Sunday, 21 February 2010

Reviews

Recent reading - quickies


O.G. has been been casting about for some titles to expand my fantasy library... with decidedly mixed results. 

Jim Butcher:  Codex Alera 5: Princeps’ Fury

So, what are you gonna do for an encore?
-or-
With Ten Million Screaming Extras!


In Captain’s Fury, the previous volume of Jim Butcher’s non-vampire alternate-universe fantasy, the author brought things to a climax (and knocked out the rebel forces) by igniting a dormant volcano beneath a city, killing the entire populace.  In this volume, he begins by depopulating an entire continent (off camera), then, later, setting off another volcano. Which destroys another city. And what’s left of its defenders. And an invading army. As well as killing off the ruler of the empire, which will leave Butcher’s heir-to-the-throne hero to finish things up in Book 6 - that’s provided he can overcome his political rivals and defeat the invaders and their collaborators.  The finish of Princeps’ Fury brought to mind Raymond Feist’s Riftwar Saga, in which the Final Magical Confrontation That Wraps Everything Up pales in comparison to the demolition of the city of Armengar - and the destruction of most of a besieging army - that comes half way through the final volume.  Caution:  Piling special effect on top of special effect eventually palls, just as the repeated massacres of thousands, and tens of thousands eventually numbs. Can you say “peaking early”?

Butcher has at least one more book to go in his Codex, and I’m wondering what he’ll do to top this one... blow up the planet?  Fortunately for him, unlike filmmakers, fiction writers don’t have to meet payroll for their disaster-fodder.

Will I get the next book?  Oh, hell yes, if only to see if Butcher can manage to crank things up to 11 without crossing the line into total unbelievablity..
Reread potential?  Unless book 6 turns out to be totally hokey.

-----

Steven Erikson: The Mazalan Book of the Fallen:
Volume 1:  Gardens of the Moon
Volume 3(?):  Memories of Ice

We talked and talked
and talked some more.
We talked so much
it was a bore.

Haven’t quite figured out how the series fits together: Gardens of the Moon is the only book that carries a volume number, and there’s another book - Deadhouse Gates - that appears to fall between these two.  A satisfying read through Gardens sent me in search of Gates, which my bookseller didn’t have.  It did, however, have Memories, and, eager to continue, I grabbed that one.

My first discovery was that nothing whatever appears to have happened between the end of volume 1 and the beginning of the putative volume 3.  That turned out to be a feature, not a bug, as I had been  expecting to have to catch myself up with the plot.   Perhaps there’s an alternate storyline in the second book, although in view of my experience with Memories, it could be possible that, indeed, nothing whatever actually does(n’t) happen in volume 2.  I guess I’ll find out whenever I acquire a copy.  At any rate, I didn’t miss Gates one bit.

Erikson’s world includes several sentinent species, and he does a good job of constructing memorable characters from each of them (although one human, a Cowardly Fat Rogue Who Is More Than He Seems, is an obvious borrow from Glenn Cook’s Dread Empire series).   The action in these volumes takes place on a tiny fraction of the area described by the included maps; presumably all those other lands will be explored in books yet to come.  Erikson’s spectacular special effect is The Moon’s Spawn, a magical flying mountain inhabited by one of his species.

Many of the characters who figured in Gardens reappear in Memories, but despite that, and despite a plot that catches you up in it, as I read on I found
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Posted by: Old Grouch in Reviews at 02:42:34 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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