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You are currently browsing the Log et al – Peter Curd blog archives for January, 2017.

Jan

25

Review: The Hour of the Gate

By pcurd

The Hour of the Gate
The Hour of the Gate by Alan Dean Foster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well I was right, this is the second half of the first book. I have no idea why they were separated, they aren’t even that long! 600ish pages combined.

It just roars along as a story though, the pace is high all the way through making it a very easy story to get caught up in. The characters don’t expand much, and the world building is enhanced only by a few new animal types being introduced. This left more time for plot.. but most of the book is concentrated on travelling so really all we get is more of a travel documentary of a strange land.

I immediately started into the third book so I suppose that tells you something, but really I’m still not impressed. There is less hidden racism in this story than the last and the characters begin to feel more alive.. but I still don’t understand why there are 8 of these books!

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Jan

13

Review: Spellsinger

By pcurd

Spellsinger
Spellsinger by Alan Dean Foster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goodreads pops up the question “I would recommend to:” when you fill in these reviews and I usually start there whilst my review forms in my head. Today, however, I really can’t decide if I would recommend this book or not. First, because of what it would say about me and my tastes (such as they are!) and second, because of what it would say about this book.

I really dislike that it’s half a story – without giving spoilers, the book leads up a big plot point that hangs over into (at least) the next book – and this isn’t clear from the beginning. I dislike being duped into reading more of a series, even if I would probably have done so anyway.

I dislike some of the framing, not so much the “world of animals” but the “xx creature is xx type of person” lazy writing style. It’s not used as a complete crutch, but it is a little annoying.

I do enjoy the characters, each has something unique about them which rounds out the group, although new characters keep being introduced right up to the final chapters – my first clue the story wasn’t going to resolve itself was a new main character around the half way mark – and my attention (and care) is split a little too far I think.

The nebulous evil introduced on the first pages is fairly well done, not too hard on the fantasy tropes, and would serve a good few stories (there are 8 books I think..).

One early scene has the human avatar character watch (with rapt attention) a strip tease performed by a mustelid – this isn’t to say the entire book is one big animal-human romp, but if you’re put off by that I’d stay clear.

Overall it was quite fun, and I have dived into the second book straight away but I can’t help feel like I’m being forced to rather than wanting to.

Oh, and the “I would recommend to”? I’ve left it blank. You’d better make your own decision.

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Jan

3

Review: Caliban’s War

By pcurd

Caliban's War
Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I stopped reading this over Christmas but not because the story is bad, because I was listening to the audio book and not commuting as normal. When I got back into it in January I devoured (with my ears) the last third – the ending is fast, exciting, and much more like the first book. This part of the series is slow in my mind, there was a lot of characterisation and scene setting which definitely at times took away from the pace of the story. The plots are well intertwined and the suspenses created by the swapping between characters were well executed and (almost always) worth the wait.

The saga of James Holden and his crew continues forward and the politics of the Sol System continue to be the main focus of the overall story – with an ominous threat at the back of everyone’s mind – told through a variety of different perspectives ranging from high politics to grunt soldiery. I enjoyed the new characters for the most part and hope many of them continue into the next book. The main driver of the plot was.. dull, unfortunately. I think Corey wanted something believable, human, and easy for the audience to latch on to but to me it took away from the wider story, the human story being faced by everyone. I’m sure you could rewrite the plot to change the MacGuffin and it would change nothing of substance. I did sense some foreshadowing though so it may turn out to be important later – but I don’t bet on it.

Overall a good story, I will definitely dive into the next one after a suitable pause.

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