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G. C. McGlothlen (Gloucester, UK)
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The Blade Itself: Book One Of The First Law (Gollancz S.F.): 1
The Blade Itself: Book One Of The First Law (Gollancz S.F.): 1
by Joe Abercrombie BA
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.36

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Characters, 31 Jan 2009
Usually when a book has many good reviews and I agree with them, I don't bother adding my voice to the throng. However, in this case I'll make an exception because I enjoyed this trilogy enormously. Not what I'd call hardcore fantasy, but a great story set in a fantasy environment. Many others here have sung the praises of these books in detail. What really sets them apart from most fiction I've read - the characters. Outstanding. Superb. The most interesting, funny, realistic, complex characters I've read in a long time. I think I read someone compared the author's writing to Dickens. I thought - come on - are you insane? After reading this, I think they must've been talking about the characters. Truly Mr. Abercrombie is in the same parish as Dickens when it comes to characters. Sand den Glokta is the most interesting character I've ever read outside Dickens. Jezel, Ardee, "Ninefingers" the Dogman... all great. After reading this along with "Before They are Hanged" and "Last Argument of Kings", I'm looking forward to his next book.


The Court of the Air
The Court of the Air
by Stephen Hunt
Edition: Paperback

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Please make it stop!, 4 Dec 2008
This review is from: The Court of the Air (Paperback)
Reading this book is like watching a movie on fast forward while the sound is turned up too loud. If this is your kind of thing - go for it. It makes me want to lie down in a darkened room. I can't say it's *bad* exactly. It's full of a lot - and I do mean a lot - of ideas. Some of these even seem original. It does have a plot, but that plot is buried under so many characters, factions and events that it's almost undetectable - and maybe, ultimately, unimportant. Near the end, I did want to find out what happened, but mostly I just wanted it to be over. Others have recapped the steampunk plot, but the best way I could describe the book, plot and all would be that this is the book you'd get if you put some Dickens, the Wizard of Oz, Robin Hobb, Jules Verne and HG Wells into a blender and put it on "puree" and tried to read it while it was whizzing past. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, but it just doesn't happen to be my cup of tea.


Axis
Axis
by Robert Charles Wilson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 4.69

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Through the Arch, 22 Nov 2008
This review is from: Axis (Mass Market Paperback)
Sequel to the Hugo Award winning "Spin" (on my list of recommended books) this novel follows the story of the people who have travelled through the Arch created by the alien Hypotheticals to a new and distant world. Presumably you've read "Spin" if you're reading this - Do you want to read "Axis"? Most definitely yes. Is it as good as Spin? No. But that's not much of a criticism. Spin was a great book, because it was a deep story with believable, complex characters, both primary and secondary that just happened to be set in a sci-fi environment. The triangle in that book between Tyler Dupree, Jason and Diane was a touching coming of age story set against a backdrop of alien contact and apocalyptic events. Diane made me think about some of the women that have passed through my life and I doubt I'm alone in that. "Axis" recreates that feel with a new triangle between Lise Adams, her husband Brian and Turk Findley. A more traditional love triangle here then. I won't detail (spoil) the plot here, but the book develops the new earth-like world in a very believable way and we gain further insight into the Hypotheticals and their nature while finding out the fate of the characters from Spin. This book is very similar to Spin in that the elements above are combined with a new technological mystery relating to the Hypotheticals, focused on events that are not understood, involving characters who's motivations are sometimes unclear. However, the book does not develop the main characters as poignantly as Spin, secondary characters are not developed much at all, and the plot is not quite as gripping. If you like the genre and enjoyed Spin, you'll want to read this and nothing I'm going to write will stop you anyway - nor should it. But whereas Spin was a book that you couldn't wait to recommend to anyone, whether they liked sci-fi or not, this one is isn't.


The Wheel of Darkness
The Wheel of Darkness
by Douglas Preston
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.84

4.0 out of 5 stars The Nature of Sequels, 22 Nov 2008
This review is from: The Wheel of Darkness (Paperback)
I give this one 4 stars, but maybe 3.5 would be better. I'll give it 4 because of the strength of the series in general - and because of the sub-plot I discuss below. However, this book has definitely got me thinking about the sustainability of sequels or a series. If I had picked this book up and read it by itself I would have been reasonably pleased by an interesting and fun story. I enjoyed the "Diogenes Trilogy" quite a bit and have put "Brimstone" on my list of books to try. So while this book continued that story on, and while the characters developed in a way that is almost must-read if you're a fan of the Pendergast novels, this book doesn't really bring anything new to the party. It has lost the dark, creepy Gothic feel and atmosphere of previous books. Call it "Pendergast Light". I did like the sub-plot involving Commodore Cutter and Capt Carol Mason who were very real to me and locked in a battle between youth and age, male and female where who was right and who was wrong was never clear during the plot and left me thinking after the book had finished - more so than the main plot. And maybe that tells you what you need to know. After the Diogenes trilogy the authors would have had to pull an even bigger rabbit out of their hat to keep things going and that doesn't happen here. I think the villain is particularly weak. It will be interesting to see where the story goes from here, although that is foreshadowed in this book. If the authors return to what worked in previous books, can they raise the bar, or will it just be "Pendergast V"...


American Gods
American Gods
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.18

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult book to review, 22 Nov 2008
This review is from: American Gods (Paperback)
This is a difficult book to review. I bought it because of a recommendation, and as it had won numerous awards I thought I couldn't go wrong - so I actually bought the sort-of sequel "Anasazi Boys" at the same time. However, I finally put this one down about 3/4 of the way through, and I haven't picked it up again - this is extremely rare for me. Anasazi Boys remains on the shelf. Why? A lot of people really enjoy this book. In the end, I just wasn't interested in how the book finished. I wasn't sufficiently involved in the protagonist and the events to care. Some of the ideas in the book are quite interesting and I did like the relationship between Shadow and his wife (which I won't spoil). But the whole backdrop of the war between ancient gods from different cultures and modern technology - for me anyway - was not a sufficiently rich idea to sustain a novel. Maybe that's not quite right. The execution of the storytelling was not particularly good either. This is a slow book. I don't have a problem with that - if the characters are interesting and developed enough to sustain a slow pace, but that's not the case here. So in the end there just wasn't enough going on here in either character development or plot for me to carry on. I may go back to it sometime in the future to see if I can find what others see.


Anathem
Anathem
by Neal Stephenson
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Needs more explosions!!!, 21 Nov 2008
This review is from: Anathem (Hardcover)
Mr. Stephenson just doesn't get it. I mean - I have read, like, ALL his books now and this is just another one that went on sooooo long it ate up like three contiguous days of my entire life! First of all there are not enough explosions. Ok - sure there are some - but where is the specially modified 747 with super cool secret agent stuff? Where is the stubbly faced hero charging across the desert in search of Incan gold? Hah! There isn't one! Instead all we get is a monk - who lives in a "concent" (which is like, a monastery! - but Stephenson obviously realises his book is boring and short of explosions [and exclamation points!] so he has to come up with a totally impenetrable language of his own where "sib" is a relative and "jeejaw" is a mobile phone - it took me AGES to work it out.) Ok - so the monk does have a kind of a nano-tech cloak and an orb that he can do cool things with... but ANYWAY - so this monk has an adventure of sorts which I won't bore you with here, but if you've read any of Stephenson's other stuff you can probably guess at the scope of it - I mean who does this guy think he is? and who has time for this stuff?! I don't want a lot of three (or more) dimensional characters I actually care about. I don't want 800 pages of romance, humour, aliens, lost temples, biotechnology, skulduggery and Pythagoras - OH SORRY - I mean "Adrakhones" theorem. And I certainly don't want to ponder the nature of consciousness, and the relationship between academia and religion while I'm at it! I mean I laughed so hard at one part I WET MY PANTS! Like... Who's going to pay for that?? Anyway - the only thing I can say is thankfully it'll be another 3 years or so before Stephenson can inflict this nonsense on us again. I'm going back to the airport to get my next book.
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