Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: Doctor Who: Shada

Doctor Who: Shada Doctor Who: Shada by Gareth Roberts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd love to give this 4 stars, for I think quite faithfully capturing the feel of a Tom Baker Dr Who serial; the problem is that I'm just not sure how well that works as a book. Tom Baker was one of my favorite Doctors growing up, but he really was just a nonsensical larrikin without a plan, carried largely by the force of Baker's on-screen personality. In a book you lose that charisma, and the relentless pace of events carrying you forward, and end up with a little too long to think about how silly he is sometimes.

The novelisation is good, and bears the clear stamp of the Douglas Adams original in it. It's a little choppy in delivery, with a lot of two-page chapters, flicking back-and-forth between different characters perhaps a little too quickly. Overall fun, but not brilliant.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Review: Deadhouse Gates

Deadhouse Gates Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Erikson does not hold your hand.

I like the complexity of the world, and for the most part I like that as the reader we just have to figure out what's going on. There is no Council of Elrond scene to turn to the camera and give us all the historical background; things just happen, and we have to piece together the overall story from the snippets of reference between the action.

That said, it only works _most_ of the time. Usually, when he drops a name I don't recognise, it becomes clear from context at least roughly who (or where) that is within the next page or two. But sometimes it doesn't, and I leave a scene with no idea who did what to who where. This might be helped by the map or the cast of characters at the start of the book (much though I hate having to flip back for reference, sometimes it's necessary in epic fantasy) but those are both horrible and no help. (Here's a hint; if I'm looking someone up in the cast list, it's because I don't know who they are. So organising it by socio-political groups rather than, say, alphabetically, makes it useless.)

Overall, it's an amazingly detailed world with tons of depth and interesting characters. The long epic march of Coltaine and his men is epic, and stirring, and an excellent framework for this book. We still don't know where this is all going, but I'm intrigued, and will follow along.

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