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Magician: 1 (Riftwar Saga)
Magician: 1 (Riftwar Saga)
by Raymond E. Feist
Edition: Paperback

18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not For Grown-Ups, 12 Oct. 2010
The Plot: A young boy trains to become a great magician against the background of an invasion from another world.

The Good: 'Magigican' is easy to read and the world of Midkemia in which it is set has a pleasant familiarity to it. The idea of a 'rift' opening up and allowing travel (and war) between two vastly different worlds is fresh and very interesting. The invaders, the Tsurani are based on elements from Japanese, Korean and other East Asian cultures which, again, is something new and different from the usual fantasy fare.

The Bad: 'Magician' is a book with a lot of potential that is badly, badly let down by its author. There are a number of fresh ideas that are simply ignored for most of the book while the author delves into the most hackneyed elements of fantasy literature. Rather than expounding on the rifts and the Tsurani, Feist insists on spending half his time plodding around with elves, dwarves, sinister underground mines, dragons and every other stock fantasy set piece you've read a thousand times before. It's baffling. The characters are cliched in the extreme; the young boy with a great destiny, the bearded wizard, the taciturn woodsman. That might be forgiveable if they were in any way interesting, but they are left so one-dimensional that it is all but impossible to care about what any of them do.

Bizzarely for a book entitled 'Magician' there is precious little 'magic' on display throughout. A few trolls get zapped and a dragon dies (presumably of boredom) but beyond that there is very little of the fantastic here.

The writing is functional at best. There are seemingly endless re-hashings of 'then he did this...then they went there...then she did that...' that make the prose bland, boring and tiresome to read. The dialogue is wooden and the relationships between the characters are barely credible.

The Verdict: This book would likely be enjoyable to a younger reader or someone who has never read a fantasy novel. I suspect that the huge popularity of this novel comes from the fact that a great many people have probably read it in their early teens just after putting down the great 'Lord of the Rings' and been massively impressed with Feist's pale imitation.

Sadly, for me, I came to this in my mid-twenties and found it poorly written, clunky and deeply unsatisfying.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 8, 2013 7:57 PM GMT


The Final Empire: Mistborn Book One: 1
The Final Empire: Mistborn Book One: 1
by Brandon Sanderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some Fantastic Ideas, Weak Execution, 12 Mar. 2010
The Story: The central idea of the novel is 'What if the Chosen One, the Hero of Ages, failed to destroy evil? For a thousand years the Lord Ruler has ruled the world, and has turned it into a barren wasteland. Humanity is divided into the powerful Nobility who serve him and the beaten-down, enslaved Skaa. The plot focuses on the efforts of Kelsier, a cocky, charismatic thief who hopes to overthrow the Dark Lord with the aid of Vin, a young street urchin who must also learn to use the power of allomancy and conquer the world of courtly politics.

The Good: As with every review I have to praise the system of magic in this book. It is fresh and unique, and adds to the story greatly. The world of Mistborn: The Final Empire is wonderfully realised; a dark, brooding land of misery and despair. The 'Inquisitors' are a new and exciting addition to the rollcall of fantasy monsters. We are given glimpses, through excerpts from an ancient logbook, into the mind of the Lord Ruler and the fallen 'Hero of Ages' which add greatly to the backstory. The action scenes are exciting and engaging, and the plot, with its numerous twists and swerves, is inventive.

The Bad: The book, sadly, is not well written. The prose is leaden to say the least more cringeworthy lines than ought to be found in a published book (e.g. '...no one would associate with her for fear of being tainted by association.'). The dialogue is beyond woeful, replete with terrible jokes and absurd, wooden speeches that no human being on any planet would ever come out with. The characters, with the exception of Vin and Kelsier are wafer-thin cardboard cut-outs ripped from other fantasy novels; 'the Rebel leader', 'the Burly Tough Guy', 'the Gentleman Thief' etc. etc. Having said that even Kelsier and Vin are weak protagonists. Kelsier veers between being a bleeding-heart rogue and a cold, creepy sociopath. Vin is described as streetwise and timid but acts naive and outgoing throughout. The novel follows a pattern of 'big event-dreary filler-big event.' This means a lot of the book is basically filler with dreary scenes at courtly balls and painfully dull expositions of exactly how allomancy works in chapter after chapter.

The Result: Despite lots of interesting ideas and some clever plotting, this books is let down by clunky writing, bad dialogue and too much non-existant characterisation.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 27, 2013 8:12 PM GMT


Jennifer Government
Jennifer Government
by Max Barry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars World Class Ideas But Bog Standard Execution., 2 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Jennifer Government (Paperback)
The Plot: In the near future US corporations will dominate the globe and our daily lives to such an extent that people will take on the name of the company they work for as their surname. In this US-dominated world there will be no taxation and no rules for those who can afford to break them. Enter Hack Nike, a Nike employee who has been assigned the task of murdering several teenagers to help advertise the new Nike running shoes....

The Good: This is a novel simply bursting with good ideas. The vision of a corporate-domnianted world is at once bizarre and believeable. The structure of society in the world of the novel is grimly familiar too, with contemporary efforts by the likes of McDonalds and Pepsi to insinuate themselves into every facet of our lives taken to their horrible, illogical conclusion. The central debate in the novel between the forces of naked self-interest and a more egalitarian view of the world make the book at least a cut above the usual airport thriller fare. The plot is amusing and engaging with a number of entertaining twists and turns and it is nothing if not action-packed. 'Jennifer Government' is an amazingly cinematic piece of writing, and I defy anyone to read it without visualising it on the big screen. Humour and satire permeate the story and take the edge off some of the darker and more gruesome elements.

The Bad: Despite the good ideas, humour and fast pace, 'Jennifer Government' is badly written. The dialogue is appalingly bad and the prose is wooden throughout. The characters never rise above being one dimensional cartoons, with the villain 'John Nike' being particularly poor. While it is a satire on the excesses of global capitalism, the characterisation of John Nike as the very incarnation of evil just stretches credulity to breaking point. There is a mind-numbingly awful romantic subplot that really drags the book down with its pointlessness and implausibility. Finally, the politics of the book are rather childish and dull. There are only so many times one can be reminded of how evil and nasty and mean corporations are and how making money is a sin. I was reminded of the scene in 'Team America: World Police' where one of the actors protests about how 'The corporations sit in their corporation buildings and they're all corporationy...and they MAKE MONEY'. Yes indeed. There is a perfectly good satirical point to be made about the dangers of corporate influence over our lives, but the author instead goes down the route of making all corporations insanely, unbelievably evil and stamping his foot that people are too stupid to see this. Even a devout communist would start to feel a bit patronised after a while.

Verdict: If you're looking for a fun, throwaway piece of fiction with a bit of a leftist edge this is a good place to get it. If you want genuine insight into the possibilites of dystopia and political awareness read Orwell or Huxley.


Anathem
Anathem
by Neal Stephenson
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting But Falls Very Flat..., 27 Feb. 2010
This review is from: Anathem (Hardcover)
The Story: Fraa Erasmas lives in a 'concent' a monastery for philosphers, scientists and mathematicians on the Earth-like planet of Arbre. He is torn away from his cloistered life by sudden cataclysmic events in the world beyond the concent walls and forced to embark on an a philosophic and scientific adventure...

The Good: The book is easy to read, written in a simple style that makes even the heavy-duty concepts dealt with in the novel fairly clear. The inner world of the 'concent' is beautifully realised. The rituals, art and architecture of this island of learning in a sea of ignorance is beautifully evoked. The plot, such as it is, is actually rather engaging. For the most part I did want to know what happened in the end. Certainly there are a lot of interesting ideas in the book; it explores the history of philosophy and poses the kind of questions about mathematics and quantum physics that you simply can't imagine being forced to deal with in any other novel, which is refreshing. It is nothing if not ambitious.

The Bad: Where to start? For one thing, nothing happens to move the plot along untill about page 350. While we are treated to some wonderful world-building, the reader is no closer to understanding what the basic premise of the novel is at about the 1/3 mark. Even then the plot moves at a glacial pace which makes the book rather painful to slog through after a while.

As interesting as the world of the 'concent' is there is only so many two-page descriptions of the engineering principles of an archway one can endure without feeling a bit bored. The book is interspersed with philosophic and mathematical musings which are, of themselves, engaging. Often characters will stop and debate the 'Arbre' version of Plato's Theory of Forms or some geometric principles. But although they are interesting they add absolutley nothing to the novel other than to tell you that the author knows a lot about phenomenology and geometry. If you are someone who knows nothing about philosophy or science this may well impress you. But it doesn't make for an enjoyable story. If you have some knowledge of these fields you may eventually find yourself a bit bored by a lot of the stuff being debated. At times it degenerates until you feel like you're reading a transcript of some rather dull students droning on in a coffee shop.

The world of Arbre itself contains a great many flaws that detract from the story. It makes no sense for scientists to hide away from the world and avoid modern technology at all costs as the concent dwellers do. It makes no sense that at a time of massive crisis a bunch of teenagers with limited training would be chosen to solve the world's problems. As soon as Erasmas and Co. step beyond the walls of the concent we are in a world of(altenate world versions of) cars, iPhones, fastfood and casinos. In fact apart from the concent idea, Arbre is basically Earth. Which rather destroys any sense of mystery.

The prose, though readable is rather bland. Fraa Erasmas narrates the story in a rather 'Then I did X, then I did Y, then we did Z' manner which isn't awful but isn't all that engaging either. To add to these woes Stephenson relies very heavily on invented words that make working through the text difficult without referrring to the glossary. This gets ever more confusing and irritating because he spends 90% of the book discussing the works of Arbre versions of real-world thinkers like Plato and Descartes, except they are named Protas or Phlibidoo or Shoobydoowop or some other silly name. And it becomes very painful to sit through another lecture on Pythagoras' Theorm when it's called Smeerp's Bubblywubble or whatever. The constant masked references to real-world ideas just makes you wonder why he didn't just create an alternate Earth or something more managable. The characters are wafer-thin. None of them speaks with an authentic voice and only about three stand out to any extent because the author bothered to give them a single characteristic. None of them, however, are very interesting or worth remembering.

In all despite its ambition, its intelligence and its unique selling points, Anathem falls flat because, frankly, it isn't a very enjoyable novel. The prose is dull, the dialogue unbeleivable and the characters are empty shells. The whole concept of Arbre just seems like an insanely and pointlessly convuluted way of putting together a textbook on quantum mechanics and the plot moves so slowly you'll think you're moving backwards in time. To be sure Neal Stephenson is a smart man, of that I have no doubt, but he has failed here to put together a book that is fun, enjoyable or entertaining in any way, shape of form. And for a novelist that is surely a cardinal sin.


Fate of the Jedi: Omen (Star Wars)
Fate of the Jedi: Omen (Star Wars)
by Christie Golden
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Debut, 26 Nov. 2009
The Story: With Luke Skywalker exiled and seeking answers to Jacen Solo's fall to the dark side, more Jedi Knights begin succumb to a mysterious psychosis that makes them dangerous and homicidal, Chief of State Natasi Daala whips up and exploits growing anti-Jedi sentiment for her own gain. Meanwhile on the backwater planet of Kesh, a lost tribe of Sith emerge as a new threat to the Galaxy.

The Good: This is a brilliant debut in the Star Wars Galaxy by Christie Golden, replacing the woeful Karen Travis. Omen is well written in an efficient style, with good dialogue. The author revels in exploring the inner thoughts of a wide range of characters like Jysella Horn, Vestara Khai and Ben and Luke Skywalker. Towards the end there is even an interestingly philosophical look at the nature of time travel and religious belief, albeit an all too short one. The plot moves along at a very solid pace. In particular, the look at the Lost Sith Tribe and the politcial wrangling between the GA and the Jedi are very well handled. The author makes great use of the source material, seeming to have an encylopaedic knowledge of all that has gone before in the EU, which is hugely impressive.

The Bad: The book is perhaps too short, which is unfortunate. Certain characters, such as Han Solo and Allana, appear mostly as deadwoood, adding nothing to the overall plot. The love scenes between Jaina Solo and Jag Fel fell very flat for me also, with clunky dialogue and generally awkward handling.

Overall a very good debut and one of the first genuinely orginal and exciting Star Wars novels since Betrayal in 2006. A great effort.


Panicology
Panicology
by Simon Briscoe
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Codology., 19 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Panicology (Paperback)
I picked this up in the hope of reading a reasoned and intelligent riposte to the kind of absurd, knee-jerk moral panics so often whipped up by the media in this day and age. Every day we read and watch reports on unsupported, insane and sometimes downright dangerous beliefs; birdflu will kill us all, MMR causes autism etc. This book puports to 'strip away the hysteria which surrounds over forty of today's most common scare stories.' It fails miserably.

To begin with prose is dry and too often resembles a rambling stream of consciousness. The arguments being put forward are thinly sketched out and poorly constructed, such that too often it is impossible to glean just what it is the authors are trying to say. This is surely a cardinal sin in writing, no matter what the form or subject. The unfocused and incoherent nature of the book should have condemned it to the pile on the editor's desk marked 'Rejected'.

Often passages are just lists of statistics about various subjects, with no analysis or commentary of any note. While the stats may be interesting in isolation (Europe's population is due to decline by 2050, for example), without any examination or conclusions they are effectively useless. The stats are presented in a vacuum with no effort made to present what the might 'mean' to the average person; surely the rationale behind the book itself.

The use of forty examples spreads the authors very thin. We are treated to bite-sized snippets on vitally important issues like obesity, global warming and inequality that tell us nothing we don't already know. Far from dispelling one's fears about these issues (as the author's explicitly promise in their introduction) we get a few paragraphs telling us 'People eat too much salt, that's probably bad.' As though that were not appallingly self-evident to just about everyone who might pick up this book.

Note also the weasel word 'probably', there's a lot of that here. Rather than making judgments, the authors appear to have no fixed opinions on a whole host of issues, preferring to offer a 'maybe this will happen, maybe it won't'/'this could be bad or it could be good' formula to pretty much every issue. The entire text is an excerise in saying; 'Well things may go very wrong in the 21st century, or they may not, we just don't know.' Frankly I didn't need a 270 page book to tell me that.

While both authors appear to be statisticans, you wouldn't have guessed it from the work itself. There is no original research, nor any real sets of hypotheses. What we are treated to are references to newspaper articles and stats and tables you could throw together in twenty minutes with the help of Google. No University would allow an undergraduate to hand up poorly researched work wholly lacking in analysis or conclusions, how then can these men be allowed to hand up such dross?

Finally the foul cherry on top of this woeful cake is the inane, incoherent, apparently arbitrary rating system at the end of each section to indicate...well it's not made at all clear. It's silly and totally out of step with the dry, joyless trudge that makes up most of the book.

The best and only advice I can give is; AVOID, AVOID, AVOID.


Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi - Outcast
Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi - Outcast
by Aaron Allston
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better, Could have been worse..., 18 Nov. 2009
Set two years after the conclusion of Legacy of the Force and Darth Cadeus' reign of galactic terror, Outcast begins with unification negotiations between the Galactic Alliance and the Imperial Remnant. Luke Skywalker, disgraced in the eyes of the GA leadership as a result of Jacen Solo's murderous rise to power is exiled and cut off from the Jedi Order he has rebuilt. Meanwhile, Jedi Knights are experiencing psychotic breakdowns, making all Jedi potential ticking timebombs.

The Good: The pace of the story is good with short sharp chapters moving the story along nicely. As the opening book in a series it sets the scene very well. In particular the hints at how these books are going to link up with the excellent Star Wars: Legacy comic book series. We see the earliest hints of the foundation of the Imperial Knights and the Fel Dynasty for instance. The plot and subplots are fairly engaging, with the great mystery surrounding Jacen Solo's fall to the darkside keeping the reader hooked. There is one particular scene between the GA Chief of State and Luke in which they discuss the Jedi's penchant for slicing off the limbs of bad guys which raises the novel above the average. It is an interesting exploration of the Jedi's role in the Galaxy, and a wonderful explanation as to why people in the Galaxy Far, Far Away would be rather less enthusiatic about the Jedi than people in our own Galaxy.

The Bad: There are parts of this novel that simply do not stack up. Firstly Luke Skywalker's disgrace and exile from the GA is hard to swallow. Having defeated the Sith time and again and led the fight against the Yuuzhan Vong, you have to wonder just how many times you have to save the Galaxy before people start to trust you. The subplot on Kessel, involving Han, Leia and Lando seems rather a waste of time and energy. In short they spend half the book desparatley trying to save the dying planet of Kessel, enlisting the help of New Republic-era heroes like Wedge Antilles to deactivate a planet-destroying bomb. Ultimatley though Kessel is a barren wasteland owned by Lando, a man of incredible wealth already, and so we're expected to be enthralled and moved by what amounts to our heroes desparatley trying to ensure that Lando remains slighly richer than he already is. It's very hard to get excited in that context.

The characterisations are very, very weak throughout. It is almost impossible to distinguish between the banter between Jaina and Jag, Han and Leia or Ben and Luke. Not only that but Luke Skywalker appears more aggressive, light-hearted and, at times, smug than he has been portrayed in the previous EU novels. He seems a lot less mature and impressive that he did during the Dark Nest, for example, and it can be very grating.

Overall however, this is a good, if not a great, novel in the Star Wars series that sets the scene for the rest of the series. It's not as good an opening novel as the brilliant Betrayal was for the Legacy of the Force series was, however, it is a solid effort and we can only hope that without the utter rubbish of Karen Traviss' Mandalorian fanfiction that this will prove to be a good addition to the EU canon.


Deadhouse Gates (Book 2 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen)
Deadhouse Gates (Book 2 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen)
by Steven Erikson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £9.99

22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hood's Breath it's painful!, 4 Nov. 2009
Having enjoyed Gardens of the Moon, I bought Deadhouse Gates with high hopes, only to be sorely dissappointed. James Joyce once claimed that the only thing he asked of a reader of his Ulysses was that they dedicate their whole life to studying it. It seems that Steven Erikson has similar visions for his Malazan series, though rather less skill the Joyce. A vast, sprawling, complex work, Deadhouse Gates actually has a number of things to recommend it, the overall impact of the book is one of sadly missed opportunities.

To begin with, only five of GOTM's vast cast of characters appear here, giving one the sense that one is reading a completely different series from the first book. This sense of disconnect would not be so bad if the new characters introduced were appealing, but they are not. Indeed none of this books protagonist's ever really emerges beyond two dimensions. Felisin is utterly hateful, Duiker dry and dusty and Mappo and Icarium simply too unknowable to be engaging. Even Fiddler, Crokus and Apsalar from GOTM are poorly drawn here. Too often the dialogue is clunky (if I had a penny for every time someone says 'Hood's Breath...) and the prose leaden. Even if this were the best plotted novel in history, the weak characters and uninspiring writing would hold it back majorly.

But Deadhouse Gate's is not all that brilliantly plotted. Erikson is highly regarded for his use of epic, sprawling plots in which very little is revealed and very slowly at that. It gives, it seems, the impression of rich, deep and inventive plotting. In fact the plot of this novel can be fairly surmised as; a bunch of people travel for a very long time for barely explained reasons and some stuff gets blown up for barely explained reasons. The author has many very zealous fans who will say; 'Ah, but it all makes sense if you read the next two books' or 'It all comes together in book 26'. But really, I don't want to have to read 8,000 pages to understand a plot that could have been put together in half that. Trully great writing is about economy. Why use ten words when one will do and why write 900 pages when half that will suffice? Vladimir Nabakov did not need eleven volumes to tell the story of Lolita, nor did Tolkien refuse to divluge any information about the plot of Lord of the Rings until the final book. The simple fact is that the author's seeming inability to share details about the plot and his characters makes these books less accessible, less interesting and less engaging than they could be. Which is a great shame.

Added to this is the oft commented upon excessive use of magic. Here it very quickly reaches stupid proportions as we see and hear of demons 'capable of destroying a city' being thrown about willy-nilly. If, as it seems, even the most novice-like mage has access to the kind of awesome power that could wipe out a million lives, why on earth do the various Empires insist on spending time, money and human capital fighting conventional wars and laying sieges. It doesn't make any sense to spend years training an army when a mage could probably blow up half a city on her own. And of course so very many of the characters in these books have godlike powers that it becomes impossible to take anything very seriously. So much magic is sloshing about, page after page, that when Erikson tries to blow you away with something spectacular it falls flat. The constant use and abuse of magic with no seeming limitations makes the fantastical very mundane indeed.

Another major gripe of course is the claim that Erikson is a pioneer and an original, when he in fact himself will admit that he owes more than a huge debt to Glen Cook's Black Company Chronicles. Having read Cook's work subsequently I can tell you that some of the stuff in the Malazan Books is near-plagiarism. Cook, however, writes in a tight, efficient and engaging manner that makes his work infinitely more readable and rewarding than Erikson's.

Ultimatley of course, my main response was one of dissappointment rather than dislike for this novel. Despite Erikson's frustrating style, the Malazan world is very rich and interesting, and the concepts of the Tiste Andii, Jaghut etc. and the ancient wars that have shaped this world are very engaging. Sadly though, all this excellent world building is drowned out by the mundanity of the prose and the very deliberate incoherence of the plotting. There are those who will argue that my distaste for this book is proof that I do not possess the intelligence or stamina for a well-plotted epic like this. However, the work of Samuel Beckett is deeply infused with the unexplained and the incoherent, yet it remains funny, engaging and above all rewarding. Making your book 'hard to read' is not the mark of a good writer by any means. Where Beckett was a skilled craftsman, Erikson is rather a novice handyman. Ultimatley, no matter how difficult or hard to read a great work of fiction may be, it is always rewarding. Ulysses is funny and Lolita is poetic where Deadhouse Gates is mere drudgery. Sucking all the fun out of a novel in order to make it 'grown up' and 'difficult' leaves one with a rather joyless collection of pages rather than a standout novel.


Gardens of the Moon (Book 1 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen)
Gardens of the Moon (Book 1 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen)
by Steven Erikson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Start To The Series, 11 Oct. 2009
Gardens of the Moon is a fantasy set during a particularly brutual war brought about by the expansionist ambitions of the Malazan Empire. Part Epic Fantasy, part political thriller it is easy to see why the author cites works as disparate as "The Singing Detective" and "The Lion In Winter".

The Good: The book is well written. Though long, nothing feels overwritten or unnecessary. The prose and dialogue move things along at a good pace and capture the imagination. It is certainly writing of a higher standard than one finds in most modern fantasy.

The plot is a wonderfully labyrinthine mix of swords, sorcery and politics. In many ways it displays all the elements that made 'The Wire' such a classic TV show; an excellent plot, depth of characters, moral ambiguity, gritiness and a willingness to throw the reader into the deep end with few or no explanations, forcing you to work hard to understand the piece as a whole.

The world of Gardens of The Moon is beautifully realised. Unlike so very many other fantasy novels, you get a sense of a world vastly different to our own, with unique flora and fauna. There is a depth of history and sociology on show in the novel that is simply breathtaking.

The Bad: It is a difficult book to read. There is much that is not explained or qualified and it can be confusing. There are so many tantilising threads of plot left dangling throughout that it can be quite frustrating at times. This is not light bed-time reading by any means. It can also be difficult to identify with many of the POV characters, unpleasant or inexplicable as their actions may be. For example the absolute dedication of a decent man like Whiskeyjack to an Empire that treats him as something less than dogmess is simply baffling. There is also the usual gripe of having to accept a world in which bombs, gas-lighting and transcontinental flight are possible, but nobody has worked out how to create a flush toilet or a handgun yet.

In all however, this is a very good novel, well written, intelligent and produced with a style and plausibility that are rare in this genre, it is a must read for any true fantasy fan.


The Great Hunt: Book 2 of the Wheel of Time: 2/12
The Great Hunt: Book 2 of the Wheel of Time: 2/12
by Robert Jordan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

9 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not so Great and not much of a Hunt either..., 8 Oct. 2009
Although there was a great deal about 'The Eye Of The World' that annoyed me hugely, there was just about enough in it to encourage me to borrow this from the library. As the story goes; country bumpkin discovers magical powers, takes on Evil Lord, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Pros: Jordan has created a complex and interesting world with plenty of intriguing backstory. In terms of action and excitement, "The Great Hunt" is better than the first book, and the pacing is slightly improved." Um...that's about it really.

Cons: Those elements of 'EotW' that bothered me are carried over and magnified in this volume. This novel continues the dynamic of `men are dumb, women constantly nag and whine', the pacing is incredibly slow and huge chunks of the book go by without anything of much interest happening. It is a chore rather than a pleasure to read this stuff. It is often said that Jordan goes into too much detail, but in the hands of a good author that is no bad thing; just look at the man Jordan ripped off so badly- JRR Tolkien. Lord of the Rings is chock full of detail and description, and yet it is a pleasure. Nor is the length of the books an issue. Steven Eriksons 'Malazan Book of the Dead' is just as long as Wheel of Time, but infinitely better written, and with a vastly superior plot.

Simply put Jordan is a very poor writer. If the mark of good writing is 'show, don't tell' then he fails horribly. The author insists on describing irrelevant details in excruciating detail; descriptions of trees, jewels, rocks and flowers make up about half of the wordcount. He has no interest whatsoever in leaving things to the imagination or letting the reader get involved in the story; everything must be spoonfed to the reader as though they had no mind of their own.

There are those who might argue that one should enjoy writing for its own sake, rather than crying out for constant action and adventure, but Jordan's utterly banal prose makes even that impossible. The book merely plods along drearily with unnecessary details drowning out everything. There is no beautiful imagery or symbolism, no clever use of wordplay. Not a single line of this work is even remotley quotable or very memorable.

In the end I found the characters so awful, the writing so tedious and the plotting so basic that I just didn't care what happened in the end. Dreary, poorly written, unimaginative and a thorough waste of time, I won't be going anywhere near the rest of the series. Those who point to Jordan's undoubted success in commercial terms as proof that this is 'the greatest epic fantasy ever written' would do well to remember that McDonalds and banal, generic pop music also sell well, it doesn't make them good. Ultimatley I feel nothing but anger and regret that I wasted so much time reading these books at all.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 3, 2015 10:31 AM BST


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