How lazy could I get? None. None more lazy. I had to write up several reviews for Goodreads and I had to write a blog post. And then a light came on and I said “by golly! Why don’t I just copy the reviews here?!?” In truth, though, I’d been meaning to talk about these books over here for awhile and so I figured this was the best way to get it all done. And I’d also like to say that I’m looking for book recommendations. (Special To Patrick Todoroff: Gates of Fire is in my TBR folder already.)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a hard book to review.
For starters, it’s flash fiction. Those types of stories are more difficult to do well than most people would assume. The author has very little real estate upon which to erect an entire dwelling for the reader to visit, and for a reader like me whose tastes run to the long and involved, I usually reach the end of story not quite sure what just happened.
The other reason it’s hard to review is because it is (as the author freely admits) an experiment. It’s his first attempt at publishing fiction and he’s thrown it to the wolves!
So did I like it or not?
Some of the stories frustrated me, because it seemed they used too many adjectives. In such a spare format those words seem wasteful–like extra engine revving after the starter flag drops in a drag race. In one case there was a word that made no sense at all, and I’m still pondering why it was chosen. (‘reagent’) In another, it’s plain that there could be more editing done. (‘Oxfordian traffic’)
But nearly every story did a very good job of putting me in the snapshot of those people’s lives. And that takes real skill. In more than a few places I laughed out loud. Anything that makes me laugh is well worth the time, I think.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ve now read through this twice, and on the second read I’m afraid I’ve got to reduce my formerly-five-star review to 4 stars.
The book is still a wonderful _story_ in an imaginative place, well-drawn for the reader. Compared to a lot of other entries in the Fantasy category, this is a book I can and have re-read delightedly.
However, in reading it through the second time I realised that things started to fall apart at the last 10% of the story; Brett’s telling of events once things fall into place lacks a bit of the fire and charm of the bulk of the novel. Of course, this is a minor quibble coming from someone who liked the book enough to read it twice and will doubtless read it yet again. It’s a quibble that really only takes the book down to 4.75 or so.
So why did I drop a whole star?
Well, I realise I’m probably being petty here, but taking away a star is the only revenge I have open to me. When I first read this in 2010 it was called _The Warded Man: Book One Of The Demon Trilogy_. Now I see that it is _The Warded Man: Demon Cycle #1_. Yep. Once again the powers that be have decided to just keep gouging away at what was a strong story, diluting it to turn a trilogy into a never-ending pantheon of weak-sauced storylets.
I’m not impressed, and I’m withholding my effusive praise in light of the fact that the publishers just turn it against us time and again.
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I started this book eagerly. It was recommended on a GRRM forum by several GRRM fans and the first few pages of lyrical prose were definitely exciting. So exciting that I even went onto Facebook and talked the whole thing up to my friends.
Then the egg hit my face…
The prose that had at first felt artful became stifling. The world-building was non-existant. You could tell that Bakker has the whole thing mapped out in his head, but that does me no ruddy good at all.
I will never understand why some fantasy authors seem to think that making their work inscrutable means that they’ve succeeded in penning a classic. Yet that’s what Bakker seems to have done here–at least in the 80 or so pages I waded through before acquiescing to the overall shortness of life and giving it up as a bad job.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Great novel. Even though they are thrillers, Mina’s books are at the very top of the genre as far as quality goes. No mere airplane read here!
I’d rate this as 4.5 stars, if only because it hit a pacing snag about 75% of the way through.
One thing Mina _does_ do well is the telling. Most authors are wary of “telling not showing”, but Mina’s work is all about taking you inside the heads of one or two of the main characters. By telling you what those characters are thinking, she shows you how the world works. It’s a fascinating way to tease out a story and it works particularly well in a crime thriller. I strongly recommend any of Mina’s works to anyone; if you have no particular love for detective novels, don’t worry. The character studies and sense of place that are Mina’s strongest suit will sweep you along into her world.