Monday, September 21, 2009

The Scar

In continuing with this as my book blog, I just finished "The Scar" by China Mieville.

I give this 3/5. I found the world interesting, made up of a strange mix of legends from our world, and original creations and myths of this one. The setting is a little Industrial Revoution, a little Victorian Horror, but if that era lasted a few hundred years. Magic is a mixture of technology and the arcane. The ambiance is pretty engrossing, weird, dark, and fun.

The plot is dependent on its ability to surprise. And sometimes it succeeds. This is not the first book he's written in this world, so it's possible that he's created deeper characterizations, especially of Bellis, the main character. But without that characterization, the book relies on story twists and world descriptions to keep the reader engaged. There are a couple true emotions and characters to identify with, but they are few and far apart. Luckily, his world descriptions and plot devices are sufficient to entertain.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Shogun by James Clavell

So, I've decided this will be a book log. I'll write at least a little bit about each book after I read it.

Shogun is a historical novel about medieval Japan. The author uses a western character, an English Captain, or Pilot, to introduce us to the foreign culture and politics. At first, we see the Japanese as the Pilot does, an opaque, two-dimensional culture focused on violence and control. Gradually, he comes to see through the cultural barrier, and becomes a pawn in a very large game of chess, with warlords aiming to gain control of the empire as Shoguns.

I enjoyed the book. It began with a sea voyage, which I have found myself strangely drawn to recently, but then leaves the sea behind. The plans and gambits are interesting, and seem very Japanese, hinging on duty, honor, and garnering the admiration of the middle-level samurai by outplaying the opposition. Duty and honor are not black and white romantic notions, but sometimes merely the faces put on the gambits, not what you usually find in a samurai novel, and are probably much more realistic.

Very long, and I would have read it much quicker if it hadn't been for work acting up recently.