Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reading in November

A very good, but not great, Culture novel. This was my third Banks book, and I’ll happily admit that I’m quite converted, now. Review here.

I was a bit worried going into this one. I’d heard that it was less focused than Thunderer, less plot driven, and I’d already found Thunderer’s pacing and resolutions to be a problem. I needn’t have worried. Gears of the City is an excellent novel with some of the best prose that I’ve ever read. Review on the way.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms set itself up as a traditional fantasy, but soon abandoned that and went off to do something far more interesting. I can’t say that it totally succeeds, but I’m glad that it tried, and the read was generally a good one. Review coming.

Though I have yet to review any of his work on the Rack, Martin is one of my absolute favorite authors. Which is probably obvious considering the amount of time I spend on Westeros, but whatever. I’ve been meaning to go through his short story collections for a while now; this is the first one that I’ve gotten to. The stories that were in Dreamsongs were, for the most part, just as good on reread, and several of the new stories were certainly worth the price of the collection. There was a weaker tale or two, but that’s something to expect in every collection.

To me, Year One was a disappointment. It traded depth for style, and what style it had was generally lost due to the artwork. Review here.

The only thing stopping me from making another comics epiphany post about V for Vendetta is that I’d already Watchmen, so it didn’t hit me quite as hard. Still, Moore is absolutely without peer from what I’ve read of the format. I’ll be writing more on this.

Murakami is one of those authors I’ve had on my list to be read someday for a while now, but the Westeros book club helped give me a kick in the ass. I considered a review, but the discussion that was already done on the book covered most of the points I would’ve, so, if you’ve just read the novel, I’ll direct you there instead. As for my own impressions in brief: Murakami conveyed complex and thought provoking ideas with clear and readable prose. I’ll definitely be reading more of his work.

This was an amusing epistolary novella about power and ideology, but it was stopped from being great by the format. Deprived of the space to circle around the events and give them the context that they deserved, the twists were interesting, but not gut wrenching. An enjoyable read, though I don’t know if it’s worth the thirty plus dollars that you’re likely to find it for.

I enjoyed Devices and Desires, but I wasn’t without my reservations. Evil for Evil takes most of my points of contention and rips them to pieces. I think the most remarkable thing about this trilogy is the almost ridiculous degree of plot motion. Each of the two books so far could easily have been multi volume sagas. Review coming after I finish the final volume, The Escapement.

Honestly, I’m underwhelmed, and I’m not sure if it’s a fault in the book that caused it or just that I’ve read so much more (and more widely) since I read the first eleven volumes straight and loved (almost) every word of it. Yes, this book had a lot of plot motion compared to other Wheel of Time books. But Wheel of Time books aren’t the only standard out there, and, compared to much of what I’ve read lately, the plot was bloated beyond comprehension, the characters so plot shielded that danger can’t get within the same zip code, and the pacing so ugly that clusterfuck barely begins to describe it. I didn’t dislike the book, mind you, but I certainly didn’t love it. I ranted about some of my (spoiler filled) thoughts upon finishing it here; there won’t be a review because, really, I think most people have heard of the Wheel of Time by now and have a decent idea where they stand on it.

Cycles was fast paced, decently clever, and good fun. I’m still not wow by Y, but the series has been very enjoyable so far. And the quasi-review of the first volume is coming soon. Really.

1 comment:

  1. I'm very interested to hear your thought on the engineer trilogy. I have very strong feelings about it, and I'm still not sure if they good or bad feelings. I will say that I found the last book a little problematic in terms of race, but I won't go into that here... Like I said, I'm interested to see what you think.