Book Recommendations?

CaptainCrowbar wrote:
Malor wrote:
NathanialG wrote:

Has anyone checked out Ann Leckie's fantasy book, The Raven Tower?

Very pleased with this one.

Just finished it myself. I can totally endorse everything Malor said. Truly excellent, and I can only wonder what Leckie is going to astonish us with next.

Let me add one more voice approving of this one. Great stuff.

I think the high point was when

Spoiler:

the Myriad asked the Stone: have you considered not being a rock, but taking another body to see more of the world, and got the answer yes, I have, and I will just stay a rock

DudleySmith wrote:

BlackSabre: They get bigger and better. If you like Sanderson they're a true feast.

Yeah, you weren't kidding. Just finished book two, Words of Radiance. Pretty damn epic. On to book 3!

Though I thought for some reason it was only a trilogy. Apparently there's a fourth on the way and he's planning 10 books for this series. Sheeeeeeeeet, gonna be reading this forever.

I am glad to hear Leckie’s new book was a winner. Her sci-fi series started so high and ended so low.

What about _Provenance_? I snagged a copy last time I was at the used bookstore, but I don't know much about it. I guess it's set in the same universe as the Ancillary Justice series, but I was under the impression it's a standalone book. Or is it the one that disappointed you, Michael?

It was the Ancillary series, which blew me away in the first book, left me on the fence with the second, and disappointed with the ending. It had such promise.

Michael wrote:

It was the Ancillary series, which blew me away in the first book, left me on the fence with the second, and disappointed with the ending. It had such promise.

I'm glad to hear it wasn't just me after the universal acclaim of the series. The first book was incredible, and I loved the ideas being explored. I just found the 2nd book to be rather wandering and decided to pass on the third.

Hangdog wrote:
Michael wrote:

It was the Ancillary series, which blew me away in the first book, left me on the fence with the second, and disappointed with the ending. It had such promise.

I'm glad to hear it wasn't just me after the universal acclaim of the series. The first book was incredible, and I loved the ideas being explored. I just found the 2nd book to be rather wandering and decided to pass on the third.

I didn't necessarily agree that the first was incredible for me. It was OK, but the second definitely has not inspired me to finish the trilogy.

So I just went back and finished off an older trilogy, the Grimnoir Chronicles. It had a mildly interesting premise: superheroes in the 1930s. The whole superhero trope is getting pretty darn old, now, but these started coming out in 2010, nine years ago, so I'm inclined to give it a pass on that score.

This is an alternate-history 1930s, where magic first showed up in the world in the 1840s or 1850s. At first a few people started showing supernatural powers, and then it gradually became more frequent. There's two basic types, Passives (which are only mentioned a tiny bit in the books), and Actives, which seem to be about one person in a thousand. Actives typically have one power. Very talented Actives seem to be able to pick up weaker forms of closely related disciplines.

There are two main characters, Jake Sullivan, a Heavy, and Faye Vierra, a Traveler. Heavies have the ability to manipulate gravity, and typically have the reputation of not being the brightest candles on the cake. They're considered, generally, one of the weakest of the Active types, as manipulating gravity isn't that generally useful. They have an easy time finding work as laborers (since they can lift enormous things very easily), but tend to be pigeonholed into doing exactly that.

Jake, of course, is different: he's an extremely powerful Heavy, and has branched out a little into mass and density manipulation. He's also incarcerated in a maximum security facility, and has been stuck breaking rocks for several years when the book opens. But then J. Edgar Hoover shows up, and offers him a job....

Faye, being a Traveler, can teleport, much like Nightcrawler in the Marvel comics. Traveling is extremely dangerous, because most Travelers end up teleporting into things like tree branches or simple insects, and killing themselves. Faye's different: she's got a high-quality mental map of the space around her, and an extremely agile mind. She's also an uneducated hick growing up on a farm in Central California, so her lightning-quick brain hasn't gotten as much exercise as it might. Her tale begins when her ranch is invaded by a bunch of superpowered thugs, who kill her adopted Traveler grandfather and steal something he's been guarding.

The books, overall, are a bit... odd. They wander. Perhaps the author wasn't quite sure where he was going with the series. It feels like he started out with a couple strong character images, set pen to paper, and watched what happened. Each book is done well, but they change a great deal from volume to volume. Interesting characters and plot threads are mysteriously dropped, while other characters stay present throughout all three books, but as drab wallpaper, without ever feeling real. The pacing's a bit weird, too. The overall plot ends up being fairly satisfying, but it feels strange, all throughout. It's like the author starts out with A to B to C, but then jumps to L, M, N and then to Q, R, S. Characters die and the main characters barely notice, but other characters die and they're kind of devastated, when in plot and development terms, the non-grieved character was much more interesting.

The 1930s setting came out a bit awkward. It was arguably necessary to set up the political conflict he wanted (which centers around the US versus an expansionist Japanese Empire). But other than that part of the setting, and the general acceptance of nations just taking territory because nobody was in a position to stop them, the 1930s aspects were barely important. There are so many anachronisms that it could have been set almost anytime without an issue. Now, it makes sense for this world to have developed a lot faster than ours, particularly because one type of superpower is being a Cog, a super inventor, but that whole aspect of the setting rang a bit false. He'd sometimes throw in 1930s words, but for the most part the dialog felt weirdly modern. There's an old saying to 'write what you know', and I get the strong impression that Mr. Correia doesn't have a deep familiarity with the real 1930s. I should point out, however, that I definitely don't have a deep familiarity with the 1930s, so I could be calling that entirely wrong.

Yet, for all the oddities in the books, there's some really interesting ideas in them. One is a genuinely good explanation for why magic suddenly showed up in the world, and the eventual consequences of it doing so. (not at all good.) And Faye's character arc is pretty interesting, one of the better superhero stories I've read, though reminiscent of many others. I particularly liked her combination of intelligence and ignorance; that was very well handled, and often quite amusing. Jake starts strong, but he sort of stalls out, and stops developing on a character level, and other characters show up and take a fair bit of 'screen time' without all that much payoff. It's just... kind of haphazard.

So is it worth reading? Yeah, probably. They're definitely not bad books, just don't go in expecting too much. I guess I'd rate these as B-grade. I don't think they entirely succeed at what they're trying to do, but some parts are a lot of fun.

Just picked up The Fifth Season for $2.99 on Kindle. Looking forward to trying this one out finally.

Redherring wrote:

Just picked up The Fifth Season for $2.99 on Kindle. Looking forward to trying this one out finally.

I actually just finished this trilogy and you're in for a treat. I really enjoyed it.

Phades wrote:
Redherring wrote:

Just picked up The Fifth Season for $2.99 on Kindle. Looking forward to trying this one out finally.

I actually just finished this trilogy and you're in for a treat. I really enjoyed it.

I second this, I'm two books in and loving it.

You people made me get the first book. I mean, $2.99 is a great price!