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Jonathan Miles

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A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)
A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)
by George R.R. Martin
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As good as it could be., 18 Feb. 2006
With a Feast of Crows we arrive about half way through George R. R. Martin’s enormous; in both scope and ambition, Song of Ice and Fire saga. As a corollary of that new readers are strongly recommended to start at the beginning with a Game of Thrones which is the first book in the series.
Even to the initiated these books are now a challenge. Already enough characters have died to fill a normal length novel. Those who have survived, and that is no mean feat as George will quite happily kill of the good guys are scattered around Westeros and beyond involved in a huge range of story arcs.
Well is it any good then? Well, yes; the long gestation period this book had clearly shows George struggled with the writing but in my opinion the stories here hang together well and manage to maintain your interest. We also have some new point of views (POV’s) to enjoy including one for Cerise who has been such a key figure in the story so far. Like with the introduction of a POV for Jamie in a Storm of Swords this helps to greatly flesh out her character and motivation. In Jamie’s case this lead to me seeing him in a totally different light, I won’t spoil it by saying if the same is true for his sister.
The one disappointment of the book is that some characters (most of my favourites) have been left out for the next book. I understand there was very little option, to have included everyone would have produced either an impossibly large book, or a shorter book where everyone got to say very little. The true merit of the book will be best judged when a Dance of Dragons is published as the two books are meant to complement each other.
The writing style is as good as ever, and although the book is long it is has not been filled with unnecessary detail as some authors are prone to do.
In summary, yes this is the weakest book in the series so far, but this is probably unavoidable as we have neither the excitement of the start or end of the story to play with, the middle section is all about concluding one and setting up for the other and A Feast Of Crows does this pretty successfully.

Judas Unchained (Commonwealth Saga)
Judas Unchained (Commonwealth Saga)
by Peter F. Hamilton
Edition: Hardcover

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it when a plan comes together, 17 Nov. 2005
In Judas Unchained Peter F Hamilton concludes the sage that began with Pandora's Star and on the way manages to dig humanity out of a pretty deep hole.
The book is vintage Hamilton with a large range of characters from seemingly different story arcs who are gradually drawn together for a fast paced and energetic finale that is a real page turner. The level of complexity means you really should read or re-read Pandora's Star before setting out otherwise you will be missing key parts of the backstory and besides the two books fit together well
Characterisation is for the most part good, but there is not a truly memorable character like Joshua Calvert or Quinn Dexter (from the Nights Dawn books) to sink your teath in to. Also I found some characters almost cardboard cutout's of previous work, ie. Melanie young sexually adventurous woman backed up by super intelegent artificial intelegence, read Ione young sexually adventurous woman backed up by super intelegent space habitat. One reason I think I like his books and characters so much is they behave in a very contemporary way; they have the same motivations as us but just happen to live in the future this helps make them easy to identify with. Although some of the female ones jump into bed far too easily to be totally believeable.
Where the book really excells is in the incorperation of technology. Peter has the skill to make us just accept fantastic technology because he writes about it being used in an everyday way, and as the characters accept it without comment so do we.
My biggest worry before the book came out was if we would be lumbered with a deus ex machina ending that magically resolves everything like we saw at the end of the otherwise excellent Nights Dawn Trillogy. Fortunatly Peter has not made the same mistake twice and the ending is in keeping with the rest of the book.
So strongly recomended to existing fans, although it is not quite as good as Nights Dawn. For new readers, well as long as you like long books with a huge range of characters and are not put off by lots of sex and violence this is definatly for you.

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