Interesting Times Review (No Spoilers)

Photo on 2017-08-25 at 11.39 AM.jpg

This week’s novel is Terry Pratchett’s Interesting Times. Lately, I’ve been on a run of books that I didn’t particularly enjoy, so I went back to the Pratchett section on my to be read shelf. Interesting Times was great. Theres not much else I can say about it than that. That could be my whole critique and it would pretty much sum up my feelings.

The plot was engaging and easier to follow than some other disc world ones have been in the past. Pratchett tends to be ruthless in his parodying of cultures and civilizations and this book is no different. It takes place on the counterweight continent, the disc world analog for Asia. It’s full of funny little critiques and commentaries on their past ways of life.Throw the worst wizard on the and a band of the oldest barbarians on the disc world there and you have yourself a good time.

The jokes were plentiful and funny. The story zipped along quite quickly. There were also many moments to genuine emotion, that made me feel feels that I wasn’t ready for.

Honestly, there isn’t much I can say about this book that I haven’t already said in previous disc world novels. Interesting times is a very fine example of what makes people love Terry Pratchett’s work. This book is very much a standalone, though it does have call-backs to previous works. In fact, it would be a great introduction to someone looking to get into Pratchett.

 

The Last Wish Review (No Spoilers)

Photo on 2017-08-18 at 7.19 PM.jpg

This week’s book is The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski. This is the that introduces Geralt, the Witcher. The very popular Witcher video games are based off of these novels. I’ve played these games and really enjoyed them. Thus I was extremely excited to dive into this novel and delve further into the world.

Unfortunately I just couldn’t manage to like this novel. I suspect that many of it’s charms were lost in translation. This novel was translated from Polish to English. To my knowledge, I’ve never read a Polish novel before so perhaps my issues are a result of cultural difference. Certainly these books are very popular.

First off, I found the dialogue to be awkward and limited. It felt more like characters from a video game speaking at each other than true conversation. The plot line’s were also all over the place, with the Geralt flitting from place to place with no through line that really grabbed my attention. This combined with repeated clear info dumps constantly made reading a bit of a chore for me.

There were good aspects of course. The world building was extensive and interesting. Much of it I already was interested in, having already explored it in the video games. The character building was good, if not very straightforward. Certainly reading about Geralt dealing with the various monsters and such was the highlight of the novel.

Overall, I just couldn’t get into the story and hardly even bothered to finish. I can’t say that I would recommend it to anyone, even someone who is a fan of the games.

Blood Song Review (No Spoilers)

 

Photo on 2017-08-10 at 11.25 AM #2.jpg

Today’s novel is Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. Blood Song is epic fantasy, the first instalment of the Raven’s Shadow Trilogy. Sadly, this book was one that I really wanted to like but found myself struggling with throughout. Ultimately I finished and found that I was done, that I had no desire to seek out the rest of the series.

The main factor that put me off was how much was happening. The sheer amount of different plot lines that were weaved and introduced, some at very advanced stages of the novel, left me somewhat lost or apathetic. There was so many little things happening but I felt that the overall plot lacked.

The pacing was also problematic for me. The novel is often painstakingly slow at parts, describing days at a time, but then jumps in time. By the end, whole months of the final conflict are flying by.

This brought me to my final gripe, is that I found the ending to be extremely unsatisfying. I won’t get into spoilers but i found that all of the build up and tension came to very little. The characters, which were very interesting and well brought up. Weren’t given much to do by the end. Ultimately, Ryan did not deliver on a premise that is built up throughout the story. For a novel that is over 600 pages, this was disappointing.

However, that is not to say that it was all bad. As I mentioned, the characters are very good. The world is well developed and full. The writing itself is read able. Likely many people would, and do, really enjoy this novel. It’s just not for me. For people who enjoy dense novels, who like to reared or are looking for another epic fantasy series to get lost in. Blood Song would certainly be for you. 

You can follow me on Twitter at James Bee

The Fifth Elephant (No Spoilers)

Photo on 2017-07-17 at 12.17 PM.jpg

This week’s novel is the The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett. This is a Sam Vimes story. Vimesis one of my favourite characters from the Discworld and I’m always excited to read one of his books. This novel stands apart from the other’s because it takes Sam Vimes outside of Ankh-Morpork.

This is intriguing, because Vimes is Ankh-Morpork. The city is the core of his being. He’s comfortable in it, nearly unstoppable. He’s spent his whole life within it’s walls and he knows the streets like the soles of his feet. It’s always interesting to see a character taken out of their depth and put into an unfamiliar and unfriendly environment. That Vimes has to travel to a place that is as alien as the moon to him only makes things more interesting.

The novel is takes place largely in Uberwald where dwarves, vampires, werewolves and Igor’s all live together in uneasy harmony. Pratchett uses this to make some interesting points on race relations and traditions. Drawing parallels between the Discworld and our own is not difficult, and is relevant even to this day.  As usual, he hides his rather vicious deconstruction of society behind comedy.

The plot is intricate and engaging, with a number of clues and mysteries to solve. All the characters you would hope show up show up and grow and evolve. The novel hums along nicely with each chapter pushing the towards to the conclusion.

Overall the Fifth Elephant had all of the elements that lend the Discworld novels it’s charms without having some of the pitfalls that sometimes show up. The novel was well plotted, charming, and in many parts, hilarious. I would fully recommend this novel to any fantasy lover, even someone who hasn’t read much or any of Terry Pratchett’s novels before.

You can follow my writing adventures on Twitter At JamesBee

The Warded Man Review (No Spoilers)

Photo on 2017-06-22 at 12.08 PM.jpg

The Warded Man by Peter V Brett is this week’s novel. Well, It finally happened, I ran into a book that I didn’t like enough to finish. I almost always finish every book I start. Even if I dislike it initially, the though that it might get good drives me on. I made it 250 pages into this novel before I gave up.

Honestly, I’m unsure exactly what i didn’t like about. The setting was interesting, demons rising each night, humanity struggling to survive their relentless attacks. The magic was cool enough.

Yet I couldn’t get into it. More than that, I found myself annoyed, struggling to turn each page. I feel like two things mainly contributed to this. One was the age of the protagonists. I find it’s hit or miss with children protagonists for me. If they’re too smart, too perfect i find it hard to believe. Something about these children did that for me, though I can’t exactly say what it was. I just found them off putting.

The writing style, mainly dialogue also put me off of this book. Like the characters this is a personal grievance, it wasn’t bad by any means.  It just didn’t jive with me. It felt very on the nose, leaving nothing up to the reader to figure out.

It should be said that this is a highly regarded series, many people like it. It has a 4.27 rating on GoodReads and has a multitude of gushing reviews behind it. It just wasn’t the book for me, though I could see why many people would like it.

This reminded me of the Wheel of Time books, which I also couldn’t get into. Though if i’d found them when I was younger i’m sure I would have. It’s very likely that the Warded Man is similar. The book may have just come to me at the wrong time. Still, if you like horror fantasy you should give it a look. My opinion certainly seems to be in the minority.

You can follow my writing adventures on twitter at James Bee

 

 

The Price of Valor Review (Spoiler Free)

Photo on 2017-06-13 at 7.33 PM.jpg

This week’s book is The Price of Valor by Django Wexler. It’s the third instalment of his Shadow Campaigns series. This novel picks up the story where the second left off. In fact, I found that this one is even stronger that the second novel. The few complaints I did have were largely fixed.

The conflict in this novel comes from both outside and within. Both in terms of the characters struggles and the overarching conflicts. Moreso in this novel than the others I felt the fingerprint of history. I would hazard that Wexler took lessons learned from revolutions and social uprisings and brought them to bear. Certainly this novel echoes the French Revolution’s bloodthirstyness.

Overall the stakes are raised nicely, forcing the characters to develop and grow. My one grip with this book is a certain love situation grows repetitive and frustrating, though that very well may have been the goal.

The star of this series for me has been the battle scenes and this novel is no exception. The action is fast and vivid, both large scale set pieces and more intimate personal conflicts. Though I’ve found that the characters started to feel invincible. With so much combat this kind of plot armour can be problematic.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It carried and advanced the story ahead and made me really hungry for the next one. I would fully recommend this series to anyone who likes military fantasy, as this is one the greatest examples of it that I’ve read recently.