Six Books

Nov. 27th, 2009 02:19 pm
firstfrost: (smock)
[personal profile] firstfrost
Warbreaker (by Brandon Sanderson)
I listened to this as an audiobook, and I think the narrator's choice of voices rather put me off. I really liked Elantris and also the Mistborn trilogy; Mistborn in particular had a complex magic/psi system that he spent a lot of time detailing. Warbreaker also has a magic system that he goes into a lot of detail about, but I found it less... well, I can't really say "plausible" when comparing magic systems. Less elegant, more contrived, I suppose. Some nice plot twists, and nice character development, though. I'll say three and a half stars, but I think I would have scored it higher without the annoying voices.

Quicksilver Rising (by Stan Nicholls)
I think I must have bought this in New Zealand, because why else would I have a paperback with a $15.99 price tag? I realize now that this is by the same author as the horrible Orcs book, but didn't realize this until I had started to put in little bookmarks to rant about later. Thus, some bullet points of ranting:
  • First, about two thirds of the book is spent putting the party together. I accept that it's the first of a trilogy and thus does not have to wrap everything up, but it should get started faster.
  • Second, there's a whole sub-party that I do not understand why they are in the book. Their entire plot seems to be
    1. Eeek! Motivate us by killing a loved one!
    2. Oh, it is so lucky we found you. Please give up working in the resistance, it is too dangerous.
    3. Oh, I am so glad to have found you. I love you so much. But I shall not give up the resistance, it is too important.
    4. GOTO 2
  • Okay, so the main character has berserker fits. Or something. And the junior main chains him up the first time, to keep them safe. This sequence ends with "Then he stood by the grille and watched what happened next in amazement." By the end of the book, I still don't know if it's frothing or werewolfery or he turns into the Incredible Hulk or what, though "cure the mysterious ailment" is the main motivator of half the party.
  • The leaders of one empire remark to each other: "The people are sleepwalkers. If it weren't for the fact that their usefulness marginally outweighs their annoyance value, I'd advocate a cull." Well, okay, that demonstrates that they are BAD GUYS. But "I'd really like to kill the populace because they're kind of annoying" is like that Antz bad guy plan of "Elimanate all the queens, and then rule!" in terms of long term society feasibility.
  • "We've had too many sightings for it to be beyond doubt." No, you mean "in doubt". This is a tiny nitpick, but a lot of the writing is like this, kind of off.
  • I think a guardian beast that shows off by swiping its claws through the books of records, shredding leather and paper together, is not what you want to have guarding your records room.
  • When you're putting together your Strike Team against the enemy, and your two top people are the woman who defected and used to run Strike Teams for the enemy and the the man who doesn't really want to be on your team and is kind of antisocial, of course you put the guy in charge. And then you call attention to it by saying "For reasons of their own that they didn't explain, they put the guy in charge."
  • It's kind of ending on a serious unpleasant note to have your female lead end the book by failing in her attempt at suicide because her life sucks.

Victory of Eagles (by Naomi Novik)
The fifth book in the Temeraire series. The previous one ended on a cliffhanger; I was wondering if this one was the last, as it does reach a good stopping point. (But no, there will be a book 6). I enjoy the series, though I am starting to get to needing a reminder who some of the characters from earlier books are. Four stars.

Unseen Academicals (by Terry Pratchett)
Another audiobook to knit to. Okay as far as Pratchett goes, which means better than most books, but not one of my favorites. I don't care for the Wizards much, and Vetinari was more normal and less brilliant than he often is. But the main plot about Mr. Nutt was nice, and often not quite the direction I expected. Four stars.

The Peshawar Lancers (by S. M. Stirling)
A pulp adventure story in an alternate history. What could be better than fighting atop a burning zeppelin? A little too much italicized-Indian-words for me that reminded me of this xkcd, but generally solid. The cinematic feel to the fight scenes was sometimes marred by my not being able to understand envision things properly ("if the window was blown in, why is she *out* the window and below it... or is it a different window?"). I think I'm giving a lackluster endorsement to a fine book, which just didn't manage to grab me properly. Three stars.

Ysabel (by Guy Gavriel Kay)
This one was foisted on me by [ profile] mjperson, though I think not with the intention that I write a rant about it. It's beautiful, like everything Kay writes is, and a little too fond of not telling you things, also like everything Kay writes, but I think I agree with Kim, who declares on page 348 "I've decided not to like her [Ysabel]." She is the archtypical beautiful, proud but cruel woman, loved beyond all measure of time and love - but being beautiful (even very very beautiful) and cruel is no longer enough for me to accept that she is deserving of such impossible love, poetic though it is. I require another adjective - "beautiful, proud/cruel, and protecting her people" is a good one. It works for me for queens. As it is, it feels to me a little too much like "and she just keeps messing with them, over and over." I also strongly dislike the claim that if you really loved me, you would do this impossible thing for me; if you cannot do the impossible, it is because you do not love me enough. Now, I find the opposite claim of "Because I love you, I will do the impossible for you" completely acceptable, and in fiction, the doing-the-impossible even often works. But I quite resented Westley in The Princess Bride for being mad at Buttercup for not continuing to wait for him after he had been dead for three years - it's a little more complicated, because he's doing the impossible thing there, but he's still saying "You should have known I would come for you, even though I was dead, and because you didn't believe that, you didn't really love me."

Still, I feel like I'm looking at an exquisite work of art and kvetching because that's not the way colors work in real life. And if [ profile] mjperson loves it because he's more of a romantic than I am, he's right too.

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