There’s a reason I jumped to buy this and bump it to the top of my queue: Tim Powers is flat-out amazing. This is how you write a time travel story.
Great North Road has a different shape than other Peter F. Hamilton books I’ve read. It’s a huge, sprawling SF story, sure, but a focused one; there are two main story threads going, and two protagonists. Viewpoints occasionally diverge, but not for long, and they stay fairly close to the main story. The two threads are entirely different kinds of stories but are tightly intertwined. The pacing of the book is relentless, always moving forward, never idling or spending time with a meaningless thread.
Because of this focus, there’s not much room for the usual Hamiltonian ending. The endings we get, though — all three of them — are fairly perfect.
The book is so well done that I forgave it some things that might’ve killed another book — the endless flashbacks, for instance. I don’t even mind that Hamilton worked in two different long-distance driving sequences, something I’d thought he got out of his system after Judas Unchained.
After struggling through the last third of the Night’s Dawn trilogy even after uttering the Eight Deadly Words and ending up peeved that I’d taken the time to do it, it was really nice to be utterly captivated by this book.
It’s been a long time since I curled up in my overstuffed, well-worn purple chair and read, purely to see where the story went. It was pretty fun.
Another Dresden files novel; you either like ‘em or you don’t. Butcher gets away with exactly the things that annoy me in other long-running urban fantasy series — power creep, friends repeatedly in jeopardy, etc. etc. I think the characterization helps wonderfully, although it wouldn’t hurt if some of the secondary characters got a bit more of it these days. This one also pretty much pushes the big red reset button — though I’ll give it to the next book to see if it’s really as bad as all that.
This book gets a whole extra star because it has more Bob in it than the last three books combined. I’d take away half of one if I could because he’s still pushed offstage halfway through without even a “see ya”.
I tend to use scraps of paper for bookmarks, so sometimes re-reading books is a little like opening a time capsule. Tucked into the pages of Orca I found a TANK bus transfer, meaning that I was reading it around the time I was taking the bus to work every day at the F— campus in northern Kentucky, which puts it at what, 16 years ago? I got a lot of reading done on the bus, and since it stopped at the bottom of the hill I also got a good deal of exercise hiking up to the building where I worked, especially when it snowed.
Because of this bookmark, I know that I read Orca… but I didn’t remember it at all. Kind of a trend with me and these books.
Brust plays with the narration once again — this one is all from the viewpoint of Kiera the thief, as she talks with Vlad, listens to him tell stories about what he’s done, and tells the entire story (well, almost) to Cawti. Vlad and Kiera are working together to investigate an apparent conspiracy; the reason why they have to find out is all wrapped up in the story from Athyra.
I don’t often use spoiler tags, because I don’t often talk about the plots of books except in the most general way, but this time I have to because any book that can make me shout “What? WHAT?” twice in the last five pages deserves extra recognition.
There isn’t much to say about the plot of Athyra. Much of the last two books has been about tearing down what’s already been built up around Vlad, and this is much more of the same. Several years later, after a lot of wandering away from Adrilankha, he comes up against an old enemy. However, that’s not as interesting as what’s being done here on a stylistic level and in the metatext; Brust seems to be flexing his authorial muscles, both at the reader and at himself, seeing if he can write a Vlad Taltos novel without any of the touchstones of the earlier books: no first-person viewpoint, no snarky psionic sidekick, no organized crime, no Morrolan and Castle Black, no Cawti, Noish-pa, Dragarean nobles, nobody we’ve ever met but for Vlad and the two jhereg, and if readers can enjoy the story when its told like that.
I’m skipping around in my reading order so I can read the next one, so I guess it worked for me.
I didn’t remember this one at all. I had a rough outline of the first couple of Vlad Taltos books in my head — not every beat, but a good idea of what was going on. This one read as if it was completely new to me, and when I think about it, the only real thing I can remember from any of the later books is a framing device and not the actual story of the novel at all. (Also, since I can’t seem to Google an answer without getting into major spoiler territory for the four or five novels I haven’t ever read in the series I can’t even say which book it is.)
Vlad makes several moves that will radically change his life in this one. I’m looking forward to rediscovering how that works out.
A hard book to review. At times a fascinating read, at times quite repetitive, with long stretches of “and then this and then this and then this”. Perhaps a bit unfocused. Still, an interesting look into a struggle that I knew of mostly obliquely.
Really not sure what to think of this one, which kind of makes me not want to even write about it. Intensely philosophical SF often doesn’t work for me, doubled-down on here by the unlikable ciphers substituting for characters. Neat enough ending, but it never really got me interested.