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Generic Book Discussion

Stuff you read, stuff you write. Ranging from blogs to books, share your words here.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Karamazov on Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:27 pm

Unread postby Karamazov » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:27 pm

Just read Nick Harkaway's "Angelmaker" -- it's a fantastic mad novel cramming the author's love of craftsmanship, gangsterdom, Vernes-ish adventure story yet set in modern London.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Karamazov on Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:21 pm

Unread postby Karamazov » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:21 pm

Recommendations related to Invisible Cities and its discussion here:

Anything by Italo Calvino, especially Cosmicomics
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin, exploring a genderless world
Petersburg by Andrei Bely, in which the city of St. Petersburg is a character
Anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, especially One Hundred Years of Solitude
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Flak on Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:05 pm

Unread postby Flak » Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:05 pm

Thanks for the recommendations!
Flak wrote:annual rice tax!
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Alar on Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:16 pm

Unread postby Alar » Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:16 pm

Alright, so... David Weber. It's taken me a little while to gather my thoughts and figure out what I want to say about him, and while some of this is still off the cuff, let's see what we've got. Why don't we start with a few negatives?

For one thing, there are certain phrases and cliches that he enjoys more than others. 'Fat, stupid and happy' is one, or the 'Demon Murphy' (Murphy's Law). These are only two of the items one may see several times throughout his books, though at times they do vary. Some might say he's a bit too comfortable with his own prose and doesn't stretch himself far enough in that way, or it could just be that he finds certain sayings iconic to his series.

Split perspective. This is one that will have both positive and negative aspects assigned to it, but we'll talk about negative here. Further on in the series, the split perspectives among different groups of character can become a little disorienting. Shifting from the enemy, to another enemy, to an ally, to Honor, to another ally, to a completely remote place can be somewhat jarring.

But even though I'm scouring my mind, I can't think up more negative things to say.

Why? Because I love these books. Honor Harrington is probably my favorite book series of all time. Honor Harrington herself, the character, has pulled my heartstrings and dragged me along for a ride through space, into the missiles of the enemy, in a death ride against superior forces countless times, to Hell and back, and so much more. The characters in the book are rich and engaging, each (to varying degrees of how much time is spend on them) with their own personalities, histories, and futures at stake. Set far in the future, the adventures in the Haven Sector details technology that's far in advance of our own (yet quite believable), alien worlds and species of varying intelligence and ability (far too little time spent on this, in my opinion!), and the vast, diverse cultures that many planets and systems have built up for mankind over the millenia.

As I've said, the characters are quite important. The two main characters we follow throughout the entire series are Honor Harrington, a member of the Royal Manticoran (Space) Navy, and her bond-mate and companion Nimitz, the telempathic treecat from her native world of Sphinx. We follow their lives and those of the worlds around them, and I found myself genuinely attached to them and other characters. More than once I found myself overcome with grief and loss as a certain character died, or even simply the pain and anguish one of them went through when they thought someone they knew had died. But sadness wasn't all that I felt. The happy times, the triumphant moments, and even the anxiety of waiting for the other shoe to drop pulled me along and kept me reading.

Yes, there tend to be some low spots here and there during the switch of perspective, but as a writer, David Weber plans his shifts quite well overall. For one thing, he starts off with very few of them early on in the series, and he gradually builds his way up. Rather than starting us off with four or five points of view he might jump around in from the start, he keeps things simple with two or three, occasionally switching away to someone else for a very short period before coming back. In later books, this grows steadily, but the primary focus in almost every book remains with Honor and Nimitz (as it should).

These books are ongoing, with David Weber writing more even as we speak. He's created a few off-shoot series for other characters in the universe, had other authors help him, and even gone back in time to detail the history of the first human-treecat bond through Stephanie Harrington (Honor's long-ago ancestor) and Lionheart.

I feel like I'm gushing here, and I've barely even described what these books are about, but that's because I enjoy them so much. To put it simply, the Honor Harrington novels are a sort of space opera carried out in the far-flung future, with war, intrigue, assassination, love, politics, aliens, technology, and much more. If you at all enjoy the sci-fi genre, I suggest picking up On Basilisk Station and giving this one a try.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Karamazov on Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:19 pm

Unread postby Karamazov » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:19 pm

Glad you're finally getting into book discussion, Alar, I made a note of it.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Saurus on Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:53 pm

Unread postby Saurus » Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:53 pm

After dropping somewhere I'd like to have a look at Mazalan Book of the Fallen, my family promptly bought me the entire series. I’m currently rounding up The Wheel of Time and have two other books planned first. After that I figure I’ll slowly make my way through them. Thanks for the pointer, Karamazov!
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Alar on Thu Oct 31, 2013 6:45 pm

Unread postby Alar » Thu Oct 31, 2013 6:45 pm

I really got into the Old Kingdom series a while back. I haven't finished re-reading it yet, but I'm intending on getting around to it. I also bought some more manga and another Honorverse book...! Sadly I've gotten out of the habit of reading before sleeping. :ajsleepy:
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Karamazov on Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:05 pm

Unread postby Karamazov » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:05 pm

Hope you like it, Saurus! If nothing else carrying the behemoth tomes should be a good workout.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Saurus on Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:23 pm

Unread postby Saurus » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:23 pm

So yeah, Malazan Book of the Fallen. I'd planned to make this my 2014 project, taking one book a month as I'm a pretty slow reader, but I'm actually making some good time on this. I Started reading around New Year and I just finished book four. I love reading them. There's action, intrigue, romance, tragedy etc. It's wonderful high-fantasy, with all sorts of sorcery, fantastic creatures, undead, flying and floating cities, gods and alternate realms. The pacing is fast but comprehensive. You're made aware of all the details without being bogged down. The author isn't afraid to skip ahead by days and even weeks to keep the story moving from one interesting scene to the next.

That said, I haven't decided if I love the books as a whole. I definitely like them so far, but there's several nitpicks. Espescially at first there was a significant degree of Marie-Sueness. Many figures are uncanny judges of character, flawlessly reading intents of people they've met only moments before. Others seem capable of divining the scope of a given situation in absurd detail and accuracy based on ridiculously little information. Some of the characters can easily be considered emotionally unstable, falling madly in love with someone they've just met (and swearing vengeful wrath and damnation when that person later dies) and being weirdly sentimental about the death of a creature that was about to horribly maim him moments prior. Such extreme cases have grown rare after the second and third book though. A more general complaint at this point in the series is that all the crossing storylines are turning a bit messy. There's a lot going on simultaneously, and the meeting of the characters doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose right now. I have faith in future instalments it'll all prove very significant, but right now the meeting of the various characters of the various arcs seems somewhat contrived.

But again, these are all minor nitpicks compared to the generally brilliant story-telling. I've already come across various masterfully constructed scenes wich built up excelently towards their climax.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
My favourite scene thus far being of Korlat as she stand in the rain outside the city of Corlat, following Whiskyjack's death.


I'm really glad you suggested these, Karamazov.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Karamazov on Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:30 pm

Unread postby Karamazov » Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:30 pm

Great, glad you like them! I've only read 4 or 5 so you're about where I am (and much faster than I got through them!); I've now reread books 1 and 2 and may continue at some point, but the interweaving storylines give you incentive to focus on the series rather than picking the next one up once in a while. (That said, it's more of a question of each book setting up a detailed backstory for the sequels rather than one enormous novel in installments a la Game of Throne.)

The author's heavy use of characters' internal monologue sometimes hits me spot on and sometimes leaves me flat. It's not for exactly the same reasons you outline (I actually think the ability to make epic level Sense Motive or Perception checks fits very well in the high fantasy genre), but definitely some characters are more convincing than others. I do like that we hear the thoughts of so many people, and I find even if I only resonate with a few characters the book leaves a big impression on me.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Saurus on Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:41 pm

Unread postby Saurus » Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:41 pm

I’m halfway through book five now. Things are shaping up nicely. I’m pretty much liking all the characters, except for one who’s already poised to be the main antagonist of this book. Pacing remains excelent, the switch of setting is interesting. I can’t get a real sense of geographical orientation though. Gues it’s time to gooogle a map of the world. Also, though it hurts my pride, I’ve finally reached the point where I can no longer keep track of all the names passing me by. I can still manage all the characters, but the various races, their gods and all their realms, their nations, countries and continents, are proving a name too many.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
So, Trull is cool, and I’m very eager to see where he goes. Tehol is equally awsome, but I’m partial to the clever scheming characters anyway. His manservant Bugg is intriguing, and I’m fairly sure the running ‘clean up this mess’ gag has some hidden significance, but the character himself doesn’t excite me all that much. Rhulad is realy anoying, which means he’s written perfectly to his part I think. His death and subsequent resurection do make him more interesting though, so I’m curious where this goes. Udinaas is a bit of a coin flip right now. I like how self reliant he seems to be, capable of guiding others, but the entire atmosphere surrounding his persona feels rather depressed. Somehow I suspect he’ll end up killing Rhulad. Binadas seems like a cool character as well, but the author doesn’t highlight him much.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Karamazov on Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:22 pm

Unread postby Karamazov » Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:22 pm

I'm pretty sure he invents a continent every once in a while. Not going to click the spoiler because I think you may have overtaken me!
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Saurus on Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:13 pm

Unread postby Saurus » Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:13 pm

Egads! Than who will read my carefully constructed spoilers? Meh, I'll still post 'm, if just to log my progress and maybe look back and laugh in hindsight at my ignorant assumptions.
And is your avatar a pumpkin carving? It's been years and I still can't figure out what it is or represents.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Saurus on Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:47 pm

Unread postby Saurus » Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:47 pm

Finished book 5 today. Didn’t quite end the way I’d have guessed. It’s clearly a transitional ending, setting up for future books. All of the books in the series do this of course, but this book notably more so. This made the climax less powerfull than in previous instalments, and, because my expectations were raised, gave me less satisfaction.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
A lot of the characters made odd choices towards the end. The suicide of the king and the First Eunuch didn’t ring very authentic. The king I could grasp, seeing as how he was deprived his wife and son, but the way his character was presented earlier I was hoping for more out of him. Bryss drinking from the king’s cup moments later was weird as hell, espescialy when he then seems surprised it was poison, even as the king and Eunuch lay dead at his feet. I understand he was being manipulated by Turudal (whom I assume is the god of luck, with all the ‘push’ and ‘nudge’ references others make around him) but magic to explain the behavior of characters always registers as realy cheap to me.

Speaking of which, the mages throughout this book alude to this matter from time to time, how mages balance eachother out on the battlefield. I’ve yet to see any evidence of this in any of Erikson’s books. Most battlefields in his setting are obliterated by magic, the common mortals being little more than decorative canon fodder.

Rhulad was really becoming an interesting character towards the end. His struggle to maintain his sanity and coping with the responsibilities his powers gave him was an interesting read. I had hoped his storyline would be resolved towards the end, but clearly he’s te become a grand villain.

Tehol remains my favorite character of this book, and I’m glad he lives. Him nearly dying to the Edur was another weird lapse. I took him for the well prepared cautious type who could plan miles ahead. If his home was not the safe place it was hinted to be and he would need to go into hiding any way, i fail to see why he waited for the Edur to be storming through the city before running to the warehouse.

Bugg being Mael was to be expected. I’m not moved one way or the other. I didn’t find him all that interesting, though I can’t say why exactly.

Trull is my second favorite character of this book, simply because he dared question everything. His actions throughout the last chapters were oposite his character though. He didn’t want the Edur to win the battle, but he still kills the Ceda. He knows the Warlock King to be a betrayer, but takes nearly no action against him as Rhulad lies immobolized in the throne room. And then there’s the whole ‘help Fear escape and fail to express himself to Seren’ bit. Again I suspect Turudal’s influence.

Udinaas failed to convince me as a character. I liked his pragmatism, but his acknowledged self-loathing bothered me more then it should.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Karamshitthatslong on Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:48 pm

Unread postby Karamshitthatslong » Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:48 pm

The scarified skin of Jack of the Lantern speaks of terrors too vivid to discuss here. Seek ye knowledge from http://wondermark.com/495/
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Saurus on Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:25 pm

Unread postby Saurus » Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:25 pm

(Dangnagit! The internet ate my post. Pooh!)

Ye gods, Karamazov! It’s... Magnificent!

Image

I don't know if you actually are russian; I always just sort of assumed that you are (and thus by virtue of racism have a stereotypical matching accent) ever since my three page comic book project years ago.

Anyways, in short, I completed book six (The Bonehunters) and it cotinues to be a good read. It’s getting harder to judge the books individually, as they are starting to lose a solid individuel arc in favor of the overal storyline. Lots of things hapening, good pacing, good writing. A return to previous characters, some good, some anoying as fuck.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Karsa Orlong is an ass and I hope he dies. He’s a bully with Mary Sue written all over him, cause everyone can ‘sense how dangerous he is’.

Fiddler’s cool.

Kalam’s neat, though the final fighting scene in Malaz city was over the top.

Cutter and Apsalar will hopefully find eachother in the end. I’m actually rooting for this young couple.

Quick Ben lost his flavor now that his power is out in the open. I liked him better as the humble squad mage who’s secretly a font of arcane knowledge and is a master manipulator. I suppose Bottle now fills that roll, though he lacks the clever wit I so admire in others.


I’m now one third into book seven (Reaper’s Gale). This book is succeeding in turning some characters I previously disliked into genuinly interesting personas. Others remain unfun by being so very miserable. The story is also setting up some neat character confrontations to which I look forward. Think unstoppable force meets unmovable object.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Karamazov on Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:40 pm

Unread postby Karamazov » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:40 pm

My word, my piranhamoose form made it into a Saurus comic! I always love these. :D

I'm not Russian but I am a Russophile, so I support this depiction.

All your comments have made me excited about this series again, so I just used an old gift card to buy books 3 & 4 to reread. I reread books 1 & 2 with Emily but I may charge on without her this time (She enjoys them but isn't often in the mood for the murder scenes.) Looking over the summaries I think I stopped after book 6, so now you've officially surpassed me.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Saurus on Wed Jul 09, 2014 12:48 pm

Unread postby Saurus » Wed Jul 09, 2014 12:48 pm

Boy oh boy have I been gone for a while! I'm halfway through book 9 at the time of this writing. It's silly, really. I had my review for book 7 all written out and everything, but never actually posted it. I'll put it here in all its unedited glory, just for gigs. It could be a while before I get around writing reviews of book 8 and 9 though.

And awsome! I'm glad you'll be rereading the books, Karamazov. You have a far keener grasp on literature, and I'd love to read your opinions.

Ok, so I completed book seven, 'Reaper's Gale', today. Took me a lot longer than the previous books. My pacing is dropping dramatically, now that the social activities are picking up again and all of my weekends are spent out of town. I'm still hooked on these books, but I rarely take the time anymore to read at home. Most of my reading is currently done during lunchbreaks at work. I'm starting to accumulate a reputation for being an educated bookworm. That is, until I try to explain the dragons and floating cities. Having my books linger about has also triggered some fun conversations with clients. You'd never expect the old granny to be an avid fan of the fantasy epic genre.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Tehol Benedict remains my favorite character at the moment. His rise to Emporer is unfortunate, as I liked him better in his position as machiavelian power behind the screens, but I'm interested to see where the writer goes with this.

The arc of Quick and Hedge was nice, but didn't impress me all that much. I'm mostly opposed to any form of resurection, because of lessened impact of character death, and regrettably the Malazan book of the fallen is rife with various takes on life after death. Hedge's return to the living is just one more to the list, I suppose. Hedge as a character didn't register with me much to begin with. He's kinda bland for now.
Quick Ben seems to be coping with power creep. I can't get a good handle on the upper limits of his powers. I hope it'll balance out in the end.

The arc of Toc and redmask was alright. What pleased me most was how Redmask was actually defeated in the end. I don't particularly like the idea of a general being repeatedly outsmarted in battle. You'd assume they'd proven their tactical and strategic worth before becoming commanders of an entire army. I aslo couldn't help but notice the writer has bumped into a common problem of the fanatsy genre, namingly that magic makes anything else obsolete. He's gone to some pretty great extends to eliminate magic as a factor in all the major fighting scene's, for obvious reasons. In previous books, whenever magic was present in major battles, the footfolk had a hard time convincing me of their strategic value on the field.

Bleak's story was well written and I really enjoyed reading about him, but I knew he'd be a throw-away character from the first instant he was introduced. I suppose this too has to do with magic being a power creep issue. The writer needed another high power mage to throw into the climax scene, so he quickly introduced one that he could conviniently sacrifice in the end. At least, that's how it came across. I don't recal any other real mention of Bleak at any point before halfway this book, so he hadn't much invested story going for him.

Karsa Orlong remains as ever an anyoing character. His confrontation with Icarium was another downer. One look at Icarium, and suddenly he sees Icarium's Teblor heritage. Thereby their previous conflict (wich seemed to entale nothing but Karsa's desire to beat up stuff just because he's stronger) suddenly becomes moot, adding racism to his list of irritating character traits. I have no idea what the character was supposed to do in confronting the crippled god. All I took away from that scene is how he punched Withal, after the poor blacksmith just stated he had come to fix a wrong and destroy the sword. Karsa then punches the guy, telling him not to make a sword like that again, wich is a heavy case of beating the metaphorical dead cow. Truth be told, I disliked Karsa from the get-go, so anything he does will be met by serious bias on my part. I guess I intend to hate him anyway.

Trull Sengar is a cool character (though he could tone it down on the tears of empathy that flow endlessly from his eyes). I'm not realy seeing the literary value of his death though. Character death makes little impact in these books for reasons stated earlier, so his sudden demise doesn't leave much of a mark on me as a reader. I'd much rather have seen him live to see how he deals with the situation, than have him die a lame death at the hands of a mostly irrelevant side character. Hedge and Ben also disappointed me in Trull's death scene. Quick invokes a favor from the god of death to condemn this poor stranger they know nothing about to an eternity of torment. For all they know, this stranger has an understandable reason for wanting to kill Trulll. Or perhaps this has been a case of tragic circumstance. Hell, it could even have been a fatal misunderstanding. I understand they are blinded by grief, but that doesn't pardon nor justifies their disproportionate call for vengeance.

Seren Pedac suffers a similar issue as Udinaas, in that she is so exhaustingly tragic and lamentable. I was very much rooting for her and Trull to finaly be happy together, but her self-pity made it kind of hard to want to support her. When finally she does get to be with Trull, her internal monologue made it sound like the most woeful thing in existence. Her happily being pregnant is a somewhat cheap runner-up prize.

And finally, Rhulad Sengar. His final death was expected, ofcourse, but I'd have liked to read more from this character's point of view in the end. I was actually starting to get interested in this guys mind-set throughout the book. It feels like a missed opportunity.

There are of course plenty of other character, like the soletaken sisters, Fear, Onrack, Kettle, Bugg etc. but I can't be bothered to discus them all. The ones I mentioned here are the ones who made the most impact on me while reading, for better or worse.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Karamazov on Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:08 pm

Unread postby Karamazov » Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:08 pm

Well, I got a full time writing job, and I'm working on Flak's game design project, and Emily would like to read book 3 together after all, so it might take me an extremely long time to get through the series!

Leap frogging to the top of the list (because someone recommended it to me almost a year ago) is The Black Russian by Alexandrov. I'm not usually interested in biographies, but this one does sound fascinating. It's about the son of American slaves who ends up traveling across Europe in the early 20th century, settling in Russia, becoming a millionaire, and becoming a refugee after the Russian Revolution. Not too far into it yet.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Alar on Sun Aug 17, 2014 6:44 pm

Unread postby Alar » Sun Aug 17, 2014 6:44 pm

I been readin' some books. Lady Trent's diaries on dragons and whatnot. It's good stuff. The first book is called 'A Natural History of Dragons'. Pseudo-Victorian era stuff.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Saurus on Thu Aug 21, 2014 1:49 pm

Unread postby Saurus » Thu Aug 21, 2014 1:49 pm

It is done! It is done! Today, august 21st at 21.45 local time I finished the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. The last page of book ten has been turned, the cover closed. I smiled, I laughed, I choked up, I sacrificed hours of sleep reading into the night. For eight months I’ve completely immersed myself in these books. And now, it is done. I’m going to need a couple of days to let it all sink in, ‘cause I’m not ready to up and skip to another setting and other characters just yet. It’s been a blast, and I am very grateful that you recommended this to me, Karamazov.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Saurus on Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:50 pm

Unread postby Saurus » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:50 pm

Okay, some last thoughts on book 9 and 10 of Malazan Book of the Fallen.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Book nine was a bit slow in pacing, and I kinda suspect the writer had to much material to fit in one book, but too little material to fit in two. There was a noticable amount of inner monologue and reflection on emotions going on. It suppose it could have been a tool to set the mood, but I can only read so many variations on the same theme before the pattern starts to bore. Still, the climax with the battling floating cities and the giant stone ‘tree’ locking watchamacallit Unrooted in the eye of the portal was epic in portrail. It still paled compared to ‘God of Death and his legions fight against the element of Chaos’, but I suppose most things would. I didn’t believe anything would be topping that scale in this book anyway.

Book ten was realy enjoyable. Writing was excelent as always. The atmosphere was fantastic, and the desperation of the soldiers in the Glass Desert was fantastic. The big battles were tense and exciting, and it was genuinly exciting to see who might live to see the end. In this I’m very grateful to Erikson that he opted not to sacrifice any of the main-main characters. Sure, lots of people died in the final battles, but the positive notes far outweighed the sad ones.

I have to admit, the big scheme got a bit too muddy near the end for me to grasp what was going on. The stabbing of the Crippled God by Cottilion was a big puzzle to me. A google search showed me I wasn’t the only one on the interent being confused about this being a good or a bad thing. Here I think the author would have been better of quickly recapping what was happening, and why. I’m fine with the writer crediting the reader enough inteligence to figure things out by themselves, but if the grand climax leaves me confused about wether I should be cheering or shocked, something ain’t right.

The epilogues were nice too. I’m glad he gave the characters a satisfying ‘life after’. This helps me as a reader to get closure.

And laslty, I’m willing to state this series was better then my reading of the Wheel of Time. There’s multiple reasons for this. WoT was read in fits and bursts, as it was still being written when I started it, so I couldn’t get as immersed as I got whit MbotF. The last book of WoT was also something of a dissapointment in terms of writing, pacing and general conclusion, whereas MbotF realy moved me.


Also, I lied about taking a few days and started reading Cloud Atlas today. Only the first two dozen or so pages, but its shaping up nicely. Love the casual racism.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Saurus on Wed Aug 27, 2014 3:29 pm

Unread postby Saurus » Wed Aug 27, 2014 3:29 pm

Finished Cloud Atlas. I'd grown used to 1400 page books. It's refreshing to finish a book in a week!

[Reveal] Spoiler: Spoilers about Cloud Atlas
Good read, well written etc. Not sure what to think of the chopped up stories. It read less as a whole story and more as a collection of short stories. I understand how the different parts relate to tell the (I assume) story of the struggle of human kindness versus its own natural greed and intolerance, and I got all the self referencing clues about things in the past affecting the future and vice versa, and how the future might be changed and so on. But because of the chopped up parts, by the time I got enamored by a character the story would move on and I had to get back in the flow of things from the get go. I did like how the interlocking parts were presented, from the half written journal, to the discontinued letters, to the movie-script, to the book-made-movie, to the interview, to the Orison and back. I would have liked if this chronological flow had been more solid in some parts. At times it was hard to imagine the various stories having much impact on each other beyond being mentioned at some point. The twists were pleasant. the Fobisher Suicide was somewhat hard for me to wrap my head around, but I won’t hold that against the author.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Saurus on Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:18 pm

Unread postby Saurus » Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:18 pm

Mu-mu-mu-multipost!

Started reading ‘Spellwright’ by Blake Charlton yesterday. Unfortunately my family bought it in my native language rather than English, which is very contrary to my reading habits. It’s remarkably alienating. The story’s nice so far, if maybe feeling a bit juvenile (admittedly, this may be the product of language; I’m very biased to consider non-English writing to be amateur writing). Characters are mostly par for the fantasy course so far. The way he presents magic as a written language with arcane powers is pretty neat though.
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Re: Generic Book Discussion

Unread postby Karamazov on Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:27 pm

Unread postby Karamazov » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:27 pm

[Reveal] Spoiler: Cloud Atlas
I agree, Cloud Atlas is a collection of short stories, failing to become a novel. Based on number9dream, and accounts of his other books, this is how David Mitchell writes every one of his novels. Like most short story collections, some were good, some were bad. They would have been better without the "nested in each other" gimmick, or if their relationship to each other had led anywhere.

What I found interesting initially, and was disappointed to find David Mitchell didn't explore at all, was that the stories become (in-world) fiction halfway through! Instead of reading a journal quoted in a documentary recorded in a video (or whatever), you're reading a journal quoted in a documentary recorded in a video shown in a fictional play. Since this fictionalization is presented without comment, just like all the other transitions, it undermined the thin idea that these events were connected by their historical influence on each other. Even within the book's world, the whole thing was a writer's gimmick.

I have a poor memory for details, but I remember liking the Victorian? journal and the post-apocalyptic future stories best.


And on another topic, if anyone wants book recommendations, I'd love to hear opinions on Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun. It's fantasy or sci fi, but in an unusually literary style for the genre. Despite a fairly twisty plot, it can be oddly boring-in-a-pleasant-way — thorough and precise, I suppose. Sort of like Neal Stephenson's Anathem in that respect, but without ham-handed world-building digressions.

EDIT:
It’s been a blast, and I am very grateful that you recommended this to me, Karamazov.


Somehow, I missed this and only saw the post below it! Glad you took to it so well. :)
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