Sep

29

Review: Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

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I’ve always wanted to read this book. I really enjoyed the movie (there were no other ones) and it’s been a long time since then that I’ve gotten my hands on a physical copy. Did you know you can’t get an e-copy of this book?

Just before I started writing review, I copied this snippet from our list of top science fiction books.

“For most, war is hell, but for Heinlein’s character Juan Rico, war is heaven — and for those reading the book too! This is one classic you should read. Bootcamp in space, high tech battle toys, bone-jarring battles, romance, and a critique on politics thrown in for good measure. Heinlein is on the top of his game in what is considered his finest novel. Read it! If you have seen the terrible movie adaption, forget it! The book is much, much better.”

What I can say is that the book and movie are pretty much different in every way. What’s the same? Rico, the Roughnecks, Bugs some other insignificant names.

Starship Troopers is a book written in first person, a sort of diary/memoirs. We start off with why Juan Rico wants to join the army. Both his best friends Carl and Carmen were enlisting and so he want to join them (against his father’s wishes). He thought that his grades would be enough to be a pilot (but pretty much only females become pilots), yet they pretty much weren’t good enough for anything, just the infantry.

What is really different about the book compared to the movie is I would say the division that Rico is in, the Mobile Infantry. What we see in the movie is what we would see in any army, infantry, people on the front line with guns and backpacks. Mobile Infantry while looked down on by every other military division are an entirely different beast all together. M.I are infantry in specialised mechnical suits, powered armour if you will. Think a suit that’s slightly larger than the body but with power beyond imagination and weapons of a MechWarrior (see picture). The only part that seemed to me to fit in with the movie, is the ending when they attempt to find either a queen or a brain bug.

While this book seems on the surface to be a book about war and killing bugs, it is like most sci-fi books written in its era, a philosophical analysis of the writers mind.

Starship Troopers has a lot of great elements going for it, action, good dialog, happiness and sadness and it feels real.



Sep

28

Review: The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks

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One of the books I’ve been anticipating all year. As a former Salvatorian, I am of course a HUGE sucker for Brent Weeks. The Broken Eye is book three in The Lightbringer series, set in Brent’s own universe, featuring one of the more exciting magic systems I’ve encountered.

Lightsplitting (or Luxin-drafting) is the art of drafting different colors from the light spectrum, and physically manifesting these in Luxin, jelly-like compounds you can throw, or harder plastic-like substances you can use for buildings, boats and what have you not. Lightsplitting is rare, and when it’s manifested, a person can usually only split one or two colors.

Each color in the spectrum has different properties, and if you combine the colors, you have “infinity + one” things you can do. It’s that cool.

Queue The Broken Eye. Book two, The Blinding Knife, left us with one of the main characters, Gavin Guile, being pulled out of the water and chained to a slavegalley. Turns out, it’s just as fun as it sounds, that being none at all, and quite an excruciating experience at that.

The Broken Eye is mostly the story about an ancient order of assassins, most believe these to be purely mythological, but our main characters quickly discover that it isn’t so.

This time around, Teia gets a lot more chapters to herself, at the expense of Liv Danavis. It is really a shame, because the insignificant Teia is quickly revealed to be a person of superhuman abilities, and to be quite frank, she gets away too easy all the time.

I wish we could shift the focus back to Liv instead. She is a more exciting character, without the whining, and now has a lot of moral dilemmas to combat. Unfortunately, we only get hints of Liv, and I am looking very much forward to her in the coming books. I expect big changes are under way.

Now, to what this book is really about, Kip. Kip has developed from a very insecure young boy, into early manhood. The physical training and the fact that he has a will to match Gavin Guile or Ironfist, has Kip shaping up to be the hero we’ve all seen hiding underneath his mask. Kip is finally becoming confident, though Kip the Lip or the TurtleBear still pokes his ugly face out a few times. I think it has been done enough now.

The Broken Eye is Kips book as much as it is Gavins. Kip the Leader, making plans to save his father from slavery. It’s a good story, and I enjoyed Kip immensely. We get to learn the inner workings of Luxin crafting alongside Kip.

On this journey with Kip, we learn there is a lot more to Luxin and drafting than any of us imagined. I like this aspect of the book a lot. Lightsplitting is an ingenious magical system with a lot of potential. Im just happy that Brent lets us experience it in more detail, as it is one of the things my inner geek loves.

The Broken Eye is a good book. There is a bit too much talking going on at times, and the pacing of the story is slow. Sometimes a bit too slow, but I expect that many of the storylines and characters set up in The Broken Eye, will come together in book four, with lots of Luxin-flinging-action.

I think Brent is one of the few writers who has mastered the finishing of a story contained in a single book, while also setting up the next parts of the story. I still have questions, but none that needs answering to understand what happened in The Broken Eye, and as per usual, Brent Weeks finishes the book with a loud bang! and leaves you, the reader, wanting the next book.

I enjoyed The Broken Eye a lot. It’s a solid story, a great magic system, a few well written characters, and one great character in my opinion, which I hope will feature more in the coming books. It’s time for Gavin Guile to pick up the mantle of Lightbringer. Oh Brent, please let it be Gavin!



Sep

11

Review: Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb

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I am going to do this review in 200 words (not including these)  as there are other more detailed reviews to come and I don’t want to over load you.

The pace is incredibly slow, throughout the whole book but if you are reading it to know about Fitz’s life post the Tawny Man Trilogy you will LOVE it. If you are reading it to find out what the Fool has been up to, don’t hold your breath, you will die, it’s a LONG book.

A new character is introduced and without spoiling too much (I hope) the story seems to focus on this new character.  At the start it is great, but then not so much (those wanting a Fitz and Fool story I’m talking about you).

There will be tears, unless you never cry then probably not. Hobb is notorious for the bullshit she puts Fitz through and at 630 pages it isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. I was left in a catatonic book coma for days :(

Aside from the content it’s a great book. Insert all those buzz words like world building, characterisation and stuff. Hobb’s skills haven’t diminished in that regard at all. 

I strongly recommend this book to those wanting to catch up on the life of Fitz. I encourage those wanting a Fitz and Fool adventure story to wait until the next book in the series comes out, that one at least should satisfy your craving.

I myself wish I had waited, this was not the story I was looking for.

 

—-

(Another review below)

FitzChivalry Farseer is one of my favourite characters in fantasy ever. I adored the Farseer trilogy and literally wept at the ending. Fitz is back again, in this first book of the third trilogy. A three of threes if you will.

If you like Farseer or Tawny Man, chances are that you will like this one too.

In many ways, I looked forward to this book, and in about just as many I was anxious. My internal arguing always ended up: “Let Fitz have his peace. He has earned it!”

Robin Hobb has an amazing ability to make me live through her characters, and Fitz especially, when I read her books. Fool’s Assassin is the same in this aspect, as all her other works.

There was parts I loved about this book, and parts I liked less so. Of all her books on the Fitz and the Fool, I found this to be the weakest. The story is driven by two unbelievable happenings and Robin Hobbs telltale awesome writing.

Make no mistake though, Fools Assassin is a page turner, but I felt that parts of the book detracted rather than added to the story. Unlike her other Fitz and Fool stories, too much of the story is a walkthrough of the day to day happenings and no important events take place.

All told, I liked Fool’s Assassin a lot. It’s not perfect, but it is still one of the better books I’ve read this year. If you haven’t read it yet, I expect you will. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

By Laurentius