A great intro to functional programming. The overall organization is good, and I liked the level of detail for an introductory book. Marick does a gooA great intro to functional programming. The overall organization is good, and I liked the level of detail for an introductory book. Marick does a good job of systematically introducing functional principles through theory, well-constructed examples, and exercises. The book uses Clojure for most of its examples, and although it is a bit frustrating when you're reading along about a concept and then hit something along the lines of "hold on, now I have to teach you some new Clojure syntax," it probably works better than trying to front-load all of the language constructs would have. Marick is also enthusiastic and convincing about the merits of functional programming without being all fanboy about it.
In one other note, Chapter 7, which deals with the "flow" of functional-style programs, seemed to be the most important chapter, to me. Consequently, perhaps, it was also the most difficult for me. Interestingly, I made some significant mental progress when I read the chapter backward. I think I (unsurprisingly) just need more time with functional programming to feel comfortable thinking the right way....more
Great book. I picked it up because I wanted to read something by Gaiman and this one happened to be in at my local library. It was in the Young AdultGreat book. I picked it up because I wanted to read something by Gaiman and this one happened to be in at my local library. It was in the Young Adult section, which didn't bother me because a lot of the stuff I read is classified as YA. Anyway, this one was a little more young than adult, but it was still a great and creative story. Definitely gonna pick up more of his work....more
There was a time in my life when I would have loved this book. I think it's just not my taste anymore. I can definitely understand the love that manyThere was a time in my life when I would have loved this book. I think it's just not my taste anymore. I can definitely understand the love that many people have for it, though. The plot is well crafted and intricate, and the storytelling device of switching perspectives for each chapter works well. The intrigue and drama is thick and fast-paced, and the sheer number of characters is impressive.
One problem I had was that I couldn't quite place the genre of the book. It opens with a very supernatural prologue that makes you think you're diving into a fantasy, humans-vs-evil-magic-people novel. After that scene, however, most of the book is spent in a realistic, medieval, humans-vs-evil-humans world and the magic people only get mentioned occasionally as half-forgotten legend. I'm assuming this part of the world will be more developed in the (numerous) later books in the series, but it left me disappointed at the end of this first book.
More frustrating to me, however, was the world-building. What few other supernatural events that did occur left me as a reader feeling sort of betrayed. One character kept having premonitions that didn't add to the plot, but left me wondering what system of magic allowed him to have them. Besides him, the magic in his book seems to be confined to a few, mystical characters, and again, the source of their power is difficult to understand. Some of them seem tied to different gods--gods who weren't really mentioned until the people using their power showed up--but at least one very critical, very supernatural event near the end of the book was almost completely unexplained. Again, maybe all of this will be explained and integrated later in the series, but I think critical world-building like that needs to be explained to the reader early. I need to know the rules of the world you've put me in.
Also, those evil humans--and even some of the more morally moderate humans--are very gruesome. Maybe it's realistic for the setting, but I could have done without all of the graphic descriptions of torture and killing. Those just aren't entertaining to me.
It's too bad, really, because I was looking forward to reading the series. I've started the second book, maybe it will redeem itself....more
This book often ranks high in various lists and it has over a 4-star average rating on Goodreads, but I thought it was not very creative and too vulgaThis book often ranks high in various lists and it has over a 4-star average rating on Goodreads, but I thought it was not very creative and too vulgar and violent for my tastes. It felt a lot like Starship Troopers to me. I guess more people like grotesque alien war stories than I would have expected....more
While it occasionally gets bogged down in dialog, the shack presented some excellent thought exercises, particularly regarding the trinity. I would deWhile it occasionally gets bogged down in dialog, the shack presented some excellent thought exercises, particularly regarding the trinity. I would definitely recommend reading it with another person or a group in order to provide a place to discuss the concepts it presents....more
Okay, usually 5 stars means the book changed my life or something. This one, however, is just a really good story.
I read a review online and decided tOkay, usually 5 stars means the book changed my life or something. This one, however, is just a really good story.
I read a review online and decided to get a copy from the library. I sent my wife to pick it up, and when I finally saw it on the table my first thought was "sheesh! That thing is huge!" I didn't even had to renew it. Truly entertaining and original. Definitely fantasy, but it doesn't beat you over the head with it. It's just a damn good story. I was disappointed when the book ended and was obviously just the first in a series, but then I realized that at least that meant there would be more! Apparently the sequel comes out March 1 of next year. I'll definitely be getting my hands on one quickly....more
I listened to the audio-book version of this because that was the only edition my local library had. The book was read by several different readers--SI listened to the audio-book version of this because that was the only edition my local library had. The book was read by several different readers--Scott Brick, William Dufris, Eliza Foss, and Peter Larkin--with each reader performing the sections for one or two characters. Unfortunately, I found I disliked almost all of them, with the very notable exception of the reader for Petronus. The reader for Neb and Rudolfo was especially bad. He made every sentence sound like it ended in a sigh. He made Neb sound like a whiny brat (though perhaps that was accurate, now that I think about it), Winters sounded like a Barbie doll or something, and Neb's guide through the churning wastes (forgot the character's name already) sounded like he walked around with his thumbs stuck in his belt loops. Unfortunately, I can't tell from the credits online which reader performed which part, because I need to make sure I never listen to a book read by that guy again.
Besides the poor quality of the audio performances, I thought the novel itself was lacking in several ways. The previous book, Lamentation, kept me on my toes through an ever-widening scope of plot, and a sense of mystery which derived mostly from how the characters would behave and what their true motivations were. The scope of this book seemed much narrower and the plot more straightforward. This is the middle book of a series, so I suppose it's not surprising that the characters are more predictable now. My bigger gripe is that Scholes' ability for creating intrigue and mystery--so present in the first book--was largely lacking in this book. While there were plenty of unanswered questions, these seemed to come much more from mysticism and deliberate obfuscation rather than from the plot and the characters.
I have some other complaints with the book, too. The plot seems too controlled by fate with no chance for valor or heroism. As others have mentioned, Scholes does have an annoying tendency to over-use certain phrases (every puzzle doesn't have to be a "Whymer maze," Ken). The history of the world is also rather confusing. An official reference website or appendix would be helpful in that regard. Overall, a mediocre read....more