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The Fourth Hand
The Fourth Hand
by John Irving
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lion eats reporter's hand. Who cares?, 25 Oct. 2001
This review is from: The Fourth Hand (Hardcover)
TV-reporter Patrick Wallingford has his hand eaten by a circus-lion and millions of tv-viewers watch it happen. They're apalled, shocked, thrilled maybe, but the question is: did they care? I didn't. Wallingford is a reporter who is too nice for the station he works for and decides to start a better life. That is, five years after he's lost his hand and met the widow of the guy who's hand he will receive in a transplant-operation. The love-story which unfolds is unusual, but still predictable, as is most of the book. Some bits are funny, but some jokes are dull or cheap (many of them involving dog-turds), and there's alltogether far to much sex. It's almost as if Irving believes that's all you need to make people buy a book.
Irving is considered a great writer, but this book doesn't let you discover why. His only other short novel, Setting free the bears, was more enjoyable than this. After I'd finished it felt as if the story had only just begun. And, on the upside, that felt like a slight disappointment. The Fourth Hand is like a bad prelude to a potentially good story. If that story is ever written, it will need deepening of the characters, a better plot and less sex.


Winter's Heart: Book 9 of the Wheel of Time
Winter's Heart: Book 9 of the Wheel of Time
by Robert Jordan
Edition: Hardcover

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars slightly better than books 7 & 8, 25 Oct. 2001
I wasn't very anxious to get started on this, after the disappointments of the previous volumes, but when I had finally exhausted the pile of 'books to read' there was only this one left. And it's not as bad as I expected. The story moves on again, after the stalling in book eight, and some questions are answered. Still, there are some serious flawes. One of them is that, apart from Rand, Mat & Min, everyone has turned into an arsehole. It's very hard to feel sympathy towards any of the characters other than the three mentioned.
Furthermore there are now so many Aes Sedai, Wise Ones & Windfinders going around that I've completely lost track of them. Far too many names, and they're all exactly the same anyway: stubborn and annoying old women, cardboard figures who can be forgotten as soon as you've finished the chapter they appear in.
The witches are also the main reason this story fails to get to the point. If they managed to listen to each other and the men for a change the whole of Randland would have been ready for Tarmon Gaidon by now. Instead they all 'look like steel & talk like stone' and achieve nothing. But maybe that's the point RJ is trying to make: A world run by scheming women is a mess. The thing is, that's not what I want to read. I started on this series because I expected good fantasy fiction, and for six volumes I wasn't disappointed. Now it's all become long descriptions of petty politics. But if I'd wanted to learn about politics I would have bought Macchiavelli.
RJ is capable of five-star writing, we've seen that at the start of the series, if this is his first step on the way back to that level of writing, let's hope book ten will be a bigger step.
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