Monday, August 25, 2014

Doctor Who Tales of Trenzalore Book Review

Doctor Who Tales of Trenzalore

The Eleventh Doctor's Final Stand

Justin Richards , George Mann , Mark Morris , Paul Finch

BBC Books

Pub Date: Feb 27 2014

3/5 Stars


           The Trenzalore episode of Doctor Who was probably one of the strangest and most climatic that I’ve ever seen in the history of the series(when I say this I mean the 11 doctors not the three or so of the modern series).  I also felt that for as much as the show wanted the viewer to take in, it seemed a rather short affair.  However, this book was not exactly what I’d envisioned when I thought they should have lengthened it.  The four stories are all descent and they do all have the flavor of Doctor Who.  Which is usually a problem in these books.  Often the main characters get rather messed up and you end up following some supporting character around trying to figure out what’s going on.  While this is flirted with several times in this anthology it never happens.  Which is good, because none of these stories are particularly long or very good and if you had to follow some one around to figure out the plot it would probably be a deal breaker.

           Some of the oddities of Trenzalore and the town called Christmas are explained.  Which I thought was interesting and probably worth the read, at least for me.  But I think the average reader will quite put off by the over all tone of most of the stories.  I can say that I’m completely split on this book.  I liked the second two stories much more than the first two. Which in anthologies is not all that unusual but it is rather strange when there are so few stories presented.

            All that said, if you are a big Dr.Who you will want to read this book.  In fact, you probably already have.  But if you are just a casual watcher of the TV Show, then maybe not.  Also, as of the time of this writing there is no Kindle Edition available.  Which also makes this book a bit harder to recommend.  Although, I’m sure there are still lots of you out there would like print books.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Rise of the King Book Review

Rise of the King: Companions Codex Part 2


Wizards of the Coast

September 30, 2014

4/5 Stars


        Rise of the King is the second in the Companion Codex.  This book was obviously meant to be the dark middle chapter of the series so I’m assuming that this is a trilogy.  The book continues the story began in book one which was begun in the much longer series that more or less ended with the first book of the Sundering.  All this taken into account, I can certainly understand why this book didn’t quite meet the standard that the author, himself set.  The book has some high points, but more or less the work which ends; very much too soon.  Makes the reader harshly aware that there is a lot of story left to be told.  And while Mr.Salvatore has his standard measure of exciting fight scenes and intrigue.  It is hard to say anything other than this middle book, was a good middle.  But taken only in the view of the entire work.  I would be hard pressed to say quite what will happen in the that long view.  Which is excellent, because any writer that has overly showed their hand and has atleast one book left of their series; is doing a sorry job.  That being said, I really didn’t appreciate how aware the author makes the reader that this IS indeed just PART of the story and if you want to read the rest you better get the next book.  The Epilogue isn’t even an after thought but a literal continuation of events that weren’t resolved in the story and aren’t in the Epilogue either.  This book would have gained quite a bit from another hundred pages or so. Might have even benefitted from having been a MUCH longer work altogether.  This might have helped the work seem less limited and less abrupt when it ends.

      I will say however, that this is NOT a book to skip by anyone who read the original book.  Progress is made and events occur.   But I would imagine that most people who follow the exploits of Drizzt Do'Urden and friends.  Are as familiar with this sort of thing as I am and while I was disappointed by the abruptness of the end, it certainly wasn’t a deal breaker for me.  So any fan of the series will be well served here, if not entirely satisfied at the end.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Dresden Files: There and Back Again


        I began reading the Dresden Files; with Storm Front and Fool Moon a couple of years ago.  I believe I may have read Storm Front around the time the television series premiered(I will always consider Dresden first as Paul Blackthorne, who played him in series.  Also every time I watch him in the series, Arrow.  I think of him as Dresden first.  Sorry, Paul typecast in a one season flop.)  But I could be wrong on that one.  I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed.  In fact, while I thought that they were descent enough books; even upon rereading them recently.  I never really liked them all that much.  I knew, of course, that the Dresden Files consisted of quite a number of books.  I believe when I read Storm Front originally there were nine or ten.  Now, there are fifteen.  But a couple of months ago, I decided to read through the entire series from beginning to end.  Because I was so excited by it.


        I’m sure you’re wondering what happened that I decided to read the rest of the entire series in about three months(if you check my Goodreads profile, I believe that’s how long it took)?  I read Grave Peril.  That would be book three of the series and still one of my favorite books of the series.  But hold on, it occurs to me that for people who haven’t read ANY of the Dresden Files; I’m jumping a bit ahead.  Harry Dresden is a Wizard.  He lives in a modern world that we would recognize.  There are Burger Kings, Walmarts, the internet, etc…  But there are also Faeries, demons, and gods masquerading as people.  For some people they would recognize this as well, but for the rest of us we call it Urban Fantasy.  Harry has a few friends that keep him from getting destroyed on a daily basis.  One of his main best friends, is Karrin Murphy.  She is a police detective who works with a paranormal unit that involves looking into stuff that the rest of the force doesn’t want to deal with.  Kind of like the X-Files without the aliens.  He has other friends, but unfortunately they are involved in the plot development to such a degree that describing them in any great detail could actually be spoiler filled.   So, Harry takes on cases, he’s basically a Private Investigator.  This situation evolves as the series goes on and things get pretty crazy.  One of the things I love about the Dresden Files is how grounded in reality the series actually is.  The police show up when gun shots are fired.  When someone gets hurt there are consequences to their injuries.  While these might seem like small things they work to make the series incredibly engrossing and believable.  Unfortunately, I can’t recommend Storm Front or Fool Moon; except in saying that the books are good background for the rest of the series.  But I ALSO wouldn’t recommend anyone starting reading the series at book three.

        I have to say that the rest of the series is incredible.  Every book in the series is either a four or five star review.  So how does one recommend a 15 book series to someone with no experience in it?  I was a little daunted by this question myself.  I would have a hard time saying to someone, “Hey man, read the first four books or so; by the time book four is over you’ll be hooked.”

        Not because I don’t believe exactly that, but rather that’s around 1,200 pages.  To most folks that’s a lot of reading to do.  So I will let you in on the secret sauce that makes Dresden Files so awesome; but if this is just too much for you.  I certainly understand, and IF you decide you want to start at book three; I’ll understand.  But if you don’t get as much out of the series as you should.  Don’t blame me, I warned you.

       I have to say that the series goes in some incredible directions and that each book is a very fast read.  Even some of the longer ones…  The books have a great deal of explanation built into everyone of them about events or characters that are pertinent to the understanding of the book.  However, having the author give you a quick summary of events is very different from actually reading those events and getting an understanding for the characters that went through them.  That is why I suggest reading every book in order.  I’m not normally into Urban Fantasy as a genre.  Generally, Urban Fantasy to me has always seemed like a lazy way of reducing the learning curve for readers.  Which would be fine, except that so often the stories fall into some really generic and predictable tropes.  But the Dresden Files is, in my opinion, a high cut above all the rest of the Urban Fantasy out there.  Not only in the way that typical material is handled in an excellent way.  But also, in the depth of the characters and complexity of their relationships.  While some of the elements of the Dresden Files could definitely be seen as tropey or even typical of the genre.  What Jim Butcher does with these elements is neither typical nor tropey.

      While the Dresden Files might not be for everyone, I certainly have to say that they are for a lot more people than perhaps the general opinion about the books expresses.  I think that most readers of fantasy will be overjoyed at how different and interesting the characters and world of the Dresden Files is.  While I cannot recommend this series enough, I have to say that it is quite an investment on the part of the reader.  However, I love this series SO MUCH that I really couldn’t miss this opportunity to tell everyone how I feel about the series.  I will say that once you get into the series, you will not regret it.

        Storm Front

        Fool Moon

        Grave Peril