Archive for the ‘SF/Fantasy’ Category

WoT03_TheDragonReborn


Series: The Wheel of Time, Book 3
Pages: 704 (Mass Market Paperback)
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Date: October 15, 1992

Reading the third book in the main sequence of Jordan’s Wheel of Time, I see the story just starting to hit its stride. The main characters are now well developed, and our sympathies as readers are beginning to spread out to multiple perspectives and agendas. The Dragon Reborn is all about Rand al’Thor coming to grips with who he is, and what his place is in the world – things every person goes through at some point in their life, whether they’re intended to save the world or not.

 

 

 

My reviews of other books in The Wheel of Time series:

Prequel: New Spring, reviewed May 28, 2014
Book One: The Eye of the World, reviewed May 29, 2014
Book Two: The Great Hunt, reviewed June 22, 2014

<<Spoiler Alert: Again, I am including a spoiler alert for this review, despite the book originally coming out over twenty years ago – if you haven’d read it, it’s still new to you. This review contains plot and character details from this book, as well as from previous books in the series. If you wish to remain spoiler-free, do not click through.>>
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homeland600


Series: Sequel to 2008’s Little Brother
Pages: 448 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Tor Teen
Date: February 5, 2013

Reading the sequel to what has been one of my favorite novels of the 21st century (so far) is an exercise destined to have a hard time living up to expectations. While Doctorow’s Little Brother is, in my opinion, an important book, Homeland does a good job of being entertaining, but seems just a little too self-aware to live up to its predecessor. Click through after the break to get my breakdown of what works – and what doesn’t – in this book of rebellious youth growing up.
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WoT02 The Great Hunt


Series: The Wheel of Time, Book 2
Pages: 705 (Mass Market Paperback)
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Date: October 15, 1991

Reading the second book of a fourteen book (fifteen, if you count the prequel) series feels somewhat like still being in the beginning, despite having now read well over a thousand pages set in Jordan’s world. In this, my third review in my reread of Robert Jordan’s epic The Wheel of Time series, I find myself thoroughly enjoying the way so far, and ready to go ever onward. Click through to read my take on The Great Hunt.

 

 

My reviews of other books in The Wheel of Time series:

Prequel: New Spring, reviewed May 28, 2014
Book One: The Eye of the World, reviewed May 29, 2014

<<Spoiler Alert: While it feels a bit odd giving a spoiler alert for a book that is over twenty years old, there are always new readers discovering Jordan and his epic series. This review contains plot and character details from this book, as well as from previous books in the series. If you wish to remain spoiler-free, do not click through.>>
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Little-Brother


Pages: 416 (Paperback)
Publisher: Tor Teen
Date: April 29, 2008

Cory Doctorow first came to my attention when I picked up a copy of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Its combination of absurdism and new paradigms in a realistic future setting hooked me on his writing, and I quickly came to be a semi-regular follower of Doctorow’s website, Boing Boing. He’s a huge believer in and supporter of the Creative Commons, and he puts his money where his mouth is – each of his books is available for free download, forever. That said, he still sells strong numbers, and has even increased his audience through this rather unorthodox approach. Lest this become a review of the man rather than the book, I’ll start talking about my favorite of all his works (so far): Little Brother.
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WoT01_TheEyeOfTheWorld


Series: The Wheel of Time, Book 1
Pages: 832 (Mass Market Paperback)
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Date: November 15, 1990

I originally read Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series beginning in 2002 when I was living in Japan. My friend Mike introduced me to Mr. Jordan’s fantastical world, and I was hooked from the very beginning. At that time, there were nine books out in the series, Jordan having released them at a pace of almost one a year (take that, George RR Martin!). A tenth came out in 2003, and eleventh in 2005. Then, nothing. Jordan got sick, and passed in September of 2007, leaving his series unfinished, and his fans both saddened and disappointed. That was not, however, the end of The Wheel of Time.

My reviews of other books in The Wheel of Time series:

Prequel: New Spring, reviewed May 28, 2014
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WoT00_NewSpring


Series: The Wheel of Time, Book 0
Pages: 400 (Mass Market Paperback)
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Date: January, 2004

New Spring was originally published as part of an anthology in 1999: Legends: Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy, edited by Robert Silverberg. I came across this volume in a library years ago, but never got around to reading it. A few years after the original version, Robert Jordan decided to flesh out the novella into a full novel as the first of an intended prequel trilogy, and it was republished on its own. This is the version that I’ll be reviewing here. I had the book for several years before starting it; however, recently, I’ve decided to give the entire Wheel of Time series a reread, now that Brandon Sanderson has completed his “collaboration” with the original author, Robert Jordan, who passed away seven years ago leaving the series unfinished. Sanderson has, by all accounts, done a yeoman’s job, in the process writing three new volumes to finish the series. Over the next year or so, I’ll be revisiting the series (and reading four of the volumes for the first time), beginning with this, the only prequel Jordan completed before his untimely death. Click through after the break for my review.

My other reviews in The Wheel of Time series:

Book One: The Eye of the World, reviewed May 29, 2014

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brave-new-world1

Last month I reviewed one of my favorite SF novels of all time, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. This month, I turn to one of Orwell’s near-contemporaries, an author of another Dystopia that paints a world just as controlled as Orwell’s, only with a little more velvet on the iron fist: Aldous Huxley, and his magnum opus, Brave New World. Published in 1932, it predates Orwell’s work by just shy of two decades. While Orwell was influenced by his experiences in World War II, Huxley, nine years his senior, was more influenced by the laissez faire attitudes of the 1920s when writing his particular brand of future society. Although Brave New World‘s London is, on the surface, a much more desirable locale than the London of Winston Smith, we cannot forget that there is still that iron fist beneath the velvet surface. Click through after the break to get my take on this amazing novel.

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his-majestys-dragon

I first heard about Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series when reading through the list of upcoming books and authors to watch in Locus magazine. (By the way, if you are at all interested in trying your hand at SF or Fantasy, Locus is a must-read for you; you can subscribe online at their website here.) It’s premise of a Napoleonic period with dragons immediately captured my attention. The addition of naval elements cemented the deal, and I went down to my local bookstore to buy the first book in the series, His Majesty’s Dragon. What a great debut novel this is.

(Note: The original title of this novel was Temeraire, which remains the title in the UK and some other territories. The American publishers decided to go with His Majesty’s Dragon both to address the British focus of the novel (it’s always good to mention royalty), and to be a little less obscure (very few people outside of naval historians have heard of the HMS Temeraire.)
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1984 cover

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. The three slogans of the Party sound eerily like the propaganda and doublespeak we hear on the nightly news. Not surprising, seeing as the term doublespeak is a play on George Orwell’s created language, Newspeak, which is his way of playing with how the signifier necessarily affects the signified in our everyday speech. If we no longer have the words to express dissent, dissent dies. And for Winston Smith, finding the right words to express himself is a matter of living a short while as a free man, versus living a life as another cog in the machine. Nineteen Eighty-Four is not only one of the most prescient novels of the twentieth century, it’s one of the greatest novels of all time.

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403px-Tongues_of_Serpents_Cover

When I first discovered Naomi Novik’s alternate history, Napoleonic era with dragons, Dragonriders of Pern meets Hornblower series of books, I read them voraciously. The first three were out and available, and if I recall correctly, I read them in the space of about a week while doing all sorts of other things (like school and work). Book four again caught me by surprise – I didn’t note it until it was out in paperback – and then along came Victory of Eagles, the fifth and, to my mind, best since the first book in the series. For a number of reasons, I took some time away from the books, but recently I have decided to give it another crack, as there are now three books out that I have yet to read. Well, two now, as I’ve finished Tongues of Serpents. I can only hope that the two books I have still sitting on my shelf prove to be more exciting than the one I’ve just finished.
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