This book is good. It's not in the upper echelon of fantasy, like Tolkien or Rowling, but the series it belongs to has the potential to get there with the ensuing books. The world is deeply imagined and complex, and the story is compelling--I certainly wish the second book were out so that I could read it. My only complaint is that the writing, and more specifically, the dialogue, has, at times, a ring of "knowing-ness."
What I mean by that is not that the book is winking, or sarcastic, but rather that it lacks a certain earnestness that would give it authenticity. We never lose sight of the fact that we are in the middle of an Epic Fantasy Tale. Now, part of that is the style and structure of the book--it is being orated, autobiographically--and I should say that there were sections of the book that really caught me up and I wasn't worried about any nits to pick; I just wanted to find out what happened next--but that sense of urgency was always fleeting. This is the author's first book, and it is in that way--the subtle lack of authenticity, of believability, of suspension of disbelief--where it shows.
That said, I really enjoyed it and will read the second novel as soon as it is available. I recommend it to any lover of epic fantasy, especially younger readers who can tackle a 600 pager.
Great book. Much more accessible than Cryptonomicon. Still convoluted and complex (does Neal Stephenson do anything else?), but that's why we like it, I suppose. When it was done, I wanted the story to continue, which is about as high praise as I can think of.
I'm having difficulty finding the right words to describe the character of this novel. Suffice it to say that it is a great achievement by an incredible writer. It is deeply sad, but also hopeful, in its way, about the power of love. Read it.
This was really very satisfying, in the end. I've found Michael Chabon to be a little hit-or-miss, for me, but this was definitely a hit. Once the detective-story aspects become more central, the narrative is very gripping, and it's resolution is, as I said, very satisfying.
Even though this book only covers half the storylines in the series (and not my preferred half, at that), I whipped through it and cannot wait for the fifth book. At least I read this now, instead of when it was published (2005), so my wait for A Dance with Dragons will be shorter than most.
Really, really good, and gets better as it goes along. It improves on Grossman's first in the series (if you can call it a series), which is something. Highly recommended to people who have read fantasy novels all their life long.
I'd give it a 3.5 if I could. I saw the original Swedish movie version and enjoyed that a great deal, but I think it colored my enjoyment of the book, which is paced differently, as one would expect. I'm going to make sure to read the next one before seeing the film version. In any event, believe the praise of the Lisbeth Salander character, as she is a rare thing in modern fiction, especially modern crime fiction--a real and complex woman that doesn't conform to stereotypes and isn't a victim.
This book never really did it for me. Written by a former Editor-in-Chief of the Philly City Paper, it's billed as a hyper-kinetic new-crime novel, which it is, but it's also so wrapped up in being a hyperkinetic new-crime novel that it never bothers to give us characters we're interested in rooting for, at least not before they get killed. I would characterize this as less of a novel and more of a plot-exercise with faces attached.
That said, his premises and plotting were creative enough (if hamstrung by a little bit of a schlocky twist at the very end) that I might check out his other work, which is also well-regarded.
Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels have this way of sneaking up on me. They spend the first 150 pages lulling me into a false sense that nothing is really going on--we're just meandering through the world, meeting crazy characters. Then, all of a sudden, I realize we're racing through exciting plot,! 200 more pages rip by without me hardly knowing it! That, along with the discussions of everyday philosophy make a for a very satisfying read.