In theory I don't try to read one genre exclusively because a good story is a good story... In practice however I find myself reading Fantasy and (more recently) Sci-fi again and again. I read for fun and to entertain myself.
So. This book. Hm.
I think objectively it's not a bad book, but I hated it. Okay, no, hate is too strong a word. It's just that while reading Empire of Thorns I didn't have one single positive thought, which not a lot of books have managed so far, I can tell you that.
I keep wondering what I liked about Prince of Thorns, because it must have been at least somewhat entertaining or I wouldn't have given it three stars. Yet I don't remember.
Anyway, onto the reasons why I didn't like the book.
Let me start with Jorg from which point of view most of the novel is written. First person narrative is always tricky because if I don't like the character it kind of ruins the book for me. Jorg is a bit of a mixed bag. Often he's a villain, sometimes he's not and actually shows he cares about (a very few) other people. Sometimes he's mature, often he acts like a little child from whom you've taken its favorite toy. He has daddy issues and he wants to be emperor because someone told him he couldn't be one. He's not a compelling character. You know, for me, the best kind of villains are subtle, cunning and capable and present a challenge for the heroes. They're even better if they are the kind of characters who just see the world in a different way, but aren't necessarily wrong, because the world isn't black and white. Jorg isn't that kind of character. He's the kind of dumb villain that just wants to see the world burn if things don't go his way. Nope, Jorg did NOT work for me.
The other characters aren't much better. They weren't really fleshed out and Katherine was borderline offensive with the way she kinda was interested in Jorg while believing he had raped her. WTF!? And when certain people started dying I simply did not care. In fact the only time I was bothered by someone dying was the incident with the dog. That should tell you all you need to know.
There is a lot of jumping between timelines that was so annoying because it felt more like a gimmick than necessary. We have two main timelines - the "present" when Jorg is 18 and the "past" where Jorg is 14. Sometimes Jorg would remember stuff from before the past when he was little child or from before the present but after the past. Then there were also Katherine's diary pages which Jorg actually discovers at the very end of the novel but which narrate what's happened to her in the last four years.
Obviously the reason for the time jumps was so Jorg could explain what had happened in the past to make events in the present possible. Except that one time where Jorg is like "so I got this thing but I'm not going to tell you how I got this thing because that's a story for another time muhahaha". I don't know what *that* was about. Maybe the author hit his word limit or whatever.
The plot was so underwhelming. So the present is all about fighting an army that's ten times the size (or was it even twenty?) of Jorg's army. As mentioned the past explains how Jorg is able to do so and comprises mainly of Jorg travelling from point A to point B to point C. That's basically it.
What was even more underwhelming was the worldbuilding. This is a fantasy novel, so I expect the development of an imaginary setting that's interesting and compelling and somewhat unique. This? This was the most lazy worlbuilding I've ever seen.
The setting is supposed to be 1000 years into the future after mankind fucked up and almost destroyed itself. Everyone has forgotten the good old times and not a single person in one thousand years has shown inventive talent. So everyone's stuck in the Middle Ages which are - and here comes the lazy part - almost exactly like the original Middle Ages including medieval terms that no one in our time has been using for centuries but are somehow revived 1000 years from now. So we have once again vikings, jarls and moors.
The funniest part is where the author actually explains why no one in one thousand years has made any technological progress because he must have realized what bullshit that is. So he has his animus ex machina tell us:
"There's a gap between what I say and what you can comprend. You people could fill that gap in fifty years if you stopped trying to kill each other and started to look at what's lying around you."
The world also felt strangely empty. Not just of people, but also culture. We meet Danes whose defining traits seem to be having beards and carrying axes instead of swords.
To summarize: Characters, plot and worldbuilding sucked. For me, anyway.
I really bought a lot of books this month. I haven't done so in a very long time. In fact, the last time I even bought physical books (for myself and not as a gift for others) must have been around two years ago. And no wonder. When you can get great ebooks for less than 5€, what's the point of buying paperbacks that cost usually twice or even thrice as much?
However, as much as I love my Kindle... I realized I really missed having a book in my hands. So I bought some. Nevermind that I still have several unread books on my shelf. Sense? What is sense?
River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay - I've read Under Heaven, which was great, so I bought the sequel.
City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett - I don't really know much about it, but I heard it's really good. Not that it's always wise to trust raving reviews... I'm looking at you Emperor of Thorns.
Brave New Worlds ed. by John Joseph Adams - I feel like you can never go wrong with anthologies. Okay, maybe you can, Zombies vs. Unicorns wasn't that great. But the one I'm currently reading hasn't disappointed me so far. Plus, there are some classic short stories in this, such as Minority Report and The Lottery!
Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan - I don't read grapic novels, but I wanted to give one a try and since everyone is gushing over this, I chose Saga.
Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear - Okay, two reasons I got this: a) I wanted to read something by Bear and b) Space Horror!
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - Again a really popluar book that I hope will deliver what others have promised.
Wars of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulden - This (as well as the following book) was a spontaneous buy at a local bookshop. Their English books shelf is risible small and I was actually surprised I managed to fing something interesting. I've read Iggulden before and the subject matter speaks for itself so I grabbed it.
The Circle by Dave Eggers - I'm ashamed to admit I bought this solely based on the cover. It seems to be a corporate thriller. That's all I know.
The World of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, Other People - I've been looking forward to this book for over a year now. It's not The Winds of Winter, but it's so fucking gorgous!
The Strain by Chuck Hogan, Guillermo del Toro - I wanted to read something scary given that's October.
The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller - It's supposed to be court intrigue á la Game of Thrones which always peaks my interest. I've yet to find one however that delivers on the comparison.
The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton
The Temporal Void by Peter F. Hamilton
Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton - All three Hamilton books were really cheap, as in less than 3€, so I bought them immediately. I really liked Pandora's Star after all.
London Falling by Paul Cornell - This is Urban Fantasy, a genre that has been rather disapponting so far, but I haven't given up hope yet. Rivers of London was pretty good and this might be similar, I hope.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki - You know, sometimes you just want to read something different. I hear it's good and it was cheap, so I bought it.
The Six-Gun Tarot by B. S. Belcher - Pretty much the same reason as above, because I haven't read any kind of Western yet.
Colours in the Steel by K. J. Parker - I have heard soooo many good things about the author, I really hope s/he delivers.
The Honor of the Queen by David Weber - I got the first novel for free a while ago and since this was free as well... :D
Stealing Light by Gary Gibson - Cost less than 2€ and it's Space Opera. You can't go wrong there.
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson - I really liked Elantris hence I wanted to read more by this author.
That's twenty-one books. Yikes. The funny (or sad?) thing is... the ebooks cost me less than a third of what the physical books cost.
I'm not happy.
I read Prince of Thorns two years ago and rated it 3 stars - meaning I kind of liked it. And I have no idea why because I remember almost nothing.
Still, I decided I would finally read the sequel when I signed up for the Read the Sequel Challenge. I mean, I gave it 3 stars - obviously I had had some issues but overall I thought it worth reading.
Now, I'm having second thoughts, because I'm so not happy with this book.
My first issue is the split into two timelines. I'm not sure but I think this already bothered me in the first book. It certainly bothers me now because it really doesn't feel necessary, However, there are even more time levels. On occasion Jorg flashes back to his early childhood, to his time with his Brothers before the first book, to the time between the two main timelines. It's all so very jumpy. I understand that it's supposed to give us insight into Jorg's character and explain how past events influenced future events, but it doesn't feel organic.
My second issue is that this story is set 1000 years into the future in Europe. Yet there are mentions of "Florentine banking clans" and "Jarls" and such. So 1000 years from now society has turned into some kind of mix of 10th to 15th century Europe? The only thing that sets this world apart from a lazily written medieval Europe are the mentions of modern technology and quotes from ancient as well as more modern authors. Seriously, I feel like the author asked himself "How can I make my medieval fantasy set in Europe more interesting?" and then set it in the future to be able to add these things without really asking himself what would survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Take the word "jarl" for example. This title was last used in the 13th century. Why the fuck would anyone use it in the future, in the same way no less? See, so lazy.
My third issue is that I don't like Jorg and it's not because he's a villain. Villains can be cool, they can be interesting and fascinating. Jorg is none of these things. He's evil because he suffered and now he just doesn't give a fuck anymore. That's him in a nutshell and that's the problem. He wants to be emperor because... well, just because. What's new now is that he starts thinking about the consequences to his actions - and then doesn't give a crap. So you read how he wants to do something, then stops, thinks about it, and does it anyway. eye-roll
My fourth issue is Jorg's age. Theoretical he's fourteen. In practice he's a grown man in his twenties or thirties because he neither looks nor acts like a 14 year old boy. So why the fuck is he supposed to be 14??? It's so ridiculous sometimes. I just read a scene where he meets some old acquaintance and they act like they haven't seen each other in ages and speak about the "good old times" which were... 2 years ago. facepalm
Between, I'm about 30% into the book at this point. So 70% more of this nonesense. (Yes, I could just not finish it, but I hate not finishing books. And as long as it isn't too boring I finish what I start.)
I finished seven books and one short-story this month. Or around 3000 pages, which is pretty good for me.
Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold was the first one I finished. It's part of the Vorkosigan Saga which I'm trying to read in a more or less chronological order rather than the publication order. Hence, this is the seventh book I've read in the saga, although it was published third. And technically I could have skipped it. It plays in the same universe as the other Vorkosigan books but Miles Vorkosigan makes no appearance. Instead we meet one of his mercenaries, Ellie Quinn, last seen in The Warrior's Apprentice.
The protagonist this time is Ethan, who's, you guessed it, from the planet of Athos. A planet where only men live. Yep, Bujold subverts the women-only planet trope with this book. Not quite as well as I had hoped, because she makes it really easy by writing off the heterosexuals as being celibate and content. Therefore Athos comes across as a kind of utopia for gay men, which just isn't realistic.
Other than that, it's an entertaining novel, just nothing special and I gave it 3 stars.
Next was The Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin who I think is a very talented writer. If you're tired of the common middle age fantasy written by white male authors, you should read her books.
It's the sequel to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and part of the Inheritance Trilogy. It's not your usual kind of trilogy because the protagonists change each time, but the books do follow each other chronological, just mainly new players.
The book was pretty great... until the end. Jemisin usually stays away from writing clichés, but that ending...
Still, if you liked the first book, definitely pick up the second book.
3 1/2 stars.
Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler is the second book in the Xenogenisis Trilogy and if I'm honest doesn't add much to the first book. Most of the book we spend time with Akin, who is the son of Lilith Iyapo, the protagonist of the first book. I don't want to spoil anything, but if you've read the first book, then you know there's a... conflict of interests... and basically the purpose of the book is to find a possible solution. So there really isn't much progress. Nonetheless a good novel, if you aren't too squeamish. I mean, it's Octavia Butler, after all and she does like to push some boundaries. 3 stars.
I've already written a review of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison where I was mainly annoyed by the synopsis on Goodreads for describing it as
fantasy of court intrigue and dark magics in a steampunk-inflected world, by a brilliant young talent
which it really isn't. It's rather a coming of age story with a very likeable character. Seriously, if you don't like Maia... What's wrong with you? He carries this novel, because the plot is mediocre and the other characters could have used some more depth. That said, I still really liked the novel and you should definitely read it. 3 1/2 stars.
I've had my copy of Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton for about 2 years and let me tell you, it's huge. So I was intimidated for quite a while and didn't want to start it. Which is ridiculous, coming from someone who once read three Steven Erikson novels in a row.
Anyway, I'm glad I finally read it. The start was a bit slow and I was confused why he was writing about terrorists and a murder case when there's a space ship on the cover but once everything started to fit together, it was amazing. Except that one storyline, which I hate. I hope it pays off in the sequel.
My only gripe with this novel is the amount of detail. I mean, it's admiring how much work Hamilton has put into the worldbuilding, but do I really need to know the entire backstory of every planet? No, I do not and it's what slowed down the novel so much.
Nonetheless, if you're into Space Opera, don't miss out on this! 4 stars.
I jumped onto the Gillian Flynn bandwagon and read Gone Girl. It was not what I expected. I thought this would be about a murderer (okaaay it kind of is) not about a fucked-up marriage.
I don't even know what to say about this one. I liked it, I thought it was entertaining, but it's not amazing. However, full disclosure, I don't really read thrillers or mystery novels. I've read like two others, which according to Goodreads I liked more than Gone Girl. Huh.
I gave it 3 stars.
So this is the short story I read this month. Or novella, whatever. Anyway, The Churn by James S. A. Corey is part of the Expanse Series (which I love) and tells the origin story of Amos Burton, one of the main characters of the series.
When we meet Amos, whose name isn't Amos yet, I did not recognize him. He's such a vastly different person that I really want to know more about how he became the present Amos. I swear I was convinced he was simple minded. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.
I gave it only 3 stars because like Gods at Risk, a short story set after the second book, it doesn't really add that much to the series. They are interesting tidbits, nothing more.
Lastly, I finally finished The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman in September. This isn't the first book I've read by the author and frankly I was so annoyed with this one. After When Christ and his Saints slept I expected so much better than what I got.
This novel is about Richard III and Penman does her most to portray him as positive as possible. This didn't always work because Penman also does her best to be as historically accurate as possible. I think this was best demonstrated when he ordered the immediate execution of Hastings. This event really happened but I found it out of character for the fictional Richard.
So at times the novel's historical accuracy was both its strenght and weakness.
But I mentioned being annoyed. That's because I absolutely hated the portrayal of the Woodvilles and especially that of Elizabeth. I want to remind you that this is a novel about real people, yet the Woodvilles felt as real as a Disney villain would. Everyone hated them and everyone called Elizabeth a bitch - repeatedly. And Penman made damn sure that even the reader would know what kind of bitch Elizabeth was because she had not one single redeeming character trait. If you've read A Song of Ice and Fire let me tell you this... Cersei Lannister is a more sympathetic character than Elizabeth Woodville. That's how bad this character was. And to make her seem even worse, the other main female character naturally had to be a saint. I'm talking about Anne Neville who was so fucking selfless that even while she was dying her only concern was for Richard. I mean seriously. Reading Anne Nevilles POV was at times like reading some YA romance novel where the main character does nothing but moon over her love interest. Anne was just all about Richard. Ugh.
Speaking of POV. Why would any author think that it's a good idea to switch the POV within a paragraph?? Penman did that constantly and it was so annoying. 2 stars.
Das Buch erschien dieses Jahr im Tor Verlag und erzählt die Geschichte des im Exil aufgewachsenen Halbelfen Maia, der unerwartet zum Kaiser der Elflande wird als sein Vater und dessen drei Söhne ums Leben kommen. Maia muss daraufhin lernen sich am Hofe und in der Politik zurechtzufinden, obwohl er für dieses Leben gar nicht vorbereitet worden ist.
Propagiert wird das Buch - zumindest auf Goodreads - damit, dass es von Hofintrigen und dunkler Magie handelt, in einer Steampunk-ähnlichen Welt spielt, und von einem ganz neuem Talent geschrieben wurde.
Das ist schlichtweg falsch.
Katherine Addison ist das Pseudonym von Sarah Monette, die schon einige Romane unter ihrem Namen veröffentlicht hat, u.a. die Doctrine of Labyrinths Reihe, und ist daher kein "neues" Talent.
Viel Steampunk steckt in dem Buch nicht drin. Es gibt zwar Luftschiffe und Gaslampen, aber letztlich spielt Technik kaum eine Rolle und wird hier und da eher nur beiläufig erwähnt.
Magie scheint wohl in der Welt zu existieren, tatsächlich aber wird nur ein einziges Mal ein Zauberspruch verwendet. Daher von dunkler Magie zu schwärmen in der Zusammenfassung ist fast schon eine Unverschämtheit.
Tja, und dann sind da noch die Hofintrigen. Wer hier Machenschaften auf dem Niveau von Game of Thrones erwartet, der wird enttäuscht. Überhaupt ist das Buch sehr anti-GoT, denn es handelt sich hier nicht um einen Vertreter der beliebten "grimdark" Fantasy, sondern bietet stattdessen eine positivere Fantasy mit einem sehr sympathischen und vor allem guten Protagonisten.
Maia ist ein äußerst gutmütiger Charakter, der zu jedem möglichst freundlich zu sein versucht, was natürlich nicht ganz einfach ist wenn man der Kaiser ist. Der Grund dafür liegt in seiner Vergangenheit, da man Maia selbst nicht viel positive Gefühle entgegengebracht hatte. Seine Mutter war da die einzige, aber sie verstarb recht früh, und er wurde in die Obhut eines Cousins gegeben, der alles andere als zufrieden mit der Situation war und dies immer wieder an Maia ausließ. Dennoch lässt sich Maia nicht alles gefallen und es ist ihm durchaus bewusst, wenn andere versuchen ihn zu manipulieren. Das ist es auch was Maia zu einem glaubwürdigen Charakter macht, der eben trotz seiner Güte, nicht ignorant gegenüber seinem Umfeld ist.
So sehr ich von Maia begeistert war, so enttäuscht war ich dann von den restlichen Charakteren, die größtenteils ein Mysterium blieben und sich zu sehr in gute und böse Charaktere einteilen ließen. Bis zu einem gewissen Grad kann ich aber nachvollziehen, warum die anderen Charaktere wenig ausgearbeitet waren, da man kaum ein inniges Verhältnis zwischen Kaiser und Untertanen erwarten kann. Dies wird auch im Buch angesprochen und macht Maia nicht gerade glücklich.
Zur Handlung lässt sich sagen, dass es hier wirklich nur um Maia geht. Er wird zum Kaiser und muss lernen damit umzugehen, und vor allem muss er lernen sich selbst zu akzeptieren. Entsprechend empfand ich das Buch als irgendwie unfertig. Ich hatte zwar am Ende das Gefühl, das Maia Fortschritte gemacht hatte, aber fand nicht, dass seine Reise schon zu Ende war. Vielleicht war das ja auch der Sinn, aber mich hat es nicht zufrieden gestellt.
Zuletzt muss ich noch ein Problem ansprechen und das sind die Titel, Wörter und Namen, die sich die Autorin ausgedacht hat. Und zwar gibt es da so Zungenbrecher wie "Untheileneise'meire", die dann auch noch in ähnlichen Varianten auftreten wie Michen'theileian, Mich'othasmeire, Mazan'theileian, etc. Vielleicht kam es mir auch nur so vor, aber ich hatte das Gefühl, dass die Namen irgendwie alle gleich klangen und ich deswegen mitunter nicht immer wusste mit wem Maia denn gerade redet. Nun ja, das hat mich schon gestört. Vor allem wenn man einerseits Titel wie "Emperor", "Archduke" und "Marquess" verwendet, andererseits dann aber "Dach'osmer" dazu erfindet. Ich finde man sollte das schon komplett durchziehen.
That's it. That's the intro.
Nein, quatsch. Meinen echten Namen lassen wir mal sein, aber ich habe mich mal als Aretaa angemeldet. Den benutze ich schließlich auch noch auf ein paar anderen Seiten. Für fast genau einen Monat noch bin ich - äh, warte muss kurz nachrechnen - 28. Und dann haben wir auch schon fast wieder Weihnachten. Und Winter. Ich hasse Winter, immer diese verf*ckte Glätte.
*räusper* Jedenfalls. Ich bin gerade eben zufällig hier auf diese Seite gestoßen, die verdächtig viel Ähnlichkeit mit Tumblr hat... und dachte mir, joah, meldest dich mal an, schreibst irgendeinen Mist und dann lässt du dich wahrscheinlich nie wieder blicken. ;)
Ich bin auch noch am Überlegen ob ich hier überhaupt auf Deutsch oder Englisch schreiben soll, da ich eigentlich nur englische Bücher lese, aber diesen Blog wohl eher nur Deutsche sehen werden? Na mal schauen.
Das war es jetzt auch erst einmal meinerseits. Tschau.