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Hayley

Hayley's Reading in 2018

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On 3.1.2018 at 10:18 PM, Hayley said:

 

On My Shelf:

Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

 

 

Peake, Mervyn. Titus Groan

Peake, Mervyn. Gormenghast

Peake, Mervyn. Titus Alone

 

 

First of all, happy reading in 2018, Hayley! :smile2:   :readingtwo:   I hope you will like Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell! I thought it was amazing, and I didn't mind the length of the novel at all! :smile2:  

 

I, too, have the Gormenghast trilogy on my TBR pile. I started the first novel some years ago and really, really enjoyed it, but then something came up and I didn't have time to continue reading it. But I think it's going to be really great! :)

 

On 10.2.2018 at 6:17 PM, Hayley said:

 

I actually have a few reviews to put up and I need to edit my list, but I've not been having the luckiest of weeks... first, my nephew spilled a pot noodle over my laptop. He didn't tell me at the time and it wasn't until the next day that I tried to start it and it just freaked out. On the plus side, the hard drive wasn't damaged, so I didn't lose anything, and it was quite old anyway, so I've ordered a new one that I will hopefully get soon. It's a bit of a nightmare when I have a lot of work though. But, I have a Microsoft surface tablet, which my parents bought for me a couple of years ago and which has a little keyboard attached. It takes me longer to type on the little keyboard than a normal one, but I use it quite a lot when I'm doing work away from home and I thought I'd just use that while I wait for the new laptop. Then I stepped out of my front door and somehow, I have literally no idea how, the tablet slipped out of its protective case and cracked on the concrete floor. And just to top it off, when I called my local computer repair company, they said it would cost £230 to replace the screen. The tablet does actually work with the keyboard, but one side of the screen has lost sensitivity and there are small pieces of glass that I'm a bit worried I could cut myself on. I am considering just buying a glass screen protector and sticking it over the top of the break to stop the glass coming out. It wouldn't fix it but it should at least make it useable. So I'm using my phone for anything internet related at the moment, which is why I haven't posted for a while, I find it a lot harder to type at length on my phone (and if there are odd words in this I apologise, it keeps trying to autocorrect me!)

 

Fingers crossed for better luck and speedy laptop delivery!

 

Oh crap, what utter horrors you've had to endure! :(  I'm glad you have your laptop again! Did you manage your 10,000 before the deadline? I hope you enjoy writing your reviews, knowing you've been wanting to write them for so long :D 

 

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Thank you all :) I was offered a few days extra to make up for the time I lost so that really took the pressure off and it's all done now! 

 

On ‎20‎/‎02‎/‎2018 at 5:43 PM, frankie said:

 

First of all, happy reading in 2018, Hayley! :smile2:   :readingtwo:   I hope you will like Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell! I thought it was amazing, and I didn't mind the length of the novel at all! :smile2:  

 

I, too, have the Gormenghast trilogy on my TBR pile. I started the first novel some years ago and really, really enjoyed it, but then something came up and I didn't have time to continue reading it. But I think it's going to be really great! :)

 

 

The length of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is daunting, it's probably the reason I haven't started it yet to be honest, but I've heard really good things about it so I think I just need to start!  

 

I've read some brilliant books since I last posted a review but since there's so many I'll keep them short...

 

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Death Masks by Jim Butcher 

3 1/2 out of 10

 

This is the fifth book in the Dresden Files series and, like all the others before it, it was a good, gripping and easily readable book. In some of the books there's a lot more about the magical world and the creatures who live there, which I prefer, but this wasn't one of those books. This one has a more political, rival vampire courts, focus. I really enjoyed the return of a character from the earlier books (who I won't name just in case of spoilers) but overall this was a basically good book, just not my favourite in the series.

Interestingly, when I read some other reviews after reading this book, some people say it's the worst in the series and others say it's their favourite. There are a lot of different elements in the Dresden Files books, I assume that's why there's so much of a difference in the ones people consider the best. 

I still have the next three books on my shelf anyway so looking forward to seeing how they progress!

 

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The Firework Maker's Daughter by Philip Pullman

3/5

 

This was a bit of a random read. My friend is a teacher and was thinking of reading this book with his class while they did a fire safety topic. I said I liked Philip Pullman and he asked if I would read it and tell him what I thought (he doesn't really like reading). And how could I turn down reading a free book? :D

It's a short, sweet, simple book with a folk tale style, set in a fictional world which I think is meant to be a combination of China and India. It has some humour running through it but also some moral messages. Two of these messages are very obvious. The main character is nearly prevented from doing the thing she loves because she's female, but she rebels against her set role and decides she'll make it on her own if she has to, thus bringing up the subject of equality. The other obvious one is about finding your talent and never giving up, even when things fail. There's a more subtle one at the end, which I think only slightly older readers would get, which is about the creative journey of artists and inventors.

It wasn't the most outstanding children's book I've ever read but it was good.

 

 

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Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

5/5

 

I don't know how this book escaped my notice for so long but I'm so happy my sister bought it for me! Firstly, it's set in my favourite time period (Victorian - mainly 1840s). Secondly, it has a good, compelling mystery behind it that you really want to know the truth about. And thirdly, it's just so well written. It's so precisely crafted, with such detail and wonderful descriptions. Take the quote from the blurb, for example: 'Sometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess. Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor.'

The story itself is based on true events and there are little snippets of newspaper articles and witness statements at the beginning of some of the chapters. I really liked that inclusion because it gave the impression that the story really was closely following actual events. However, fact is a slippery concept in the novel, which is very psychological and written from two different first person perspectives. One perspective is that of Grace Marks, the convicted murderer, and the other is from a psychiatrist, who is hoping to use his methods of unlocking supressed memories to find out the truth about the case.

It was one of those books I had to stay up until three in the morning to finish. It really makes you think and I can easily see it being a book that's still being read as a classic in years to come. 

 

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The Furthest Station by Peter Grant

4/5

 

I was a bit worried that this would just be a sort of teaser for the next Peter Grant book but it actually had quite a lot to it. It felt like a well-developed story in its own right. It had some interesting new magic, some of my favourite characters from the previous books and a good mystery to be solved. It's a pretty light hearted, easy read (with the serious crimes aside) and doesn't go into any of the main story features from the novels, but that was to be expected. I'm very much looking forward to the next Peter Grant novel now though, which I think is coming out in November :) 

 

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The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

5/5

 

I chose this to cheer myself up after the laptop incident and it didn't fail. I love Rincewind and the Luggage. The loyalty of the latter still manages to be genuinely heartwarming, even if it is a slightly freaky, murderous, many-legged box. Pratchett's social commentary really kicks in for this book too when facts, data and a power hungry know-it-all try taking over the traditions of the magical Unseen University. Sometimes the world just needs a little bit of unexplainable magic. And eccentric furniture. I love the world building in this book as well, there's a brilliant combination of grimy, corrupt cities and magical fairy tale landscapes. The acknowledged clash between the real world and fantasy elements is always hilarious too.

Always brilliant, much-needed escapism.

 

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

5/5

 

I really loved this book. I find old folktales and fairytales fascinating and as this book centres around traditional Russian tales, I really enjoyed that aspect of it. The main character, Vasilisa, is one of my favourite book characters now. She reminded me a lot of Terry Pratchett's character Tiffany Aching, who I also love (actually the book reminded me of a darker version of Terry Pratchett's The Wintersmith. It would be interesting to find out if he based that on a folktale...). There are wonderful magical characters, but not the kind of magic you see in so many fantasy books. The magic here is about folktale and superstition, and very much about having a connection to the natural world, which I thought gave it something more personal and emotional. Within with the fairy/folktale based story (which is very cleverly done but I don't think I can say how without spoilers) is the story of Vasilisa growing up, finding the strength to stand up for the things she believes in, even when it isolates her and trying to reconcile what she feels she needs to do with what's expected of her. It really is a beautiful book, both in the writing and the essence of the story.

I found out when I added it to goodreads that it's actually the first book in a trilogy, so now I'm equally very excited to find the next book and worried that it can't possibly live up to this one!

 

 

And that's me all caught up! I've just started reading The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman, which seems really interesting so far. Hopefully it's going to be another good one  :) 

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Last year, I bought Rivers of London, Moon over Soho and Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch and I look forward to reading them. Is the book you read part of the same series? The cover looks very similar to that of Rivers of London.

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Wow, quite a few reviews! I'm glad you enjoyed your re-read of The Light Fantastic, it was that one and The Colour of Magic that made me fall in love with the Discworld series (and so after reading those two books, I then went out and bought several more in the series).

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15 hours ago, Alexander the Great said:

Last year, I bought Rivers of London, Moon over Soho and Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch and I look forward to reading them. Is the book you read part of the same series? The cover looks very similar to that of Rivers of London.

They're all part of the Rivers of London series, they're great but make sure you read them in the correct order!

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15 hours ago, Alexander the Great said:

Last year, I bought Rivers of London, Moon over Soho and Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch and I look forward to reading them. Is the book you read part of the same series? The cover looks very similar to that of Rivers of London.

 

Yes, as Madeleine said, it's a novella within the series. It comes between Foxglove Summer and The Hanging Tree but, as it's a mini mystery that's not related to the main plot, it isn't necessary to read as part of the series. I wouldn't recommend reading it before Foxglove Summer though, just because you wouldn't understand who the characters were. I think it's a great series, I hope you enjoy them! :) 

 

5 hours ago, Athena said:

Wow, quite a few reviews! I'm glad you enjoyed your re-read of The Light Fantastic, it was that one and The Colour of Magic that made me fall in love with the Discworld series (and so after reading those two books, I then went out and bought several more in the series).

Thank you, I didn't read The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic first but I know I'd still have fallen in love with the series if I did! I think after the Tiffany Aching books I read one of the Witches novels, I'm pretty sure it was Wyrd Sisters. I'm finding it interesting seeing the order they were actually written in now. 

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3 hours ago, bobblybear said:

I'm so glad you enjoyed Alias Grace. It's one of my favourite books. :)

 

It is so beautifully written isn't it? 

 

Spoiler

I spent so long after finishing it wondering whether I'd missed any hints about whether Grace was really guilty of intentional murder, or if she could have acted while sleepwalking or had a multiple personality disorder or if she really didn't do anything wrong and was a victim of other people's lies. I was also trying to work out the significance of the title since, as far as we know, Grace was her real name and Mary Witney was her alias. I wondered whether that was the ultimate clue that she was lying about herself. I think I've come to the conclusion that we aren't supposed to know whether she's lying or not, like nobody ever knew the truth about the true story. What did you think? 

 

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5aabf24d69aaf_InvisibleLibrary.thumb.jpg.80d84b490f1f7ca9f9eb8af0dcb2a889.jpg

 

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

3/5 - I liked it

 

I really liked the concept behind this book, particularly the interdimensional travel, which promises a range of quirky new worlds to explore. And it's about finding books, what's not to like about that!? I think I was hoping it might be a little like the Thursday Next series but it wasn't. There's actually not very much about books, apart from naming the one they're trying to find. Making up for this though is Cogman's library magic, which is essentially magic of words, both written and spoken in the special language of the library. I thought that was a nice idea. However, there were some things that I just felt held the book back from being 'wow, that was really good.' It seemed as though, while the concept was good, everything was very rushed. I don't know if maybe they tried to make the book shorter because it's categorised as young adult or something but I ended up with the impression that a lot of things could really use expanding upon. On some occasions these explanations do come, but they enter the story in a very forced way, that takes you out of the story and makes you as the reader feel like this scene is only here to explain something to you. And when it came to characters, particularly the character Kai, although he wasn't  the only offender, it seemed he skipped through about five personalities without any actual development, or any other character feeling as though that was strange. It stopped him from being at all relatable or realistic.

At the same time though I did like the main character, Irene, who has enough secrets to be interesting but also enough character development to evoke some empathy. The actual concept of the story and the library itself are genuinely really interesting too, as were the alternative dimensions you get to travel to in this book (although really only one is given in much detail, the first one is passed over pretty quickly). I would definitely try the next book but a combination of little annoying factors stopped me loving this quite as much as I hoped I would.

 

 

I was in the mood for a good mystery after The Invisible Library so I decided to go for The Shakespeare Curse next. It had a little bit of a slow start but it's getting really good now :D 

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A lot of ditto to your review of The Invisible Library. I kept hoping it would be ...`better`. It just didn`t quite click for me, and I felt a bit sad that it didn`t. Ah, if only Mr Fforde was writing a bit faster. :lol:

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It's a shame both of you didn't like The Invisible Library not so much. It sounds like such a cool concept!

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On ‎16‎/‎03‎/‎2018 at 5:53 PM, Little Pixie said:

A lot of ditto to your review of The Invisible Library. I kept hoping it would be ...`better`. It just didn`t quite click for me, and I felt a bit sad that it didn`t. Ah, if only Mr Fforde was writing a bit faster. :lol:

 

I'm glad it's not just me because I really felt like I should love it, I just didn't. I actually have The Well of Lost Plots to read but I've been saving it :D

 

On ‎17‎/‎03‎/‎2018 at 1:29 PM, Athena said:

It's a shame both of you didn't like The Invisible Library not so much. It sounds like such a cool concept!

 

It really is a cool concept! I think that's what made it so disappointing. It should have been brilliant but it just fell a bit flat. I would still recommend trying it though, it's not a bad book, it just could have been better. 

 

 

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The Shakespeare Curse by J.L. Carrell

3/5 (but very close to 2 1/2)

 

This is the second book in a series (at least, I assume there are going to be more) and I honestly just didn't think it was as good as the first one. It is incredibly well researched, and the author deserves a lot of credit for that. There's  even quite a long section at the back further explaining the history and truth behind some of the facts in the book. But when it came to the story telling, the characters just weren't quite right. The main character, Kate, was interesting in the previous book but in this one it seemed as though she basically got dragged around by other characters, occasionally contributing an essential piece of Shakespeare knowledge. Ben, who acted as a sort of side-kick in the last book was also an interesting character, but in this book he was so pointless I don't really understand why he was even there. I found that I didn't really care about any of the murdered people, even though I'm pretty sure you're meant to, there was just no emotional connection really. And then some of the unravelling of the mystery near the end was a bit sort of 'what? really?' but not in a good way.

It wasn't a bad book because I did get really gripped by the mystery and wanted to stay up to read the next chapter and find out what would happen. But it wasn't memorable and it felt like a step back from the previous book.

 

 

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The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge

4/5

 

I picked this up in a charity shop because I loved Fly By Night by the same author. This book is completely different to that but still very unique and clever. It also turned out to be a Victorian era setting, which I didn't know before I bought it, but was a definite bonus! 

The book (as the cover suggests, really) has quite a dark atmosphere and, although it's obviously suitable for younger readers as well, it's very emotionally intense in parts. For example, you already know from the blurb that Faith's father is going to die, because that is a key part of the plot, but when that moment actually comes it still feels genuinely shocking. The story does have some very obvious messages. As you would expect, one is about lies and the scale of the consequences they can have. One is about women's roles in Victorian society, the way they were dismissed as less intelligent, the limited choice they have in their lives and the way men were able to control them to an extent. That was particularly interesting to me but it also played a part in the third message, which was essentially about growing up and being at that indistinct point between childhood and adulthood. The main character (Faith) sees the adult world differently, because she's not quite part of it yet, but she is also old enough to have recently begun understanding exactly what the adult world is all about, and to judge the adults around her for their actions. Even though the book is written in the third person, this perspective still comes across perfectly and it's hard not to sympathise with Faith.

It is a very good book with a unique, interesting concept which is clearly written very skillfully. 

 

 

I have acquired a couple of new books recently because I went into a Marie Curie charity shop and they were having a 'buy one get one free' offer on books. I spotted The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zaphon straight away and had to get that because I love the authors other books and then I decided to get The Muse by Jessie Burton as the second book. I have heard good things about The Muse (and it also has a really pretty cover) but I felt so disappointed by the ending of Jessie Burton's other book, The Miniaturist, that I was a bit put off reading it. I do really like the sound of it though, so fingers crossed.

 

I'm reading Consider Phlebas by Ian M. Banks at the moment, which I think is the first book I've ever read from the 'space opera' genre and so far so good! 

 

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On ‎12‎/‎04‎/‎2018 at 6:36 PM, Little Pixie said:

I read both the JL Carrell books, and also felt a bit let down. That seems to be it for the series. :(

 

Really?? Honestly, I think that makes the ending of The Shakespeare Curse even more of a let down! I definitely felt like the end implied there was more to come.

 

Since I last posted it's been my birthday and I'm lucky enough to have a couple of newly acquired books to update this thread with :D. So, going on the list now is The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown and The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden. I'm really looking forward to both of them but especially The Girl in the Tower, as it's the sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale and I loved that book!

I also got some Terry Pratchett books from my sister (in the Corgi editions with the black and gold cover, which I really want to collect all of) but I won't put those on the list of books acquired this year, since I'm crossing the Discworld novels off a different list and don't want to get confused!

 

Just before my birthday I also had a really good book find. I went to Weymouth for a couple of days and came across an art exhibition, in a town hall, in a really tiny village. Luckily we decided to go in and have a look because they also happened to have a table full of books for sale! The majority of the books were 50p and I got a really lovely hardback edition of The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse from that table. I have read the book before but it was on the shelf in a holiday place I stayed at, so I had to leave it behind when I left. But that wasn't the best part. On a little table there were a few books with a note that said 'first editions - £1' and there were two Terry Pratchett books on there! So I now have lovely first edition copies of Witches Abroad and Night Watch! Initially I did wonder whether I should feel bad about buying them for a pound because surely they were worth a lot more but when I looked more closely at them I decided they probably weren't really worth that much. Witches Abroad isn't a 'true first', it's the third impression, and it's ex library, and although Night Watch, to the best of my knowledge, is actually a true first, someone has cut the corner of the dust jacket off to remove the price. So, although a collector of first editions probably wouldn't like them, I love them and was very excited :lol:  

 

I forgot that I hadn't posted a review of Consider Phlebas, so I'll get on to that!

 

I have been reading No Name by Wilkie Collins (slowly, I've barely had any time to read for the past couple of weeks!) which I got from the library. Usually I only really take non fiction books out from the library and they don't go on the list, so this is a first! Although I am fairly certain I'll finish it, I might make some kind of note on the list that it's a library book and shouldn't be moved up to the 'on my shelf' list at the end of the year. 

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4 hours ago, Hayley said:

 

Really?? Honestly, I think that makes the ending of The Shakespeare Curse even more of a let down! I definitely felt like the end implied there was more to come.

 

 

 

Yep, I even looked at her website -  click - but she seems to be working on other things. It`s a shame - while I didn`t rave about the two books, it`s a series which I think could`ve picked up as it went on ; there was enough there to like. :)

 

Congrats on the Discworld books ! It`s a treat to get a cheap hardback anyway, I think. :D

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Wow, those are some lucky book finds!! Awesome :D!!

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Thanks for the link @Little Pixie, it does sound like she's focused on other things now. I suppose there's some chance there might be a third Kate Stanley book in the future still, after the current project is finished maybe. The end of The Shakespeare Curse...

Spoiler

was so unsatisfying otherwise. Especially with Ben. The way they break up right at the beginning of the book and then he appears with a really annoying new girlfriend, who happens to be staying at the same place as Kate, seemed really odd. I kept expecting there to be some sort of twist that would give the girlfriend a purpose in the plot (apart from being murdered). The conversation Ben and Kate had at the end of the book, before Kate leaves, was the main thing that gave me the impression there must be another book.

And yeah, that is true, a hardback book for £1 is great anyway!

 

On ‎05‎/‎05‎/‎2018 at 4:37 PM, Athena said:

Wow, those are some lucky book finds!! Awesome :D!!

It really was so lucky! I didn't even know there were books in there! :lol:

 

We've had the loveliest weather in the Midlands for the last couple of days, so yesterday I drove my mom and sister to Astley book farm, which has a really nice café with a garden to sit in (and, you know, books). As well as enjoying the sunshine in the garden, with tea and strawberry tarts, we did inevitably find a few books to take home too.

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Lyonesse was a book @vodkafan recommended a while ago but it seems to only be available second hand online (which is usually fine but it's always nicer to be able to see the condition of the book for yourself) or in quite expensive special editions, so I was really pleased to spot that as well as the second book (although I think there is a third book too). The others are all books I've looked at before and wanted to try so I was very happy with my new haul! And it made me feel a lot less guilty about my six books when my sister bought ten :lol:

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Yay for more books :D! I hope you enjoy them :).

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Oh wow hope you enjoy Lyonesse Hayley. It would be great to obtain another convert to Jack Vance! (or even one to be honest-you would be the first) Yes there is a third book.

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On ‎08‎/‎05‎/‎2018 at 8:30 AM, Athena said:

Yay for more books :D! I hope you enjoy them :).

:lol: thank you!

 

On ‎08‎/‎05‎/‎2018 at 5:49 PM, Little Pixie said:

Ooh, yummy new books. Great covers. :wub:

They do all have really pretty covers don't they!? That's why I wanted to take a picture of them that way, rather than just a stack :D

 

8 hours ago, vodkafan said:

Oh wow hope you enjoy Lyonesse Hayley. It would be great to obtain another convert to Jack Vance! (or even one to be honest-you would be the first) Yes there is a third book.

Thanks! The plot sounds like something I would like so I have high hopes! They had quite a lot of Vance books in but the others were all science fiction and I wasn't sure whether some of them were part of a series or not so didn't want to risk it. I'll have to keep a look out for the third Lyonesse.

 

 

A really quick review of Consider Phlebas, before I forget:

 

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Consider Phlebas by Ian M. Banks

3/5 - I liked it

 

This is the first 'space opera' I've read and, to be honest, I expected there to be a lot more actual space exploration. I was looking forward to descriptions of vastly different worlds and species but it's just not like that. There are a few different places in the book but with the exception of two they're either only briefly mentioned or you only get to see the inside of a building. I do realise it's unfair to judge a book based on what I assumed it would be like, but I would have enjoyed more world exploration. The exploration that did happen didn't feel quite as exciting as I think it should have either. There were scenes that, looking back at the book, were really action packed and should have been very tense, but I just didn't feel like that when I was reading it. Generally though, the characters were interesting and it's easy to get involved with the main character, Horza. The best part of the book actually, in my opinion, was the very clever way Banks gets you to see both people and politics from both sides of the story. Horza is strongly opposed to the group known as the Culture, mostly on the grounds that they've set out to "improve" other races and are heavily involved in the creation and use of artificial intelligence (arguably creating a situation where evolution ends and individual cultures are stamped out). He therefore sides with the Idirans, a race essentially built for war and the only group who seem to able to challenge the Culture. That's the basic background of the book (which you learn in the first few pages, so no spoilers) but gradually throughout the book, while you mostly see things from Horza's perspective, which is very one sided, there are moments that make you question whether there is a 'right' and a 'wrong' side and also the extent to which people can be 'good' or 'bad', or are just doing what they think is best. It's quite a brutal book, emotionally, but it's in that clever, subtle use of science fiction to look at human emotions and choices, both personal and political, that you can see why people rave about Banks as a particularly special author.

Since I finished the book I have seen a few reviews that say this is the worst book of the Culture novels and, if that's the case, I really look forward to reading the next one because there's a lot to like here. 

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I'm glad you liked the first Culture book. I've only read the first few, I think my favourite is The Player of Games (so far). I've read the first four books, so I've got another six (I think?) left to read. I haven't read a Culture book in a while, must read another one at some point. I hope you enjoy the other Culture books :).

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