Harlequin was a great take on the Anglo-French wars of the 14th century. Thomas of Hookton is very much in the vein of a young Richard Sharpe (by the...moreHarlequin was a great take on the Anglo-French wars of the 14th century. Thomas of Hookton is very much in the vein of a young Richard Sharpe (by the same author) inasmuch as he's a hardened warrior from a young age, an orphan, good looking, and despite being a bastard on the battlefield, he's got more chivalry than the poncing knights around him.
He has good friends, there when needed. And as with good friends, there are multiple layers of antagonists too. As an archer, he's the equivalent of the rifleman in the Napoleonic conflicts. Although perhaps not quite as elite, definitely a soldiers soldier, and a master at his craft.
As with Sharpe, you see strategic battles and campaigns through the eyes of the common man. And as such you get to experience viscerally the horrors, triumphs, ecstacies, and pure evil that is war. You understand that skill plays a huge part, but so does luck. The good do evil, the evil do good, and it all comes out in a superb narrative filled with twists and turns.
The women play a role too. The shrewd, and downright manipulative aristocracy, but then survival needs must; and the illegitimate noble/commoner. Devout, doggedly loyal, but pragmatic all the same.
This is a cracking read, and I'm onto the 2nd of the trilogy, Vagabond.(less)
Struggled to rate this book because there was so much I loved, and so much I waded through.
Overall my impression was that the ending was rushed. It to...moreStruggled to rate this book because there was so much I loved, and so much I waded through.
Overall my impression was that the ending was rushed. It took all this time to get to the final assault on the capitol, then the (sic) 76th Games were over in a couple of chapters. I draw another parallel here to the Star Wars saga, in Ep 3 where it takes so long to set the scene, then Anakin turns bad in 30 seconds. So personally I think that the book could've started later in the narrative, perhaps at the District 2, with the rest as "back story."
As with "Catching Fire" there seemed to be a lot more internal monologue with this book, than the Hunger Games. Perhaps this is an audience thing, but I'm personally over teenage angst :-) If I wanted that, there's plenty in the Twilight Series.
I love the characterisation. Ms Collins is superb at building characters, and plumbing the depths of such. We never trusted Coin really, and we end up loving Finnick. Also Prim. So yes, I love how she develops the characters.
I just wish much more time was spent in the final action scenes. The leap from the last stand to the final trial was just too rushed.
The final chapter is lovely though, and I really appreciated the conclusion. All in all, if you've started the series, well you'll have to conclude it, and you will enjoy the read.(less)
Brainrush is another of my experiments to find new authors, not to mention cheap reads, on the Kindle. I think the book cost all of $1.
Of course for t...moreBrainrush is another of my experiments to find new authors, not to mention cheap reads, on the Kindle. I think the book cost all of $1.
Of course for that price, you don’t mind a little plot slushiness, or meandering dialogue. And whilst there were plenty of things that did' irritate me about the book, it really didn’t disappoint.
Matthew Reilly-esque Brainrush begins with a setup of our hero, Jake, an ex-F16 Fighter Pilot, diagnosed with a brain tumour. An MRI that malfunctions due to an earthquake simultaneously cures him of the BT, and gives him unlimited brain potential. Awesome.
The villain is equally two dimensional, an international terrorist using savant (mostly autistic) children, enhanced with neural implants, to create the “ultimate” soldier. One that can infiltrate the US as an American. Their abilities giving them untold powers in picking up languages etc.
There’s a love story too, with Francesca, the unwitting psychologist working with the children in Venice, as part of the cover operation entirely unaware that her work is helping an Afghani Terror Cell.
In this, the plot is contrived, the depth of characters as deep as a puddle, and the action fast and furious. Very much like a Matthew Reilly novel. Even down to the unnecessary italicisation of words. And. Single. Word. Sentences. All designed to create tension.
Show Don’t Tell My one comment would be in the incessant descriptions. In this Richard Bard borrows heavily from Tom Clancy. With reams of pages to describe the weapons, or equipment. My one comment would be, as much as possible, show don’t tell.
Plenty of action authors have done this successfully in the past. Higgins, McLean, Wilbur Smith. Heck, even J.K. Rowling does this in an entirely imagined world.
Cracking Yarn Despite this, the book delivers on what it promises. A fast paced, page turning, highly implausible plot. Filled with technology, cardboard cut-out heroes and villains, and over-the-top action.
Despite the minimal frustrations, and the requirement to park my brain at the door, I really enjoyed this book. For the price it was unbeatable.
No doubt there’ll be a raft of movies.
I reckon 3 stars, 4 if you consider value for money. (less)