Back just before the massive White Wolf boom, they decided to try their hand at fiction-based marketing ploys. Their idea was to have 2 authors write...moreBack just before the massive White Wolf boom, they decided to try their hand at fiction-based marketing ploys. Their idea was to have 2 authors write 2 connected trilogies, one based in the then-new Vampire dark ages, and the other in the modern nights.
The guy who wrote the modern nights trilogy wasn't very good, and that trilogy sucked. Especially because it shared a key character with the Grails Covenent, this trilogy, and the modern nights author just couldn't do Kli Kodesh with a tenth the syle as David Niall Wilson.
This book contains the original portrayal of Kli Kodesh. There's some other story, too, and some other characters, and they're all quite good. But Kodesh is probably the best written version of the Malkavian as mad prophet I've ever seen, of the madman on the hilltop who is clearly nuts, but also knows more about what's going on than you so you'd better listen to him. He's tremendously well done, and his influence makes the entire series better.
Until Kli Kodesh makes it to the modern nights, and is reduced by a worse author to another giggling idiot handing out boxes of bandaids because he's MAD!(less)
William Gibson has been described by a friend of mine as an author who's really good at world building, and really good at putting pieces into play an...moreWilliam Gibson has been described by a friend of mine as an author who's really good at world building, and really good at putting pieces into play and getting them moving, but he's not so good at remembering that all of this is supposed to have a point.
In Pattern Recognition, I think he found his point.
Or maybe not. In some ways, he uses the post 9/11 world to make it okay that he doesn't have one. It's a character and a world still trying to figure out where to go next, and latching on to whatever it can find.
In this case, the obsession comes in the form of an internet sub-culture, based around an online forum. Most writers don't really understand how these things work, but Gibson does a tremendous job of portraying the shifting alliances, the heated arguments over almost nothing, and the back-door phone calls and messaging to get veteran users to stop flaming. And, of course, a great job at making it perfectly reasonable that these people would become so obsessed over something so strange. It's the best thing about this book, and it works wonderfully.
There is also a bit of a subplot about spies and the Russian mob or something. And that bit is, admittedly, kind of blah. It seems like Gibson put that in because he felt like he should, not because he found it interesting. But those subplots are, mostly, a bridge and an excuse to get back to internet obsessions, where he finds himself on much more excellent ground.
And then it ends. And by ends I mean concludes, in a way that nicely wraps things up and doesn't just seem like he ran out of pages. It's the kind of ending you want from a book.
And the kind of ending that makes highly recommend this book.(less)
Discworld books are generally my pallet cleanser books. I think of them as Mental Floss; sort of light, easy to read books that clear my head out afte...moreDiscworld books are generally my pallet cleanser books. I think of them as Mental Floss; sort of light, easy to read books that clear my head out after I've read something really dense and heavy that I need some time to process.
That having been said, his books often have rather sharper teeth than you might otherwise expect, especially in books that involve The Watch. This book is a good example of that, building off of Pratchett's relatively formulaic plots to look at the nature of ideal rulership, the role of the police in the state, and the strange fascination that people have with royalty and building themselves prisons.
This is the kind of book that could have been quite good, with a better editor and/or revisions process. As it was published, though, I can't give it...moreThis is the kind of book that could have been quite good, with a better editor and/or revisions process. As it was published, though, I can't give it much more than an "It was okay."
First off, this book has an issue with character introductions. We meet a dozen or so soldiers all at once, all of whom have similar ranks and 2 syllable names, and that makes it tricky to remember who's who in the beginning of the book. Not a fatal flaw, but it's a problem.
Secondly, we have the depiction of the villains. In the first bit, these are ultra-badass baddies who can pull of complex schemes with ease. The sort of people who have prepared for every possible outcome, able to operate in total secrecy and still remain flexible to deal with any unanticipated events.
At least, they are until the second they leave the city. Then they become incapable of getting a room in an inn without causing the destruction of an entire village. They tell each other about the dangers of areas they've traveled through before, and then fail to take the basic precautions required to avoid the dangers they described. If the first bit of the book is them as Darth Vader, they have screamed the credibility-shattering "Noooooo!" before they make it 5 days out of their awesome heist.
But the thing that really gets me is the trope of characters deciding to undertake ridiculous, dangerous journeys that could have been made much safer by waiting for, say, 6 hours. At first I thought this was a characterization thing: Hey, this character needs to be brash and reckless! Let's have him knock out half the town guard and run into the haunted forest at night instead of, I don't know, having a nap until the morning! But then a similar decision is made by a guy in charge of the supposedly spotless planning of an entire nation's army.
It's as though the author knew that, for plot reasons, he needed these characters to take this journey now so that the crazy plot thing could happen and leave them in a bind. But in doing that, he hit one of my pet peeves. The characters only seem to be doing it because the plot needed him to. Not because the character would, not because there was a major danger that required the main characters to leave right this second, but because the author needed them to be at Point B ASAP. And he forgot to give the characters a reason to need to go there themselves.
On the plus side, the writing is crisp and clean, and most of the scenes are well done. I have some hope for a second book. But this one, sad to say, really could have used a serious story edit.(less)