Friday, August 26, 2011

Hey guess what? Number 14 is more fantasy! I don't think I've read this much consecutive fantasy novels that weren't all part of the same series in a very long time. But anyway, number 14 is The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. This came suggested from a number of sources, so thought it was time to give it a try.

Glad I did. So since this is the first book of a trilogy, this is our introduction. We meet the cast ; Barbarian Logen Ninefingers, crippled Inquisitor Glotka, selfish-spoiled pretty boy Jezal; the commoner who made good Major West and of course the powerful and enigmatic magus, cause you always need one of those.

I liked all the characters, even when they were made to be unlikable. Jezal is a complete pratt, West is a little too moral, Glotka is so very cynical (with good reason though), and Logen, well he's not as barbaric a barbarian as he's been in the past.

So not only do we meet the characters, but Abercrombie does some very successful world building too as he takes us through a few countries and their history and the wars that all of the main characters (except Jezal) have lived through. It's nicely done.

I don't have much to say other than I did enjoy this book a lot and will definitely be forging ahead with this crew, especially as they were finally heading out on the quest that that aforementioned powerful and enigmatic mage had enlisted them for.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Number... crap, what number am I on? Oh yeah, lucky number 13. And it is The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham. I picked this book up because it got a good review from the AV Club, invoking a favourable comparison to GRRM no less, so I decided to give it a shot.

I could immediately understand the GRRM comparison as Abraham structures this book exactly like GRRM structures his Song of Ice and Fire books; each chapter is told from the POV of a main character. The difference is that Abraham has less main characters than GRRM does. There are three main characters, Marcus Wester, Cithrin and Geder. Then a few other lesser characters who also get POV chapters.

I found this a little... hard to get into. It wasn't bad or anything, it just didn't really reach out and grab me. I found the worldbuilding a little... I don't know, pedantic? I just didn't find the unfolding of the world's history to be that interesting. Perhaps because I felt it was somehow disconnected from what the characters were going through? Geder has an almost unhealthy interest in history, but since his interest is put forth as almost frivolous and child-like, I found it hard to take all of it seriously. And I just found all the different races kinda Star Trekian and a little difficult to keep track of.

Abraham's court intreigue is definitely not on par with GRRM's. Now, the comparison is a mite unfair because that is the sort of thing that GRRM so excels at, but at this point in fantasy writing, if you're going to approach court politics, you have to bring your A game. I think we have a B game going on here. One of the other POV characters (Dawson) is knee deep in this, a nobleman mover and shaker who is convinced he is saving his king, and he brings some of the other characters into the fold whether they want to or not.

I have no problem with characters being far flung from one another, but other than at the very beginning, I just wasn't seeing connections between their storylines and that kinda annoyed me. I'm sure it will come back around again and be tied together, but the sense of... urgency isn't there? I dunno.

Not to say that there aren't some very good parts to this book. Geder makes an incredibly huge, dire decision that I definitely didn't see coming, and his character is growing very interesting. He's almost doing a reverse Jaime and I can respect that. In fact, I think I found Geder's plotline to be the most interesting of them all.

All this being said, I felt the book did considerably pick up in the second half, so it is enough to make me want to continue on when the next one comes out.