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Sat, 3 Sep 2011

August 2011 in books

Some of these reviews can also be found on Amazon.

In August 2011 I read the following books:

1. A Storm of Swords, by George R. R. Martin

So, on to book three in the series, and as expected the quality is just a little bit less than the book before. It's still good, still enjoyable, but it's beginning to look a bit worn around the edges. Like the previous volume, the sheer number of people and factions gets confusing, and the amount of magic in the story is slowly increasing. Magic is a crutch for bad fantasy writers and for good writers who've run out of ideas, it's just Treknobabble dressed in bearskins. The first book didn't really have any of it at all, but in this one there's quite a bit. It's still stuck lurking on the edges, and not having any significant impact, but more importantly, it's not having any impact at all that couldn't have been achieved without. Therefore it only detracts from the book.

2. Stone Spring, by Stephen Baxter

I expected to hate this book. It's set in the Mesolithic, in an age when the North Sea was still mostly land, and tells an alternate history of how a tribe of primitives kept the sea back by building dykes. This is, of course, absurd. They lacked the productive surplus to support the workforce this would have needed. Baxter tries to address this by having them trade with other tribes for labour, but still fails to address the question of how to feed the work force. No matter where or when your story is, you can't ignore basic logistics and still have a world sufficiently realistic that a reader can immerse himself in the story.

And that's not the only utterly absurd piece of Baxter's world. The tribe of tree-top dwellers are also ridiculous.

But never mind that. Baxter salvages from his irreparably flawed world a decent story of inter-personal conflicts, intrigue and jealousy. Why only three stars? It's daft, and I don't think he can sustain it over the two sequels that are supposedly on the way.

Posted at 10:52 by David Cantrell
keywords: books | culture
Permalink | 1 Comment

I started a Stephen Baxter short story collection recently, which is all alternate history stuff. Didn't realise that before I started - it's probably my least favourite sub-genre.

Currently reading Game of Thrones 2 - definitely not as good as the first one.

Posted by Robert on Sat, 3 Sep 2011 at 11:40:31


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