bobquasit: (Default)
While re-reading the Harry Potter series and watching the movies, I was struck by the ways in which J.K. Rowling's style resembles that of Agatha Christie. They share an intensely English, insular outlook - and rather a nationalistic, even racist one.

This is most evident in Rowling's portrayal of the two "visitor" schools in the Triwizard Tournament. Beauxbatons is a caricature of the French, at least as many older Britons perceive them: superficially attractive, concerned mainly about appearance (although to her credit Rowling did make an exception to that point later in the series, when Fleur surprises Mrs. Weasley by not breaking her engagement after Bill is badly scarred), and ultimately light-weights in every way (except, perhaps, in the field of romance). The movie accentuates this by representing the Beauxbatons student body as almost entirely female, and throws in a gratuitous mass-ass-wiggling scene which is simply ridiculous.

Likewise, Durmstrang is a heavy-handed parody of Russians and East Europeans in general. Virtually all male, sullen, buzz-cut, large, taciturn, and given to violence; the personification of the racist fantasies of some angry, graying old Briton, and an old-fashioned one at that. If they weren't school-age, I'd imagine Rowling would have made them drunks, too!

I almost wish that Rowling had included Americans in her books. Dame Agatha would doubtless once again have provided the template: quaint accents out of a 1930s western movie, combined with exaggerated New England ones from the 1890s. Ridiculous Biblical names like "Hiram", "Ezekiel", and "Jedediah". Poor taste in virtually everything. Far too much money than is good for them, and a propensity to throw that money around thoughtlessly. Ignorance combined with overweening arrogance. And I'd bet there'd be at least a touch of over-reliance on technology or its magical equivalent, as well - with a good solid comeuppance in the end, as our plucky British heroes prove that old-fashioned spunk and stick-to-it-iveness are the qualities that really matter when the chips are down.
bobquasit: (Default)
While re-reading the Harry Potter series and watching the movies, I was struck by the ways in which J.K. Rowling's style resembles that of Agatha Christie. They share an intensely English, insular outlook - and rather a nationalistic, even racist one.

This is most evident in Rowling's portrayal of the two "visitor" schools in the Triwizard Tournament. Beauxbatons is a caricature of the French, at least as many older Britons perceive them: superficially attractive, concerned mainly about appearance (although to her credit Rowling did make an exception to that point later in the series, when Fleur surprises Mrs. Weasley by not breaking her engagement after Bill is badly scarred), and ultimately light-weights in every way (except, perhaps, in the field of romance). The movie accentuates this by representing the Beauxbatons student body as almost entirely female, and throws in a gratuitous mass-ass-wiggling scene which is simply ridiculous.

Likewise, Durmstrang is a heavy-handed parody of Russians and East Europeans in general. Virtually all male, sullen, buzz-cut, large, taciturn, and given to violence; the personification of the racist fantasies of some angry, graying old Briton, and an old-fashioned one at that. If they weren't school-age, I'd imagine Rowling would have made them drunks, too!

I almost wish that Rowling had included Americans in her books. Dame Agatha would doubtless once again have provided the template: quaint accents out of a 1930s western movie, combined with exaggerated New England ones from the 1890s. Ridiculous Biblical names like "Hiram", "Ezekiel", and "Jedediah". Poor taste in virtually everything. Far too much money than is good for them, and a propensity to throw that money around thoughtlessly. Ignorance combined with overweening arrogance. And I'd bet there'd be at least a touch of over-reliance on technology or its magical equivalent, as well - with a good solid comeuppance in the end, as our plucky British heroes prove that old-fashioned spunk and stick-to-it-iveness are the qualities that really matter when the chips are down.
bobquasit: (Default)
The Blood of a Dragon (Legends of Ethshar)The Blood of a Dragon by Lawrence Watt-Evans

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's late, so this will be relatively brief (for me, that is - which means it will probably be one of the longer reviews here on GoodReads).

Lawrence Watt-Evans' Ethshar books are the preeminent modern light fantasy series. They're eminently readable, and particularly enjoyable because most of them feature intelligent, reasonable, fundamentally decent protagonists who take sensible precautions, make intelligent choices, and cope with the unexpected logically - although not necessarily with superhuman perfection.

That's what makes the Ethshar books so refreshing: they're about people who are about as intelligent as most fantasy readers, I think. Or as intelligent as I am, anyway. :D

Whereas most modern genre fiction either features "heroes" who constantly miss the obvious in order to bloat the plot and page count to forest-killing proportions, or else have characters who are so annoyingly perfect and flawless that they have all the excitement of a particularly dull 1950s Superman comic.

It's nice to read books about people using their brains to deal with interesting problems that don't necessarily involve Saving the World. And it's a pleasure to read about people who make reasonable moral choices.

But the main protagonist in The Blood of a Dragon is something of an exception to that rule (as is Tabaea the Thief from The Spell of the Black Dagger). Dumery of Shiphaven is spoiled, paranoid, self-centered, doesn't think ahead, and repeatedly demonstrates both bad judgment and a surprisingly questionable morality. He only ends up succeeding because of pure luck (and, perhaps, stubbornness), and that's very unusual for an Ethshar protagonist.

To make up for that, we also have Teneria of Fishertown, a very sensible witch-apprentice. Her encounter with Adar the warlock is gripping, with fascinating implications for the world of Ethshar - implications which will, I suspect, be addressed in the forthcoming Ethshar novel The Unwelcome Warlock.

But Dumery? He's a jerk. Oh, there's a paragraph or two where he has a mild moral crisis over his behavior, and regrets his acts. But it felt to me as if Watt-Evans was almost forcing the character in that direction; it didn't ring quite true.

So although this is quite an enjoyable read, it's not the best of the Ethshar series - and it's definitely not a good introduction to Ethshar. I'd strongly suggest starting with The Misenchanted Sword and proceeding in order of publication, if you can.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: the book has a spriggan. It's one of the funnier spriggans, too - and they're all funny. I don't know what it is about spriggans, but they always make me laugh and tug my heartstrings!

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The Blood of a Dragon (Legends of Ethshar)The Blood of a Dragon by Lawrence Watt-Evans

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's late, so this will be relatively brief (for me, that is - which means it will probably be one of the longer reviews here on GoodReads).

Lawrence Watt-Evans' Ethshar books are the preeminent modern light fantasy series. They're eminently readable, and particularly enjoyable because most of them feature intelligent, reasonable, fundamentally decent protagonists who take sensible precautions, make intelligent choices, and cope with the unexpected logically - although not necessarily with superhuman perfection.

That's what makes the Ethshar books so refreshing: they're about people who are about as intelligent as most fantasy readers, I think. Or as intelligent as I am, anyway. :D

Whereas most modern genre fiction either features "heroes" who constantly miss the obvious in order to bloat the plot and page count to forest-killing proportions, or else have characters who are so annoyingly perfect and flawless that they have all the excitement of a particularly dull 1950s Superman comic.

It's nice to read books about people using their brains to deal with interesting problems that don't necessarily involve Saving the World. And it's a pleasure to read about people who make reasonable moral choices.

But the main protagonist in The Blood of a Dragon is something of an exception to that rule (as is Tabaea the Thief from The Spell of the Black Dagger). Dumery of Shiphaven is spoiled, paranoid, self-centered, doesn't think ahead, and repeatedly demonstrates both bad judgment and a surprisingly questionable morality. He only ends up succeeding because of pure luck (and, perhaps, stubbornness), and that's very unusual for an Ethshar protagonist.

To make up for that, we also have Teneria of Fishertown, a very sensible witch-apprentice. Her encounter with Adar the warlock is gripping, with fascinating implications for the world of Ethshar - implications which will, I suspect, be addressed in the forthcoming Ethshar novel The Unwelcome Warlock.

But Dumery? He's a jerk. Oh, there's a paragraph or two where he has a mild moral crisis over his behavior, and regrets his acts. But it felt to me as if Watt-Evans was almost forcing the character in that direction; it didn't ring quite true.

So although this is quite an enjoyable read, it's not the best of the Ethshar series - and it's definitely not a good introduction to Ethshar. I'd strongly suggest starting with The Misenchanted Sword and proceeding in order of publication, if you can.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: the book has a spriggan. It's one of the funnier spriggans, too - and they're all funny. I don't know what it is about spriggans, but they always make me laugh and tug my heartstrings!

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The Cyborg and the SorcerersThe Cyborg and the Sorcerers by Lawrence Watt-Evans

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Lawrence Watt-Evans is the best light fantasy writer of the past twenty years. He's put out some serious, massive fantasy tomes lately, too - as if P.G. Wodehouse were forced to write Wagnerian operas. Not that his serious stuff is bad, mind you! It's just not as good as his light fantasy.

But once in a while he steps out of the fantasy field altogether, and the results are usually impressive. The Cyborg and the Sorcerers is a relatively early science fiction novel from Watt-Evans; I think it might be his first, but it's not easy to find a straightforward bibliography of his novels.

TCatS is actually a mixed-genre novel; Slant, a STL-traveling interstellar elite military cyborg scout, finds a planet where the inhabitants have developed the ability to use magic. This is cursorily explained as the product of mutation, originally, although the ability can apparently be developed in any human being by a trained sorcerer.

One of the most refreshing things about Watt-Evans is that he almost never resorts to the "missing the obvious" plot coupon. His protagonists are generally sensible, reasonable people, and most of them are intelligent. Even better, they use that intelligence...intelligently. This is an astonishingly rare event in modern science fiction and fantasy fiction. One common shtick that often comes up in SF-meets-fantasy books is a refusal by SF characters to believe that magic could possibly be real. Slant accepts the "magic" he sees (albeit within the context of the mutation theory) after witnessing a reasonable amount of evidence.

It's the ship's computer, which is in many ways Slant's master, that has more difficulty accepting the idea of magic - although it nonetheless manages to come up with some intelligent ideas of its own.

The novel chronicles Slant's attempts to cope with the demands of the computer, and finally to escape its control altogether. It's well-told and entertaining. It does feel a little bit sketchy, though. I can't help but feel that another fifty pages or so would have helped the book; Slant could frankly use a bit more depth, and apart from the computer the other characters in the book feel a bit empty. There's an emotional potential in Slant's psyche that isn't sufficiently addressed, to my way of thinking. His past has been partly erased from his memory, and his world has been destroyed; slower-than-light travel has made him a chronological castaway, forever cut off from his birthplace and time. His struggle to recover an important memory is just slightly too easy.

There's one slight anachronism in the book, one hardly worth mentioning - but since I brought it up, I will. It's mentioned at least twice that Slant's skeleton has been reinforced with steel. That strikes an odd note. I'm surprised that Watt-Evans didn't make up some sort of space-age alloy, such as the adamantium that Marvel used long before for Wolverine.

I also recently came up with a solution for one of Slant's problems. But since it involves a spoiler, and I don't want to have to hide the whole review, I'm going to put it in a separate comment on the review itself - if GoodReads will allow it.

Oh, one more thing: although I usually like the cover art for the Ethshar books, and this one seems to be by the same artist who did several of the early Ethshar entries, I think it was an unfortunate choice to make all the characters on the cover look like Biblical patriarchs. It probably hurt sales.

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My spoiler-comment is behind this cut:
Read more... )
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The Cyborg and the SorcerersThe Cyborg and the Sorcerers by Lawrence Watt-Evans

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Lawrence Watt-Evans is the best light fantasy writer of the past twenty years. He's put out some serious, massive fantasy tomes lately, too - as if P.G. Wodehouse were forced to write Wagnerian operas. Not that his serious stuff is bad, mind you! It's just not as good as his light fantasy.

But once in a while he steps out of the fantasy field altogether, and the results are usually impressive. The Cyborg and the Sorcerers is a relatively early science fiction novel from Watt-Evans; I think it might be his first, but it's not easy to find a straightforward bibliography of his novels.

TCatS is actually a mixed-genre novel; Slant, a STL-traveling interstellar elite military cyborg scout, finds a planet where the inhabitants have developed the ability to use magic. This is cursorily explained as the product of mutation, originally, although the ability can apparently be developed in any human being by a trained sorcerer.

One of the most refreshing things about Watt-Evans is that he almost never resorts to the "missing the obvious" plot coupon. His protagonists are generally sensible, reasonable people, and most of them are intelligent. Even better, they use that intelligence...intelligently. This is an astonishingly rare event in modern science fiction and fantasy fiction. One common shtick that often comes up in SF-meets-fantasy books is a refusal by SF characters to believe that magic could possibly be real. Slant accepts the "magic" he sees (albeit within the context of the mutation theory) after witnessing a reasonable amount of evidence.

It's the ship's computer, which is in many ways Slant's master, that has more difficulty accepting the idea of magic - although it nonetheless manages to come up with some intelligent ideas of its own.

The novel chronicles Slant's attempts to cope with the demands of the computer, and finally to escape its control altogether. It's well-told and entertaining. It does feel a little bit sketchy, though. I can't help but feel that another fifty pages or so would have helped the book; Slant could frankly use a bit more depth, and apart from the computer the other characters in the book feel a bit empty. There's an emotional potential in Slant's psyche that isn't sufficiently addressed, to my way of thinking. His past has been partly erased from his memory, and his world has been destroyed; slower-than-light travel has made him a chronological castaway, forever cut off from his birthplace and time. His struggle to recover an important memory is just slightly too easy.

There's one slight anachronism in the book, one hardly worth mentioning - but since I brought it up, I will. It's mentioned at least twice that Slant's skeleton has been reinforced with steel. That strikes an odd note. I'm surprised that Watt-Evans didn't make up some sort of space-age alloy, such as the adamantium that Marvel used long before for Wolverine.

I also recently came up with a solution for one of Slant's problems. But since it involves a spoiler, and I don't want to have to hide the whole review, I'm going to put it in a separate comment on the review itself - if GoodReads will allow it.

Oh, one more thing: although I usually like the cover art for the Ethshar books, and this one seems to be by the same artist who did several of the early Ethshar entries, I think it was an unfortunate choice to make all the characters on the cover look like Biblical patriarchs. It probably hurt sales.

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My spoiler-comment is behind this cut:
Read more... )
bobquasit: (The Question)
The Sword and the EyeThe Sword and the Eye by Justin Leiber

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I wavered between giving this three and four stars. Once again, GoodReads' five-star system proves much too limiting. In a fractional scale, this would be a 3.5 at least.

It's really quite a likable book, in no small part because it takes some of the standard tropes of fantasy and fiction in general - going all the way back to The Count of Monte Cristo and, of course, Shakespeare - yet managed to surprise and move me at some points. I value that; when you've read as many books as I have, genuine surprises are rare, and to be cherished.

The language is a bit archaic and Vancian (i.e. reminiscent of Jack Vance, which is to say rather formal and old-fashioned). There are moments when the humor reminds me of Vance too - but nowhere near as chaotic and confusing as Vance can sometimes be.

It's an old story; the hero, cast down from his noble station, finds himself fated to set things right. The characters are the usual fantasy types, albeit with more depth than is usual. In fact, that's where Leiber surprised me; I was more than half-expecting the usual "this ends here" final encounter between the hero and villain, and instead was surprised by...well, I won't spoil it for you.

I'll note that Justin Leiber is the son of the famous Golden Age science fiction writer Fritz Leiber. He's a rare example of literary talent running true in a family (unlike the supremely untalented Brian Herbert, who, I must note, should have had his hands chopped off before he was ever allowed near a keyboard). Leiber (fils has also demonstrated an impressive range of ability, having also written some very good science fiction in a very different "voice". The Sword and the Eye is the next-to-last fiction book he published (so far); there's apparently a sequel (the cover calls it "Book One of the Saga of Eigin"), but that sequel was published in 1986, and there's been nothing more from Leiber since. That's a pity, because writers of his caliber are far too rare in the science fiction and fantasy genres these days!


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bobquasit: (The Question)
The Sword and the EyeThe Sword and the Eye by Justin Leiber

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I wavered between giving this three and four stars. Once again, GoodReads' five-star system proves much too limiting. In a fractional scale, this would be a 3.5 at least.

It's really quite a likable book, in no small part because it takes some of the standard tropes of fantasy and fiction in general - going all the way back to The Count of Monte Cristo and, of course, Shakespeare - yet managed to surprise and move me at some points. I value that; when you've read as many books as I have, genuine surprises are rare, and to be cherished.

The language is a bit archaic and Vancian (i.e. reminiscent of Jack Vance, which is to say rather formal and old-fashioned). There are moments when the humor reminds me of Vance too - but nowhere near as chaotic and confusing as Vance can sometimes be.

It's an old story; the hero, cast down from his noble station, finds himself fated to set things right. The characters are the usual fantasy types, albeit with more depth than is usual. In fact, that's where Leiber surprised me; I was more than half-expecting the usual "this ends here" final encounter between the hero and villain, and instead was surprised by...well, I won't spoil it for you.

I'll note that Justin Leiber is the son of the famous Golden Age science fiction writer Fritz Leiber. He's a rare example of literary talent running true in a family (unlike the supremely untalented Brian Herbert, who, I must note, should have had his hands chopped off before he was ever allowed near a keyboard). Leiber (fils has also demonstrated an impressive range of ability, having also written some very good science fiction in a very different "voice". The Sword and the Eye is the next-to-last fiction book he published (so far); there's apparently a sequel (the cover calls it "Book One of the Saga of Eigin"), but that sequel was published in 1986, and there's been nothing more from Leiber since. That's a pity, because writers of his caliber are far too rare in the science fiction and fantasy genres these days!


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bobquasit: (Omac)
Astro City Vol. 1: Life in the Big CityAstro City Vol. 1: Life in the Big City by Kurt Busiek

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A nice change from the usual ponderous crap that's so often issued by the Big Two. Of course, this isn't from the Big Two, which is probably why it's not crap.

There are a number of thinly-disguised re-takes on classic superhero characters; this has practically become a genre in itself. I almost wonder if DC and Marvel might eventually start publishing their own thinly-disguised re-takes of their big properties, just to get in on the action!*

Anyway, the book consists of a series of mostly-unrelated superhero stories, offering a different and more "realistic" take on the genre. It reminds me very strongly indeed of Common Grounds, but to tell you the truth, I think Common Grounds did it better. In fairness I should note that Common Grounds also came out years after Astro City.

The stories are thought-provoking, but some of them fall a little flat. There's a slight feeling of...I'm not quite sure how to put this. The stories are good, but they're just not as masterfully written as the works of...well, I hate to always be bringing him up, but Alan Moore. They just feel as if they're aimed slightly lower, somehow; they don't dazzle through sheer virtuosity.

But they're fun, and thought-provoking, and the art is good. In a fractional system I'd give Astro City a solid 3.49, and I'm definitely going to look up other books in the series. If I was still subscribing to comic books, I'd doubtless subscribe.

I wish GoodReads would change over to a ten-star or fractional system! Five stars is MUCH too restrictive.

-----------------

* - They probably have - and if they have, I'm sure Steve will tell me.


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bobquasit: (Omac)
Astro City Vol. 1: Life in the Big CityAstro City Vol. 1: Life in the Big City by Kurt Busiek

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A nice change from the usual ponderous crap that's so often issued by the Big Two. Of course, this isn't from the Big Two, which is probably why it's not crap.

There are a number of thinly-disguised re-takes on classic superhero characters; this has practically become a genre in itself. I almost wonder if DC and Marvel might eventually start publishing their own thinly-disguised re-takes of their big properties, just to get in on the action!*

Anyway, the book consists of a series of mostly-unrelated superhero stories, offering a different and more "realistic" take on the genre. It reminds me very strongly indeed of Common Grounds, but to tell you the truth, I think Common Grounds did it better. In fairness I should note that Common Grounds also came out years after Astro City.

The stories are thought-provoking, but some of them fall a little flat. There's a slight feeling of...I'm not quite sure how to put this. The stories are good, but they're just not as masterfully written as the works of...well, I hate to always be bringing him up, but Alan Moore. They just feel as if they're aimed slightly lower, somehow; they don't dazzle through sheer virtuosity.

But they're fun, and thought-provoking, and the art is good. In a fractional system I'd give Astro City a solid 3.49, and I'm definitely going to look up other books in the series. If I was still subscribing to comic books, I'd doubtless subscribe.

I wish GoodReads would change over to a ten-star or fractional system! Five stars is MUCH too restrictive.

-----------------

* - They probably have - and if they have, I'm sure Steve will tell me.


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bobquasit: (Zelda)
I've decided to write reviews for every book in my GoodReads "My Books" listing - there are currently 215, and many of them don't have a review!

The Goblin ReservationThe Goblin Reservation by Clifford D. Simak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Read more... )
View all my reviews
bobquasit: (Zelda)
I've decided to write reviews for every book in my GoodReads "My Books" listing - there are currently 215, and many of them don't have a review!

The Goblin ReservationThe Goblin Reservation by Clifford D. Simak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Read more... )
View all my reviews
bobquasit: (Lo Pan)
Hidden Empire Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card


My rating: 1 of 5 stars
The label on the spine says "SCIENCE FICTION", but "FANTASY" would have been more accurate. "RIGHT-WING FANTASY" would have been the most accurate of all.

Global warming is a lie, and even liberals know it in their heart of hearts. Guantanamo is relatively "nice". Progressives conspired against America, and were roundly defeated by patriotic red-state forces. Fox News is the only channel that even occasionally tells the truth. A Rush Limbaugh analog is a brave, noble, and lovable hero.

Three thoughts went through my head as I read this:

First, that George W. Bush could have written the whole thing. I knew that Card had been getting more and more right-wing over the years, but this surprised even me.

Second, that with each page I found myself disliking Card more and more. Your mileage may differ, but I found his opinions really offensive. He really seems quite proud of his bigoted opinions; that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has read any of his homophobic and religiously-biased articles.

Third, whatever storytelling talent Card had has long since been replaced with a dumbed-down writing style and an urge to grab the microphone and preach the True Faith. He's really gotten himself into a rut; he seems utterly dependent on overly-precious banter between precocious kids and their parent(s), alternating with warmed-over right-wing political philosophy and rather limp and confused action scenes.

There's a worldwide epidemic and African warfare thread which is slightly less tedious than the rest of the book, but it certainly doesn't make up for the rest of it. The whole thing rather reminded me of the Left Behind series, and that's a memory I would rather not have dredged up.

It's funny; he was able to write well, once upon a time. It's hard to believe that this book is by the same guy who wrote Songmaster.

Avoid!

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bobquasit: (Lo Pan)
Hidden Empire Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card


My rating: 1 of 5 stars
The label on the spine says "SCIENCE FICTION", but "FANTASY" would have been more accurate. "RIGHT-WING FANTASY" would have been the most accurate of all.

Global warming is a lie, and even liberals know it in their heart of hearts. Guantanamo is relatively "nice". Progressives conspired against America, and were roundly defeated by patriotic red-state forces. Fox News is the only channel that even occasionally tells the truth. A Rush Limbaugh analog is a brave, noble, and lovable hero.

Three thoughts went through my head as I read this:

First, that George W. Bush could have written the whole thing. I knew that Card had been getting more and more right-wing over the years, but this surprised even me.

Second, that with each page I found myself disliking Card more and more. Your mileage may differ, but I found his opinions really offensive. He really seems quite proud of his bigoted opinions; that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has read any of his homophobic and religiously-biased articles.

Third, whatever storytelling talent Card had has long since been replaced with a dumbed-down writing style and an urge to grab the microphone and preach the True Faith. He's really gotten himself into a rut; he seems utterly dependent on overly-precious banter between precocious kids and their parent(s), alternating with warmed-over right-wing political philosophy and rather limp and confused action scenes.

There's a worldwide epidemic and African warfare thread which is slightly less tedious than the rest of the book, but it certainly doesn't make up for the rest of it. The whole thing rather reminded me of the Left Behind series, and that's a memory I would rather not have dredged up.

It's funny; he was able to write well, once upon a time. It's hard to believe that this book is by the same guy who wrote Songmaster.

Avoid!

View all my reviews >>
bobquasit: (Sebastian Riding)
We made these videos a few weeks ago, before he caught pneumonia. On the plus side, the antibiotic IV he got in the hospital cleared up that lip infection, too.

It's probably obvious that these were totally unscripted?







We're coming along nicely on The Return of the King, now. Merry is about to meet Dernhelm soon. Just for the record, he hasn't seen the movies at all - thank goodness!
bobquasit: (Sebastian Riding)
We made these videos a few weeks ago, before he caught pneumonia. On the plus side, the antibiotic IV he got in the hospital cleared up that lip infection, too.

It's probably obvious that these were totally unscripted?







We're coming along nicely on The Return of the King, now. Merry is about to meet Dernhelm soon. Just for the record, he hasn't seen the movies at all - thank goodness!
bobquasit: (Default)
There's been a conversation going on over on a GoodReads discussion group about The Lord of the Rings:

For the record, I loathe the movies. That was the whole point of post #3. It's my hope and belief that the LOTR books will still be read and loved long after those idiotic movies are forgotten. The movies stood many of Tolkien's themes on their heads, and replaced some of his most memorable and beautiful dialog with ersatz idiocy. They represent a profound disrespect of Tolkien, although I believe that Peter Jackson was too self-important (and possibly too stupid) to realize that he was crapping all over a work that he wasn't qualified to read, much less film.

The Eagle was Gwaihir the Windlord. He was sent to Orthanc by Radagast the Brown, one of the Five Wizards and a particular friend of animals, at Gandalf's request - to bring news. Radagast had been misled by Saruman, but was not a traitor. Gandalf had certainly had dealings with the Eagles before, most notably in The Hobbit. Gandalf did not control Gwaihir, ever - the eagle helped him out of friendship. As far as I know, the only living things that Gandalf ever controlled were Grima Wormtongue and Saruman - and in both cases, only for a few moments at most.
Read more... )
bobquasit: (Default)
There's been a conversation going on over on a GoodReads discussion group about The Lord of the Rings:

For the record, I loathe the movies. That was the whole point of post #3. It's my hope and belief that the LOTR books will still be read and loved long after those idiotic movies are forgotten. The movies stood many of Tolkien's themes on their heads, and replaced some of his most memorable and beautiful dialog with ersatz idiocy. They represent a profound disrespect of Tolkien, although I believe that Peter Jackson was too self-important (and possibly too stupid) to realize that he was crapping all over a work that he wasn't qualified to read, much less film.

The Eagle was Gwaihir the Windlord. He was sent to Orthanc by Radagast the Brown, one of the Five Wizards and a particular friend of animals, at Gandalf's request - to bring news. Radagast had been misled by Saruman, but was not a traitor. Gandalf had certainly had dealings with the Eagles before, most notably in The Hobbit. Gandalf did not control Gwaihir, ever - the eagle helped him out of friendship. As far as I know, the only living things that Gandalf ever controlled were Grima Wormtongue and Saruman - and in both cases, only for a few moments at most.
Read more... )
bobquasit: (Default)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, Book 1) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's odd that this is the first time I've read an Oz book. I think I started one or two, long ago, and never finished them. But many people rave about Oz, and I love old books from that era (especially children's books), so recently I picked it up and read it through.

It didn't take long. In fact, I was quite surprised at how quickly I got through it. It's quite a short book. It's also very simply written. I don't think most young American children (say, ages 7 and up) would have any difficulty reading it at all. The grammar is slightly more formal than modern American English, but the vocabulary is startlingly ordinary; far less challenging than I'd expected.

Perhaps that's because most of the books I've read from that general era (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was first published in 1900) are English, and use a considerably deeper vocabulary. The majority of Americans would struggle with an unabridged Peter Pan or Winnie-the-Pooh, and be utterly defeated by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

That said, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was a nice, light, and very quick read with some pleasantly funny moments. I'd heard that it was an extended political parable - the scarecrow representing Midwestern farmers, the Tin Woodsman representing the factory workers of the new Industrial Revolution, and the Lion representing...actually, I don't remember - but if that's the case (and it may well be) the result certainly doesn't seem to very complex. I probably won't read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for myself again very soon, but I'll probably soon read it to my son - or see if he's interested in reading it for himself.

I can't help but wonder if I'd have loved the book if I had first read it when I was seven. But I just don't know.

Oh, I almost forgot: Of course I've seen the movie many times, and am quite fond of it. I expected the book to be very different from the movie, and it was - but it turned out that the movie was more faithful to the text than I'd realized. That said, I have to say that the movie actually seemed to make a strong theme (there's no place like home, of course) which the book lacked. But then, Dorothy seemed much younger in the book.

It was also interesting that in the book, the voyage to Oz was clearly NOT a dream (Uncle Henry had had to build a new house to replace the one that had been taken away by the tornado), whereas the movie made it fairly clear that Oz HAD all been Dorothy's fever-dream (since, among other things, the house was unchanged and still there).

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bobquasit: (Default)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, Book 1) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's odd that this is the first time I've read an Oz book. I think I started one or two, long ago, and never finished them. But many people rave about Oz, and I love old books from that era (especially children's books), so recently I picked it up and read it through.

It didn't take long. In fact, I was quite surprised at how quickly I got through it. It's quite a short book. It's also very simply written. I don't think most young American children (say, ages 7 and up) would have any difficulty reading it at all. The grammar is slightly more formal than modern American English, but the vocabulary is startlingly ordinary; far less challenging than I'd expected.

Perhaps that's because most of the books I've read from that general era (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was first published in 1900) are English, and use a considerably deeper vocabulary. The majority of Americans would struggle with an unabridged Peter Pan or Winnie-the-Pooh, and be utterly defeated by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

That said, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was a nice, light, and very quick read with some pleasantly funny moments. I'd heard that it was an extended political parable - the scarecrow representing Midwestern farmers, the Tin Woodsman representing the factory workers of the new Industrial Revolution, and the Lion representing...actually, I don't remember - but if that's the case (and it may well be) the result certainly doesn't seem to very complex. I probably won't read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for myself again very soon, but I'll probably soon read it to my son - or see if he's interested in reading it for himself.

I can't help but wonder if I'd have loved the book if I had first read it when I was seven. But I just don't know.

Oh, I almost forgot: Of course I've seen the movie many times, and am quite fond of it. I expected the book to be very different from the movie, and it was - but it turned out that the movie was more faithful to the text than I'd realized. That said, I have to say that the movie actually seemed to make a strong theme (there's no place like home, of course) which the book lacked. But then, Dorothy seemed much younger in the book.

It was also interesting that in the book, the voyage to Oz was clearly NOT a dream (Uncle Henry had had to build a new house to replace the one that had been taken away by the tornado), whereas the movie made it fairly clear that Oz HAD all been Dorothy's fever-dream (since, among other things, the house was unchanged and still there).

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