The book continues after The Court of the Air, with some characters of the previous book taking the main role in this one. It starts as an adventure tThe book continues after The Court of the Air, with some characters of the previous book taking the main role in this one. It starts as an adventure tale, with some of the sense of wonder of the previous book, spoofing some great works, from the Scarlet Pimpernel to Heart of Darkness. However, roughly by the middle of the book it becomes, once again, a "save the world" plot, and follows predictably to an epic (and boring) build-up and release.
Ideally, once the plot was bare we should have had a quick conclusion, instead of 200 pages of predictable escape/victory against the odds. It is saved by the feeling of living world, as the world changed according to the previous book, and the excellent first half, but the ending was almost an upslope slog, which does not fare well for the following books in the world....more
The second book of the adventures of Alexia Tarabotti, it continues with its succesful formula of old-fashioned romance, steam opera and paranormal roThe second book of the adventures of Alexia Tarabotti, it continues with its succesful formula of old-fashioned romance, steam opera and paranormal romance, working through intelligent dialogue and respect for the period and the literature it pastiches. It is rare to find a book with such a witty repartee, even if the plot can be tracked from far away and there are few surprises. In a way, it is another of its charms, a book where the characters know less than we do.
It is sad when the best you can say of a book is that it was an easy read.
This is a ghost story, of a sort. It is a romance, more or less. It tries toIt is sad when the best you can say of a book is that it was an easy read.
This is a ghost story, of a sort. It is a romance, more or less. It tries to present Highgate Cemetery, but I did not really get an urge to go and visit. It is well written, with credible characters but it does not really move me. Everything follows its predictable course, and the little surprises were telegraphed well ahead. Maybe I was expecting something closer to her first book, playing with structure and form, besides characters and plot.
These last months I have been getting up to date with the recent upsurge in what Michael Moorcock calls, very accurately, Steam Opera, which is in mosThese last months I have been getting up to date with the recent upsurge in what Michael Moorcock calls, very accurately, Steam Opera, which is in most cases more accurate than Steampunk and shorter than retro-science-fiction.
This one fits in the alternate history mold, using the real XIXth century as the basis for the story, with a clear explanation for the divergences. Unlike most of the books in this mold, it does not pull punches describing the appalling parts of the XIXth century, and uses with skill a very interesting real character as the main character, Sir Richard Burton. However the accurate setting in the XIXth century and the careful handling of dialogues and characterization fits awkwardly with the excessive steam technology, or biology, presenting advances that are still impossible today, and some that are simply ridiculous. It also clashes with the almost comedic take on several historical characters. So I liked both parts, but not together, which is why it is only good, rather than excellent.
However I intend to read any further adventures of Burton and Swinburne....more
One more of the Steam Opera retro stories, and one I did not expect to enjoy so much. The story is an undisguised paranormal romance (love that genreOne more of the Steam Opera retro stories, and one I did not expect to enjoy so much. The story is an undisguised paranormal romance (love that genre classification), but Gail Carriger has read her British writers, from Wodehouse to Chesterton, so she gives a spark to the dialogue and a vivacity to the characters that makes it quite pleasant to read. Quite forgettable, but amusing too, and I will always have time for a little amusement.
As for the book, if you want vampires and werewolves in a semihistorical Victorian London, this might interest you. If you do not mind a bit of witty repartee with your romance, and you tolerate the standard romance tropes, you may well enjoy this book....more
Another of the Steam Opera genre, this one is set in a fictional planet full of retro-technology. The adventure is relatively straightforward, if fillAnother of the Steam Opera genre, this one is set in a fictional planet full of retro-technology. The adventure is relatively straightforward, if filled with a few twists, and has something very unusual in this kind of fiction, believable character growth. That balances out that some characters are wooden, some dialogue is repetitive and the action is not very dynamic. A pleasant read, nevertheless....more
Another of the Steam Opera books I got for Christmas. This one is the one I liked the best, mainly because it builds a new world with panache and flaiAnother of the Steam Opera books I got for Christmas. This one is the one I liked the best, mainly because it builds a new world with panache and flair, and then has no fear to break and change things to move the story forward. That makes it suitably heroic and immersing, while making you care for the good guys, and not pulling any punches with the bad things.
What starts like a growing pains story quickly takes a very dark turn, and Stephen Hunt does kill and maim people he made us care for, a hard technique that makes the story much more personal. Then it takes a lot of people, and not only the heroes, to make the things not right, but at least better. And it ends there, something I appreciate after too many fantasy trilogies.
Now to get the rest of the books set in Jackals......more
Maybe it was the fact that I read it in London, finishing it in Hyde park by Exposition Road, near the Natural History Museum (where I had already resMaybe it was the fact that I read it in London, finishing it in Hyde park by Exposition Road, near the Natural History Museum (where I had already reserved the tour to see the Kraken), and that the description of the city fitted so well on what I could see just a few steps or a tube trip away, but this book has felt closer or more believable to me than most of the Magical London subset of the contemporary fantasy kind.
Kraken presents an alternative, occult city living with and sharing the space of the mundane London. The main character is forced out of mundanity, and the main charm of the book is how natural it all seems, even if most individual details are recycled from other tales, other books on London, legends or comic. A great example of recycling, while making them his by adding Miéville gift for the macabre and the shocking to twist the material out of the mold.
The main antagonists reminded me a lot of the bad guys in Neverwhere, but much more disturbing. The bizarre characters and the many shocks are handled deftly. The plot is quite simple but with byzantine loops thrown by the changes in narrator, and at times it feels as if there are some pages missing, while some minor event is blown out of proportion. Nevertheless the engaging language and the fact that I liked the three narrator voices (quite rare for me) make me give it a high score, because, no matter its faults, this is a book I enjoyed a lot reading....more
The book looks interesting, on the surface. The authors have written many interesting works, and some of it appears on this book, but hidden behind unThe book looks interesting, on the surface. The authors have written many interesting works, and some of it appears on this book, but hidden behind uninteresting characters, a predictable plot and a city at the center of the universe that is neither interesting nor believable.
Like working at a coal mine, only for those desperate enough. Despite the Multiverse connection, it has no real link with the main Multiverse work....more
The second book in the Instrumentalities of the Night, I have enjoyed this book more than the first one. Mainly because my main problem with the serieThe second book in the Instrumentalities of the Night, I have enjoyed this book more than the first one. Mainly because my main problem with the series, that it is based on a thinly disguised XIIIth century Earth, is less intrusive now that things are drifting from the historical record. It is still fairly disturbing, as there are still too many correlations, but as the events do not follow the historical script (unlike the past), it becomes more interesting.
A second problem is that, unlike George RR Martin in similar circumstances, Cook uses a reduced cast. That makes the events easier to follow, but it also means that a few characters end up taking parts in almost all events, and he cannot use Martin's powerful tool of killing major characters, as he needs all of them.
The descriptions of warfare and its horrors are as good as usual with this author, the magic is suitably mysterious, terrifying and not very effective (to keep the emphasis on the characters), and there is a real sense of time passing and events taking place.
Its delocalization from Earth dillutes its strong anti-religious feeling, but it is still a good military middle ages adventure. I will be waiting for the next installment....more