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Five books - Qualified Perceptions
Five books
This seems to be a whole set of non-book books - audiobooks are * and ebooks are #. I'm also working my way through the sequels to Inda in paper, but they are very long, and I'm not going to talk about them until I've finished the series.
*The Wise Man's Fear (by Daniel Rothfuss)
Sequel to Name of the Wind. As others have mentioned, it's a little more annoying than the first book (I liked arcanology's description for NotW that the main character is a Mary Sue but the book is good enough that you don't mind), but I think it was still well above the threshhold of "quite enjoyed" for me. Kvothe's mannerisms irritate me a bit more, perhaps in part because I reread (well, listened to) NotW before starting Wise Man's Fear - in particular, that he says "I need you to X" way too much when he should be trying "Please do X", and the one time he got called on it, it was the most evil thing in the world doing so, so I'm not sure that counted. I enjoyed the Adem subplot (the audiobook narrator does nice accents), but I could have done without Felurian - love plots which are wholly motivated by beauty leave me cold (see Ysabel). On the other hand, while I find the love plot with Denna frustrating, it feels driven by more human emotions, and I like the dialogue it uses. I did wonder, sometimes, when explicitly giving the story a frame story of "I am telling you my story and I get to say what's important in it, you don't get to cut any of it", why Kvothe thinks it's so important to include some of the details he does, and skip other bits. (I might have liked the trial - I think I would certainly have liked the pirate attack!).

# Ready Player One (by Ernest Cline)
brilit and mjperson both really liked this. It is definitely a paean to the gamer culture of my generation, and it's kind of adorable that way, though I found the dystopia that the story was taking place in surprisingly depressing. Three and a half stars.

# The Emperor's Edge (by Lindsay Buroker)
This was a 99-cent indie ebook on Amazon, so I'm going to cut it some slack. It was a very quick read, and reasonably fun, but I kept getting the feeling that I was reading a log of a role-playing game. The plans are a lot like RPG plans - as a GM, I'd let the players get away with the sort of things the main character tries, and they have a bit of a "this is the best plan we could come up with in fifteen minutes" haphazard quality to them. There's a party-forming montage early on that is a only a bit less random than "You seem a trustworthy sort, would you like to join us?". And the fact that people keep delivering letters to their secret hideout is hilarious. I'd use that in a run.

#The Black God's War (by Moses Siregar III)
Another indie ebook. The cover is really lovely. The thing that I found myself thinking most strongly while reading (I admit I didn't finish) is that it really needed a professional copy editor. There are the bones of a good story in there, but someone needed to arm-twist the author into fixing some things. I know it's a hard job. I see what happens to professional authors when they decide they're too good for editors, and it's not pretty. Some of it is silly things like awkward grammar ("I wonder what we'll be doing when we marry and grow old together") or tone (the magical prince born to carry the word of the gods is called the Hazziem, which was just too cutesy). Some is character - the characters have the self-absorbed emotional depth of junior high school (the prince's betrothed angsts about his upcoming duel to the death "I understand why no one ever seems to think about how their actions will affect me. You are yet another in a long line of such people that I have known. Is this my lot? It's becoming too much for me.") But... there ''is'' something interesting underneath, sort of like an Iliad with Greece versus a city in India instead of Troy; the gods have their own agenda and are pretty mighty when they deign to throw their weight around, but other times it's just people. I think no more indie ebooks for me for a while; I feel bad criticizing them, like I feel bad noting that the orchestra isn't very tight in a student musical. The orchestra is never perfect in a student musical, I say from the side of having been in the orchestra a bunch of times. It's not fair to watch MTG and think "Well, they're not really up to the version I saw New York", and it's not really fair to read a newbie author and think "Well, they're no Terry Pratchett." So I'm getting Terry Pratchett's new book on Kindle for next time.

#The Cloud Roads (by Martha Wells)
Martha Wells, on the other hand, is the author of one of my favorite books (Death of the Necromancer), so I paid full price for this one. It's a great story - both action and creepy bits and warm character development - set in an interestingly built world. Often alien species are more about being alien, but this went the other way - everyone is basically people (except the Fell, which are more like the Shadows, just definitionally bad), except some of them are more like "Well, what if people were more like bees? Or dragons?" Four and a half stars.

#Snuff (by Terry Pratchett)
The Vimes subseries is my favorite in Discworld; this one is kind of Vimes on a busman's holiday. It's not a very complicated mystery, and I rather got the feeling that Vimes (and Willikins) are so epic-level competent compared to everyone else, even the villain, that he's never that much of a threat. But if it were a run, it wouldn't be about the mystery, and it wouldn't be about the combat, it would be about the redemption mechanic. And I have do have a fondness for redemption mechanics. Four stars.


6 comments or Leave a comment
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: November 7th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am very glad you loaned me Name of the Wind.

And mistborn.

Someday (soon?) I will give you back your giant bag of books.
lillibet From: lillibet Date: November 8th, 2011 04:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I wasn't crazy about Ready Player One--the cultural references were over-explained and the whole thing felt like someone telling me about a great campaign they once played. I might have liked it better if it hadn't been labelled the Great New Thing by several reviews I read.

If I ever become a Big Famous Author, I really hope to remember that it means I deserve the best editor in the world, not one who will just print whatever I write.
mjperson From: mjperson Date: November 8th, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I did find a bunch of the references over-explained, but I forgave him that as I can't really expect all of his readers to recall the plot of old Infocom games the way I do. I figured not explaining things would've made it incomprehensible to many... And once he's explaining Infocom, reminding readers of the plot of WarGames didn't seem like such a stretch.
marcusmarcusrc From: marcusmarcusrc Date: November 8th, 2011 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I definitely enjoyed Ready Player One, but it was sold to me as "fun popcorn reading with a good nostalgia element" rather than "the Great New Thing". Expectations really make a difference...

ps. A new Martha Wells?! That's definitely going on my to-read list.
nakor From: nakor Date: November 9th, 2011 06:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Apparently Rothfuss wrote both the trial and the pirate attack, then cut them—everything left matters—sometimes to ridiculous levels of detail. The scenes where the moon's visible and where it's not? That's calculated. Denna's hairstyles carefully correlate to the adjectives used to describe her, since she's using Yllish knots from pretty early on. Tema is mildly decipherable from the inscriptions we see, as are a few words of Temic and Siaru.

The Crazy-detailed reread over at tor.com has more. They're verging into conspiracy theory. Assuming Rothfuss has exactly one human brain and he's also using it to feed himself and shower, only about half of what they propose can be true.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: November 10th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I just read through the crazy-detailed reread (admittedly, I did not read all the comments), and wow. Thanks!

The "everything that's there matters" I think mostly works, but there are a few cases where the mattering is more relevant to the reader than to the in-world tale-hearer (Chronicler or whoever the story is eventually for). Like "And then my friends and I got drunk, and here's a story I told them" - the story of the beggar and the five groups felt more to tell *us* hints about the culture (including the bit about water and wine), which jars a little for me with it being the things Kvothe thinks are important to the story.
6 comments or Leave a comment