• Most new users don't bother reading our rules. Here's the one that is ignored almost immediately upon signup: DO NOT ASK FOR FANEDIT LINKS PUBLICLY. First, read the FAQ. Seriously. What you want is there. You can also send a message to the editor. If that doesn't work THEN post in the Trade & Request forum. Anywhere else and it will be deleted and an infraction will be issued.
  • If this is your first time here please read our FAQ and Rules pages. They have some useful information that will get us all off on the right foot. More details on our policies, especially our Own the Source rule are available here. If you do not understand any of these rules send a private message to one of our staff for further details.
  • Favorite Edit of the Year (FEOTY) Nominations for 2020 are now open! Submit your entries here.

Book Reviews

Racerx1969

Well-known member
Messages
71
Reaction score
13
Trophy Points
13
Well now I'm going to have to go back and re-read these books. I have them all, but never got around to reading the last couple since they came so long after the rest. Gotta restart so I have some familiarity with the multitude of characters and plot lines.
 

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
Messages
2,291
Reaction score
50
Trophy Points
48
Well now I'm going to have to go back and re-read these books. I have them all, but never got around to reading the last couple since they came so long after the rest. Gotta restart so I have some familiarity with the multitude of characters and plot lines.
I started the series at Christmas. It’s been a fairly casual read of about 75 pages per day (1.5 hours). There’s definitely days I’ve gotten enthralled (usually at the end of books) and read more but ~75 is probably most days. I’ll end up reading the approximately 12000 pages in about 4 months. If you’ve been away from the series for a while I definitely suggest rereading the entire series.
 
Last edited:

Racerx1969

Well-known member
Messages
71
Reaction score
13
Trophy Points
13
Yes, absolutely. There's so much going on--I remember enough to know I have to start back at book 1. Oh. Darn. :p

I'll get to those later though. Right now I'm chewing through the Expanse and Sharpe's series as each next book is available from the library. Those are quick reads (heck The Churn took an afternoon).
 

The Scribbling Man

Tenant of the Tower of Flints
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
2,729
Reaction score
109
Trophy Points
93
I've very nearly finished Sanderson's Way of Kings. It hasn't made me like him as a writer though...
 

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
Messages
2,291
Reaction score
50
Trophy Points
48
5499901f765278b93b20f1971f8462d3ed15c4cb-00-03.jpeg


Although I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the previous book, it’s still very good. It advances many of the important plot lines, but still feels like what it is: the set up for the conclusion. I’ll start the final book tomorrow.
 

The Scribbling Man

Tenant of the Tower of Flints
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
2,729
Reaction score
109
Trophy Points
93
07-56-05-91KzZWpgmyL.jpg


High 1.

Oh my... What a mercy it is to have finished this.
My hesitance in reading long books rarely has anything to do with the actual length - if a book is good, then the idea of being able to immerse myself in it for many pages is appealing. Unfortunately, it's incredibly rare to come across anything as lengthy as 1000 pages that actually justifies its length, and so alarm bells are normally ringing. So many fantasy books fall into this trap, and the excuse often made is "oh, it's world building" - but it's not. It's verbosity. And verbosity is only SOMETIMES tolerable (or even enjoyable) when A. The prose is good, and B. What's being conveyed is painting a bigger picture. Sanderson does not paint a bigger picture, he paints over what he's already painted - and he doesn't do it with much flair.

The prose isn't terrible, mind, but it's functional at best. It's not that it's "flowery" - it's not that kind of indulgence. The biggest problem is that it's constantly expository - nor is it useful exposition, but repetition. He gives the reader zero credit and wastes countless pages reminding them of what they already know... Again and again.

The Way of Kings is a book that twiddles its thumbs for pages on end, and then decides to drop a number of twists right at the finishing line. A clever tactic, because it might compel the reader to press on to the next volume (but I ain't falling for that... Oh no). And it's damn frustrating, because the book has legs... It's just that he cripples them.

I think Sanderson is capable of writing a good book - and who am I to say he hasn't? (This is my first) - he knows the basics of writing, he knows how to plot, his characterisation is decent and only really held back by stalling development with filler; but this isn't a good book. There is no justification for the length of The Way of Kings. Cut it in half; all depth could be retained (nay, improved upon),and everything would be made much, much tighter as a result. I can imagine the exact same story playing out - with no negative effect on character or plot - in half the number of pages AT LEAST. Heck, everything that happens in here should probably have been ticked off by the half way point, and then taken even further. There is farrrr too much of characters wondering and walking and mulling over the same scenario for the entire book. Progress is MINIMAL.

Yes, there are some nice world building elements, but nothing to yell about. Stuff to do with ettiquete and class is interesting, and the magic systems seem well thought out. Spren feel like a gimmicky joke half the time though. Drink every time any character does anything and [insert emotion here] spren appear to announce what they're feeling/experiencing. It becomes predictable and, while it's clear that Sanderson has bigger ideas in store for where he takes them, half the time they just feel like a tedious visual marker for practically anything internal.

Sanderson seems to be a nice guy. I've been following some of his lectures and they contain numerous nuggets of universally applicable writing advice. Some elements in The Way the Kings are even genuinely compelling.

Ultimately though, a *potentially* good story is ruined by indulgent filler, repetitive exposition, clunky action, cringe dialogue, redundant flashbacks, irrelevant asides... Ugh. I could go on.
 
Last edited:

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
Messages
2,291
Reaction score
50
Trophy Points
48
View attachment 175

High 1.

Oh my... What a mercy it is to have finished this.
My hesitance in reading long books rarely has anything to do with the actual length - if a book is good, then the idea of being able to immerse myself in it for many pages is appealing. Unfortunately, it's incredibly rare to come across anything as lengthy as 1000 pages that actually justifies its length, and so alarm bells are normally ringing. So many fantasy books fall into this trap, and the excuse often made is "oh, it's world building" - but it's not. It's verbosity. And verbosity is only SOMETIMES tolerable (or even enjoyable) when A. The prose is good, and B. What's being conveyed is painting a bigger picture. Sanderson does not paint a bigger picture, he paints over what he's already painted - and he doesn't do it with much flair.

The prose isn't terrible, mind, but it's functional at best. It's not that it's "flowery" - it's not that kind of indulgence. The biggest problem is that it's constantly expository - nor is it useful exposition, but repetition. He gives the reader zero credit and wastes countless pages reminding them of what they already know... Again and again.

The Way of Kings is a book that twiddles its thumbs for pages on end, and then decides to drop a number of twists right at the finishing line. A clever tactic, because it might compel the reader to press on to the next volume (but I ain't falling for that... Oh no). And it's damn frustrating, because the book has legs... It's just that he cripples them.

I think Sanderson is capable of writing a good book - and who am I to say he hasn't? (This is my first) - he knows the basics of writing, he knows how to plot, his characterisation is decent and only really held back by stalling development with filler; but this isn't a good book. There is no justification for the length of The Way of Kings. Cut it in half; all depth could be retained (nay, improved upon),and everything would be made much, much tighter as a result. I can imagine the exact same story playing out - with no negative effect on character or plot - in half the number of pages AT LEAST. Heck, everything that happens in here should probably have been ticked off by the half way point, and then taken even further. There is farrrr too much of characters wondering and walking and mulling over the same scenario for the entire book. Progress is MINIMAL.

Yes, there are some nice world building elements, but nothing to yell about. Stuff to do with ettiquete and class is interesting, and the magic systems seem well thought out. Spren feel like a gimmicky joke half the time though. Drink every time any character does anything and [insert emotion here] spren appear to announce what they're feeling/experiencing. It becomes predictable and, while it's clear that Sanderson has bigger ideas in store for where he takes them, half the time they just feel like a tedious visual marker for practically anything internal.

Sanderson seems to be a nice guy. I've been following some of his lectures and they contain numerous nuggets of universally applicable writing advice. Some elements in The Way the Kings are even genuinely compelling.

Ultimately though, a *potentially* good story is ruined by indulgent filler, repetitive exposition, clunky action, cringe dialogue, redundant flashbacks, irrelevant asides... Ugh. I could go on.
Yeah, you probably wouldn’t like Wheel of Time. 🤣 I don’t know how Sanderson’s style on his own differs from what he does to finish WoT, but the whole series is exposition heavy. As I’ve said in previous reviews in the series, I often enjoy it more than most it seems. But there are often lengthy middle sections in these books that just go on way too long. I’m planning on writing up my thoughts for the whole series sometime next week once I’ve completed the series, but I think you’ll find i echo some of your sentiments.
 

Jrzag42

Well-known member
Faneditor
Messages
2,701
Reaction score
81
Trophy Points
73
I've had two different teachers recommend the works of Brandon Sanderson. Those Stormlight Archive books seem interesting enough, but I'm a terribly slow reader, and I'm just generally bad at getting through books. With these books being over a thousand pages each, I can't make that commitment at the moment. Anyways, this is the first I've heard anyone talk about these books outside of school, which I found interesting for some reason. I appreciate your review, now I care less about checking out these books than I previously did.
 

The Scribbling Man

Tenant of the Tower of Flints
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
2,729
Reaction score
109
Trophy Points
93
I've had two different teachers recommend the works of Brandon Sanderson. Those Stormlight Archive books seem interesting enough, but I'm a terribly slow reader, and I'm just generally bad at getting through books. With these books being over a thousand pages each, I can't make that commitment at the moment. Anyways, this is the first I've heard anyone talk about these books outside of school, which I found interesting for some reason. I appreciate your review, now I care less about checking out these books than I previously did.

It's worth saying that I'm in the minority. If you are into your epic fantasy, then a lot of epic fantasy fans seem to love it. I wouldn't want to put you off something that's right up your street.

If, however, you are not a big fantasy reader and you struggle to get through books generally, then I'd probably recommend getting as far away from this book as possible.
 

Malthus

Well-known member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
1,009
Reaction score
378
Trophy Points
113
It's worth saying that I'm in the minority.
I feel similarly about Sanderson's work. I have enjoyed his books for their concepts far more than their execution.
Yeah, you probably wouldn’t like Wheel of Time.
Interestingly while Sanderson holds little interest for me I adore The Wheel of Time. Mind you I seem to be one of the rarer fans who enjoys the slower middle books just as much as the others.

To both of you I recommend Tad Williams. I'm revising his Memory Sorrow and Thorn series at the moment and it's a wonderful series of books fill with just enough tropes and fresh ideas to feel both nostalgic and original.
 

The Scribbling Man

Tenant of the Tower of Flints
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
2,729
Reaction score
109
Trophy Points
93
I feel similarly about Sanderson's work. I have enjoyed his books for their concepts far more than their execution.

Interestingly while Sanderson holds little interest for me I adore The Wheel of Time. Mind you I seem to be one of the rarer fans who enjoys the slower middle books just as much as the others.

To both of you I recommend Tad Williams. I'm revising his Memory Sorrow and Thorn series at the moment and it's a wonderful series of books fill with just enough tropes and fresh ideas to feel both nostalgic and original.
Tad Williams is on my radar. I tend to buy from 2nd hand bookstores, and it just depends what I spot on the shelf. He's always around, but I never see the first entry in a series.
 

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
Messages
2,291
Reaction score
50
Trophy Points
48
I feel similarly about Sanderson's work. I have enjoyed his books for their concepts far more than their execution.

Interestingly while Sanderson holds little interest for me I adore The Wheel of Time. Mind you I seem to be one of the rarer fans who enjoys the slower middle books just as much as the others.

To both of you I recommend Tad Williams. I'm revising his Memory Sorrow and Thorn series at the moment and it's a wonderful series of books fill with just enough tropes and fresh ideas to feel both nostalgic and original.
If you look back through my reviews you’ll see I found the “slog section” of books 8-10 to be pretty good, particularly Winter’s Heart. I did think Crossroads of Twilight the weakest book, but just barely over Crown of Swords. I’ve been reading these pretty quickly so I think slower sections don’t bother me as much because they’re over pretty quickly when reading 100 pages per day. As I said above, once I’ve completed the series, I’ll compose my thoughts on the series as a whole. I’ve enjoyed it more than I thought I would but it definitely hasn’t made me a convert to the genre.
 
Last edited:

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
Messages
2,291
Reaction score
50
Trophy Points
48
ed7405006510ae5b44693e2948504f81b02e3b80-00-00.jpeg


The final book in the series was appropriately epic. All of the many main characters get a chance to shine. The battles are interesting and unexpected. I am often bored by battle scenes in both books and films but this has a battle that is roughly 300 pages long and it held my interest. The end felt right, if not that perfect sort of ending that makes you shout “YES!” It’s definitely among the best books of the series.

I’ll post my thoughts on the series as a whole soon. My issues with this book are my issues with the series as a whole, so I’ll save that for later.
 

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
Messages
2,291
Reaction score
50
Trophy Points
48
A1yDdm2KHAL.jpg


This is my first Le Guin novel. It’s interesting but not entirely compelling. It functions primarily as a thought experiment examining the the tension between the theory and practice of different societal philosophies: anarchism and capitalism, represented by sister planets, Urras the capitalist planet and Annares the anarchistic planet. But it doesn’t tell much of a story.

Unlike other novels that espouse a particular philosophy that have undoubtedly been compared to this one, most things are presented in shades of grey. Both worlds have their virtues but both are also supremely flawed. It doesn’t argue for one philosophy over the other, but rather shows that the “best” philosophy is somewhere in the middle and any will have flaws; and even that that will be a sliding scale depending on the individual. Though I’m sure some will argue that Le Guin favors Annares.

It’s not always an easy read, often becoming somewhat didactic. But it definitely spurs thought and certainly isn’t simply a philosophic rant in the guise of a sci-fi novel. Or rather, if it is one, it is one that relies on the reader to come to his or her own conclusions.

But I have to say I didn’t believe in these worlds, however thoughtfully drawn. Nor did I believe in or care for the characters. And for me that makes it a tough sell.
 

The Scribbling Man

Tenant of the Tower of Flints
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
2,729
Reaction score
109
Trophy Points
93
I like LeGuin, but I didn't really like Dispossessed or Left Hand of Darkness, both of which are considered among her best. Just too dry for me.

I found The Lathe of Heaven to be a much more compelling read.
 

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
Messages
2,291
Reaction score
50
Trophy Points
48
1e280eeae9095c7287f2985f9ac88679e22890bd-00-00.jpeg


It’s certainly interesting from a historical perspective given that it has inspired so much that’s become a part of the cultural and technological lexicon. But it just wasn’t my style. Gibson’s writing is so rapid fire and manic it makes it difficult to understand what’s going on in the moment. Everything, however, is perfectly comprehensible in the rear view mirror. So perhaps that was intentional given the subject matter. But it made it a less than enjoyable read for me. Thankfully it’s also a quick read.
 
Last edited:

The Scribbling Man

Tenant of the Tower of Flints
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
2,729
Reaction score
109
Trophy Points
93
1619363529229.png

3/5

If one can imagine Coppola's Apocalypse Now, dressed up in a sci-fi garb and with the level of insanity cranked up, that's the best way I can think of describing Life During Wartime. It is a(n almost) plotless, unpredictable, ethereal nightmare that nonetheless paces itself well (at least during its beginnings) and sucks you deep into the allure of its horror.

There's some really nice writing, and I think it was originally published under the label of "literary fiction"; which is interesting because I think the genre elements really swallow it as the book goes on, and in a way that even made me cringe a bit. I did like quite a lot about Life During Wartime - initially I was drawn to its trippy, war-time atmosphere - but I was less keen when more plot entered the scene and it almost began to feel like a sophisticated, adult X-Men. The more it drifted into its themes of psychological warfare the more disinterested I became, because I just didn't find the whole "war within a war" element compelling at all. I also thought the development of the romance was poor, especially as the main character just seems like a moody git who wants to screw anything that walks (the forced eroticism gets tedious). Funnily enough, by the end it almost seemed like a core theme of the book was "love" and that it was perhaps intended as some kind of romance novel in part. That didn't really work for me either.

Not a bad book, and possibly worth reading, but ultimately it felt a bit messy and unsatisfying. Joe Haldeman does much better with "military sci-fi meets romance" with his novel, The Forever War.
 

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
Messages
2,291
Reaction score
50
Trophy Points
48
81+VlE6hYoL.jpg


I needed a change of pace and this fit the bill. I read it in two days rather easily. It’s definitely a page turner. I found out after completing the novel that the author is a screenwriter. That’s not surprising as I could see this is a miniseries while reading it as these sorts of stories are finding a home on the streaming services these days. I wasn’t positive but I did have my suspicions about the twist so that may have diminished the impact. Still, if you want a page turner of a thriller, you could do worse.
 

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
Messages
2,291
Reaction score
50
Trophy Points
48
9780753822210.jpg

I liked the movie Gone Girl so I thought I’d give another one of Gillian Flynn’s novels a go. I didn’t like it very much. It is unrelentingly bleak. The characters are all terribly flawed and broken and there isn’t much in the way of sympathetic characters. This was published in 2006 and I’m guessing the twist was more effective then. But since I feel like there have been a rash of stories like this one and I saw the twist coming a mile away. I learned two days ago that there is an HBO miniseries adaptation starring Amy Adams. I like Amy Adams but I didn’t like this book enough to watch the miniseries.
 
Top Bottom