For some reason unknown to me, I haven’t read much fantasy or science fiction in the past few years, excepting Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. So this winter I’ve been making up for that with a vengeance. Here’s my take on a few of the books I’ve read recently:
The Game of Thrones
On the positive side, I love getting lost in long epics. Long is what this provides. The story is complex, weaving around no less than eight major characters. For an epic fantasy, much of the book is centered on the desires and plotting of the characters, which shows multiple layers for all of them. I can almost believe this world exists, and got caught up in the drama of the kings and rulers vying for control of the land.
However, there was more brutality, including violent sex than I care for. The ending did not bring much resolution to the plot. Apparently, you have to read the rest of the series for that. I also thought it bogged down a bit toward the end. The last scene, however, ended with a twist I didn’t see coming and gave me an image I won’t soon forget. If you’ve read it, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, I don’t want to spoil it.
If you like intelligently written fantasy that breaks many of the stereotypes of the genre and don’t mind brutality, incest and other gritty topics, than The Game of Thrones is for you.
The Dispossessed is a novel that wanders in a circle, starting in the middle, filling in the past and moving forward in alternating chapters. While it moves slowly, the contrasts between the two societies are thought-provoking. Ursula Le Guin shows the strengths and weaknesses of both worlds, leaving the reader to consider which system works better. It’s clear that the anarchistic society works only because most of the people possess the shared moral values of hard work, responsibility, and the willingness to serve and sacrifice for the good of the community. Without these, their experiment would have failed. If you enjoy this kind of exploration of philosophy and politics and don’t mind them as a substitute for action, you’ll probably like The Dispossessed.
I’ve been a fan of Connie Willis ever since I read To Say Nothing of the Dog, and Blackout did not disappoint. Like her earlier time travel story, the novel skips from the future to the past, and the reader is as equally confused as the time travelers who don’t always know when and where they are. For me, the uncertainty is part of the appeal of the novel, since I’m trying to figure it out along with the characters.
All Clear is really Part 2 of the story begun in Blackout. If you haven’t read that one, read it first. All Clear continues the detailed look at life during the Blitz, meshing the science fiction of time travel with a historical novel, and is well done on both counts. This is another book I couldn’t read fast enough to find out what happened, and I’m sure it’s one I will re-read with pleasure.
The Light of Eidon
I knew nothing of Karen Hancock before I read the Light of Eidon, but am glad I found her. This was a thoroughly enjoyable book, with some interesting twists. I bought this book because it was marketed as Christian fiction as I was curious about the genre, so was not surprised that the religion in the story is very similar to Christianity. Some reviewers felt blindsided when that aspect became more obvious, but to me, it was clear where the religion of that world was drawn from.
This was the first of Ted Dekker’s novels I’ve read. He also creates a believable world, weaving Christianity into his plot. However, had I to do over, I wouldn’t have read this one first. It was billed as Book 0 in the Circle Series, both the first and last. I felt a bit cheated by the end, as did many other readers. I’m thinking about trying Black (book 1), as many reviewers thought the first books of the series were pure genius, and Green didn’t measure up to them. Still, it is a fun and enjoyable read.
What about you? What have you been reading lately that you’d want to recommend?