familiar stories, with their familiar characters, themes, style, and humor make every Discworld book a pleasure to read, like a favorite armchair or wine.
This installment is perhaps a bit more tired than others -- the story follows many similar themes, and has quite a few callbacks, to the previous Vimes book, Thud! -- but in the end, the story is more localized, more character-driven, and is less unfollowable than the ending of Thud!
So, yes, much familiar ground, almost all familiar characters, and a complete lack of stalwart Pratchett favorites such as Death, but still a great book. With an inevitably-dwindling number of Discword novels left, it's always fun to spend some more time with the City Watch.(less)
This book was recommended to me from a whole bunch of people, so I couldn't not read it eventually.
I'm impressed how fresh the series seems, despite...moreThis book was recommended to me from a whole bunch of people, so I couldn't not read it eventually.
I'm impressed how fresh the series seems, despite treading over incredibly familiar territories. That said, it had its fair share of clichés and predictable outcomes. They were a few places where it delved into territory that made me think, "Oh, that's Harry Potter" or "Oh, that's Wheel of Time", but it wasn't too bad. The writing was great, and it had a nice mix of action and world-building.
What was odd, though, was that I found myself caring more about the framing story than about the flashbacks that make up most of the novel. While I was excited about the story, perhaps I was excited too much about the wrong parts. There's no guarantee we'll get any substantial additions to the framing story. As I neared the end of the book, I thought to myself, "I can't wait to get this trilogy(!) out of the way so I can find out what actually happens next!" I guess I look at the three books planned as a prequel trilogy to a main story. In any case, I'm not sure I have the right attitude here.
In any case, a very strong high fantasy title that I would recommend to anyone looking for a new read in that genre. Nothing ground-breaking, but a very solid novel.(less)
I was pretty hesitant going into The Magicians; the main selling point. "It's a grittier Harry Potter!" falls flat with me. That premise alone was the...moreI was pretty hesitant going into The Magicians; the main selling point. "It's a grittier Harry Potter!" falls flat with me. That premise alone was the source of much of its popularity, and that worried me. Sadly, the first part of the book never did more than live up to the sales pitch. A secret school, classmates, a perfunctory mention of Quidditch, just a wink and a nod, and that's it.
The later parts, however, redeem the storytelling, and the book starts to stand on its own. This is especially apparent when it starts to explore the nature of depression and the poignant sadness of living in a world where the extraordinary only happens in the books you read. (view spoiler)[For much of the story, Quentin is given everything he could want, just for him to take and discard. Nothing ever is quite enough. The narrative doesn't provide resolution for Quentin's condition -- certainly doesn't put Quentin through the therapy that everyone acknowledges would help -- but leaves us with a lot of questions. (hide spoiler)]
Since we are stuck with Quentin's attitude and depression, at least the questions around it are raised, acknowledged, and discussed. Here is where the book is truly at its heart, and it also exposes a not-yet-tired metaphor for the post-college doldrums that have recently become such a popular topic. What do you do when the world can't match your expectations? What if college really was as good as it was going to get? How do you reclaim the happiness that's always been just out of reach?["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
After the third book, I did not have high hopes for the end of the series. The previous books had left too much unfinished - too many characters had d...moreAfter the third book, I did not have high hopes for the end of the series. The previous books had left too much unfinished - too many characters had dropped off the map, too many unexplained occurrences, too much dull backstory (*cough* book three)
This book, however, was fantastic. The writing was fantastic, the plot moved along at a good clip, and storylines and characters were wrapped up in a very satisfying way. I enjoyed the callbacks to the previous books, musical, and movie - though I'm sure some will find those to be cheap distractions. It absolutely exceeded my expectations, as I feared there was just too much there for Maguire to work with. I should not have worried!
I felt this was excellent way to end the series. If you enjoyed books 1 & 2 (even if you weren't a huge fan of book 3, like me), you're really going to enjoy this final volume. (less)
This book does many things well -- most of the Fillory sequences were great, and there was plenty of the inventiveness that characterized the first en...moreThis book does many things well -- most of the Fillory sequences were great, and there was plenty of the inventiveness that characterized the first entry in the series. However, the parts of the first book I liked the most were harder to find here. At times, I got a hint of Terry Pratchett, occasionally a hint of Douglas Adams (bumming around between island/planets with the leader of the universe/world), but that was only ever for too-brief flashes.
(view spoiler)[Quentin's emotional state seemed more stuck -- and less interesting -- than before. The whole Julia storyline, a huge portion of the book, seemed both too intense and too separated from the other story to be as meaningful as the author intended. The character remained so distant that I'm not sure she had any value in the story at all. The other characters were actually often more interesting than those two, and the tiny flashes of Benedict screamed for far more backstory. What we got could have happened on Earth. (hide spoiler)]
It seemed like this sequel was not meant to be written; that it was artificially adding to an already complete story. We really didn't need to know what happened after that story ended. In any case, I wonder if I'll feel the same way about the next entry in the series (well, there will probably be one, right?) I still feel like there's so much potential here, we're just not seeing it. It was enjoyable, but not what it could have been.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Classic Murakami. After the somewhat disappointing 1Q84, it was nice to return to a vintage full-length Murakami work. There were a few variations fro...moreClassic Murakami. After the somewhat disappointing 1Q84, it was nice to return to a vintage full-length Murakami work. There were a few variations from the usual surrealism -- it seemed much better explained than his other works -- but it carried through so much of the familiar patterns and tone. It's amazing, the tone just sucks me in, every time. There are also the great characters, which are vivid yet dull, intricately ordinary plotting, and crystal clear settings (the only Murakami book I've ever seen to contain a map!)
The themes here are nothing new for Murakami -- loneliness, fitting in to society, finding a purpose in one's life -- and that's a little disappointing. The novel looks at them in a unqiue structure, but there's nothing new about the topic matter. Though, it would probably be grounds for alarm if Murakami wrote something that wasn't about those themes. It was still enjoyable, in any case.