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Jon (NL)

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Orcs: Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder, Warriors of the Tempest (Gollancz S.F.)
Orcs: Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder, Warriors of the Tempest (Gollancz S.F.)
by Stan Nicholls
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.94

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unpretentious not the usual type of fantasy, 15 Jun. 2009
I was a bit surprised to see the book-series of Nicholls so heavily criticized. My opinion of this book in a nutshell: I found it a highly appealing book and a great read. It really reads like an action-movie on paper. It starts like a boulder tumbling down the hill and only rarely does it slow down(the writing-style is somewhat comparable to Dan Brown's novels but then applied to action-fantasy).
Because it is so dissimilar to 'regular' fantasy (that is in the Tolkien-tradition) I think it is so heavily criticized. Indeed there is little attention for character building, history, landscapes etc. In fact, there is little attention for anything that distracts from the action and the plot of the story. That's what makes it such a high-paced series. To do otherwise would be to ruin its strength. It is a different type of fantasy and moves away from the epic masterpieces without becoming any less worthy to read. It simply is just a different read, though much less pretentious (Robert Jordan's serie is a good example of how pretentions in combination with overly developed characters, background information and storylines can make a serie as slow as a turtle).
Finally, I did not find the Orcs so out of character as some have claimed. And the 'black and white turn' from mercenary to 'freedom-fighter' in the book was not a incomprehensible choice but an understandable ultimate survival-strategy which got from bad to worse.

So, turn of your telly, because this book is an even faster and more enjoyable time spend than your late night action movie.

The Rough Guide to Cuba (Rough Guide Travel Guides)
The Rough Guide to Cuba (Rough Guide Travel Guides)
by Fiona McAuslan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A travel guide missing the point of travelling, 8 Aug. 2008
In short, the rough guide to Cuba was a sincere disappointment to me.
Of course it was not all bad, the almost 700 pages certainly contain loads of background information about Cuba which are informative and worthwhile to read. However, there a three major points that bug me the most and which I consider to be essential to any travel guide.
1) Maps: Detailed maps of Cuba, its provinces and its cities are vital for travelling around. Especially the regional maps lack in detail with important places left of the map. When directions in the guide are phrased as such: "the best place to stay in the mountain area is the villa santo domingo, about 68km souhtwest of Bayamo" and the place is not on any map it is somewhat hard to find.
2) There is an awkward logic to the guide, I found myself flipping back and forth through the guide in search of where the information is. This could have easily been solved with references to other pages. Also information on (hotel) prices are vague and general.
3) But, most of all the guide is written by a car-lover, who has neglected travel information on busses and trains. Over and over again the authors write that you need a car to go around (which of course is partly true at best). Bus and train routes, timetables and prices are severely neglected, probably because the authors assume you will rent a car anyway. For example, to reach Bayamo by train the authors write: "the train station is on calle Linea" and leave it at that! No further information.

So, for those who use the car the Rough Guide to Cuba will do just fine if you buy a good road map. Those who like to explore Cuba by public transport (as I do), pick another guide. This travel guide has ignored the essential: offering guidance in travelling around.

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