I'm a little torn on this book. The art is lovely. The medieval forest setting feels just right. I'm also glad to see a medieval fantasy setting (even...moreI'm a little torn on this book. The art is lovely. The medieval forest setting feels just right. I'm also glad to see a medieval fantasy setting (even one with furry protagonists) with no mention of magic, sorcery, gods, or prophesies (at least none yet). This is hard low fantasy -- with mice.
That said, the whole story contained in this volume went very fast. I feel a bit like I just read the Cliff's Notes or the Playbill for an epic work. While it really feels like these characters have some real depth to them, we haven't been given the time to really see and explore those depths. Maybe that's just the graphic novel format...or maybe it's laking in the writing.
UPDATE: My 4 year-old has become obsessed with this book and has claimed it as her own. Maybe it's an extension of reading The Hobbit to her, maybe it's an extension of her Waldorf-style gnome toys, or maybe an extension of her love of PBS Nature programs. (less)
I'm becoming evangelical about Owly. Volume 2 is all about charity. Owly sees a family of bluebirds who live in a hollow old tree. When Owly and Wormy...moreI'm becoming evangelical about Owly. Volume 2 is all about charity. Owly sees a family of bluebirds who live in a hollow old tree. When Owly and Wormy try to make friends, the father bluebird harasses them and tells them to leave. Owly discovers a campaign to build birdhouses for bluebirds and decides to sacrifice their wheelbarrow to provide wood for a house.
This idea of giving up some luxury of yours to help others in need, even - especially - when those you are helping greet you only with abuse, strikes me as the heart of true charity. I don't claim that I am always there, or I'm there very often. But have seen this in my father's work in homeless shelters and soup kitchens. I've seen it in the Doctors Without Borders willing to go into war zones to provide basic medical care.
Owly is such a fundamentally kind, gentle, and good person. I'm glad to share such a role-model with my daughter (and she loves the books).(less)
I don't know what it says about me that this book counts as one of my major comfort books. My wife reads Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, I re-...moreI don't know what it says about me that this book counts as one of my major comfort books. My wife reads Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, I re-read the Cartoon History. I guess it's just been a stressful few weeks for me.
My one off-note of this book is a change in the style of the art for the last chapter (covering the Golden Age of Athens up to Alexander the Great). Gonick was going for a more Crumb, less cartoony style, but I like the earlier style better.
No more information, just go find it and read it!(less)
This book is pretty much just for sentiments like that. It isn't a full story like Volumes 2-4; instead it is a compilation of...moreMore Owly. I love Owly.
This book is pretty much just for sentiments like that. It isn't a full story like Volumes 2-4; instead it is a compilation of other Owly stories that have been published elsewhere. Stories range in size from 2 pages to about 20.
In the end are a series of early sketches and a bit of discussion for where Owly came from. It's strange to see a noctural Owly.(less)
This is a harrowing and wonderful read. The descriptions of life in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya feel like a alien world to privileged w...moreThis is a harrowing and wonderful read. The descriptions of life in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya feel like a alien world to privileged white American male like me. But the author never gives us a feeling of "you wouldn't understand". She works hard to make the world, her mind, and most importantly the thoughts of others around her understandable and accessable.
My wife commented that Ayaan was making her jealous...because I would randomly start conversations with "...she just went out to a refugee camp on the Kenyan border..." My wife would be thrown for a minute as to who "she" was. I was just that absorbed.
As for Hirsi Ali's central theme, I have trouble finding a single issue that can improve the quality of life for more people than women's rights. Women in thrid world Islamic countries represent the most abused of the abused. I salute anyone willing to speak the truth in the face of death threats, anyone who holds Reason higher than tradition.(less)
Furst's style is the most noticeable part of his work. Many scenes feel more like an impressionist painting than a photograph of historical events. A times this works very well, as in a scene describing a duel between a British Beaufighter and German anti-aircraft gunners over a Belgian port. At other times it feels a bit overly lyrical, like the repeated invocation of the blue-painted streetlights of wartime Paris. On at least on occasion, I found myself completely lost as to the meaning of a scene because of Furst's elliptical prose.
I've always been interested in WWII, but for the past few years, I've found myself increasingly drawn to the plight of Poland and her soldiers in the war. This has even gone so far as portraying one such character in a role-playing game. I'm not sure what this says about me, but I now wish I had read about Furst's Captain DeMilja before I had tried to portray a character with much the same background.
Interestingly enough, both my 'Captain Poland' and Furst's Captain DeMilja faced the same literary threat. What end can a hero have when facing such unsurmountable odds as Poland faced throughout WWII? Furst leaves the question unanswered, leaving his character adrift in a hostile world on the borders of Poland, Ukraine, and Byelorussia still fighting what we can only hope is the good fight.(less)
I'm a fan of Pulp. Not hugely the original Pulp stories, but of the larger genre and time period.
So when is the Pulp Era?
Some folks have it pegged to...moreI'm a fan of Pulp. Not hugely the original Pulp stories, but of the larger genre and time period.
So when is the Pulp Era?
Some folks have it pegged to the Roaring Twenties with Prohibition, gangsters, barnstorming pilots, and Lovecraftian horrors. I'm more of a fan of the 1930s, with nefarious Nazis, flying boats, and a touch of desperation.
However, I was pretty sure when the Pulp Era ended, August 6, 1945. In one moment, the world of super-science became very real, the mysteries of magic were surpassed, something of the raw adventure of the world passed away.
Except it didn't.
T.J. English makes a very good case for the survival of Pulp in the streets of 1950s Havana. Fabulous show-girls, mobsters, corrupt politicians, partisans in the hills, con-men...it's all still there, without the freeze of the Cold War insinuating itself. The place feels like it would've been a perfect setting for a 'two-fisted' adventurer to continue his adventuring ways after a stint with the OSS.(less)
A short-and-fast tale of a Viking boy (a classic geek outsider) and the Norse gods. Gaiman, as usual puts a believable face on the gods here. I feel l...moreA short-and-fast tale of a Viking boy (a classic geek outsider) and the Norse gods. Gaiman, as usual puts a believable face on the gods here. I feel like this was a side-trip from his research for American Gods.
The deepest moment comes near the end when our main character, Odd, laments that Loki is still getting drunk and stupid at the feasting tables of Valhalla saying "he never learns." Freya commends him on his insight...of course he doesn't learn, he's a god. Gods are frozen in time, unable to resolve their conflicts because that would ruin the franchise...they're like GI Joe.
We listened to an audio-book version of this on the way to a wedding - a good way to while away some of the hours on the Jersey Turnpike. So now that I have a 7-year-old daughter listening to the story, I have fun of trying to explain why stealing a bride was ever considered acceptable, how common that was, and why women are only prizes to be one in this story. Yes yes, Lady Freya is a prize the giant would rather not have won. She is both beautiful, and alternately kind or spiteful - much like her cats. But she is the only female voice among the 6 speaking characters - and by far the least voiced.
I was reading this on the bus when a friend asked "what is that beautiful book you are reading?" The book is eye-catching, designed like Victorian Her...moreI was reading this on the bus when a friend asked "what is that beautiful book you are reading?" The book is eye-catching, designed like Victorian Herbal. The information is not particularly useful as a reference or field guide. Instead, it focuses on little horror stories and interesting snippets that you expect to hear in a cocktail party.(less)
I am beginning to become a serious fan of Furst's work. [Dark Star:] is definitely a darker work than the last Furst I read The Polish Officer, and th...moreI am beginning to become a serious fan of Furst's work. [Dark Star:] is definitely a darker work than the last Furst I read The Polish Officer, and that really is saying something. I'm really not sure how accurately Furst portrays the thinking of a Soviet citizen living through Stalin's purges, but it is certainly believable. Furst proposes several theories for the purges as his main character, Andre Szara, tries to navigate the pitfalls of pre-war Europe. I wish I could measure the believability of these theories that Furst puts in the mouths of his characters. Unfortunately, When I treid to read the the seminal history of the Purges, Robert Conquest's The Great Terror, I just couldn't drag myself through it.
The most interesting contrast I felt in the book was between the terror regimes of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. In both countries, a knock on the door in the middle of the night usually meant a visit from the secret police and the disappearance of at least one family member, usually forever. However, in Germany, you had a pretty good idea of why you being arrested and on whose authority that arrest was happening. In Russia, the Terror was much less predictable. The state apparatus turned on minorities, dissidents, rivals, and even itself. Sometimes it seems clear that Stalin was targeting those he felt were a threat to him, at other times, he seemed to be terrorizing the whole country. Furst surmises that some portions of the purge were factional infighting within the government, with no clear hand from above.
All of this is buffered in the book by having Szara, spend most of his time in Paris, Berlin, or Poland, working as a semi-reluctant spy-master for the NKVD under the cover of his previous life as a journalist from ,a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pravda&q.... This plethora of settings hurts the pacing a bit. Dark Star is over twice as long as The Polish Officer, and it certainly felt it. Still, this novel felt a bit more solid than the very impressionistic and almost ethereal detachment of The Polish Officer.(less)
**spoiler alert** Has Fables jumped the shark? I hope not.
The aftermath of war is often more interesting than the war itself, and I get the feeling th...more**spoiler alert** Has Fables jumped the shark? I hope not.
The aftermath of war is often more interesting than the war itself, and I get the feeling that Willingham is happy to be able to press the reset button on the size of his story. I get the feeling that Fabletown has gotten a little too big for the author's comfort.
So we get to see the price of that power...most obviously in the form of Mr. Dark. His whole eating teeth schtick is pretty creepy, but otherwise he seemed like a standard Goth Elf type big-bad. Having Boy Blue die is pretty harsh too, taking away the major war POV character and his tools (along with the rest of NYC Fabletown).
But I think a see a deeper cost that Willingham is just starting to hint at. Relations between Fabletown and Fabletown East are headed for trouble in a big way. As a fan of alt-history, I know enough to know that anytime you show guns to your more populous (and possibly more magical) allies, but don't let them use your technology, then eventually that ally is going to come back at you with your technology in hand. Sinbad now has the interest, the training, and the motivation (being humiliated by Rose Red).(less)
I've tossed this in my re-read pile because I've technically already read the story as it's published on the Web.
That said, I've noticed a lot more de...moreI've tossed this in my re-read pile because I've technically already read the story as it's published on the Web.
That said, I've noticed a lot more details in the story while reading the print edition than the online pages. The Foglios are always good for putting tons of detail in the background of their illustrations. This volume is especially full of sly nods to other web comics in the advertising on the walls of Mechanicsburg. However, I've been finding more little hooks in the writing - I'd forgotten Klaus's warning to Gil about Zeetha the first time around.
I'm almost tempted to complain about the plethora of new characters being introduced, but I'm not having too much trouble telling them apart. Instead, my appetite has been peaked for more story and back-story. The Foglio's Europa feels amazingly deep and I want to dive into it and keep digging.
As a final aside, I feel like the whole coffeehouse scene was at least a bit written as gift for Kaja and Phil's favorite baristas.(less)
Agatha has in many ways completed the first major step in her character transformation. The distracted, incompetant klutz of...moreHugo-award winner! WooHoo!
Agatha has in many ways completed the first major step in her character transformation. The distracted, incompetant klutz of the first book has come into her own and is ready to command her city and armies. I wonder if being in the old homestead might not push her a bit too far into the realm of dangerous, unstable mad-science favored by her ancestors. Maybe there was a reason the Heterodyne Boys spent so much time away from the castle adventuring?(less)
The body of the book covers the First and Second World Wars when the relatively isolated harbor served as the primary port for Great Britain's main fleet (the Grand Fleet in WWI and the Home Fleet in WWII). The position of Scapa Flow gave the fleet the best staging ground for intercepting any German warships attempting to break out into the Atlantic or shipping attempting to break the British naval blockade applied in both wars.
The book does not cover the various missions and encounters that the Royal Navy engaged in with much detail. Instead, the focus is on activities in the harbor itself. The two most dramatic incidents both involved German warships in the Flow. First, Scapa Flow hosted the German High Seas Fleet when it was interred after the end of WWI. On the summer solstice in 1919, two days before the Versailles Treaty would have ordered the ships of the German fleet distributed to the various victorious allies, the German admiral in charge ordered the whole fleet scuttled.
The next dramatic moment came in the early days of WWII when a German U-Boat penetrated the insufficient defenses of the harbor to sink the British battleship Royal Oak. This incident lead to a major build-up of defenses and forces in the Orkneys, and listing these defenses and emplacements is where this little volume shows its greatest value.
Hewison assumes that his reader already knows a fair deal about the two world wars, the Royal Navy, and the general geography of Great Britain and the Orkneys. The strength of the volume is in the details and the point of view of a native Orkadian.(less)
Yes, I pulled this out because I had seen the preview for the Kate Bekinsale movie. I haven't seen the movie, but I'm amazed at 2 items from the previ...moreYes, I pulled this out because I had seen the preview for the Kate Bekinsale movie. I haven't seen the movie, but I'm amazed at 2 items from the preview.
1. Kate Beckinsale? What? Carrie Stetko is no Kate Beckinsale (and this is a good thing in my opinion).
2. Lilly has been replaced by a male UN inspector. Again, why? Rucka was involved in the filming so I can't see why he allowed these two changes.
Whiteout is a tight little noir murder-mystery. Like most noir, the setting is a major character, with all of Antarctica (called "the Ice") standing in for such classic noir cities San Francisco, LA, or New York (usually referred to as "the City"). Also like good noir, what saves a pretty standard mystery from total mediocrity is the depth of our detective main-character. Carrie Stetko is nobody's victim (asserting that is what got her stuck on the Ice in the first place). She also is expressly written and drawn as a real woman with faults that make her all the more interesting. Lilly Sharpe, the British agent, plays the role of our blonde-bombshell femme-fatale, except she also refuses to use her sexuality to affect the situation (even though it being female is all the more affecting is a setting with a 200-1 male to female ratio). We still get sparks between these two, especially when Stetko compliments Sharpe on her "ovaries of brass".
Whiteout at time feels like an attempt at a post-feminist story, but it tries a little too hard. I think it is sad that Hollywood had to cast a sex-symbol for our main character and swap the other female role for a male, either to add sexual tension or because it otherwise had 'too many' strong female characters.
**spoiler alert** This not one of Turtledove's better works.
The initial idea is interesting. Why did Nazi Germany accept Allied occupation when so ma...more**spoiler alert** This not one of Turtledove's better works.
The initial idea is interesting. Why did Nazi Germany accept Allied occupation when so many other countries have fought long guerrilla wars against occupying forces? How is 1946 Germany different than 1979 Afghanistan or 1960s Vietnam? How is it like the former Confederate States in the 1860s?
These are important and valid questions that I feel were swept under the rug. Instead, the narrative seems strongly linked to the US experience in Iraq circa 2006 (before the Sunni Awakening and troop surge). However, if this book is a veiled commentary on Iraq, then Turtledove missed a perfect opportunity to weigh-in on one of the major debates in policy regarding the War on Terror - namely the use of extralegal force (torture, detention without rights, rendition, etc.). The division of post-war Germany into Western Allied and Soviet zones creates a opportunity to contrast the effectiveness of different tactics in counter-insurgency - between a buy 'em off/win hearts and minds plan used by the Americans and unbridled force used by the Russians. In our own history, these are the tactics that those two regimes did use. Instead, Turtledove shows us that the Soviet NKVD is certainly ruthless, but he never even mentions the Marshall Plan (which, in his defense was discussed but not yet implemented within the time-frame of the book.
Instead of answering deep military/historical questions or addressing the policy and moral arguments of the war he is modeling off of, Turtledove instead gives huge benefits of the doubt to the Nazi partisans. Heydrich's organization is presented as monolithic, with no internal power struggles. While their tactics are often taken from the al-Qaida playbook, Heydrich's men also succeed in multiple truck bombings of national monuments (proposed but only rarely completed by al-Qaida) and a dirty bomb attack. Competence at this level is not seen now and was not seen in 1940s Germany (Just read up on the many attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler to see just how large the logistical and pure luck challenges of such campaigns can be). The most annoying benefit given to Heydrich though is in the surprising backbone given to Republican opposition to Truman's prosecution of the war in Germany. Although Congress does control the purse-strings, and progressives did argue strongly for cutting-off funding for the Iraq War after the 2006 mid-term elections, a successful recall of troops from an overseas war due to Congressional budget-writing never saw a chance of happening. In Turtledove's world it sailed through entirely too easily.
In all, I feel like this book was forced. Ideas were not well thought-out and our heroes were hamstrung by an author who failed to properly research their options.
This was a very thought-provoking book. At first, I was expecting more of a historical survey "12 Greatest Battles of World History" and there was an...moreThis was a very thought-provoking book. At first, I was expecting more of a historical survey "12 Greatest Battles of World History" and there was an homage to those sorts of volumes dating back to Gibbon and beyond.
Instead, this book is a rebuttal to Jared Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel and the larger geographical argument to historical analysis. Hanson's thesis is that a collection of complimentary memes (though he never uses the term)in military, political, and economic practice that together comprise "Western Culture" arose in the Greek city-states in about the 5th Century B.C. and that this culture is directly responsible for creating more effective militaries in states that followed these tenets, especially over states that did not subscribe to these ideas.
The author is very careful to make it clear that a 'superior' military does not mean that Western culture is morally superior. The fact that Western armies can conquer non-western civilizations doesn't mean they should - that question is conveniently not within the area he's looking at. Hanson also makes it clear (though a little less often) that the 'superiority' of Western arms is not due to biology, race, or religion.
I feel a bit like Hanson has missed his mark in targeting Diamond's thesis. Diamond is getting back into root causes that are deeper than the Western culture that Hanson extols. Could the combination of forces that created the Greek city-states have existed anywhere else? If so, why didn't these memes arise there independently of Greece? If not, then why not? These are variations on the questions that Diamond addresses - and Hanson ignores them. Instead, we have one creation of a superior Western culture and all other cultures, whether Islamic, Persian, African, Asian, or Mesoamerican, are lumped under "non-Western" (with occasional division between 'tribal' and 'imperial' - both seen as equally stifling and inefficient).
Hanson's analysis is very interesting and thought provoking. But at the end of the day, it feels like window-dressing on the same Victorian social-Darwinist pap that gave the world the White Man's Burden and Manifest Destiny. If you're going to propose an alternative to Diamond's geographic thesis for the creation of civilization, I'd like to see something more falsifiable - something that I could imagine running history again and again as an experiment to see how the world would be different.
Instead of the evolution of culture and civilization, I feel like Hanson sees a divine hand in the gift of Western culture to the Greeks and their cultural descendants while all others must suffer since they are not among the chosen.(less)
As anyone in the geek community knows, Sir Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. I know this knowledge colored my review of...moreAs anyone in the geek community knows, Sir Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. I know this knowledge colored my review of Nation, but this time I'm beginning to be afraid that Pratchett's condition may be starting to catch up with him.
Not to say that this is not a good book. It's a fine addition to the Discworld.
But it feels loose. It feels like there were deep ideas here that never quite get formed enough. What is the theme here, rising above your beginnings, discovering your beginnings and accepting them as part of yourself, the power of old tradition and religion (even when those practicing the rites don't know they are religious?). I'm not sure.
And throughout the whole thing swims the ghost of Shakespeare.
But never quite pulls itself together.
Or maybe it just me that's frazzled right now.(less)
A random grab off the bookshelf. I have often reread the 1st Cerebus volume to the point that I know most of the stories inside and out.
What's interes...moreA random grab off the bookshelf. I have often reread the 1st Cerebus volume to the point that I know most of the stories inside and out.
What's interesting about High Society is how Sim segues his series from sword-and-sorcery short stories (with some very broad humor) into longer-form story-telling in a world that is more Renaissance - shifting from gold coin to paper bank notes and from kings warlords and theocrats to the beginnings of republicanism.
That said, Sim also brings a whole lot of other things with him in that transition. I had trouble keeping Sim's misogyny that is so strong in some of his later books from coloring much of my reading.
Even with that, I still found the world of nobles, cities, governments, and states all fighting over interest rates and trying their hardest not to show how far in debt they all are to be very compelling - especially considering last year's collapse of the financial house of cards on Wall Street. There's a particular damning section where Astoria reveals how Lord Julius won't let Iest default on their debt because then Lord Julius will no longer be able to claim Iest's debts among his collateral for loans of his own. Yes there are also goofy-talking Marx-brothers knock-offs and characters called Bran MakMuffin, but I think this may be one of the best looks at the creation of monetary policy outside of Pratchett's Making Money.(less)
I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. At times it feels like some of the fairy tales are rather shoe-horned into the story (the pickled peppers and pumpki...moreI enjoyed this novel quite a bit. At times it feels like some of the fairy tales are rather shoe-horned into the story (the pickled peppers and pumpkin-eater episodes jump to mind), but I don't feel like the story would be ruined if I didn't know those nursery rhymes. Instead, knowing the rhymes sort of intruded on the story.
I personally feel like Willingham snuck an extra fairy-tale in there with the names. The elder Piper brother, Max, goes into the woods and declares himself to be a Wild Thing. Maybe I'm reading too far. Even more of a stretch is the fact that I kept on wanting to read Peter Piper as Peter Parker...and I'm not even that much of a Spider-Man fan!
Max definitely makes this book. He is clearly evil and Willingham makes a point to note that it is Max that has corrupted the magic flute Fire, not the other way round. But I also feel like there is a story about breaking children, child soldiers, and traumatic events in Max's story. The invasion of the Adversary's army catches, and breaks, Max at a vulnerable time, at the utter self-centeredness of 14. Maybe he still would have become an evil son-of-a-bitch without his breakdown. Maybe he would have resented and hated Peter, but I get the feeling that he stopped growing at that point, and was frozen in that moment of selfishness, fear, and sudden realization that the world of adults is not nearly as safe as children always thought it was.(less)
This was an interesting read so close after Carnage and Culture. While the two books don't address exactly the same topic, Lost Discoveries does show...moreThis was an interesting read so close after Carnage and Culture. While the two books don't address exactly the same topic, Lost Discoveries does show how pernicious the Western bias is in many academic works. It's this bias that makes me all the more suspicious of the assertions in 'Carnage'.What kind of surprised me was just how recent the Western bias is. The ancient Greeks gave copious credit to the earlier Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations for their thoughts in mathematics, astronomy, physics, and other fields. The Medieval Europeans knew that much of their sciences were coming from the Islamic world, not just left over from Greece and Rome.That said, Teresi really lost me on some of the cosmology and deep physics discussions. Yes, it is interesting to look at creation myths and see how closely (or not) they mirror our current Big Bang, quantum physics, string theory beliefs. But just because the ancient Hindus kinda guessed right (or closer to right than the medieval Christians did) doesn't make creation myths any less wild-ass guesses or kooky.(less)
I went into this book expecting to dislike it. I'm not certain why. Maybe it was the fact that I remember gushing reviews talking about how Roth had c...moreI went into this book expecting to dislike it. I'm not certain why. Maybe it was the fact that I remember gushing reviews talking about how Roth had created a 'whole new literary genre'.
The genre exists. It's called alternate history. It sells millions of books.
As alt-history goes, this isn't too bad. The memoir aspect is a little different, but does fit well with the focus on day-to-day life of ordinary people instead of movers-and-shakers. As for alt-history tropes, we h=get the seemingly ever-present Jews (nothing against Judaism, it just that Jews are way over-represented in nearly all alt-history series for reasons that I have yet to ascertain), we have a roughly defined point-of-departure (why did Lindy suddenly decide to run for president?), but a real failing on what Terry Pratchett has termed the 'trousers of time' problem. Basically, Roth gives us two years of alternate history, but then has the world snap back into the same basic shape as before (victory in Europe a little late, RFK still assassinated in the 60's). I don't buy it. Once history comes off the rails of what we have been taught, it cannot be forced back on. Would RFK have run for president if JFK hadn't been killed? Would JFK have been president if his big brother Joe Jr. hadn't died in a B-25 bomber/drone accident? Would the US Air Corps have used the same plan to take out V1 sites if they had 2 extra years of aviation development under Lindy before entering the war? Everything goes all quantum on you.
Outside of the discussion of alt-history tropes, well, I'm not sure if I see what makes Roth so admired. Some scenes were very effective. Many others felt like bad filler. The main character, Philip Roth at age 9 or so, comes off as a self-absorbed little snot.
Maybe I'm not cultured enough to understand.(less)
I love this series and think it makes great reference material. That said, I think this is one of the weakest...moreThe Cartoon History is finally complete!
I love this series and think it makes great reference material. That said, I think this is one of the weakest links in the series. I can't really think why, maybe just that compressing down the last 200 years of history just feels too rushed.
Still, I'm so happy to have the whole set now!(less)
Not Winchester's best book. I found myself constantly comparing this book to to Krakatoa (which I enjoyed immensely) in my mind.
Winchester spends muc...moreNot Winchester's best book. I found myself constantly comparing this book to to Krakatoa (which I enjoyed immensely) in my mind.
Winchester spends much more time in this book explaining plate tectonics, including an over-arching travel thread from one end of the North American Plate (in Iceland) to the other (in California and Alaska). While I really do find plate tectonics fascinating (gotta love that the first supercontinent was named Ur), I found the shifting between the travelogue, the San Francisco history lesson, and the holding forth on plate tectonics and the New Geology to be too disorienting. A better book would focus on one or two of these aspects, not all three. (less)
Steampunk is fun. This particular volume is pretty-straight-forward pulpy steam-punk.
There are some big plot/world questions I still have, but I will...moreSteampunk is fun. This particular volume is pretty-straight-forward pulpy steam-punk.
There are some big plot/world questions I still have, but I will hold out hope that some of this will be addressed in later volumes.
I agree with Amanda that Miss Hobbes is not given nearly enough screen-time and at times feels a bit shoe-horned in. I don't think it was an editor's choice to force a female lead on the author however.
I was rather annoyed by the 'head-jumping'. There's no trouble in switching POV, just don't do it in mid-paragraph - add at least a section break. And, if you (as an author) start alternating POV by chapter between two characters, be prepared to keep that convention going unless something in the story justifies disturbing the pattern.
The third graphic novel in the series by Alan Moore was formally challenged by a librarian in Jessamine County, Kentucky in 2008. When the library refused to remove the book (it was requested originally by a patron) or at least relocate it from the graphic novel section which was located near the young adult section of the library. When this appeal failed, she checked the book out to herself to keep it off the shelves. When an 11 year-old patron reserved the book, she and another librarian removed the hold. They were fired the next day.
So what's so bad about this book? Isn't the League series just about literary characters from the Victorian period running around like superheroes?
The author, Alan Moore, is known for stretching genres and challenging readers (he also wrote the graphic novels 'Watchmen' and 'V for Vendetta'). In this book, I think he was in large part looking for a censor to incite.
The main story is set in a 1958 England that has suffered under the rule of Big Brother straight out of Orwell's 1984. Other sections are less comic-based and used varied literary styles to continue the story and setting, including a fictional Shalespearean play, pulp novels, a sequel to Fanny Hill (illustrated in the style of one of the original editions) and most damning, a Tijuana Bible depicting graphic sex between repressed proles of the 1984 setting (supposedly published by Big brother to keep the proles happy).
Is it pornography? The Tijuana Bible section says it's published by the fictional government 'Pornsec', so I'm tempted to take it at it's word.
But the Tijuana Bible section (or the Fanny Hill illustrations) shouldn't be taken alone. The levels of satire are deep and complex. The literary references are enough to keep and English Major on wikipedia for hours. Critically, the book has been acclaimed. Thus the book fails the third prong of the Supreme Court's test for obscenity.
Mr. Moore was looking for people like the county librarian Jessamine County to offend. He was also looking to tell a deep and interesting story. He succeeded at both."(less)
I am so proud of my daughter for getting through this whole book with me. At first I was sure it would bee too scary for a 4 year-old. I had to skip p...moreI am so proud of my daughter for getting through this whole book with me. At first I was sure it would bee too scary for a 4 year-old. I had to skip parts of scary scenes - much of the trolls, some of the goblins - but by the time Bilbo meets Gollum she was deeply engrossed and hooked.
I know she missed parts, I wish I could have done more voices to help separate the different players in the parleys before the Battle of Five Armies. But she followed so much, and not just the story, but deeper meanings about how Smaug is really the essence of greed and the different claims to the treasure and title of King Under the Mountain.
I do wish there had been some female characters. Not a single speaking female role in the whole blasted thing (unless some unnamed elves or spiders were of the feminine persuasion).