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The Lies of Locke Lamora was a tremendous book. It also told a complete story, pulling out all the stops to chronicle the rise and fall of the GentlemThe Lies of Locke Lamora was a tremendous book. It also told a complete story, pulling out all the stops to chronicle the rise and fall of the Gentleman Bastards.
Volume 2 picks up where the first left off and has the unenviable task of rebuilding not only the lives of the characters but the world that they inhabit.
The new situation that the main characters (Lock and Jean) find themselves in isn't nearly as rich as the first book, mostly because the events aren't tied in with their origin, or decades of history. To try and fill that gap, the author intersperses flashbacks with the "current" storyline. It's a device that wears thin by the time it's abandoned in the middle of the book. Still, despite the technical challenges, this volume manages to tell an amazingly solid tale of thievery and piracy.
As an author, Lynch has an impressive ability to find a way to move the plot forward when it seems like the characters every option has been cut off.
There's also a lot of clunky storytelling masquerading as clever in this book, and a number of situations seem to provide nothing but a chance to put our heroes into yet another "inescapable" trap so that the author can show off their (and his) cleverness yet again.
Luckily, it never quite gets to the level of exhausting, and the book manages to wrap up what seems like an impossible number of plot threads in a tidy and entertaining manner.
This book isn't the tour de force the first one was, but it's a solid fantasy potboiler with excellent prose, and sometimes that's more than good enough....more
This is my second time reading Berserk from beginning to end. The last time was over a decade ago.
As I was reading the first three volumes I had a naThis is my second time reading Berserk from beginning to end. The last time was over a decade ago.
As I was reading the first three volumes I had a nagging feeling that I was missing something. It was as if I remembered Berserk being better than it was, and I was beginning to think that I was remembering it being better than it was.
It was volume 4 where my expectations began to match reality. The art becomes tighter, the storytelling more impactful. It's still Berserk, which means that it's unapologetically violent, and it loves to wallow in its grim darkness like a Warhammer 40K fan at a heavy metal concert. But it's beautiful, and it feels like it's going somewhere.
As a bonus, the back of the book features some of the most ridiculous copy I've ever seen: "Berserk is not exactly the book for the theater crowd... unless the theater features pit fights!" There's nothing about that scenario that makes any sense, but okay....more
A lot of people love Aaron’s writing, but to be honest, most of what I’ve read by him hadn't resonated with me. But this book was good comics. WritingA lot of people love Aaron’s writing, but to be honest, most of what I’ve read by him hadn't resonated with me. But this book was good comics. Writing thought balloons for a character with a hidden identity isn't easy. Neither is the transfer of the mantle of "Thor" to a woman. All the issues with the sudden change of Thor to a concept from a person are well handled. Overall, this is a book that adds some genuine depth to the Thor mythos. As I catch up to the current stories, I’ll be interested in seeing how this book transitions into a post Secret Wars world....more
There are two basic types of long novel series: those where each book stands as its own story (Terry Pratchett's Discworld, and Jim Butcher's DresdenThere are two basic types of long novel series: those where each book stands as its own story (Terry Pratchett's Discworld, and Jim Butcher's Dresden Files come to mind), and then there are the series where the reader needs to have read all the previous books to get the full value of every episode. Gaunt's Ghosts is definitely the latter kinds of series. So if you're reading this and you've already read the 13 books that came before, it's highly probable that you're already heavily invested, and you aren't looking to be told why you should like this series.
And if you are all caught up, he only reason to even bother reading this review would be to discover if this is the book that drops the ball
You'll be happy to know that it isn't.
In fact, that now that there's an end in sight for the series (supposedly coming in 2021), Abnett seems to have shaken off the feeling of repetitiveness that was beginning to creep into the series, and while the end isn't really in sight, it's clear that we're moving in that direction.
Yes, in the dark future, there may be only war, but war alone isn't enough, and Abnett brings his usual mix of thrlling storytelling and compelling characters to the demon infested battlefield.
And if, for some reason, you're reading this and you haven't read any of the Gaunt's Ghosts series, what are you waiting for? The First and Only are waiting for you to join their ranks....more
Bill Massa writes thrilling action fiction that's every bit as compelling as anything you'll find on network television, and Occult Assassin is no excBill Massa writes thrilling action fiction that's every bit as compelling as anything you'll find on network television, and Occult Assassin is no exception. You can see his screenwriting background in every scene
Bill has done his homework, and everything in his books from the weapons down to the locations has a nice clear "ring of truth" about them. Sure, there are a few mistakes that only the locals will notice (there are no hills between downtown San Francisco, and the Mission, for example), he creates a compelling world, catching the nuances of the Bay Area tech culture and using them to build an exciting story.
Occult Assassin isn't a book that's going to change your life, but if you're looking for interesting characters, non-stop action, and an "I can't put this book down" story, this is the book for you.
It will keep you turning pages as you follow the trail of Talon as he blazes a bloody path of revenge and discovers that the demons are all too real.
I'm a native New Yorker, although I haven't a lived there since the turn of the century. There's no doubt that the city has fundamentally changed overI'm a native New Yorker, although I haven't a lived there since the turn of the century. There's no doubt that the city has fundamentally changed over the last 30 years. It was once a far dirtier and more dangerous city. New York was a place where you could have a shootout on 42nd street and no one would bat an eyelash—not even the cops.
Although this new New York is safer, not only was the pre-2000 version more genuinely interesting and artistic, it was also a far better place for the kind of hard-boiled neo-noir that Adam Sternbergh is clearly itching to tell.
To that end, he's created a future version of New York that has found its back from the current curated, "clean" city to the dangerous urban jungle of the 70s and 80s. I won't tell you how he gets it there, since those revelations about some of the most entertaining (and best written) parts of the book. Suffice it to say, that this return to a grittier world works (mostly). It's a fun, dangerous, violent reality to rattle around in, and Spademan is a character of (and for) his world.
All that, along with a general love of the kind of broken knights that populate noir fiction, made me want to love this book. Unfortunately, I found the main character "Spademan" tough to like. One of my main issues with him is that he starts out as one noir archetype, and rapidly transforms into another. Unfortunately, we never really get the chance to get to know that dead inside amoral version before his heart of gold begins to shine through. I found the transition jarring.
The other thing that held me back from really loving this book is that the plot is never really as demanding as it should be; the story advances far too often on deus ex machina and dumb luck instead of the characters careful planning, bad breaks, and determined insight.
Sternbergh often seems to chop out key rungs from the story progression just to prove that he can pull it off. If he'd occasionally lean into the tropes instead of making such a spectacle of throwing them away, I think it would have been a better book.
I've heard some people complain about the lack of quotation marks in this book, so it's worth mentioning he doesn't use them. Before I read the book I was guessing that would create a kind of cinematic hyper-immediacy, but in fact it does the opposite. This is a first person novel, and the lack of quotes make it read as is everyone is speaking with the protagonists voice—the literary equivalent of an audio book. Most of the time it works quite well, but occasionally I found myself having to put my brain into reverse in order to pull my head out from the one way street that the prose had accidentally driven me down.
The irony of this book is that it uses all its technical mastery the same way that modern Manhattan far too often uses its vast infrastructure: to create safe and predictable that has only a vague aura of genuine danger. Theme park noir, if you will.
The rides are all there, and they're executed with precision, but Sternbergh just doesn't seem ready to get down and wallow in the dirt and moral ambiguity that make the best noir so deeply thrilling.
All that said, it's a well-executed book, and if it weren't for some surprisingly weak "twists" in the plot, along with some far too safe character choices, this would easily be a four star novel. As it is, if you're curious, it's worth the read, and I'm looking forward to what other dark worlds Adam Sternbergh will bring us to....more