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Books - 31 to 42
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Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Mon 3rd Mar '08 3:17PM
2708 Posts
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25th Aug '04
The Night Watch - Sergei Lukyanenko 10/10
The Others are a race that walks amongst us and are not quite human. They include Magicians, Shapechangers and Vampires and are divided into two camps, the Light and the Dark.

Hundreds of years ago the Light and the Dark made a truce and to help maintain it they created the Day Watch - Agents of the Dark that watch the Light Others and the Night Watch - Agents of the Light that watch the Dark Others.

The story follows at Anton, a relatively new member of the Moscow Night Watch as he struggles with his first few assignments. It follows the subtle manipulations of the Light and the Dark Leaders as they jockey for position against each other. And it's fascinating. The plots are complex and intricate, the bosses are ancient and all knowing and the characters are fully realised.

If you've seen the film then I recommend you pick up the book, if only because the film only covers the first story. I believe the sequel covered the next two, but I haven't seen it to be able to comment.
   

Spanners*
Misses his big brother :(
Tue 22nd Apr '08 1:46PM
4597 Posts
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7th Apr '03
The War Magician 9/10
A novel based very closely on the true story of Jasper Maskelyne - a famous stage magician who went to Africa during the second world war and concocted illusions to fool the Nazis and give the allied forces a serious advantage in the the desert campaign.
Expertly written and gripping.
Second opinion by General on 22nd Apr '08 9/10
A superb book. A great combination of historically accurate and a gripping read.
Try also Between Silk and Cyanide which is a similar book, but more focussed on cryptography.
    Average Rating 9

Xander
The panda is the evolutionary equivalent of living off benefits.
Sun 27th Jul '08 9:39PM
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16th Jul '08
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks 1/10
Iím probably going to be overly harsh to this book and thatís because I hated it. It personified everything I hate about Fantasy fiction. Itís just another spin on this set up: Orphaned child, mysterious wizard like stranger, grumpy Dwarfs, happy Elves, magical swords, journeying to somewhere with an intrepid band, Dark Lords! So far so Tolkien rip off, not that author is Terry Brooks is the first and by no means last person to do this.
I found his characters boring and seriously undeveloped. Shea is a typical hero ran through the formula at the top, a half elf half human with a destiny ahead of him. Heís as dull as dishwater and slightly less easy to care about. The character that really irks me though is Menion, he may as well be called Aragorn! Here we have a noble swordsman who is rather too jolly for a man who is supposed to be somewhat deadly. Characters that do dark stuff should be portrayed as such! If I was the Tolkien family Iíd take this book and half the fantasy section straight to court. Elves and Dwarf, trolls, Orcs: read quick way to make a dull story.
Right rant over with and Iím perhaps a bit too harsh some good stuff has been written using the well trodden path of Elves/Dwarfs/etc. But Sword of Shannara was just badly underwritten and predictable. To be fair I didnít finish the entire book, perhaps it improves after the first 498 pages, unfortunately its only 664 pages long so it would have to do a serious about turn.


 

Xander
The panda is the evolutionary equivalent of living off benefits.
Wed 13th Aug '08 5:13PM
169 Posts
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16th Jul '08
Flight of the Night Hawks by Raymond E Feist 4/10
Another Fantasy title this one and sadly not that good. The plot is somewhat contrived from the idea that aliens are pulling in an invading army which could destroy the world!!! However, the army fails to materialise as this is only book one of a projected series of books entitled the Dark War.

Feist has attempted to get over some ciches of fantasy for a start some of the characters are aliens from other worlds and magic bridges the gap between worlds. He also provides us with magic/technological hybrids which seem to make the world work. Unfortunately this is generally ignored and not really developed. Instead what is developed is a very long back story. Characters will sit and chat about the last 100 years of their lives to inform the reader what has happened and an Empire will get casually mentioned along with it's entire history. I personally like back story but in this book it's just unhelpful and side tracking.

Also for a book that gives us so much personal history his characters are very wooden and flat. Two of the leads Zane & Tad have little to do but chat to each other and be surprised by lots of things.

Another one of my great gripes with many fantasy stories is the casual attitude to killing. I'm sure a stone cold killer will relax into his genocide after a good while but with the characters in this novel there is no moral worry at all. Sure I get it the bad guy deserves to die (incidently the nasties don't get a voice in this book we just have to accept they are bad so cast in the Dark Lord model) but our characters should be slightly effected by it.

Magic is also the big mover and shaker in the story but Feist fails to develop any rules for it's use. Why I'm at it as every lead character is a super long living magician one wonders why they don't just take over. Has anyone else noticed in fantasy novels the all powerful wizards just sit about and only interfear when they absolutely have to. Why? Because they are good is a bit superficial.

Easy to read but not very good or very engaging and completely forgettable. I won't be reading the next in the series.
 

Xander
The panda is the evolutionary equivalent of living off benefits.
Tue 14th Oct '08 5:58PM
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16th Jul '08
Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale - Russell T Davies & Benjamin Cook 8/10
A definate must read for anyone who has ever wanted to write. The book is comprised of e-mails sent between Dr Who chief Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook (some journalist) and charts the writing of the 4th series of Dr Who.

So far very lazy of them to turn this into a book. However, everything is very raw and gives great insight into actually writing. Primarily its about Dr Who but Russell does discuss his other TV series. We get a raw insight into how Russell makes decisions and how he develops ideas. He's certainly an engaging e-mail writer.

You also get a bit of a biography of Russell as he discusses his life past and present. Some things discussed are highly personal. To give an example of something trivial Russell spends an entire e-mail dedicated to how much he fancies James Marsters of Buff fame. Entitled: RE James Marsters bottom. Actually there is quite a lot of this.

Amongst the personal corrispondence (which is also entertaining) is a big insight into creativity and developing ideas. For the Who fan its a great look into how the series comes together. For the none Who there its still a great read if your interested in creativity and the writing process.
 

Xander
The panda is the evolutionary equivalent of living off benefits.
Thu 30th Oct '08 10:24PM
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16th Jul '08
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger 8/10
One of the more confusing books to place. Initially it sounds like Sci-Fi and then there is the wife part. This book happily scurts sci-fi and romance. Managing to be more in the romance frame.

The book concerns Henry who is afflicted by a curious genetic trait meaning he will time without warning, usually into his past but occassionally into his future. This is a regular problem for poor Henry as he travels through time and space ending up naked when he gets there. Niffenegger writes the book so that we become fascinated by the practicalities and reality of Henry's time traveling condition.

Clare is Henry's wife who first met him when she was 6 and Henry was 36. They get maried when Henry is 30 and Clare is 22. Not as confusing as it sounds. The present in the book is from the 90's into the early 00's but Henry jumps as far back as the early 70's. Niffenegger has clearly spent a long time considering the rules of Henry's time travel and it pays off brilliantly.

All the narative is done either from Clare's view or Henry's as they struggle to have a normal life. Oddly moving and fascinating.
 

Demian*
Oh Lordy, Plegaleggole
Fri 31st Oct '08 1:13PM
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7th Apr '03
If You Liked School You'll Love Work 3/10
Irvine Welsh seems determined to wring the very last penny of book sales he can from his 'local dialect + shocking / disgusting events' franchise. After the magnificence of Trainspotting and the even better Maribou Stork Nightmares, each succeeding book seems to have become more stale and predictable, with the exception of 'Glue' which was more or less a sequel to the first novel.

This time it's a collection of short stories, and I have to admit to giving up before the end. Bland, uninspiring, attempting-to-be-shocking-but-we've-seen-it-all-before - after so many disappointments I don't think I'll even be bothering to pick up any more of his books unless they come highly recommended.

It's a shame that a writer with two modern classics under his belt feels no need whatsoever to hold himself to his own earlier standards. It's not even that he's unable to write short stories successfully, as the more-than-adequate The Acid House proved.
  

Demian*
Oh Lordy, Plegaleggole
Mon 1st Dec '08 1:57PM
4678 Posts
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7th Apr '03
Dead Air by Iain Banks 8/10
A liberal shock-jock DJ in the capital deals with three disparate yet entwining issues in his life whilst enjoying a lot of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, against a backdrop of post-9.11 London. It's entertaining all the way through, but I was left with the feeling that none of the three main strands of plot actually reached a satisfying sense of closure.

There is one moment in the book that is so funny that I laughed for a good thirty seconds (you'll know it when you get to it), but it sort of fizzled out a little bit after that.

Will particularly appeal to Londoners and those of the extreme-liberal persuasion. If you read the Daily Mail, you'll probably despise it from start to finish, but then that can only weigh in it's favour
  

Xander
The panda is the evolutionary equivalent of living off benefits.
Mon 29th Dec '08 8:09PM
169 Posts
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16th Jul '08
World War Z by Max Brooks 9/10
The full tittle of this book is actually World War Z An Oral History of the Zombie War. What you get is a whole series of 'personal accounts' of people fighting the Zombie War. Each account has it's own story and tells a slice of the Zombie War, origins, crisis, fight back etc...

What's great is the depth of imagination Brooks had to create a viable Zombie War and it's creepy and grooky. Well worth a read and it's highly gripping. Comes with a recomendation by Simon Pegg so Sean of the Dead fans may want read but be warned this book doesn't have humour in it.

By the same author who wrote the Zombie Survival Guide that got a cracking review by Diziet a while back. If you read that then read this it's great.
 

Xander
The panda is the evolutionary equivalent of living off benefits.
Tue 10th Feb '09 9:36PM
169 Posts
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16th Jul '08
ORCS: Omnibus by Stan Nicholls 4/10
Someone on the Daddy tell me to stop reading crap fantasy novels.

In theory this sounds like a great idea a fantasy novel from the Orcs point of view. But the blurb on the back is as good as it gets and it's a good blurb. You get three books in this omnibus and I have to admit I only read the first one so for all I know it picks up big time.

The problems happens a just after the opening fight are Orks are revealed to be little more than misrepresented and disapointingly human like. The rest is just Orcs (and they may as well be humans) on a mission to find some special stones. These stones will help save all the elder races survive the real badies of the piece the humans. So our band of Orcs called the Wolverines go on a quest.

The main bady a sorcerer is also cardboard cut out and she just kills people to show how evil she is. So it's the old sexy sorcerer kills walk on side kick every time the narative flips back to her. There is some poor attempts at minion humour.

Strangley for a book about a fantasy world it's lacking a lot in descriptive detail. So we never once get a description of what a Orc looks like. Never mind what our Orc hero looks like. Which is surprising as Nicholls is highly descriptive when he goes in for some surprisingly (and unnecissarily) graphic fantasy porn so in one scene the villian uses a unicorn horn as a sex aid.

Utterly forgettable and reads like the dirty dozen goes Orc but you don't care. Oddly it's a book that can't make up it's mind does it want to be a Terry Pratchett novel or a Terry Brooks novel or maybe a bit David Gemmel. Nicholls couldn't make up his mind.
 

Xander
The panda is the evolutionary equivalent of living off benefits.
Sun 1st Mar '09 3:27PM
169 Posts
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16th Jul '08
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley 5/10
The title of this book seems more famous than its author and indeed in many ways it's own subject matter.
Written in 1931 the book is surprisingly ahead in the game of genetic manipulation and thought control. In many ways it's prophetic and surprisingly, considering it's written when totalitarianism was hot on the agenda, predictive of some of the dangers of extreme liberalism. Not that anyone would think that Brave New World is endorsing a liberal agenda indeed it's subject matter is control and conditioning of human beings. It also discusses what we consider taboo and Huxley hear clearly struggled with what was acceptable to be published back the 1930's.
The book is clearly a satire on Huxley's part and he takes great pleasure in sending up the ideas of Pavlov and Freud. Some of them may seem strange to us today Huxley seems obsessed with what I guess must have been fairly new in 1931 the zip. Perhaps a show of the time that the helicopter is main form of transport.
As Sci-Fi Huxley's ideas have been done a lot better by latter writers. Indeed half the plots of Star Trek and the Outerlimits are the grandchildren of Brave New World. This for todays reader is part of the problem the main subject matter for the book feels like an average Sci-Fi plot.
The writing is not excellent and Huxley is unable to make you care about any of the characters. For fans of Sci-Fi it's an interesting read to see the genesis of common Sci-Fi plot lines. But for Huxley the Sci-Fi is not as important as his main point about human conditioning and manipulation.
 

Xander
The panda is the evolutionary equivalent of living off benefits.
Sun 1st Mar '09 3:52PM
169 Posts
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16th Jul '08
Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell 9/10
This book has one of the best hooks ever in it's opening line "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." Genius.

If your feeling down don't bother to read 1984. It however a fantasticly writen and just as applicable now as when it was first published. The themes covered are totalitarianism, power for the sake of power and nature of truth. The form of totalitarianism in 1984 is as nihilistic as it gets. As one of the characters says 'If you want a vision of the future imagine a boot stomping on a human face - for ever.'

Principly the book is about Winston Smith a man utterly crushed by the opressive system of the party Engsoc. He lives in a future England that has been renamed Airstrip One and is as bleak as it gets. Winston spends his days under near constant survailence from microphones and telescreens and indeed children who spy for the party. Orwell perfectly gives the impression of a place that is totally repressive. Winston slowly begins tiny rebellions, he writes a diary and meets Julie someone else who hates the party.

Many of 1984's words have entered our every day use such as thought-crime, double speak, newspeak and of course Big Brother. It's a pitty that reality tv has nicked Big Brother and turned it into a crap program for attention seekers to get famouse. Read 1984 and the fully scary impact of Big Brother is watching you will return.

Everyone should read 1984 just don't expect to feel uplifted.
 

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