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Solamenn (Paris, France)

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The Solitudes (The Aegypt Cycle, Book 1)
The Solitudes (The Aegypt Cycle, Book 1)
by John Crowley
Edition: Paperback

1.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating book, 25 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I came to buy this book because I was told it was a gem, a true classic of fantasy and wonderfully written.
It is, indeed, wonderfully written. And that's the best I can say about this book. I persevered with the subsequents volumes, in the hope it'd pick up but I gave up halfway through volume 3.

I am more than happy when a fantasy writer tackles big complex stories. And John Crowley does by taking different narrative strands through different times, mainly the XVIth century and the 1970's in the USA. The problem is that the narrative complexity only seems to serve some sort of self indulgent complex narrative and no other purpose.
By mid volume 3, nothing much had happened, if you discount dissertations about astrology and Hermes Trismegitus, 1970's new age babble, sex and a reinvention of Giordano Bruno's life. The strands of the story finally gathered a bit, but waiting two volumes and a half seemed to me just enough, thank you very much.
Let's just say that it felt to me very much like trying to read Eco's Foucault's Pendulum all over again. (Which also means that if you like Eco, you'll probably like the way this book is written!)

You could say it is more of a contemplative novel. I wouldn't be averse to that if the characters held some interest to me.

I found the che characters to be unsympathetic. I could live with that, but when pages are devoted to their relationship problems, it becomes more than annoying. I couldn't care about Rosie and her child or more importantly the main character.
The characters' development is mainly held by moments: childhood stories, visiting a cabin at the top of the hill, meeting ex-husband in a diner. All those moments are disconnected from each other by the narrative strands. At best, it is an Impressionnist depiction of the characters. At worse, like me, you'll feel no connection to the characters, their doubts or their unknowing quest.
It is very frustrating, because as it is for the story, you feel that these characters have wonderful potential but that it is held back.
In the subsequent volumes, I was also very ill at ease with how some relationships turned.

In the end, I kept going because this novel feels like there is something of epic proportions and interesting that is going to happen, is at the tip of the writer's pen. But nothing actually ever happens... or at least hasn't by mid volume 3.

I would say that this review is very much how this reader felt. Obviously, you could have a completely different opinion. But considering all the previous reviews were raving about it, I felt I needed to balance it a bit.
But what I know at the end is that to me, yes John Crowley writes wonderfully, but to my taste, he is utterly unreadable.


Night Watch: (Discworld Novel 29) (Discworld Novels)
Night Watch: (Discworld Novel 29) (Discworld Novels)
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ooook !, 30 Dec 2002
Unlike some of the reviews I have read so far, I had not been disappointed in the latest Pratchett's books. So this one is for me one more demonstration of Pratchett's inventiveness and wonderful talent as a storyteller.
'Night Watch' is a major book in the Guards series and puts a brand new light on some characters.
Sir Samuel Vimes is chasing an awful villain, while at the same time Sybil is giving birth to their new born. A time accident (bless the Monks of History, whom I really love) sends him back thirty years ago, not only in his own past, but also at a very particular moment of the History of Ankh-Morpork, just before one (more) revolution where him, Sam Vimes-who-was took part and where him, Sam Vimes-who-will-be will have to take part to protect his former self. But also because as dear old Sam is, he just can't prevent himself of doing what's right... which of course, is always a bad thing to do when you know the rulers of the city and the way it works.
Add to this Lu-Tze, and not-yet-C.M.O.T. Dibbler. And of course we'll meet younger Colon and younger Nobby, who will show themselves as they never did. As for Vetinari, let's just say he was already there too.
The plot is devious and Pratchett loves to play with Time's loops. The characters are finely written, sad and humourous as a Shakespeare's gravedigger, and they all take unguessed depths.
This new book is somewhat rather dark, but as usual, Pratchett just shows us what humanity is... or what it could be.
It is a jewel !


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