Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A discovery of chick-lit meets fantasy.

Look, I don' t know what to make exactly of Deborah Harkness' "A Discovery of Witches." Is it a bold mix of standard fantasy tropes (vampires, witches, magic powers) and romance novel cliches? Yes. Does that mean it's nothing more than "Twilight" for grown-ups? I don't think so. But even if that is the case, it is, bear in mind, for grown-ups. There's no sex for grownups- but that is the only area the book is not adult. There is a knowledge of the academic world that sets the story in a decidedly adult world. Can I recommend it strongly? No, but I want to. There is an amazing creativity here and some original stuff. There is a command of history involved here that is delightful. It works well in spite of reading like a romance a bit too often, and being afraid of anything that's more erotic than a kiss with a bit of tongue. Rating: 24 out of 42 Richmans. Recommended but with a bit of hesitation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The ESB effect?

So is the Kollin brother's second work, The Unincorporated War, an "Empire Strikes Back" of a middle chapter? It's darker, yes, and intense. It does not have to introduce all the concepts and notions that it's predecessor did, which makes it free to grow in many ways, which often leads to pitfalls or predictability. But the Kollins take this Civil-War-in-space novel in strong creative directions, with both virtual and inner conflicts being fought along the millitary. There's good character building here, and in true ESB fashion the good guys are not sitting pretty at the end. 33.4/42 Richmans- not as thought provoking, but in many ways a better read than its politically astute prequel. Solid stuff.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I can't believe I read the whole thing.

Sure, in high school and college, a 1000 page epic was a great way to spend an afternoon (I was a much faster reader back then). But after Jordan and Martin's massive epics left me annoyed at their glacial pace, I was sure that Brian Sanderson's The Way of Kings wouldn't be a good read.

I'll admit I put it down twice, and the third time I got into it by reading the storyline of one of the main characters about 3/4ths of the way through. By the time I stopped myself, the storylines were starting to converge rather splendidly. So back I went to read everything else. Will I ever read this tome again? Nah. But I'll look for the sequel with keen anticipation. Characters that grow despite suffering, good quality world-building, and several nice touches such as lots of maps and artwork do get a bit mangled from one or two ham-fisted twisted at the end of a theological nature, but the work is still a quality read, and enjoyment comes quickly enough. Rating 28.2 Richmans.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On Bujold

With the gift of a kindle from the brother-in-law and sister-in-law (wow! Thanks, you two are the best!), I was able to read the near-complete e-book library that came on the DVD-ROM tucked in the back flap of "Cryo-burn," the latest in the Miles Vorkosigan adventures by Lois McMaster Bujold. Having dug in and re-read four of them in the past week, I am once again in awe at the woman's skills. What is it that makes her books so damn good? Is it the flashes of humor that are not only very human, but very funny? Is it how the bad guys are stopped in the nick of time, or the challenges that the heroes have to overcome? Is it the creative world-building she presents, or how she immerses the reader in those worlds without ever having us notice it? Could be the characters you can't help but root for. All that and more, of course, is what makes Bujold a master writer, both in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. No ratings here except to say "Damn."