I had high hopes for this book. I grew up in the 1980s and when I saw the trailer for the movie and learned there was a novel I decided to pick up a cI had high hopes for this book. I grew up in the 1980s and when I saw the trailer for the movie and learned there was a novel I decided to pick up a copy on my next visit to the book store. I wish I had not wasted my money. Honestly, how is this book rated so high?
While I am only halfway through the story at the time of writing this review, I am giving it two stars only because the concept is good. I really, really like the idea of an online world come to life where people can Monty Hall their way through encounters with monsters and robots and the like. Aside from that aspect, there really isn't much to recommend this story.
There is a maxim of modern writing that indicates an author should "show, not tell" and throughout almost all of what I have read in this novel Cline is telling. Had the book been written in third person it might have been easier to avoid this failing. However, other authors like Jim Butcher have written exciting and interesting stories in first person so maybe it is just Cline's style that grates on me. I have a feeling the author was padding his manuscript to stretch it out to novel length. I also have to wonder what kind of people he had for beta readers.
Look, if you enjoyed the novel, that's fine. To each their own. Personally, I am finding it increasingly difficult to get motivated to read it. This is not a page turner for me. If you like adventure and action mixed with suspense and drama, this is not a book I would recommend. The idea of the story is good and the plot is an adequate vehicle, but the execution is weak....more
I heard about this book early one Saturday morning while driving to work in the wee small hours before dawn. Rocky Elmore, the author, was giving an iI heard about this book early one Saturday morning while driving to work in the wee small hours before dawn. Rocky Elmore, the author, was giving an interview and taking calls on Coast to Coast AM. It was a rebroadcast of the show, but I found Mr. Elmore's descriptions of the paranormal events he'd written about interesting. When I got my copy after a week of waiting I was eager to crack it open and enjoy all the spooky goodness. In that regard I was disappointed. It took six chapters of reminiscences about Mr. Elmore's early days in the Border Patrol to get to his first description of a paranormal event. Those six chapters were interesting from an academic point of view, but that was not why I had purchased the book. I wanted to read about ghost stories.
On balance this book is about the Border Patrol and officers Mr. Elmore worked with. There are a number of spooky incidents recounted, but they are not really the focus of the book. In fact, I could not quite put together what the focus of the book actually was. Mr. Elmore's style of writing is hit and miss. He seems to have written his work in a sort of stream of consciousness manner that takes the reader back and forth along the timeline of his career, stringing together various incidents and slowly familiarizing the reader with what the Border Patrol does. That didn't bother me as much as it might have. What did bother me was the lack of detail when it came to his descriptions of the paranormal events. He included very little detail regarding most of the ghost stories. Perhaps this is because he got his information second hand for the vast majority of them and was recalling the stories from years and years ago. I think if Mr. Elmore had located some of his friends from his time in the Border Patrol and pressed them for details to include his book would have been much more fleshed out and would have been more rewarding for me.
All in all, I liked the book even though I got frustrated with it in several spots. It doesn't take a long time to read and as a description of what the Border Patrol has to go through on behalf of the citizens of the United States it is quite interesting. However, if Mr. Elmore really wanted to tell us about spooky things he should have focused on those spooky things and not so much about the everyday routine of the BP agents. If he wanted to tell us about the BP agents and what they face every day to protect our southern border he should have recounted more stories of close calls and near run things and none of the ghostly tales.
As a first effort 'Out on Foot: Nightly Patrols and Ghostly Tales of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent' isn't bad. Hopefully Mr. Elmore will add an experienced editor to his group of friends and invest some time in learning story craft. I would very much like to read more about these paranormal events, especially if there is more detail to them....more
I liked this book, but there are a few issues I have with it. I'm not a fan of coming-of-age stories because they tend to be filled with clichés and tI liked this book, but there are a few issues I have with it. I'm not a fan of coming-of-age stories because they tend to be filled with clichés and this story has many of them. I suppose you could call them tropes, instead. In defense of Jim Butcher, this is the first book which is obviously introducing the series, so many of the tropes are necessary to set up the characters and foreshadow events in later plots. However, I don't feel any of the characters are fleshed out enough. A few of the supporting characters are even two dimensional, but they don't feature large in this first book so it really isn't a big deal, but they still come across as "off the shelf".
Some of the good things about the book are the settings and the technology/magic. It's clear JB thought through these aspects of the story very thoroughly. Like he did with the 'Dresden Files' he has established rules for how things work in this series. I think the method for propelling the ships is particularly well considered and I really like the fact that the ships have reasonable limitations and vulnerabilities. He also has thought through the tactics used in ship to ship combat and they make sense. Kudos to him for that.
One thing I've noted in other reviews of this book is a distinct reaction to the cats. People seem to dislike them. Personally, I don't think they act much like real cats and there are a few inconstancies in their behavior, or rather the behavior of the main cat character. I have to say I think the other characters' reactions to the cats are a bit unrealistic. It seems like they are too impressed with the creatures. More than that I felt too much was made of the cats in general. If they really are so badass, why aren't they running things instead of the humans? And if they despise humans so much, why do they interact with them at all? I suppose this aspect of the series will find its level in later books.
Overall, the book is worth reading and it is one of the better Steampunk novels I have come across. Admittedly, Steampunk is supposed to be dystopian and this book is not. At least, the characters and Spire Albion are not dystopian. Spire Aurora sounds as if it probably is, therefore, the series can be seated comfortably in the genre.
On a final note: I have a little knowledge of some of the books Jim Butcher has read. I can see a number of aspects in the Cinder Spires that have clearly been influenced by the Hornblower Saga and the Honor Harrington series. It remains to be seen how much these will continue to influence the series and whether or not that is a good thing.
Addendum: I just realized something about the cats. Generally speaking, they remind me of Chiun, the martial arts master from the movie 'Remo Williams'. ...more
I had so much hope and good feeling towards this book when I found out about it and so much utter disappointment when I read it. If you are a fan of tI had so much hope and good feeling towards this book when I found out about it and so much utter disappointment when I read it. If you are a fan of the Raj Whitehall series, please do not buy this book. It does not belong with the others. This is mostly because it was not well written. In fact, I was left wondering if Tony Daniel had read all of the existing stories or not. I also had to wonder if he had read any of them more than once. Additionally, I wondered if Tony Daniel had even taken a creative writing course which is probably an unfair suspicion.
If I were rating just the first third of the book, I would give it three stars. I liked that part. The author was covering ground fairly well trodden by David Drake and S.M. Stirling, but he was writing differently enough to keep it interesting. If Tony Daniel had maintained this level of writing the book would have come out to be an acceptable addition to the series. BUT the writing dropped off more and more as the story progressed.
For me the turning point from "I like this." to "Why the hell am I reading this?" came when the Mary Sue entered the tale. Never mind that the author had introduced a perfectly acceptable female character who could easily have developed into the female counterpart of the hero. He certainly didn't mind that. In fact he threw her away right after he introduced her. She was interesting. She had a back story I would have enjoyed reading about. She was positioned with clear motive to support the hero. The history and introduction of her people had her set up to be awesome! But no. Tony Daniel at some point said, "I have a better idea." and he didn't. He fell back on what many authors have done with too many stories. He forced the readers to accept a new character that didn't have much to recommend her just so he could have a standard, unattainable love interest. Bernard Cornwell did this so much better with his Sharpe series that it doesn't rate going over where Tony Daniel went wrong.
I think what Mr. Daniel really needed was a beta that was worth their salt. Someone needed to stand up and ask some hard questions like: "Why are you including all of this stuff that does not move the story forward?" I'm not talking about a paragraph or two or even a page or two. I'm talking about entire chapters worth of text that I skimmed over because it was as dull as dull can be. He could have knocked out an entire section of this book and it would have made the story better. It would have done so not by improving the plot, but by shortening the tale. And the little side adventures he sends his character on by having Center, the sentient computer, show him how machines of the past worked were redundant in what they presented. The first time it happened was fine, but when he does it again and again it gets old. I wanted to scream, "I get the point! Now just tell your story!"
The last two thirds of the book seem to focus on trying to get the reader to see how wicked and evil the main villain is and how corrupt the rulers of the world are. Fine. No problem. At least until you consider how poorly this was done. The bad guy the hero has to face off against really isn't that interesting. He isn't smart. He's ruthless, sure, but not smart. Worse than being boring, the reader is never left in doubt as to whether or not the hero will succeed in defeating this enemy. It's obvious from the get go that he is going to win and suffer very little while doing so. It becomes even more obvious after the Mary Sue joins in. Hell, she could have won this war in a week and had enough time to write her memoirs while doing it.
Honestly, I think Tony Daniel came under some sort of deadline and just rushed through to the end. The last portion of the book reads as if he phoned it in. Other indicators of this deadline theory of mine are his repeated wrong word usage and the occasional slip up where he uses the word 'horse' instead of the invented animal 'dont'. If he had had time to run his chapters by a proper beta reader and an editor I think he would have crafted a much better book. I think he was also worried about word count which is really important in modern novels. Sadly, the author could have written the story in a much more interesting way and probably increased his word count in doing so. Instead of telling the reader what was happing he could have taken the readers along on the adventure and shown us what was happening. A missed opportunity never to be regained.
In short, this was a poorly written book I wish I had not read. The only reason I could call this a page turner is that I was trying to get to the good parts. There were far too few to make it worth the trouble. Alas....more
This book was recommended to me as a good example of the Steampunk genre. To my great disappointment I found it to be one of the worst books I have evThis book was recommended to me as a good example of the Steampunk genre. To my great disappointment I found it to be one of the worst books I have ever read.
I discovered a large number of grammatical errors, incomplete sentences, incorrectly used words and sentences with missing words. Someone was falling down on the job when this book was going through its beta and editing, I think.
My biggest complaint about this book is the lack of originality among the characters. The majority of them seem like they were picked off the shelves of a bargain store. Only one male character was fully fleshed out with a handful of the others being developed to varying degrees. There were poor copies of the Baker Street Irregulars, stereotypical bullies and jocks from 1980s after school specials and teen movies spruced up and dressed in pseudo Victorian garb and "bad girls" capable of defeating any male ever conceived. A little more thought and consideration when developing these characters would have gone a very long way to making the story much easier to read.
I get it. I really do understand this was a fantasy novel. I understand. What I don't understand is why it had to be filled to overflowing with Mary Sue characters and wannabe James Bond villains. I also don't understand how anyone could recommend this as being a good example of Steampunk. It's not....more
Overall, 'Edinburgh Dead' is a decent read. I liked the characters enough to give it three stars, and the setting was interesting, too. At first blushOverall, 'Edinburgh Dead' is a decent read. I liked the characters enough to give it three stars, and the setting was interesting, too. At first blush this seemed to be a Steampunk book, but it really isn't. It's more of a period fantasy in the same way The Dresden Files is Urban Fantasy.
My problem with the story is its pace. Even the exciting scenes aren't all that exciting. The plot moves along very steadily and dignified, but the feeling of tension doesn't quite materialize. There are a few harrowing moments, but they are spread out a little too far. I never quite got bored with the story, though. It is written well enough to keep me interested. I think if I had to pin down one thing to say about it I would have to say, "Give me more." More tension, more excitement, more drama, more comedy, more of everything. Throw a rock in the still pool that is this story and see what the ripples develop into.
If there is a sequel I will likely read it. I think there is a good deal of potential for a series of such tales and it's very possible the characters and plots will develop into really interesting creatures....more