A few more book reviews

It’s been a month since I last posted about books, so I thought I should catch up….

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold [4/5]

Jennifer already laid out the basic plot of this one in her review, so I’ll just add my thoughts. This was the first thing I’ve read by Bujold, though I’ve been hearing about her Vorkosigan saga for years, and I came away suitably impressed. She weaves a fine tale, with political twists that at times reminded me of George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire series, despite the smaller scope. I was most impressed by the well-drawn characters, especially Cazaril, but in my opinion the plot didn’t quite reach the same level. It was fine, but there were times that it struck me as just a bit too contrived. It’s a minor quibble though, and I’d highly recommend this book to all fantasy readers.

Warchild by Karin Lowachee [3/5]

I had high expectations for this book, mainly because of positive comments from friends and the fact that it won the Warner Aspect First Novel Contest. In the end though, I don’t think the novel lived up to those expectations.

The plot follows Jos, a young boy living on a merchant starship with his parents, as he is first captured by pirates, and then by aliens, finally returning as a conflicted spy. While the twists and turns of the story work well enough, I found myself disappointed both by the world-building and, to a greater extent, by the main character. While this is a tale of shifting loyalties and tough choices, much of Jos’ internal conflict struck me as melodramatic, and at times he became one of those characters I want to smack upside the head. Since the book is very character focused, this was a problem.

Overall it’s not a bad book, but the fact that it’s a first novel does show through at times, and I ended up disappointed. I guess that’s the risk inherent in having high expectations.

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow [4.5/5]

And now for something completely different.

Although both this book and Warchild might be filed under SF, they aren’t the same kind of book. Cory’s book has more in common with the work of William Gibson or Bruce Sterling than it does with any of the space opera writers, and, like them, he takes a keen eye for the present world and uses it to come up with a not-so-distant future that is absolutely amazing.

It’s a book about a man named Jules, who….well, it kind of hard to describe. Or maybe it just sounds silly when it’s described. You see, Jules lives in Disney World, and is part of an “ad-hoc” that maintains some of the most famous rides in the park. In this future both death and scarcity have been eliminated, worth is measured by how much “Whuffie” (a measure of respect and regard) you have, and Disney Land is run by the people who love it.

It might not immediately sound like a good premise for a novel, but it works really well, and Cory’s writing is really sharp. I very much recommend this one to those of you who like offbeat SF, and you can even download the whole thing for free and read it on your PDA or computer or whatever.

One Response to “A few more book reviews”

  1. Blog, Jvstin Style Says:

    Book Review XII

    This time around, I am going to talk about Lois McMaster Bujold’s THE CURSE OF CHALION, Jeffrey Carver’s DRAGONS IN THE STARS, and Martha Wells’ DEATH OF THE NECROMANCER….