Monday, August 30, 2010

Review: The Talismans of Shannara by Terry Brooks

The charges that the shade of Allanon placed on the Ohmsford’s have now all been complete. Wren has brought the elves back to the four lands and become their queen. Walker Boh has restored the druid’s lost citadel of Paranor and become the first of a new lines of druids and Par has recovered what he believes to be the Sword of Shannara. Despite all this they are far from safe. Rimmer Dall, leader of the Shadowen, has tailor made traps for each of the Ohmsfords to ensure they cannot pool the talismans they have painstakingly obtained.

After having really enjoyed the focus of the previous two novels in the series I was curious to see how well Brooks would handle bringing all the branching storylines back together. Unfortunately he couldn't quite pull it off as well as I’d hoped and left me feeling a little disappointed. Almost every major character gets captured at some point during the story and this becomes really old really quickly as plot device to draw characters together. Also I felt that the passages with Wren and the elves didn’t quite fit with the rest of the story seeming very out of place.

One thing though I was very impressed with was the character development of Wren and Walker Boh. Walker especially had some inspired scenes where he seemed to hint at falling back to his ‘angry young man’ persona despite all he learned and grown almost like the struggles of a smoker who has just recently given up cigarettes.

While far from a bad book Talisman's fails to deliver on the promise of the previous two novels. 7/10.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is in trouble. Again. Thomas, a white court vampire, has called in a favour and sent Harry to investigate some strange goings on the set of an adult film. The film’s producer believes he is the target of a sinister entropy curse and the women about him are dying in ever more unlikely ways. Thomas seems to have a stake in the case that Harry can’t quite figure out what and that makes him nervous. Meanwhile Marva, a particular vicious blackcourt vampire, is in town and intent on finishing Harry off and Harry’s hired help might prove just as deadly. To top it all off Harry finds himself dog sitting a boisterous puppy dog.

I think the most evident thing about the six installment of the Dresden files is that Butcher really puts Harry through his paces. No really. I know Harry usually finds himself in the deep end but this time Butcher has thrown everything at him including the kitchen sink to see how he reacts. Not even counting the obvious threats to Harry’s physical wellbeing, the beliefs he holds about his mentor Ebenezer and the white council, beliefs he has based his life on are turned on their head and Harry has to face some shocking revelations about his own family. The Dresden files are often seen as episodic but there some definite underlying plots throughout the series as evidenced by the aforementioned. Harry doubted, got very angry and of course soldiered on.

There was also a good focus on the development of a couple of support characters, namely Murphy and Thomas. It was certainly interesting to see a more vulnerable side to the cocky and calm playboy, while Murphy’s issues from previous books are dredged up and it is interesting to see how she copes and has ultimately grown as an individual.

Overall another solid offering from Butcher 8/10.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Review: To Green Angel Tower:Siege by Tad Williams

Prince Joshua, Simon and their allies find themselves under siege at the Stone of Farewell as King Elias sends a large force to route them out of their refuge. Meanwhile Miriamele finds herself in a precarious position, trapped aboard the Eadne Cloud it is revealed that Earl Aspitis is aware that she is King Elias’ daughter and has decided to force her into marriage and put himself inline for the throne.

This is the book in the series where everything just clicked into place for me. The growing up Simon and Miriamele have done throughout the earlier books really comes to the fore here and can be seen both through their own perspectives and through the way other characters regard them. Aside from the main protagonists the side stories are intriguing especially that of Rachel and earl Guthwulf and I’m curious to see where that leads. The previous volume has often been criticized as slow paced with not too much happening in terms of major events. Williams makes up for it here in a big way. Bloody sieges, night time skirmishes with outlandish monsters on a ship caught in a fierce storm, you name it and its in here.

Overall this book worked for me in a big way. 8.5/10