In a very weak attempt to cover the series of books I have read since November on my trip to Vietnam (and subsequently failed to review.) I am going to cover them all in a single post. It will be long and tedious, but well worth looking at as they were all very good books. Obviously the ones I have finished most recently will be freshest in my mind, but hey nobody is perfect (although I put money on somebody claiming perfection and this post will wind down into the pits of insults and random acts of violence.) I will also warn you that while these reviews seem Klausner-like, they are not Klausner reviews and these books are all quite good.
Without further ado – we begin the festivities:
Blood Music by Greg Bear
REVIEW SUMMARY: A far superior rendition of nanotechnology gone awry than the one put forward by Chrighton – which I did not like very much. I think this is a great read, and well worth the time spent.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A very introverted and driven scientist creates intelligent bacteria, and then decides to expand his research to himself once his unofficial experiment is to be destroyed. This of course goes radically different than expected and changes from the terrors of a mad intelligent virus to the concept of how the universe is interpreted.
PROS: Fantastic descriptions of how the “virus” spreads and its affect on the world. I loved the characters and his writing style.
CONS: Not so much a con about the book but the version I had was made with some printing flaws and it made some sections difficult to follow at times.
BOTTOM LINE: A great technology goes awry book that takes a unique turn and opens your mind to an alternate vision of how the universe works.
Warcraft: War of the Ancients by Richard A. Knaak
REVIEW SUMMARY: The first book in a fantasy trilogy set in the Warcraft universe. It pulls some characters from his first Warcraft book, The Day of the Dragon. It is a fantasy novel, and you do need some idea what the heck Warcraft is to really follow along since they assume you know where these lands are. The characters are strong and he has a great number of heroes who all have thier own strengths, but are put against a villian of significant strength. I know it probably fits many of the standard fantasy molds, but I like the characters and Richard’s writing style keeps the action going and draws you into the world.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Following the war that finally defeats the Burning Legion, a wizard and a unique man set out to investigate a strange temporal distortion in the mountains near the night elf lands. The distortion catapults the two men and an orc who was following them to the ancient past when Night Elves were a much different race, and before the beginnings of the first war against the demons of the Burning Legion.
PROS: Continues building on the characters he originally created in Day of the Dragon, and gives excellent background about what happened prior to the very first Warcraft Game.
CONS: Need to have a background in Warcraft to really gather an idea of the countries and races he discusses in the book. Really is the first book of a trilogy and leaves alot still unresolved.
BOTTOM LINE: Overall, a solid fantasy book for those who have played Warcraft games and like a change of pace from the other fantasy worlds out there.
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
REVIEW SUMMARY: I had only read one Pratchett book prior to this and that was Interesting Times (which is a fine read as well). I picked this one up thinking that I would read this with my son. He started off enjoying it and then got interested in something else (we will return to this book later.) The book has great wit, but it is not really intended for young children. There is some really dark parts that the little ones might find really really scary.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Maurice is a cat who has acquired the ability to think and speak, and has come up with a scheme to make money through the use of a troop of equally intelligent rodents. Things are going great and it is decided that they will pull one more job, and then retire to a land where there are no traps an poison. But they come across something very sinister.
PROS: Great characters and fantastic humor
CONS: A little dark for smaller children
BOTTOM LINE: A book that is marked as Young Adult that appeals to almost any audience.
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
REVIEW SUMMARY: This book started off a bit rough for me in that I had difficulty following the Scottish brough of the Nac Mac Feegle, but I think they are absolutely great characters. The book brushes through a series of Fairy Tale type encounters and brings a bit of reality along to help illustrate how these tales may have come about. I feel that in some ways this book is better than the one I have listed above, but I think this one would still be difficult if read by a younger audience. I believe both of these books are intended for early teens- but could be read to those younger than that.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Tiffany Aching is a smart young girl with a little brother whom she is not extremely happy with. Although when the Queen of the Fairies takes him from her, she finds herself allied with the Nac Mac Feegle (think 6 inch tall blue tattooed Scots – kilts and all) who have no love for the Queen either. She embarks on a quest to retrieve her brother and what it is to be a witch.
PROS: A very strong female lead that little girls can relate to.
CONS: While hearing Scottish is great – reading it can be a bit tough especially without doing it out loud. I know this is not really a Con, but I did feel sillier than usual reading this out loud in some places – not that I don’t normally feel silly.
BOTTOM LINE: Another great effort by Pratchett, and a definite must read if you like his humor and writing style.
I also read Eragon and Revelation Space. Both books were quite good, but I really enjoyed Alastair Reynolds book as it really made me think. He really weaves a great tale, but this definitely feels like his first book (which amazingly enough it was.) I say this since he did such a great job weaving those other diverse threads of a story together when they all seemed so disjointed. Eragon is a great read and perfect for the younger crowd which is what I think is the target market. I fits well with the two Pratchett books listed above.
Whew – glad I got that done. That has to be my longest post to date, and I hope you enjoyed my little shotgun blast of reviews. Stay tuned for our next episode when Tim again postpones reviewing his books so he can then do it all at once – like a giant late night report writing session. Pretty much like we all did in college – except for probably Scott who we all agree is most likely a machine (not that he is an evil time travelling undead Nazi machine mind you – but we are going with the machine concept for now.)