Thursday, December 30, 2010

Huso and Moorcock - Closing out SFFWorld's 2010 Reviews

Two last reviews to mention before the year closes at SFFWorld one from me and one from Art. Both novels happened to have been published by Tor.

I’ll lead of with my review of a debut novel that has generated a heaping of praise thus far: The Last Page by Anthony Huso:

The world inhabited by these characters is believable with all its sense of wonder. Stonehold, the land ruled by Caliph in many ways, fits the mold of a standard patriarchy – scheming nobles, courtly intrigue, and dark secrets – elements which unfold before Caliph’s eyes and through the people close to him. Where things admirably stray from the norm is the intermingling of steampunk elements like Zepplines, the morphing of science/mathematics and magic into singular disciplines to study and manipulate the world like holomorphy. Elements of Voodoo magic enter the equation, further differentiating Huso’s imaginative backdrop from his peers and predecessors.

Where I did have some minor problems was the plot itself. While I loved the milieu, thoroughly enjoyed the inventive language (and simultaneously felt pity for the poor copyeditor who had to keep track of the strangely spelled words) and found the characters engaging, the plotting of the novel didn’t move as smoothly as those other strong elements. This isn’t to say The Last Page is plotted badly, just that the narrative pull wasn’t as strong as I would have liked and felt the book dragged at times.

Art wrapped up his review of Michael Moorcock's classic Hawkmoon series with The Runestaff

Everything moves at an incredible pace in The Runestaff, with all of the plotlines converging in an action-packed finale. As with the rest of the series, Moorcock covers in two hundred pages what many of today's authors would spread out over a thousand. This is not to say that Moorcock's prose is sparse – or that the George R.R. Martins, Tad Williamses and Steven Eriksons of fantasy pad their stories – but rather that whereas some other writers spend a great deal of time adding details so that readers may savor their worlds at the risk of slowing the plot to a standstill, in a "mere" eight hundred pages Moorcock takes readers on an exhilarating thrill ride in a world no less fantastic.

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