Monday, December 31, 2012

A Gentleman Pirate's Life for Me

Book #36 - Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

This is the second Locke Lamora book, and while I enjoyed it (and I did), I also have quite a few criticisms of it.

I found it to be nowhere near as tightly plotted as Lies. Even with all the flashbacks in Lies, there really was only one overall objective; defeating the Grey King. But here, in Red Seas, it starts with what looks to be an Ocean's 11-type casino heist, but then we go to an actual ocean and get a pirate yarn, and then we're back and manipulating city politics and turning it into an art heist and it all just felt... confused. And the divergence into the gladitoral-like games of another near-by city state really seemed unneeded. Especially since it contributed only to a part of the overall plan. An important part yes, but it still felt like the emphasis on this outweighed it's actual importance in the structure of the story.

That isn't to say I didn't like many of the aspects going on. I always like a good pirate tale, and when the pirate captain here is a badass forty-something mother of two, yeah, I can get into that. My only problem with Drakasha was she wasn't a terribly well-developed character. She has potential, and I'd like to see her again, but the fact that she was a strong pirate captain who just happened to be a woman, I did like that.

The relationship between Locke and Jean is rather strained throughout this, and I found that got annoying after awhile. I understand completely why it is, but I would rather they get over it and revert to their normal bantering and not the continual pity party that conversations between the two often reverted to.

SLIGHT SPOILER: I also really needed them to have succeeded in their objective. Lynch has laid them low, taken pretty much everything from them (again!) and so one victory, even if not as big as they hoped, would've been good. Especially since Lynch has left them in a rather dire predicament again, a bit of a cliff hanger for when he finally gets around to finishing the next book.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book 35# - The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

I do so love a good con man. And Locke Lamora is a a con man extraordinaire  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, fun characters, witty dialogue, elaborate ruses, a dangerous foe, well-told flashbacks and some good world-building. 

Lynch does a fabulous job of building Locke and his gang of Gentlemen Bastards up and then completely tearing them down, to the point where one does wonder how the hell Locke will come out of this. But unlike so many fantasy novels, there isn't a nice handy deus ex machina to make things all better for them, it is strictly Locke's wits, that have gotten him into as much trouble as they've rescued him, that save the day, and that's the way it should be.

Definitely onto the second book.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Book #34 - Red Country by Joe Abercrombie


So Red Country... ah how I love Joe Abercrombie. So wonderfully violent and dark and damn funny at times. And here we have his foray into blending the Old West into his fantasy world.

We don't even have a catchy name for the world Abercrombie introduced to us in The Blade Itself. No Middle-Earth or Narnia or Midworld or Westeros (ok, yes I know, that's just a continent  or anything like that. It is what it is. And yet, I'm getting that wonderful feeling of familiarity now each time I come back to Abercrombie's books. And this is mainly because he threads characters through them all, to the point where you're not sure who might show up again, or where.

Which brings me to the best freaking part of this book...

Logen Ninefingers is BACK!!

To say he's one of the best characters I've come across in a long time is an understatement. And he was left in such a literal cliffhanger at the end of Last Argument of Kings, I really had no idea if he lived or not. But he did, and he went far away from the Northlands, assuming the name Lamb, and turning into 'some kind of coward' as his adoptive eldest 'daughter' Shy South constantly reminds us. Seems Logen has done everything he can to shed his past, but of course he couldn't stay away from trouble forever.

When Shy's brother and sister are stolen, off they go across the Far Country on an epic journey into the wild frontier to get them back. All the tropes are there, dangerous 'savages' just trying to protect what's there's, the motley band of settlers bonding against adversity, the frontier town that is a wretched hive of scum and villainy... yeah, it's all there and it should all be cliche, but Abercrombie makes it work and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Some of the characters were a little under developed, and I'm still not quite sure what Abercrombie was getting at with his introduction of the Dragon People (I got the idea that this might be set up for another book?) and some of the dialogue got a little repetitive (the endless renditions of 'can't escape your past' and 'I'm too old for this shit' could've been cut down some), but those are small quibbles in what was generally a fun (and violent) romp through new territory in Abercrombie's world.