Profile for Scotsman Steps > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Scotsman Steps
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,124,615
Helpful Votes: 32

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Scotsman Steps (Abroad)

Show:  
Page: 1
pixel
Lord of Mountains (Change Novels (Roc Books))
Lord of Mountains (Change Novels (Roc Books))
by S. M. Stirling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 6.83

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The end is nigh, more or less..., 3 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you've made it this far into the series, you're unlikely to abandon it now, although a certain foot-tapping desire to see the finish line is to be expected. It offers the same reading enjoyment, lavish plotting, and writing excursiveness to which we've all become accustomed. Character development, except in the rare cases where new characters are introduced, is at a series low, although most of the action occurs from the viewpoints of well-known players. Reliance on song, poetry and the mysteries of the Old Religion seemed heavier to me than in other volumes but perhaps I'm just one of the few to whom they never held much appeal. Overall, it's recognizably Stirling doing what Stirling does well, and I enjoyed it.

This isn't clearly the end of the series' line, nor is it a particularly satisfying penultimate volume. In fact, it reads a bit like an either/or: while the Darth Vader-equivalents finished the novel spinning away in their off-page Tie fighters, the majority of the heroes are becoming more or less settled in for what appears to be their final rewards. Nothing is quite resolved but neither is there much suggestion that substantial developments await the characters we've now spent several thousand pages following. When I first put the book down, I assumed it was an author/publisher compromise: "I can't get the whole story into less than 900 pages" meets "This is a reasonable stopping point, so we'll do it in two volumes." Now I wonder - Stirling likes his multi-generational plotting; perhaps his plan is a Richard/Henry/Henry tale where the grandson is the one to clear the last of the mess his grandfather stepped in? This book works as well as a reboot point as it does anything else, so why not? Whatever the next step is intended to be, a more suspenseful ending (or set of endings, in a plot this wide) would have helped.

Highly recommended, but not, perhaps, as highly as the first four books of the series: tying up a sprawling mega-plot may be taxing Stirling's abilities slightly more than launching it did.


Reamde
Reamde
by Neal Stephenson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 15.19

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars When authors read other authors' reviews..., 25 Jan 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Reamde (Hardcover)
One of the first things that will strike you while reading the first 50 pages of Reamde is the extent to which Stephenson seems to be doing his best William Gibson impression. It's not a very good impression and, sadly, it lasts for the next 1000 pages. Gibson-like, thematically-linked digressions? One every 40 pages. Cooperative efforts from members of mutually unfamilar subcultures? Nothing but. Complex, empowered women grappling with elusive ideas and characters? Not Stephenson's strength but credit for trying. A sense that odd contingencies, unlikely commerical urges and unknowable interests are shaping key events? Yes, but written hamfistedly and with so very little respect for either the reader's intelligence or suspicion of coincidence. By the time I was halfway through the book, I was wondering just how many reviews of Gibson's post-genre fiction Stephenson had collated and mined for "must-dos." Happily, at that point, I developed a respiratory infection and blew through the second half in a codeine haze. Declining to think, or rendering yourself incapable of it, turns this mediocre novel into a perfectly acceptable action yarn.

I thoroughly enjoyed Stephenson's early work and thought the Baroque cycle was a forgivable example of a solid genre author attempting (although not frequently succeeding) to stretch his legs a bit. And, while I'm sympathetic to any author's desire to be more widely read or to enjoy serious critical credit, talent places a limit on how likely those results will be. Reamde may accomplish some of the first but is certain, in my view, to reduce the odds of the second ever coming true. Unlike Gibson, the real-world side of that triangular borderland between the actual, the imaginary and the possible isn't welcoming territory for Stephenson, who (here at least) lacks either the skill or the will to build on reasonable expectations of a real world. Reamde isn't a disaster but neither is it a book worth going out of one's way to read.


A Taint in the Blood (Shadowspawn)
A Taint in the Blood (Shadowspawn)
by S. M. Stirling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 15.07

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wish Stirling a big cheque but not a life-changing one..., 18 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Personally, I have no objection to any novelist's attempt to get paid. Even when such efforts are at their most blatant, there are usually hints of the humour, the worldview, or the habits that make the writer's better works a pleasure. I didn't come away from this book with any sense that Stirling was as committed to, attracted by, interested in or even working as hard at this book as almost anything else he has written. And, for a writer who specializes in the "old tricks in a new context" approach, that leads to a relatively duller read than fans of his other work have been taught to expect. One can't help imagining Stirling being lunched by his editor, hearing the words "What if you rebooted the Draka as vampires?" over the ristrettos... While I wish him an outsized reward, I hope this series doesn't become so successful that it distracts him from his better instincts for any length of time. Overall, worth a look in but unlikely to rank in your top ten Stirling novels.


Fatal Last Words (Skinner 19)
Fatal Last Words (Skinner 19)
by Quintin Jardine
Edition: Paperback

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A low point for a usually enjoyable series, 14 Aug 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've read the entire series - not proud of it but we all have our guilty pastimes. This is, by my lights, the most self-indulgent of the lot and one where Jardine's weaknesses overwhelm his strengths. You'll find the sudden, inexplicable (but for plot movement) changes of behaviour that his characters are prone to, the unguessable (because the author won't show you all the cards) denouement, Skinner solving it all with a "Hmmm" and a long stare into the distance... all the hallmarks of a Jardine mystery. Those are the good bits. The bad, in my view, are the over-indulgence in horribly clumsy puns, clanking meta-textual excursions, and Jardine's belief that rim-shot-accompanied, blatantly telegraphed authorial interjections will be read as light comic touches. I'll buy the next one - they don't call it a bad habit for nothing - but I do hope he sticks more firmly to action, melodrama and his well-conceived version of the real Edinburgh in future.


Page: 1