One of the things I miss about having an active library card is the ease of discovering new series in a genre. (My local library is funded through municipal taxes; as I live outside the city limits and therefore don’t pay municipal taxes, having an active library card requires a high — though fair — annual fee. I’ve elected to not do so for the last few years.) When I had an active card, I could simply head over to the SF&F shelves in the new book room and see what looked unfamiliar and interesting. Without the card — and without the desire to pay full hardcover prices — I get a lot of my books through used paperback stores. But although it’s just as easy to find “new to me” books that way, there’s an obvious tendency to be a johnny-come-lately to a lot of things.
So it was with the works of Jim Butcher. I discovered his Dresden Files series of urban fantasy novels a few years ago and loved them. But it was only recently that I discovered his other series, the Codex Alera. Of course, there are advantages to coming to it late. The series is completed, so although I have to wait impatiently for the next Dresden Files book to hit paperback, I can pick up the rest of the Codex Alera at my leisure. Having just finished the first, Furies of Calderon, the odds are strong I’ll be reading the rest. Continue reading
I mentioned about a week and a half ago that Saturday Night Live has been on my mind of late due to a book I was reading. I’ve finally finished the book, Live From New York, so I thought I’d write down my thoughts on the book itself. The book labels itself as “An uncensored history of Saturday Night Live as told by it stars, writers, and guests”, and that’s essentially what it is — editors Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller only occasionally interject their own text and thoughts into the book, primarily to “set the stage”, so to speak, for the next few pages’ topic of discussion. That discussion is given through anecdotes and remarks of people associated with the show, from executive producer Lorne Michaels to the cast to the guest hosts. Continue reading
Last April, I started reading the entire series of Robert Jordan’s fantasy epic, The Wheel of Time. Many of these books were actually re-reads for me from several years ago, but the last few were new to me. I remembered, from my first read, that it was often difficult to remember things and keep track of them when there was a gap of two or three years between releases — at an average of 800 pages each, these are not light books, and can be rather heavy on the details (as well as just plain heavy.) So with A Memory of Light, the final book, being released in January 2013, I wanted to re-read the whole series to be able to keep everything in its proper context. I’ve been writing reviews of the books as I go along; you can check them out under the “Wheel of Time” tag. But when one is looking at a series of 15 books, it also seems appropriate to say a few hundred words about the series as a whole. It is, after all, meant to be one cohesive story.
So here, approximately 10 months and 12,000 pages later, are my final words on Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. Continue reading
This is it. The final book. 23 years after the first one was published. 14 door-stopping tomes, plus a prequel. I started re-reading the books I’d read already back in April 2012, and reached the new-to-me books early this year. Early on my birthday, February 2nd, I finally finished reading the final book.
So how does A Memory of Light hold up as a novel and as a conclusion? Like a lot of the series, it’s a decent book, but not without some flaws. I don’t think any long-time fans are going to be unhappy with how it turns out, however. Continue reading
The rapid reviews keep coming, as Towers of Midnight continues in the same brisker pace as The Gathering Storm. Once again, it only took me six days to read this, despite it being nearly 900 pages long — the combination of Sanderson’s slightly more natural writing style and the fact that the plot is winding up are definitely combining to make the last few books faster reads than the ones in the middle of the series. Perhaps most remarkably, for a series that has been extended so many times (the original estimate was somewhere around 6 books, if I remember right), and which has had so many books that feel like pure setup, Towers of Midnight actually feels like the penultimate novel that it is. Just about all the dangling subplots are resolved, leaving only the big climactic finish.
It’s about time, really. Continue reading
I did not anticipate, at any point, having three separate reviews from this series in the span of a week. My brief vacation from posting allowed me to read and review books 10 and 11, but I figured it might be a little bit before I finished the twelfth volume, The Gathering Storm. In fact, when I wrote the review for book 11, I had not yet even started reading book 12 — yet here I am, finished already, after only six days of reading (it looks like less on the calendar due to having delayed the posting date of 11′s review). I believe this is the fastest I’ve read any of the books in The Wheel of Time.
Part of this may be because this is the first book that isn’t a re-read, so all of it is completely new to me without even the barest scrap of memory spoiling things. But part of it, I suspect, is due to its place in the series. The Gathering Storm is the first of the three novels meant to wrap up the series — Robert Jordan had intended there to be only one more, but his usual inability to account for scope meant that Brandon Sanderson had to expand Jordan’s outline into three full novels. But being part of the endgame of the series means that there isn’t as much time spent dithering and setting things up — rather, things finally start to get resolved. Continue reading
Yes, my review of book 11 comes only a few days after my review of book 10. Part of that’s due to my taking a brief break from posting — the book 10 review was ready well before it went up — but also part of it is simply that Knife of Dreams only took me ten days to read. That’s a lot faster than most of the later entries in The Wheel of Time have gone, and it can be attributed directly to the fact that when reading Knife of Dreams, it actually felt like things were happening in the story, in stark contrast to some of the immediately prior volumes, most particularly Crossroads of Twilight. Continue reading
Memory can be a little funny sometimes. I’ve mentioned before that this isn’t the first time I’ve read this series — up to a point, anyway. I had read up to a certain book in the series, found it severely lacking, read the next and didn’t find it as bad but still not quite good enough. I decided then to wait until the series was finished before going back to it. The series is now concluded — at least, assuming there have been no last-minute delays, the last book was published just a week ago. I started my re-read back in May, wondering when I would get to the book that bothered me before, and what I would think then. Now here’s where the memory part comes in. The titles of the books, after the first few, don’t give a very good idea as to the events in the books. So with fuzzy memories at best, I had thought the book that bothered me was earlier in the series than this. As it happens, it was this book, the tenth, which I had disliked before, and the last book I read in my initial read was the 11th, which was also the final one Robert Jordan finished before his death.
I had also thought it was a lot longer ago that I read this, but it seems it was only published in 2003; that’s only 10 years ago, which I guess is a little while ago, but doesn’t seem as long as I had thought. Continue reading
When I reviewed the eighth book of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, I commented that most of the interesting stuff happens in the first 25% of the book. With the ninth book, Winter’s Heart, it’s instead the last 25% of the book that winds up being interesting. Things start off slowly, which is an increasingly frequent problem as the series drags on. There’s a lot of setup, and much of it is setup for events which don’t pay off in the same novel. On the extreme end of things, this novel starts off with a scene showing some characters in the White Tower, dealing with a plot line that has had all of about three chapters in the past three novels — and is no closer to conclusion than it was before.
I’ve been taking notes as I go along these reviews… initially this was just to refresh my memory when it came to the reviews. It’s getting to the point though where I’m glad that I have the notes to refer back to when Jordan retrieves some character that was last seen 1600 pages ago. Continue reading
Eight books out of fifteen completed, if we count the prequel. When I made the decision to re-read The Wheel of Time novels I had read before, in preparation for reading the ones that were new to me (or just plain new altogether), I knew it would take a while, but I have to say, it’s taking a little longer than I thought. Granted, I paused my reading of this volume in the middle so I could read Robopocalypse and Frankenstein, so it really hasn’t been all that long to finish this one — only three weeks of actual reading.
Stopping in the middle and picking it back up again could conceivably have led to a diminishing of this book’s appeal as memory fades. But in truth, I don’t think I would be rating it much higher if I had read it one go. Most of the interesting stuff happens in the first 25% of the book. Continue reading