**spoiler alert** I'm in two minds about this book. You see, normally I'd not pick up a book in this genre, but in this case I've enjoyed quite a lot...more**spoiler alert** I'm in two minds about this book. You see, normally I'd not pick up a book in this genre, but in this case I've enjoyed quite a lot of the writings of the author elsewhere, and so I decided it'd be worth a read.
I enjoyed the story. It's fun. It's got a lot of action, and I was greatly amused by the use of time-travel to resolve the dilemma of which of the two heroines in the book to pick.
If you love James Bond, you'll love this book.
The things I don't like, are things that are very prevalent in the genre, so I guess you can choose to read this as critique of the genre more than critique of this particular book.
The women, especially Kitty are, despite attempts at making them pretty tough, still fundamentally damsels in distress, and still feel as if their primary role is to act as trophies for our hero to sleep with. They live and die at his whim. It does not, for example, feel like an accident that the older Molly is the one who dies, this leaves only a younger Molly and the already young Kitty after the time-travel. (if the older Molly had survived, she'd have been superfluous.)
The Nazis are caricatures, and fairly over the top. I read the book as comedy, the same way you can't really take recent James Bond stories at face value. These are villains that, when they capture the protagonists, wine and dine them, then let them loose in an arranged manhunt for their own enjoyment, rather than simply shooting them and being done with it.
But these are tropes of the genre, really. The heart of stone device was the only one which felt out of place and superfluous. It's also the kind of device that would've changed the entire world had it existed, yet in the story it exists and has no particular impact at all other than making a single guy harder to kill, I think the story would've benefited from the removal of this entire device. (no important plot-elements hinge on it, really)
So what do I like ?
I like the writing. It's fun, and very appropriate to the setting. I like the pacing, I'm never bored in this book, it's got a classical arc with a opening full of action, a calmer part that establishes the main actors and a grand finale 85% into the book followed by a wrap-up. I also like that especially Molly is actually usable for something outside of the bedroom.
And it's amusing that bits and pieces of reality is mixed with fantasy to create a sauce where you often have to wonder precisely where reality ends and fantasy begins. I've met and talked to one of the guys who was at Vemork, and though he's no longer with us, I think he would've approved of the treatment Graeme gave this story in the novel.(less)
Okay, the "Genetic Damage" gets sorta silly in this third and final book in the series. And the last chapters, those happening after the climax of the...moreOkay, the "Genetic Damage" gets sorta silly in this third and final book in the series. And the last chapters, those happening after the climax of the book are really not needed. But it's still a fun read.(less)
I suppose as high-fantasy with dragons, the many books Anne wrote about the planet Pern is about as classic as it gets.
There's a lot that I liked abo...moreI suppose as high-fantasy with dragons, the many books Anne wrote about the planet Pern is about as classic as it gets.
There's a lot that I liked about this book.
The main character, Lessa, is a woman. This alone is somewhat exceptional for a fantasy-book originally published in 1968. She is also no pushover, nor is her role simply to be the love-interest of some guy. Instead she has her own agenda and her own agency. I also appreciated, from a gender-perspective, that the idea of not letting the women (and the queen dragons) fly is a sexist and stupid thing, and that they should indeed fly. (that's why they have wings!)
It's also one of the few novels that manage to incorporate time-travel without making a COMPLETE mess of the story, the time-travel, such as it is, does actually more-or-less explain one of the core mysteries in the book, and does "make sense" in the context of the universe created.
I like the dragons. They're fun. It's an adventure, and it's a fun and exciting one.
There's also some things I really dislike.
First and foremost, there really was no need for including what is plainly described as rape in the book. It just makes me think the main male-character is a monumental arsehole, and no I really don't care how tender a lover he is, rape is about lack of consent, not about your skills as a lover.
Secondly, it's still very much a mens world. Lessa is the exception. Apart from her the vast majority of anyone who ever does anything in the book are male. And I know it might not be fair to judge a old book by the standards of today, but it's still annoying.