Friday, September 22, 2006

Book Review

I’ve finally had a few spare minutes to put a book review together so here it is.

I’d like to review “Karavans” by Jennifer Roberson, but I’m not sure it’s fair to review a book that I haven’t finished. I’ve tried like heck to slog my way through this book for about the last month and I’ve finally given up. I just don’t care what happens to these characters. You know, it’s one thing to do gradual character development and drop tantalizingly obscure clues about the exact nature of some of the main characters, but there’s a point where it just stretches on for too long and I lose interest. I’m two-thirds of the way through this stupid story and I still don’t know what the Shoia are or what Alisano really is or does or why it’s such a threat. The book is called “Karavans” and yet the karavan has only JUST NOW left the rendez-vous point and now it’s TURNING BACK! Yawn.

It’s a shame because I always enjoyed Roberson’s “Sword Dancer” and “Cheysuli” (okay, Jenie, you can stop making gagging noises over there in the corner…I can hear ya, you know) series and I was thrilled to hear she’d finally gotten around to putting out some new books. I’m very disappointed.

So, I suppose those of you with more patience than I have could still go and give this book a try (especially once it comes out in paperback) but I’m officially calling it quits. Do me a favor, though, if anyone does check this out…come by here and let me know if it ever got any better, m’kay?

Thank goodness for the next book that, in stark contrast to “Karavans”, was a rip-roaring ride from beginning to end. Only took me about 3 days to finish this one and I had to force myself to put it down each night to get some sleep. I’m talking about “The Lies of Locke Lamora” by Scott Lynch. This book got a lot of great press prior to its release and I’m glad to say it doesn’t disappoint. The story follows the career of a gang of thieves and con-men known as the “Gentlemen Bastards.” I’d describe it as a bit of “The Sting” meets “The Godfather” set in a Renaissance-era Venice that was built by a vanished alien race and which is currently endowed with magic and lots of nasty sea creatures (don’t go swimming in the harbor!). It sounds like there’s way too much going on, but Lynch manages to pull all these disparate elements together to create an interesting and fresh-feeling background world (which is getting harder and harder to do these days) peopled with colorful characters.

This is Lynch’s first published novel as far as I can tell and it does have a few rookie mistakes in it, but they are so minor as to be barely noticeable. Lynch employs a shifting time-stream method of telling this story – flipping back and forth between “present” events and Locke and the gang’s childhood training. While not a mistake in and of itself, it’s just not a technique I’m particularly fond of. It does serve to break up the almost incessant action of the current storyline, though, so it’s effective in that sense. The other things that bugged me a bit were a couple of characters whose storylines were never really resolved. One never actually makes it on-stage in this book at all, but is just referred to very frequently. I assume she’ll make an appearance in a sequel, but still, a bit annoying. Another character gets done away so rapidly that the reader wonders why that character was even necessary to begin with. Lastly, I thought a couple of the plot points were fairly simple and obvious – which flies in the face of Lock Lamora being the most “clever” thief around. It made me wonder why he wasn’t able to “out think” the opposition on a couple of occasions or come up with better plans. Again, these things are so minor that they certainly didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the book. I had no problem paying full price for the hardcover version and I’ll definitely be looking out for a sequel.

Oh, and one small warning. There’s a definite dose of violence in this book (it is about gangsters, thieves and murderers after all) so steer clear if you can’t handle that. Also, I wouldn’t get overly attached to any of the characters…

That’s it for this week.


P.S. Does anyone else think that part of the chorus in Justin Timberlake’s song “Sexy Back” sounds like the backup singers are singing “go ahead big boner”? Or is it just me…

No comments: