Monday, June 29, 2009

Proven Guilty Review

A few months ago I was lucky enough to win a copy of the audio book Proven Guilty, part of the Dresden files by Jim Butcher. Not only had I not read any of the series before but I had never read any urban fantasy or listened to an audio book since I was a child. So, as you might imagine, this was a different experience for me.

I was thrust right into the action from the get go with the protagonist, Harry Dresden, witnessing the execution of a young man by the White Council. Harry, who has recently joined the Council due to unforeseen circumstances (The Council is in the middle of a war with the Vampire Court which has severally depleted their numbers) and disagrees with what was done. Afterwards one of the council members sets Harry a mysterious mission to be on the lookout for black magic in Chicago. Harry’s day gets even worse as his car is run off the road in a hit and run incident and a call from the daughter of an old friend who requests that Harry bail her out of jail. Turns out she was being sneaky and really wanted to get Harry to bail her ‘boyfriend’ out for an attack at a horror convention. Harry investigates and finds supernatural events are afoot. The pace picks up considerably from there.

Harry Dresden is an interesting character, something of a badass with a heart of gold and we really get to see what makes him tick with the story being told from his (first-person)perspective. Despite not having read any of the previous volumes I had little trouble following the story. Butcher’s weaves in recollections from previous volumes rather well so I had what I needed without feeling bombarded by trivial information. The story is fast-paced and all the seemingly unrelated events are brought together masterfully for the finale.

James Masters, famed for his role of Spike on Buffy the Vampire slayer, is the reader and a damn good one at that. He created believable voices for each of the characters and varied his pace and tone well to suit the mood of different parts of the story. He certainly made my first foray into the world of audio books a memorable one.

In sum I enjoyed Proven Guilty and it has certainly made me want to read the rest of the series (I have already finished the first and second and am halfway into the third.) 8/10.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hero of Ages review

Wow. It is very rare for that to be the only word to pop in my head when I read the last page of a book but Brandon Sanderson’s Hero of Ages is something special. It is the concluding part of the Mistborn trilogy. That is something of an understatement, it should be the text book on how to conclude a series. Sanderson’s ability for plotting really stands out. Seemingly insignificant things that happened in the early chapters of the first book turn out to have some rather unexpected consequences. There also a number of plots twists that are really pulled off well.

The story begins a year after the events in the Well of Ascension. Vin and Eland are trying desperately to keep the world from falling apart, but with the mists and ash smothering the world what hope do they have? With the mundane matters of trying to stay alive occupying the rest of the crew, such as trying to secure caches left by the Lord Ruler and dealing with rebellions, it is left to Vin to try and single-handedly stop the abstract force she unwittingly released in the previous book. The story is told from multiple viewpoints including Vin, Eland, Marsh, Sazed and Spook. As before the issues of faith, power and leadership are explored in depth from different characters points of view. Instead of beginning each chapter with extracts from Alendi’s journal as in previous volumes there are extracts from a book composed by Sazed after the events of Hero of Ages. These are quite interesting and give subtle hints of what is to come.

All in all Hero of Ages is a strong conclusion to an interesting series and one I thoroughly Recommend. 9/10.