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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 19 September 2013
I am also a Terry Pratchett fan and have read I think everything - or pretty much, not all the science of Discworld books.

Like many reviewers I found the first book engaging - a clever idea, there was focus on the main plot line and characters and I looked forward to the follow up.

Unfortunately this book seems half-finished and is remarkably lifeless. There are lots of different subplots but they don't seem to really add up to anything. There are various remarks about the role of government and the state and the freedom of the individual but I'm not sure the authors actually had anything useful to say about this debate.

The stories themselves didn't seem to go anywhere - there really was no excitement, no twists and it was difficult by the end to know why many of the characters and plots had been included. The main plot was about the "war" between the settlers on the various long earths and the main "datum" earth, but it ended with something less than a whimper, the other plot - the search for the Trolls and the discovery of the Beagles - again ended in such a way I thought I'd skipped some of the book.

Very disappointing. I'm sure the authors know why they failed to deliver this time, perhaps they need to take it in turns to write subsequent books in turn rather than continue with joint efforts?
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2013
The problem with creating a science fiction "opportunity" such as the one the Long Earth presents is that you need a space opera to do it justice. When "The Long Earth" came out with its Pratchett notion of a potato inspired device (quickly forgotten in this latest because it was a tad too ridiculous) that gave rise to an infinite series of earths for humanity to expand into, it created a vast series of options for the authors to explore.So vast, in fact, they've fallen short with this latest, directionless effort. All it has done, in truth, is show the brilliance of the idea (though rehashed somewhat - see Greg Bear's 'Eon') and the incapacity of the authors to deal with it. The reality is the concept needs Peter F Hamilton to do it justice. The vastness of the new world of Datum East/West requires more words than these authors are prepared to throw at it and this sequel flounders in a mire of nothingness.
Part of the problem is Joshua Valienté's weary inclusion - it's almost as though the character isn't interested; part of the problem is the character of Sally - she's intensely dislikeable; part of the problem is that Lobsang's not in it enough; the whole of the problem is nothing gets the detail it deserves. We've too many threads fighting for four hundred pages of large print space and no one's a winner. As a reader I want to investigate more about the culture of Trolls, of Kobolds, of Beagles; I want a thorough story following Capt. Maggie on her personal starship Enterprise with the Cat; I need Joshua to be kicked in the backside to show some enthusiasm; I want the gifted Roberta and her Chinese expedition to get ten times the airtime. The whole East twenty million voyage is begging for a juicy hook to yank the reader. The disappearance of the Trolls (yet they are too easy to find) is casually handled; the chewing off of Joshua's appendage unexplained; the "war" that is the title is merely an apologetic after-note of vapid inconsequentialness scrawled in the final chapters. I've seen more fight in the Norse Sagas on Valhalla than I saw in this book.
I was disappointed. The concept of stepping into an alternative reality is handled better by the likes of S M Stirling. He devotes a trilogy to just one "step" and you can see why. The creation of four million worlds needs four million pages, in truth. Pratchett and Baxter have created something too big to handle - and this is coming from two of the very best authors out there. I've read nearly everything these two authors have ever produced. They have all the kudos they deserve for they are very, very good at what they do. But...it's possible for even the very best to produce a poor book...and this might just well be a nadir for them. I hope the next is better. In summary...The Long Earth was great; The Long War...disappointing.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2014
This was so sad - The Long Earth had a lot of interesting ideas (many not explored)and I was hoping that The Long War would delve deeper into them. I was wrong. It's just a pot-boiler, a fluffy padding-out of the first story to get to the next.

The authors carefully make sure you don't empathise or identify with the characters by constantly calling them by their full and formal names and rarely giving them any interior monologues or motivation. So the whole thing is very cold and impersonal - a rare thing for a Pratchett novel.

As for the plots, there are three that are flagposted early on in the book - the Declaration of Independence, the abolition of slavery and ecological disaster. The first reaches its climax with everyone deciding 'meh, whatever...', the second is just hand-waved away but the third is the best. As the book goes on the signposts get bigger, more neon, more 'Danger, Will Robinson!' until it climaxes with '...to be continued.'
Meanwhile there is a whizzkid on a Chinese expedition to nowhere for no reason, and a Mary Sue who makes all the right moral decisions (but we aren't given access to her reasoning for her decisions) and best of all a proper Deus Ex Machina, when Valiente's hunters (for no reason that we can see) suddenly see the Light and discard their cultural, moral, social, traditional and evolutionary imperatives and decide to be lovely instead. Which is nice.
Add that to a long list of plotlines that are just dropped as they reach a climax and you end up with the feeling that the editor just looked at the page count, rubbed his/her hands in glee and never bothered to read it.

Sad.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 23 July 2013
Having enjoyed The Long Earth, I'd been looking forward to reading this - however, I struggled to finish it, it was such a disappointment.

The book laboured over re-establishing the characters and re-visiting the plot, and had none of the freshness and wonder of the first book. Indeed, the old characters seemed washed-out and uninteresting, while the new ones really didn't establish themselves.

On the basis of this sequel, this doesn't feel like an idea with legs.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 August 2013
Worth ploughing through The Long Earth to get to the second book. Much more fast paced, more characters which were fleetingly introduced in The Long Earth playing a much bigger part all with connecting stories going on..... I was just a little disappointed by the end, one minute each of the stories were in the thick of the action then it was all wrapped up. It reminded me of doing an exam when the teacher gave a 10 minute warning to the end of the exam & you tied up all the lose ends as succinctly as possible...... Worth a read but not something I would be actively recommending.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2013
I really enjoyed the first book (The Long Earth) my only criticism with it was the rushed feel to the ending.

Unfortunately this flaw also carried across to this sequel. The book was really really slow to start with, establishing the new characters and catching up with the old ones. Fair enough I thought, always good to establish the key players. But then it just had them do unremarkable things for the majority of the book. I still don't see what the point of the Chinese expedition plot line was...it could have been built into so much more..finding out something scary about the Long Earth or the Wonderchild they had with them causing/discovering something. But no.

The book got really boring at points and only the characters of Lobsang and sister Agnus kept me interested...but were woefully underused.

Yes, I could see the tensions building to the upcoming war...then found that it got resolved in one page of text and with a handshake!
Somehow I doubt the colonial migrants and the Datum government would see eye-to-eye so easily after all the things that had gone on beforehand. It was just a tad unbelievable.

The ending with Joshua and the Beagles felt rushed and a bit of an afterthought. I feel the authors cold have made for an exciting climax and chase, with Joshua stripped of his one remarkable power. Sadly it just stopped abruptly and we got the close-down chapter with everyone at a BBQ sharing stories.
Then to mix it up, in almost an epilogue chapter, the authors throw in a new plot line that can only serve to introduce another book in the series. I felt a bit cheated.

One thing I noticed was the lack of humour in the book. I suspect that Terry Pratchett has had less influence on the text than last time, and the book suffers as a result.

I'd advise people to steer clear.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2013
I read The Long Earth when it was released...I thought it was a fantastic concept...but it was just...so...slow! But it did enough to make me want to read part two. And my comment would be that The Long War is just...so...slow!!
Chapter after chapter goes by and it just feels like it's constantly building up to something big. A really long slow build up that took all of book one and now all of book two! I just kept reading expecting something to go "boom" and I'd let out a gasp at the explosive event...but it just doesn't happen. The book plods along with little events here and there, promising much but then just ending.
Maybe it will all become clear in book three? To be honest if this had been written by any other author I think I would have stopped reading after the first few chapters. But it's a Pratchett and therefore deserves to be finished. And it's for that reason I'm pretty sure I'll order the third part when it's available.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2013
Usually I can't put a Terry Pratchett book down as they are page turners that have me hooked, however, Long Earth was ok, but this sequel was just so boring, numerous sub plots that did not culminate in an ending.
I think this book was trying to be too clever and failed. And we still don't know if Lobsang is Time indulging himself in the affairs of Humans.
This book with certain words and phrasings appears to be aimed at the American market which to an Englishman is annoying but not as annoying as the story which was just plain boring.
I love the Discworld books and to my mind TP is THE greatest living author, however this collaboration is not up to the usual standard of a Discworld story and I certainly won't be buying a Steven Baxter book anytime soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2014
I read a lot of very disappointed reviews before I read the book so I expected to be disappointed and ended up enjoying it!
Having said I enjoyed it I do accept much of what the negative reviews said. There is something missing, there are one or two brief excursions into complete bloody sillyness (ray guns, beagles etc) there's some lack of direction and yes, a number of subplots which don't come together at all tidily.
Despite the shortcomings of the book though, I did enjoy it. Most of the ideas, the characters, the travels through the long earth and the episodic adventures were entertaining, thought provoking and did keep my interest to the end.
Looking at it as an optimist - I enjoyed it. Looking at it as a pessimist - I'm left with a sense the book could have been much, much better so a slight sense of disappointment. Four stars is probably slightly generous, three would be a bit harsh. I read a lot of very dissappointed reviews before I read the book so I expected to be dissappointed and ended up enjoying it!
Having said I enjoyed it I do accept much of what the negative reviews said. There is something missing, there are one or two brief excursions into complete bloody sillyness (ray guns, beagles etc) there's some lack of direction and yes, a number of subplots which don't come together at all tidily.
Despite the shortcomings of the book though, I did enjoy it. Most of the ideas, the characters, the travels through the long earth and the episodic adventures were entertaining, thought provoking and did keep my interest to the end.
Looking at it as an optimist - I enjoyed it. Looking at it as a pessimist - I'm left with a sense the book could have been much, much better so I have a slight sense of disappointment for missed opportunities. Four stars is probably slightly generous, three would be a bit harsh.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
In typical Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter style, this book explores in some detail the national character of US Domestic policy. It also touches on the English and Chinese national characters, but the main focus (as with the Long Earth) is still on USA.
Lobsang is still here, as are most of the characters we know from The Long Earth. Colonisation of the Long Earths (physical earths in parallel to our own that you can step to) is beginning to settle down. USA Centrum (ie on the original first earth) which had previously ignored these pioneers, and certainly offered them no help, now sees them as a possible source of tax revenues, meanwhile some humans have treated trolls so badly (as they did with slaves) that the trolls have simply decided to step away out of reach of humans.
A whole lot of things are happening in parallel. USA Centrum government presence is making its clod booted way through the first hundred thousand or so stepwise earths and trying to learn how to handle resistance and the American pioneering spirit. Stepwise England is re-examining ancient legends and standing stones and their significance. Our hero and heroine are off to try to convince the trolls to forgive and return. And the Chinese are setting out stepwise East to see what lies a million or more steps that way. Oh and Universal Being has some learning to do.
I enjoyed it and I'm really looking forward to Long Earth 3
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