Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Book Review

Whew! Haven’t had time for a book review in a while so thought I’d sneak in a small one. Part of the problem has been lack of decent reading material. Most of my favorite authors have new material coming out in the first or second quarter of ’07, but the last few months have been abysmally bereft of anything really awe-inspiring.

I read Wen Spencer’s “Wolf Who Rules” – the follow-up to “Tinker” – and found it to be pretty good. The plot got a little out of hand towards the end, but generally, it was a good sequel. I think I’d wait for the paperback version, though, as it doesn’t quite live up to the start made in the first book. Having said that, I somehow managed to buy two copies of the hardback version without realizing it (hello? blonde hair!) so if anyone wants the second one, e-mail me and we’ll work out a deal.

I’ve also been continuing to read the “Honor Harrington” series by David Weber. I’m on about book #8 or something and while they’ve been keeping me busy, there’s really no need to do individual reviews on them as basically the same thing happens in every book. The Star Kingdom of Manticore gets its fanny caught in a bear trap and Honor Harrington single-handedly (and against overwhelming odds) rescues it while simultaneously proving that she is “practically perfect in every way.” Weber does try very hard to balance that out with a lot of tough command decisions and personal injuries/losses that she has to deal with, and that helps keep her from being super-annoying in the perfection department. Still, it’s one of the things that you just sort of have to accept and overlook about the character and the series as a whole. There’s a little too much time and attention paid to starship technology, the physics of battles in space and the enemy’s internal political struggles for my personal taste, but those things are the hallmark of this particular genre so if they bug you, just skip over ‘em to get back to the action. That’s what I do and it works just fine. I do have to say that, annoying technological interruptions aside, other authors could learn a thing or two about action and intensely-paced battles from Mr. Weber. If you find yourself approaching one of the climactic battle scenes in these books at bedtime – either put the book down and wait for morning, or prepare yourself for a sleepless night as you try to recover from a major adrenaline rush.

Lastly, I picked up the first book in Lois McMaster Bujold’s newest series. “Beguilement: The Sharing Knife Volume 1” is an interesting departure from both her Vorkosigan series and her Chalion series. Although it’s fantasy like Chalion, it’s set in a completely different world and deals with “peasant-class” characters versus the nobles who are the main focus of the Chalion series. That’s a refreshing change as it’s a level of society that is too often made one dimensional or ignored entirely by most fantasy novels. The background world and the main “evil” are interesting and well-thought out, but Bujold’s true talent is in making characters come alive. Dag and Fawn are both immediately likeable and interesting and the romance that develops between them is one of the most well-written I’ve read in a long time although it is somewhat reminiscent of the one she created in “Shards of Honor” – the first Vorkosigan novel. And, let me just say, certain authors (cough! Laurell K. Hamilton cough! cough!) could learn a LOT from the way Ms. Bujold writes a sex scene. It’s absolutely clear what actions are going on and yet it’s written with a sweet innocence that makes it a delight to read. There’s also just enough detail to make it sexy mixed with just enough vagueness to allow the reader’s imagination to go as far as it wants to. This makes a nice contrast to all of the overly-anatomically-graphic sex scenes that seem to be all the rage right now. I’m tired of sex scenes which, rather than being romantic or even nicely lusty, leave the reader feeling as if she needs a long shower after surviving an overly-in-depth gynecological exam.

If I had one small complaint about the book it’s that all the “action” seems to happen in the first third of the book and the last two thirds seem to be more about set up for the rest of the series. That being said, one might want to wait for further books to come out before starting the series so as to be able to read the whole thing at once. Or not. I, obviously, was not able to wait. Oh, and as much as I enjoyed this book, I’d still rather have another Miles Vorkosigan novel, but now that he’s married off and has kids, she seems to be done with him. Which has me totally bummed.

In other news, the premiere of “The Dresden Files” – Sci Fi Channel’s take on Jim Butcher’s “Harry Dresden” - series” is scheduled for a January 21, 2007 air date. While I find it hard to believe that anything could possibly live up to how fantastic the books are, I’m still excited to check it out. Hope springs eternal – despite what the bast…er…people at this channel did to “Battlestar Galactica.” Blech! All I can say is if they do the same thing to my beloved Harry, there will not be a hole deep enough for them to hide in. And yeah, I know, BSG is a big critical success and blah, blah, blah. I don’t care. They turned my Starbuck into a CHICK! That is just so frackin’ wrong! Also, if Starbuck were really a chick…he (she?) wouldn’t be so butch and grim and tormented and complicated. Starbuck is very simple: hot, great pilot, sarcastic-playboy-devil-may-care attitude layered over a genuinely heroic core that he tries hard to make sure nobody notices.

Dirk Benedict , where are you when we need you?


P.S. Apollo is a wuss.


Jenie said...

Heh; I won't even watch BSG becoz of that stupid Starbuck thing. Tortured girl, my ***. AND on top of it, she's a clone or robot or something. Please. I may just have to come down there to watch Dresden Files at your house on January 21. If my car is fixed and work does not demand otherwise, I am officially inviting myself over, right now. :)

Silver Parrot said...

You're more than welcome any time, but I have to warn you that I'm on Mom Patrol that weekend and am throwing his birthday party the day before. So, there may be utter chaos in the house and, more than likely, cake in the carpet.

I'm so glad someone else agrees w/ me about BSG. I can't watch it either (although I do think what's-her-face from "Dances with Wolves" who plays the President is the lone bright spot).