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Juliet Marillier – The Well of Shades (Book 3 of The Bridei Chronicles) November 28, 2006

Posted by taryn in fantasy.
4 comments

I have really enjoyed this series. This book can easily stand alone and apart from the series, the story is strong and the two main characters – Faolan and Eile – changed just the way I wanted them too. I stayed up until 3am completely sucked in.

—-spolier—-

My favourite thing about these books is the romance, Ana and Drustan, Bridei and Tuala, and Foalan and Eile. I was totally shocked when Faolan started to thaw, he had begun to change in the last book, but in this one he completely turns around. I love Foalan, he’s the type every girls wants to save, brooding, hurt, honourable. It was great when his family turned out to forgive and love him. I didn’t expect Faolan to fall for Eile or her for him either, considering. There were some moderately graphic details of Eile’s abuse which was disturbing but necessary.

Honestly, I had to read through to 3am to find out if they got together! Am I a sucker or what.

I’m wondering what Marillier is planning with this series, its not like George RR with many issues left unresolved, or a Katherine Kerr where the rebirth scenario creates a greate excuse for a new storyline. I was kind of hoping that Carnach would turn against Bridei just for the fun of it.

The Christian vs Druid thread is not as strong in this book, although Brother Suibne’s letters feature as an aside and scene change.

I think that the main problem with the series is now that Broichan has reunited with Tuala, there isn’t really a great nemesis/antagonist to pit Bridei against. Breda was a pretty weak antagonist. Marillier is setting up Colm for this, but I’m not convinced. Marillier is closely following Pictish history, you can read more at her website…

http://www.julietmarillier.com

Gene Wolfe – The Knight November 28, 2006

Posted by taryn in fantasy.
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I think I jumped into this book with high expectations – Neil Gaiman professed it to be ‘important and wonderful’ after all, and I love Neil Gaiman.

I was drawn into the world that Wolfe created, a young boy taken from the modern day to another place, a place full of elves, ogres, knights, serpents, dragons, flying castles, levels of worlds, etc.

However, I found the style of his storytelling a bit difficult to get into. Wolfe writes as a brother writing of his adventures home to his older brother he left behind. I don’t like this style as it often gives authors the excuse to do a great big info dump on how the worlds work by saying “i just give you some background on this brother” or “I may as well explain this now”. Now, I’m not syaing that this isn’t a perfectly respected form in the craft, but as a reader I don’t like it. I find it lags, I want to get back to the story. The second half of the book had less of this and I enjoyed it much more. However, the end – I was want to bitch about this here so…

——-spolier warning————–

…I was really getting ito the story, the journey, things are finally falling into place when all of a sudden he drops everything and wanders off into the elf-world. Time goes faster for the middle world when you are in the elf world, so he knows hes on a time-critical mission and forks off onto a tangent that Wolfe only introduces halfway through! And then it ends! The annoyance, no resolution for me, the lead into the next book is awful. I wanted to know what was going to happen with the giants and the rescue thread not the Viking horsewomen of the sky!

I found the rest of the book quite similar, just I was getting into a story or path, some bizarre thing happens to the main character, he goes into another world and loses track, wanders around and leaves me more confused than ever.

I was interested in the similarity between the new world and earth, that kept my curiosity going.

I wonder whether this is a boys book, because I just couldn’t get into it. David, I would be interested in your take.

–David says–
This books has what I would call a ‘dreamlike’ quality to it. The main character drifts through the world, encountering people and situations seemingly at random. It fits for me since the main character is a boy in a man’s body, attempting to be a boy’s naive version of what a knight should uphold.
I found the world Wolfe had built an intriguing one, based on viking lore (I think). There is a second book called The Wizard which might make some things clearer.
Is this a boy’s book? That’s a fair call, since the book is certainly lacking for female characters defined by anything other than what they want the central character to do for them. The other male characters are acting under their own motivation, but never the women.

Grace Dugan – The Silver Road November 28, 2006

Posted by taryn in fantasy.
1 comment so far

Thanks, David for lending me this book – I honestly couldn’t put it down. I was totally absorbed by the story of Zuven’s journey to discover who she was and what she wanted. I also loved Yetala, a young noblewoman ambitious, strong, courageous and breaking new ground in the military school. Great strong female characters. Although a few times I did wish Zuven would get more involved or get into a heated discussion.

The world that Dugan has created is fascinatingly different from any I have encountered before, possibly with a middle-eastern feel, although I can’t be certain. Mountainous, yet arid, feudal mixed with a little byzantine or maybe islam? I have a great picture of the world she has created, particulary the rural part. Dugan has created a fascinating cultural picture complete with visual, written and physical details. I loved the idea of intricately sewed/painted flagscarf – it reminded me of beautiful handpainted silk scarves I’ve seen from Indonesia.

Dugan is an Australian writer, and a Queenslander. This was her first book and I was interested to see it was worked on at both Clarion and Veruna. I would be interested to read other books that were published out of this process (perhaps I already have and don’t know it).

–David says–
I loved Grace’s first book, and I can’t wait for the next one. The book never went in the direction I was expecting, and while in the end I was disappointed with Zuven’s decision, she was following what her heart told her to do, which is what the book is ultimately about. A more experienced reviewer than me might call Grace “a refreshingly new voice in fantasy” and they’d be right, too.

Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson November 28, 2006

Posted by taryn in cyber punk.
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I’m heading o/s in a week or two and David was kind enough to lend me some books before I left – the least I could do was read them, the first one I jumped into was Snow Crash.

I haven’t read alot of cyber punk, but I couldn’t put this book down. The hero of the story, Hiro Protagonist, love the name, is fascinating – hacker, samurai, detective and lovesick pizza guy.

I was absorbed by the punk world he created, corporation-states, the mafia and of course Greater Hong Kong – I loved that touch. Anyone who has been to HK will recognise the feel of it in the book.

The only downer for me was the info-dump in the middle of the book where we work our way through the intricacies of the religious angle of the plot, but the chases, fights and new bizarre setting grabbed me again.

The great thing about this book is that it was written in 1992 – it has hardly dated at all – perhaps programmers will disagree, but I thought it was a recent release. Considering it’s publication date it must have been a trailblazer for cyber punk. I would now like to read Stephenson’s new series about alchemy..

Interesting side note – Stephenson thought he had invented the word ‘avatar’ for the book, but humbly acknowledges Habitat in the endnote.

pandora’s star and judas unchained November 15, 2006

Posted by taryn in sci fi.
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A storm of words has been created for us nerds who enjoy reading speculative fiction (sci-fi and fantasy) and hopefully will provide a forum to discuss books that we are reading.

Thanks to george rr for the name.

Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained by Peter F Hamilton

I loved this story – great characters, great conflict, great conspiracy, backstabbing politics, murder, mayhem and cool technologies. I especially like the universe that Peter has created. I was a bit doubtful after reading Misspent Youth which I loathed. The main character was despicable to me, his betrayal and selfishness and arrogance! But Pandora’s Star was a winner and I will definetely be on the lookout for any other books from this author.

According to Hamilton’s website The Void Trilogy is set in the same universe but 1000 years on, will be out in early 2007.

David says:
I loved this duology. Once again Hamilton paints a convincing picture of human society in the future. I am always impressed with how he does this so well, but differently, in each of his settings. What happens in rejuve, stays in rejuve.

While only two books, in terms of words, this series is longer than many trilogies. Peter Hamilton doesn’t succumb to the plague of multiple points of view that certain other authors use to increase their wordcount, which only blurs the storyline and confuses the reader. The characters here are tightly defined, and you’ll quickly grow to care about them, or at least want to know what happens to them next.
It’s not necessary to have read any of Peter F Hamilton’s work to enjoy this. Get reading! (for the record, I enjoyed Misspent Youth).