Friday, January 1, 2010

Books from the holidays

I got behind, so here's to you:

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
This was a simple con/heist/underworld revenge story. With so many slashes, you might have thought it wouldn't be simple, however, it read with momentum, never dwelling on any certain thing. A significantly light tone kept anything from being too serious. While there is death, I can't say that I felt any sense of grief, even though we liked the characters. I won't say this is a flaw, because it didn't appear to me that the author was trying for that kind of dark, tragic feel. It's not that Scott Lynch didn't achieve his aims, but I think I'm looking for a more complex story, something more than just entertaining. 2.5/5

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson
A more complex type of story, with a larger cast of characters, a larger world, both geographically and politically. There is magic, and it is vague(mysterious?), powerful, but requires sacrifice. The book isn't perfect, the complexity sometimes gets away from the author, and the characters sometimes are not well-defined. This is partly a consequence of his method of introducing the story, world and characters, which is, he doesn't. When you meet characters, it's obvious that they know each other, or have heard reputations, but it's not always immediately clear what they know. This is both intriguing and disorienting. On balance, I think I like it. I'm going to give him at least one or two more books, see if I become more interested or less. for now, 3.5/5

The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
This is a series I've been reading since High School. The original author passed away, and the 11th book was going to be written by one of my newest favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson. There's a large fanbase, and they love to talk and speculate about the books. There has been some criticism that after the 6th book, nothing seemed to happen, or it all happened slowly. I never really noticed, and just enjoyed them as they came out. For those who it did bother, this book is a kind of apology. Lots happens, and it's some of the big outstanding stuff that happens. The only criticism I would offer(not that it's a perfect book, but I'm reading it for entertainment, so if it doesn't stand out, I don't notice/care) was one of the climaxes had a bit of a cliche resolution. The problem is, I don't know if there was another way to resolve it. While it was cliche, it felt inevitable and appropriate. If you like fantasy at all, you would like this series, but it's a huge time investment. 4/5

A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
This unfinished series is another I've been reading for a while now. Martin is notoriously slow finishing these books. Set in a world of knights, lords, ladies, kings, queens and "smallfolk", Martin deromanticizes the standard fantasy fare. These books contain some content inappropriate for children. The characters are real, their family relationships clear, and you care about the characters, even the devious, ignoble ones. Tragedies occur, and to main characters. Not just death, but the loss of children, serious injury, disablement, and betrayal. And every time it happens, you are sad, and you care. Women are treated about the way they were really treated in feudal times, with rape being a real possibility, childbirth a dangerous responsibility, dismissive men, and a few standout women that are treated by those around them either like a man, or like some force of nature. It's particularly interesting to read the viewpoint of a woman without real power, and yet is not a meek, submissive creature, but a real person, with an inner life of their own. None of the sex/rape is ever an onscreen adventure, and it's not discussed that often, but if you can't handle the discussion of sex, you should probably steer clear of these books. Overall, I give it a 4.5/5