Prince Varis tries to become the ruler of his nation by using forbidden necromancy, but his niece Shalindra is set to stop him and install the true heir to the throne.
Slightly better than Illusion, which isn’t saying much. From the get-go I knew that the book wouldn’t end well for the main character, who is actually the villain of the story, it’s just told from his POV. There were some nice touches, the nation of Rhazaulle with its winter landscape, the necromancy through drugs concept, but overall I find Volsky’s plots far too formulaic without the offset of compelling writing or any good plot twists, and I her find her disposition to make everything into a tragedy, even if it doesn’t has to be like that, annoying.
Imagine the french revolution transplanted into a fantasy world that is actually very low on the fantasy apart from some magic, and the story of a young, rural girl who arrives in the city of Sherreen to serve at the Queen’s court only to be swept away in the violence that soon rises its head.
If your idea of a pleasant read is to get a detailed account of nearly all the suffering that ensues in the wake of a rerun of the french revolution in a fantasy world, this might be your stuff. I thought the book was extremely tedious. Volsky seems to have been wanting to be so faithful to the source stuff that she forgot to made any form of variation that would have made this more than just a mere copy, it feels like as if she had a checklist of what had to happen next in order to assure the similarity to the real events.
From the beginning you know where the story is going, what happens next, who gets executed, who’ll survive and that the Robespierre look-alike is going batshit crazy, and worse of all it’s one of these books where knowing everything in advance makes reading the book even more pedestrian.
Two intertwined storylines, one in the past concerning the adventures of a human and his fight against the evil Reithrese empire, and one in the present concerning the consequences of some of those actions from 500 years earlier.
This book looks cliched, it has arrogant elves, an evil empire full of dark elf lookalikes and other common fantasy tropes. And yet, using all these elements, Stackpole has written one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read, enthralling all the way through. What makes this fantasy world stand apart from others created from the same mold is that it does change, technology, attitudes and customs develop during the 500 years that bridge the two storylines.
It’s easy to imagine that another 500 years down the road they have satellites in orbit. But that’s only one good reason for reading the book, there are also compelling characters, two excellent plots with twists that are obvious in hindsight but at first hard to anticipate, humor, romance, intrigue and adventure.
Once upon a time, after they had transformed one world into four worlds, the Sartan imprisoned their arch-enemies the Patryn into a labyrinth. Over time the labyrinth became sentient, sadly it had quite a demonic mind, hunting the Patryn for generations. When the first Patryn escaped from the labyrinth, he realized that the Sartan had vanished long ago. Bent on taking over the four worlds, one of the Patryn has been sent to scout them.
In some ways the DG cycle had some of the best world-building of Hickman’s/Weis’s career, on the other hand it’s still very rooted into tried and true fantasy formulas: the four elements of earth, water, air and fire, a good versus bad conflict, the whole elves, humans and dwarves race thing. Still, sometimes it counts what you do with the tried and true, and here they really made it look good.
While the world-building was excellent, it strangely had a detrimental effect on the storytelling, as if eager to use every detail they had made up, the first four books of the DG cycle are used to introduce every of the four worlds in tedious detail. Instead of jumping into the books by looking through the eyes of the Patryn agent, nearly every of these four books follows for the first third some not very interesting characters of these worlds to set things up. Which makes for some very pedestrian passages at the begin of these books before the real action starts. And only after book four begins the real story to move, the conflict between the Sartan and Patryn.
And then came the last book, The Seventh Gate, which was a big disappointment to me, instead of a grand finale, the whole cycle ended with a whimper. Most minor storylines were hastily solved, and some of the bigger shoved aside instead of really solved. The book felt incomplete and the ending too abrupt.
A space station full of very young, zero-gravity adapted human test subjects becomes obsolete through technological progress. Their teacher, engineer Leo Graf, has to chose between saving their lives or his own career.
This takes place in the same setting as Bujold’s Vorkosigan books, only ca. 200 years ealier. What makes these kids (they are called quaddies) ideal for zero-gravity can be seen on the book cover, they have two more arms where standard humans have two legs. I liked the idea of the quaddies, but they were underused and only needed for the lame evil-company-goes-after-poor-quaddies plotline.
And after you’ve read the synopsis on the back of the book you know exactly where the story is going, there’s no plot twist to make the book more interesting. The core conflict is the common good versus bad guys (no gray shades) without the fast pacing and action that makes reading books with such a simple viewpoint worthwhile. It’s a far cry from her other books in the same universe.
Two people use a time machine to jump into the future, the span of years these jumps cover growing ever wider with every new jump, until they reach the end of human history.
I call this a failure of imagination. The book is nicely written, but the futures that get visited look quite plain compared to other SF books that take place in the far future. Shocked by the fact that they’re alone in the universe (no aliens out there), humans have retired to Earth and wait for the end. Which is a little bit hard to believe, humans could have easily used that much time to seed life on other worlds in the galaxy, or even terraformed other worlds and spread out themselves. Sitting on Earth on their butt for billion of years because they feel all alone in the universe on the other hand is not very plausible and also not very imaginative.
Schismatrix may be the best thing Bruce Sterling has ever written. It’s one of these novels that laid the groundwork for later transhuman/ posthuman fiction. It’s bold and full of neat science fictional ideas, yet it also has a good plot and the right pacing to make it fun to read. Sterling is a writer with a good eye for details, seemingly every page has some small nugget about his future, and this creates a rich and diverse background.
It’s about a future where a silent war rages between the Shaper and the Mechanists. The former have embraced biotechnology to remake themselves, the later cybernetic technology. Unable to solve their differences in any other way than conflict, other groups grow in their shadows, those who may be able to fuse the different ways of the Shaper and Mechanists into a new vision, the Schismatrix, a future solar system society that is both divided in their many physical forms, yet still able to connect to each other, to work together.
Upon reaching their first mission goal, the Epsilon Indi system, contact with Earth stops after a very intense burst of energy. Fearing the worst, someone is sent back to find out what happened, but meanwhile social inner tensions might spell doom for the crew of the starship Asia, if nothing is done about their captain, who is a complete control freak.
Some of the elements and ideas could have made for a nice SF book, but sadly that wasn’t the case. First was the bad writing, at its best it’s unobtrusive, but there were text passages that read and felt completely amateurish, and this stopped me from immersing myself into the book. Then there were the extremely cliched sub-plotlines (apart from the burst plot) and characters, which, if the writing would have been better, wouldn’t have mattered, but because of the bad writing they stood out.
A con man gets conned into the job of postmaster by Ankh-Morpork’s patrician Vetinari. It’s either postmaster or death, and Moist von Lipwig finds out that he prefers the former.
This is as much about the clacks system, that was quietly introduced in The Fifth Elephant, as it is about the post system. Sure, the clacks system is a rival to the Post Office, it’s faster, seems less personal than a mail and is controlled by people who go over dead bodies to get even more money.
And yet, while trying to modernize the postal system, Moist von Lipwig realizes that the clacks are the future. For a short time he may get the heart and thus the ear of the people, but for the long term the clacks are much more important than the postal system will be.
Often a certain kind of fantasy seems to dwell on the past, relishing the fact that modernization is far away, but the Discworld series has proven to be a refreshing change, openly going for modernizations, with all the good and the bad. While many long running fantasy series are examples of diminishing returns, inversely the Discworld series has grown stronger with each passing year, and Going Postal sets a new height for excellence.
From the mainland a threat of war looms over the people of Clouds End and the other islands, but for Brook (young girl, main character, from Clouds End) something more personal and equally dangerous is also on her mind. Something has followed her out of the mist, a haunt, a creature who has assumed her bodily shape, and the saying goes that only one twin survives, original or haunt. But before she can face her double, the forest people from the mainland have to be stopped.
If you set up a conflict like “shapechanging creature has made itself into a twin of the main character, only one can survive” you expect at least to know at the end of the novel who survives. Which you won’t, at the end both go into the mist again, one comes out and we aren’t told who it is. Which might be a smart ending for a short story, but if I invest time into a novel I want a clear cut ending, not something ambiguous like this.
Most of this novel is an okay fantasy story, nothing extraordinary but nicely told and it passes the time, but the ending really makes the whole less than its better parts.