Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trio of Reviews - Abercrombie, Rees, and Williams

The first batch of book reviews for 2011 are up at SFFWorld, which includes one from yours truly as well as two from The Hobbit.

What turns out to be y first review of 2011 is a late publishing 2010 novel, which is the conclusion of a great epic fantasy series. Tad Williams ’s Shadowheart, the fourth book of his Shadowmarch trilogy. Right, fourth book of a trilogy because the last book was split:

Clearly, Mr. Williams has a lot of elements coming together as this series concludes. Looking at those plot threads, it could easily seem as if too much is going on for one writer to handle. Tad Williams is more than capable of handling so many threads, and even more importantly, of expertly weaving them together tightly into an exciting narrative. This entire saga started out with great promise, albeit a bit slowly as is often the case with Tad Williams’s epics. What that does is provide for a solid foundation for which Tad can throw his story and play with the gods he creates, give the true Epic sense to his character’s journeys they richly deserve, and allow a true sense of world changing events to be felt within his narrative. Each character gets an emotional spotlight, through either the scenes in which they appear, or through the reflections of other characters. My only minor problem was the predictable nature of one (or two) character’s final resolutions.

Mark’s reviews one of the most anticipated 2011 fantasy releases by one of the most prominent young writers in the genre, Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes :

In actual fact, the tale involves bands of men and women, on both sides of a battle, at a time when the War of the North is still rampant. The tale is told from the different perspectives of those involved, both North and Union. On the Union side, led by Lord Admiral Kroy, are three divisions commanded by Generals Jalenhorm, Mitterick and Meed. Much of their actions are told through the character of disgraced Bremer dan Gorst, (who we have met before) and here plays a cynical observer whose efforts here may redeem him in the eyes of King. To bolster the Union ranks there is also a group of Northmen fighting with the Union, led by (old favourite) the Dogman, now sworn enemy of the leader of the Northmen. The opposing side of The North is led by Black Dow and his War Chiefs. With Curnden Craw, Scale and ‘Prince’Calder (both sons of Bethod, the now-dead King of the North), Caul Reachey, Glauma Golden, and Cairm Ironhead, the Northmen aim to break the Union and create a change of fortunes in the War of the North.

At the start of the year, Mark reviewed the debut novel from Rod Rees, : The Demi-Monde: Winter by

At first glance, the elements that make up this book shouldn’t work. Think TRON, or the holodeck of the USS Enterprise, or indeed Tad Williams’s Otherland or Philip K Dick’s We Can Build You. Combine with an assortment of quite unpleasant people, from a range of different historical eras, steampunk and a sly (if not always subtle) sense of humour, and you could be forgiven for thinking that the whole package is rather a mess.

However what Rod has done here is cleverly combined these elements into something that works. There are detailed maps and also a lengthy glossary at the back, in order to tell your Aryan from your ABBA. The exhaustive website (www.thedemi-monde.com) also fills in details you may wish to check further. This is a book with a rich background tapestry. The world building is quite something and so clearly thought out that, despite those initial concerns, those disparate elements do work together here.

No comments: