The first half is gripping, or was, to my fourteen years old self. The second half was a bit of a letdown, mainly because the main character becomes s...moreThe first half is gripping, or was, to my fourteen years old self. The second half was a bit of a letdown, mainly because the main character becomes something that he is not.
I still spent four straight hours reading, unable to do anything else. So although I give it three stars (or rather, 4 and a half and 2), my teenaged self would have given it 4 (or 5 before I read The Lord of the Rings). Incredibly well suited for young teens that love books.(less)
The book originally was presented as a CD-Rom. Although I like books, I think the idea of the writer would be better experienced in an interactive web...moreThe book originally was presented as a CD-Rom. Although I like books, I think the idea of the writer would be better experienced in an interactive webpage or digital media. Because a page limits you to what is in it or its neighbours, or a shorter or longer search for a glimpsed idea. Hyperlink and search functions really help to compare what is in common and to spot the differences.
The book deals with the idea of beauty, and how it has changed through time and cultures, using works of art as the only surviving yardstick of what was considered beautiful. Although the author has his own views, he tries to keep it hidden, focusing instead on what others thought, although the narrative gives a hint of which of those ideas he favors, sometimes quite broadly, but that is to be expected as he is a son of his own time and culture, so his views will be different (though still close) from mine.
Its awkward handling, specially as it requires a certain level of involvement from the reader give it this relatively low score for such a gorgeous book. Because it is gorgeous, and a simple cursory read, looking at the images, probably will enlighten you as much as deep reading. But that gorgeousness detracts from its own message, because subject to so many beautiful images, how can you define what is beauty, if beauty is most of them? Which I suppose goes a long way to explain why Eco published also History of Ugliness. Because you cannot have one without the other. Maybe after reading it my mind will clear, and I will give it a higher score.(less)
If this book had been classed as Science Fiction, it would have received quite poor criticism. Because it uses some tropes not very well, and then del...moreIf this book had been classed as Science Fiction, it would have received quite poor criticism. Because it uses some tropes not very well, and then delivers a flat performance of wooden characters, unreal dialogues, weird views of some real characters, and a meta-narrative dealing with a Borgesian pair of narrators that are each of them a creation of the other, or the same individual.
The fact that there is a certain Physics basis to the tale, and the two linked narrators, give it some weight, and I suppose the novelty of the multiple universes may attract a non s-f reader. But that does not compensate the problems mentioned above, and what is worse, a predictable plot, a major sin when you can go literally anywhere with your multiversal story.
A particular peeve of me is how it goes out of its way to be didactic at times, while skipping along easily (those parts where the basis is dodgy) on others. More like a show-off than a real need for the story.(less)
I wished to re-read this book before the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise runs over my memories of it.
In a way it is right that Tim Powers gets some...moreI wished to re-read this book before the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise runs over my memories of it.
In a way it is right that Tim Powers gets some credit, as the original film owes a lot to this book. The story of a young boy, transformed into a pirate due to bad luck and some personal decency resonates strongly, as does the voudoun magic and the end times of the goldena ge of piracy.
It is also a much more complex story, with many strong characters, and maybe too many things happening in a short time. Powers manages to bring the pirates to life, and takes you into a hard ride, torturing the main characters, as Powers usually does, to the breaking point and beyond.
Now inserting a bit of the supernatural in historical fiction is common, and it is thanks to books like this, that did it right, being accurate both to history and whatever magical rules it uses. A must read that is also a nice read.(less)
This is the book that convinced me that so called reality is a consensual fiction, and most people lack García Márquez vivid eye. Because it is all in...moreThis is the book that convinced me that so called reality is a consensual fiction, and most people lack García Márquez vivid eye. Because it is all in the eye of the beholder, and this is a particularly sharp one, telling the story of Macondo, a small town between the jungle, the mountains and the sea.
It contains an universe, or a small town. Multitudes, or a single family. It is said to be magical without using magic once. Except maybe the magic of words, weaving a deceptively simple thread into a complex and disturbing tapestry.
I cannot envision how it can be read in any form but in García Márquez sparkling prose, so if you like the translation and have a little knowledge of Spanish, try the original. It is a friendly book, quite welcoming, the same as Macondo. (less)
The book quite accurately represents the transition from the knight dominated Middle Ages warfare to the citizen infantry of the Renaissance, includin...moreThe book quite accurately represents the transition from the knight dominated Middle Ages warfare to the citizen infantry of the Renaissance, including the changes in politics and generalship that made it possible. The main character is a minor noble, bred to be a knight, that due to several circumstances ends up a mercenary.
It helped me envision how the change took place in the ground, not only at the command/tactics/strategy as I had done before.
However the Spanish translation is quite poor, and just reading it is a continuous upslope fight, filled with lurid descriptions, excessive violence, and pointless titillation. Maybe the historian wanted to make the history more attractive, but a detailed rape description and justification (within historical context, thankfully) does not interest me more in a book.
Dialogues are wooden, most characters are cardboard place holders, and only the background kept me reading (quite slowly).
I suppose it says something when it takes a year to finish a book.(less)
I know that many people enjoyed this book. I am not one of them. Maybe I am too tied in reality, but when a book with the initial premise of zombies m...moreI know that many people enjoyed this book. I am not one of them. Maybe I am too tied in reality, but when a book with the initial premise of zombies makes an effort to be realistic, and fails, it is much worse than if it had not tried. Both from the biology, weapons, or tactics point of view. As for humour, that may have come from the quite automatic Spanish translation, but they were quite scarce, and visible a long way off, if not lifted directly from one of the zombie movies.
It was a chore finishing it, and I only did because the historical examples had the only amusing parts in the whole book.(less)
This is not an easy book, because the author does not pull any punches. However it is necessary, to really carry the message through.
The fact that it...moreThis is not an easy book, because the author does not pull any punches. However it is necessary, to really carry the message through.
The fact that it is a man writing takes it beyond a feminist or an anti-male position into believability. There his journalist ability to really bring to life the part of the world makes it more believable, at the same time making it easier to access for non-Swedish readers.
It is not a perfect work, far from it. Many characters are flat, characterization is weak, compared to factual descriptions or technical aspects. The solution was clear in my mind from the beginning as the best explanation, but nobody explores it till the end.
However it transmit the message that there are men who hate women, more than we think, and women who let them, in a loud, clear voice. And that is good.
The Spanish translation was unintrusive, which is what I want from a translation. (less)