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XanderRichards

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Posts posted by XanderRichards


  1. Hi folks.

     

    My first review on this site. Enjoy! :smile:

     

    A Howling Good Story

     

    The concept behind ‘Howl Of The Wolf’ is absolutely fascinating. Telepathic wolves have been the dominant sentient life-form on the distant plant of Drako for untold years, and each member of the pack carries within them the voices of their ancestors; many lifetimes of soul and memory on which they may draw. One day, a colonization initiative from Earth brings a strange new creature to the peaceful world — humans. They walk on just two legs and their minds are oddly silent, leading the lupines to conclude that these new arrivals are unintelligent.

     

    Hundreds of years pass, during which time the human society on Drako descends into feudalism with a hierarchical class system and a deep-seated hatred of technology. The wolves observe, maintaining their distance, until after decades of isolation another space vessel unexpectedly makes planetfall. The crew of the medical ship Zebulon, on the run from the Machiavellian Institute, have been augmented by many spans of transferring their consciousness into new clone bodies, and each of them now possesses superhuman abilities. Will they make telepathic first contact with the wolves? And what of the menacing Institute agent that has secreted himself aboard the Zebulon and means to destroy its crew? The plot thickens deliciously as the aging King Halder, consumed by anger over the murder of his family, surprises everyone by naming Donovan, captain of the Zebulon, as his successor.

     

    ‘Howl Of The Wolf’ is a richly imagined story which leads the reader on a journey through space and time, revealing a wonderful world that Diane lays out for us to play in. Characterization is clear-cut and highly communicative. The flow of the narrative is excellent, although I felt that a pivotally-significant moment in Chapter 10 could have been infused with much more gravity. This being said, it was by no means a problem. I was delighted at the diverse weave of the narrative, providing a pleasant surprise again and again as I was proven wrong by the direction in which Diane led the story.

     

    In particular I was impressed by the nobility with which the sentient wolves behave. It lends both their characters and species a certain dignity which is very appealing. It also fits superbly well alongside a human society that has reverted to a medieval culture and I suspect that this reciprocity is no accident. Diane’s grasp of the canine and the equine is both comprehensive and detailed, clearly conveying her affection for these animals as she confidently expresses their characteristics.

     

    Whilst the narrative is highly dialogue-driven, the descriptive moments are helpful. There is an argument, of course, for both approaches. Does one leave the reader to construct their own mental scenery or should they be spoon fed a detailed map of the world into which we invite them? This is a very hard balance to strike, even in the work of experienced and popular authors whose editors’ names are replete with educational suffixes. However, the wonder and uniqueness of the novel’s concept imbue the reader with a curious inquisitiveness that somewhat redresses the imbalance.

     

    One of the most excellent achievements of ‘Howl Of The Wolf’ is that Diane has crafted a genuinely creepy bad guy in Jarrack, the Institute agent. Jarrack is not just bad though; he’s manipulative, perverse and hateful, saturated with Stygian darkness from the depths of which redemption seems unimaginable. Would it be possible to conceive an arch-villain whose reprehensible character is more diametrically-opposed to the high moral standards of the spacefarers? Hardly. Diane has been careful to provide Jarrack with the worst of human traits yet allows him to remain cunning and somewhat intelligent. This counterpoint provides a textual tension which makes Jarrack an enticing villain despite his moral barrenness. He is a deeply-damaged human being, which tragic affliction doubtless equips him to exude evil as indeed he does with almost every mention, using his own enhanced abilities to satiate foul lusts and further his depraved ends. To dare venture sympathy for one so cruel and bestial would be to cross an unpleasant line, but he is nonetheless highly readable.

     

    ‘Howl Of The Wolf’ is clearly written not as a standalone story but as the first part in a series, to the rest of which I now look forward with eager anticipation, and my final thought is this: I may know nothing about film-making, but if I were a Spielberg, Jackson or Cameron I would love to turn this novel into a movie. Highly recommended.

     

    Cheers,

    Xander.


  2. I can't remember who the heck wrote it, or even what the title was, but on holiday once I picked up a book about a voyage to the antarctic or somewhere cold to go collect an old plane which was stranded there or something. I wish I could remember (maybe someone here actually knows what this book is) because I would definitely add that author to my 'never again' list. The writing was okay, as I recall, but it seemed like eighty percent of the book was spent on the sea voyage—which was unremarkable to say the least—and they never even retrieved the plane. Just b-o-r-I-n-g. How it ever got published I don't know.

     

    If this happens to be your favorite book and/or author... err... sorry. :)

     

    Cheers,

    Xander.


  3. I read and enjoyed the first one, but I confess that I found it kinda long, which is why I haven't pursued the series further. Actually I quite enjoyed the 1984 movie, hokey though it was, and I'm sorry to hear that the recent attempt to return it to the silver screen was abandoned. I would think it's a very hard book to adapt into a movie format.

     

    I definitely agree that the world Herbert created was extremely well crafted and finely detailed. I really like some of the names he came up with as well, they fit the characters superbly.

     

    Cheers,

    Xander.


  4. Dahl had an amazing imagination. I loved 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and 'Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator'. Dahl was also the screenwriter of the Bond movie 'You Only Live Twice', which I loved as a kid (although is kinda hokey these days eh).


  5. I read 'The Throwback' on holiday one year and just about wet myself with laughter. It's very, very rare that a book makes me laugh out loud, but this one did several times (the only other example is Milligan's 'Hitler: My Part In His Downfall'). I love Sharpe's style: witty, intelligent and perceptive. His writing reminds me of the kind of letter one writes to a bank manager that one no longer wishes to be involved with; polite but nonetheless scathing. :)


  6. I haven't read the book, but I was privileged to work with Yann Martel a couple of months ago and found him to be a really great guy. :) My friend Jeff, who's a television screenwriter, commented that it would be a hard book to turn into a movie but apparently they're doing it nonetheless, with Ang Lee in the director's chair. The release date is December 21st.


  7. I just wondered what authors you have read one book by which you disliked so much you know you can happily never read another by the same author

     

    Coincidentally I'm of the same opinion about Stephen King, but NOT because he's a bad writer. In fact I think he's a genius. But I once read a book of his short stories and was so utterly creeped out by it that I said "never again". It's already dark and scary in my brain; I don't need to make it any worse!

     

    There is another one; a self-published author who's enjoyed some success. I downloaded a freebie from Amazon and should have known what to expect when I observed a punctuation error in the title! It was the worst thing I have ever read. Thank goodness it was a freebie.

     

    Cheers,

    Xander.


  8. Hi folks.

     

    I'm Xander Richards. I'm an enthusiastic reader when time allows (and soon to be a published author, but this isn't the place to get into that). I love Sci-Fi novels: Asimov, Clarke ('Rendezvous With Rama' is an all-time favorite), Niven & Pournelle and so on. I'm also very keen on espionage and adventure stuff like Fleming, Clancy, Cussler (loved 'Raise The Titanic') and MacLean (especially 'Ice Station Zebra'). I also read and thoroughly enjoyed the Harry Potter series. I love a good novel which immerses you and makes you feel like you're somehow in it.

     

    I live just about in the middle of Canada, which being the province of Saskatchewan.

     

    Well, that's all for now, hope to make some friends here. Feel free to say "hi" back and chat. :)

     

    Cheers,

    Xander.

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