Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mini-Review: Blood and Bone by Ian C. Esslemont

Blood and Bone by Ian C. Esslemont (Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon) is his 5th effort in the overall Malazan sequence by Erikson and Esslemont and the penultimate book in the entire saga of the two authors – excepting of course a few novellas, Erikson’s prequels, and whatever the future brings. If that first sentence isn’t enough to convince you, at this point these books are for the fans and those that have read all the others. So, in many ways, this review is nearly pointless anyway…but I digress.
In many ways, the writing of Blood and Bone is the best effort yet I’ve seen out of Esslemont, an in my opinion it’s a huge improvement over Orb, Sceptre, Throne (my review, Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon). However, in retrospect, while the craft was technically superior to his other work, it seems that it does suck some of the life out of the story. When reading the book I felt I was on autopilot – if someone had asked me what happened 10 pages earlier or even if I cared about what was going on, I don’t think I’d have had an answer for them. Combine this with Esslemont’s insistence on being over-subtle (which is a kind way of saying he doesn’t fully explain what should be explained to the detriment of the story), and the book as a whole was failure. I think the biggest take-home lesson is that I simply prefer Erikson’s writing to Esslemont’s. This is unfortunate, because I think thematically the culmination of the entire Malazan saga in the final book – Assail (Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon) – should be spectacular. But I have zero confidence at this point that Esslemont will be able to pull it off to my satisfaction. But I’ll read it anyway – I’ve come too far not to.
And a parting note – I did enjoy how the deadly slog of slow death that soldiers experienced in this book was through a jungle. In Malazan we’ve seen that story repeatedly in desert environs – it was a pleasant juxtaposition to see death by jungle in this book.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Mini-Review: Hunted by Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearn’s Iron Druid series has become my own special sort of cotton candy – it’s light, fluffy, I know it’s bad for me, but I enjoy it a lot anyway. While it’s billed as series, it’s more of a serial to me – the books have much more in common with episodes than actual novels. And there is nothing bad about that, except that treating like a series rather than a serial will probably mean it ends soon than it should.
Anyway, Hunted (Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon) is the most episodic entry in the series so far. It picks up directly after the cliffhanger ending of Trapped (my review, Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon) and consists entirely of Atticus and company fleeing from a few Greek and Roman gods trying to kill them. Yes, it still has the same humor, the fun wish-fulfillment action and all that. And of course the ending is something of a cliffhanger for the next episode, Shattered, which I’ll happily consume when it is released.
My only real complaint (keeping things in the context of my opening sentence), is that Hearne does a truly terrible job of writing the point of view of Granuaile. They read like a 13-year old girl’s private essay of life where she is trying like hell to sound profound – or perhaps a 14 year old boy’s imagining of such. They do not read like the point of view of a grown woman with full agency and independence from male imagined feminine ideals. If the points of view are going to be so bad – keep it to Atticus and the dog.
Anyway, these books are nothing more than fun asides from someone who lives in Arizona and sets events in places I’ve been. I’ll keep reading and enjoying, but keep in mind the context of my enjoyment if you’re looking for a recommendation.


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