Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Spoilery Talk: Every Heart a Doorway

I reviewed Every Heart A Doorway tonight on twitter as so (Click on tweet to get the full review):


I mentioned the ending was a problem in this review, quick blurb about that after the break.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Spoilery Talk, Star Wars Aftermath: Life Debt

I posted a quick review of Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt, the second in the "What happened after Return of the Jedi" books in the new canon that just came out this month.  See below.

As a former big fan of the original Star Wars Expanded Universe, now known as "Star Wars Legends", and having written about Star Wars for this blog, I can't help but discuss spoilers for the book after the jump.


Friday, July 22, 2016

SF/F Spoilery Review: Last Song Before Night

Tonight's spoilery review is Last Song Before Night by Ilana C Meyer.


My twitter review can by clicking the following tweet:



Spoilery Review below

Monday, July 18, 2016

SF/F Spoiler Review - Lightless

Tonight's review was Lightless - the review starts with this tweet (click to get the whole thread):



Spoilers below:
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Lightless is a hard book to describe without spoiling, which is presumably why the book jacket blatantly spoils one twist - Mattie still being on the ship instead of in the escape pod - and describes the plot like it's going to be a hannibal lector esque story with Ivan and Althea (which is not at all what happens, as Althea is tempted but still only has two interactions with Ivan while he's in captivity).  Mind you, Mattie not being in the escape pod is so obvious it's kind of laughable as a twist, which is why the book doesn't even dwell too much on it once it's revealed (as Mattie had already escaped).

But the twists aren't my real issue with the book (the AI twist is also fairly obvious the moment the book teases the fake AI on the thieves' ship).  The issue is with the book's middle, which is basically Ida examining Ivan while Althea finds more and more issues with the ship, which Ida ignores.  The problem is Ida is just awful.  This is obviously intentional, but well the whole middle of the book focuses so much on her, which is just a lot of an awful character.  Now this whole section is redeemed as Ivan's revelations in the interrogation become all relevant once the reveal of Constance as the Mallt-y-Nos is made.  But even that's kind of annoying since it makes Ida RIGHT when you kind of want her to be wrong to be taken down a peg.

I guess she's sort of taken down a peg since her interrogations are what enabled Constance to make her move in the first place, and because of her death, but it's kind of awful for her to have been right when she's such an awful character.  Again the ending makes everything worth it, dark as it kind of is, and the book would've been interesting and worth it if that ending was all there is, but apparently we're getting two more books following the Ananke, so this should be exciting.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

SF/F Spoiler Review - Roses and Rot

This is a new thing for me.  If you follow me on twitter, you'll know I about once or twice a week review SciFi and Fantasy books on my twitter feed.  And I enjoy doing these reviews even if I think like maybe 5 of my followers actually care.

Still, Frequently I find myself taking some points off of books for things that are kind of spoilers - for example, books very often fail to stick the landing they set up, which can be a bit disappointing and hurt my review.  But it's kind of hard to talk about those issues without spoiling things, and for some of the books I've liked the most, I really don't want to spoil them.  So I'm going to try to now actually use this blog space to put up occasional short spoiler review discussions so I can express my thoughts on the books where I feel twitter is slightly incomplete.

So tonight's review was Roses with Rot.  The Twitter review is as follows:
Now for a quick spoilery review.  If you haven't read the book yet, please don't read this:
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Spoilery Comments:  So I came really close to giving this a 10 out of 10 (or maybe a 9.5) as I loved Roses with Rot, but it kind of fell off slightly shortly before the ending.  The book isn't quite setup like many books with a plot structure that builds the whole book to a climax - the book seems to do that in building toward the ceremony where the tithe is chosen, only for the plot of directly saving Marin to suddenly become the new objective in the last part of the book.  This is totally fine - except then part of the solution to saving Marin in that final part of the book involves the use of some classic fairy tale anti-magic techniques (most significantly, running water).

Here's the thing: The book previously makes clear that faeries in this universe aren't like the ones in the tales so those rules in the old tales don't apply (Evan specifically rebuts Imogen's thoughts on his sculptures being a problem for faeries, for example) - and so it's just kind of odd that 80% of the way through the book, they suddenly do and the only good reason Imogen wouldn't have thought they might is because well....Evan tells her they don't apply earlier!  It's kind of a cheap part of the ending. I kind of wonder if this wouldn't have bothered me if this was setup before the need for Imogen to interrupt Marin's ride ever came up (for example, like the fact that the tithe could be stopped was setup in the very beginning).

Other than that, my quibbles were minor - Beth's willingness to help Imogen against the Fae despite having little development is kind of random given her thoughts that the tithe is worth it, but that's minor.  I thought Janet was so bitchy and obviously demented that Marin shouldn't have listened to her when she revealed the truth about the Tithe, but that can be handwaved by Marin being under the magical influence of the Fae at that point - same with Marin so quickly forgiving Imogen after she's saved (when presumably Gavin reveals the truth while Imogen is unconscious) - this makes a lot more sense if the Fae's been clouding her thoughts up to that point.  And the idea the pretty damn happy ending every good character gets - even Marin who seemingly was lost without the Fae's help about a hundred pages before - might be a little cheap, but well....all the characters really deserve it. Especially Ariel who is awesome.

In short it's an awesome book with an ending that still feels good, even if some of the plot elements that lead up to it are maybe not set up perfectly.  

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Review: Star Wars The Force Awakens (Spoilers, obviously.)


This post has spoilers.  Seriously, don't read unless you've seen the movie.  

Retro Review: The Thrawn Trilogy Part 3: The Last Command


In a way, The Last Command has it the easiest of the Thrawn trilogy - the entire plot is setup quite nicely by the prior two books.  No new characters of importance are introduced (a few named smugglers would be introduced, but in this book they're basically all interchangeable) and the bad guys' schemes are nearly all perfectly clear from the outset.  Hell, none of the new worlds introduced are of any relevance whatsoever, either.  Contrast this with Return of the Jedi, which has to introduce a new Death Star not seen previously, as well as the new area of Jabba's Palace - Command doesn't need to do this at all - the setup is already complete.

The plot of course is this (think of this as your text scroll):

The New Republic is suddenly on the defensive, due to the actions of the Empire's new commander, Grand Admiral Thrawn.  Having obtained a lost fleet of warships and thousands of cloning cylinders to man them, the Empire launches its new final offensive into Republic territory.  The Grand Admiral comes armed with two special advantages: A cloaking shield and an insane Dark Jedi, Joruus C'baoth, with whom he can take advantage of the shield in previously unthought of ways.  

Meanwhile, Leia Organa Solo is pregnant with Jedi Twins, whom the Empire and the Dark Jedi want to take for their own twisted purposes.  Luke and the Smuggler Chief Talon Karrde independently each attempt to track down where the Empire's new clones are coming from, in order to restore the balance of power.  And recovering from a brush with death on Coruscant is Mara Jade, the woman once known as the Emperor's Hand, who has sworn to kill Luke Skywalker....

This is not of course, to say, that the action of this book is predictable.  The book has interesting subplots involving a spy "network" inside the New Republic headquarters, a fascinating new siege weapon used by Thrawn involving cloaked asteroids, and the smuggler meetups are pretty fun as well.  And again, the characters are terrific - Mara Jade finishes off her arc in this book in such a way as to be satisfying but still allowing her to be used in future Star Wars stories; same with Karrde and even Captain Pellaeon.  Thrawn and C'baoth's downfalls could very easily have been done poorly, as both characters are written as incredibly overpowered (overly omniscient in Thrawn's case) at times, but neither character's defeat requires a Deus Ex Machina.

The book culminates like Return of the Jedi in fact, with a space battle taking place simultaneously with a confrontation with the Dark Jedi.  That said, this isn't a retread.  C'baoth is a Dark Jedi, but his mindwarping modus operandi is not anything like that of the Emperor and the space battle has nothing to do with some planet destroying superweapon.  This is its own epic storyline, and the book succeeds the more for it.

On that last confrontation with C'baoth, I know some people have considered it really cheesy that it involves a clone of Luke named "Luuke" whom he has to battle - particularly the name.  The thing is, that if you ignore the name, the book sets it up so it makes perfect sense, so it's not really a thing.  It is kind of interesting that the book involves the lightsaber that Luke loses at Bespin (and that was originally Anakin's), just as in The Force Awakens (as you all should've seen in the trailer, so that's not a spoiler).  I guess it's a really fertile idea for the lightsaber of Anakin to be passed down - here it's passed down to Mara Jade at the end (although oddly enough, it's basically never mentioned again and it's replaced later in the EU).  

There's so much content here (this is the largest of the three books by about 40 pages) that it's hard to see this being done in one movie, but a split into two ala Harry Potter/Hunger-Games actually would work here really well (figure you'd split right after the Empire's assault on Coruscant, with Coruscant besieged and the main characters having broken out Mara to go after Wayland).  But this book would still be very adaptable to the screen and very enjoyable for the public - no silly political squabbles and slow parts (except I guess the Delta Source subplot, but that's easily excised).

Again, the good guys triumph in epic battles, some of which involve space battle while other parts of which involve blasters, lightsabers and of course force powers.  This is Star Wars at its finest, and easily the most cinematic of the trilogy, with everything following through from start to end.