Just what Common Lisp needed: a book that doesn't bubble at the mouth, frothing over how every other language is attempting to be CL but failing; a bo...moreJust what Common Lisp needed: a book that doesn't bubble at the mouth, frothing over how every other language is attempting to be CL but failing; a book that doesn't tell you how macros mean you can write EVERY LANGUAGE EVER in CL; a book that doesn't tell you how CL's macros are the best thing since sliced bread, then follow it up with totally shit examples of what macros are actually used for; a book that actually tours the standard library in a semi-sensical fashion, and covers practical things you might actually want to do, and in the meantime does a pretty decent justice to the rather large language that is Common Lisp.
In short, a rather good book, suitable for total beginners to Lisp and Common Lisp.
I found that it lost traction at times—sometimes it degenerated into a little bit of a reference, and you felt like you were reading a dictionary—but fairly quickly it recovered and had your attention again (while still being didactic). Similarly, the practicals in the last few chapters were almost too well-architected; I really just felt like I was building the target application, sort of learning the techniques, but ultimately it wasn't necessarily interesting.
Finally, the topics glossed over in the conclusion are probably more important to someone wanting to build real applications with Common Lisp (i.e. relating to "practical Common Lisp") than some of the stuff that could probably be gleaned from an evening with the HyperSpec—finding libraries and deploying applications are two very big question marks for any Lisp developer. This is partly a result of developments in these areas being even more recent than the book (e.g. QuickLisp development began in 2010, after the book's last copyright year of 2009).
All in all, an excellent introduction to the world of Common Lisp.(less)