September Book Reviews (Memoranda, Extinction, Annihilation, The Binding Stone, The Robots of Dawn)
It’s a new, briefer format! Instead of giving a comprehensive review like I used to, I’ll probably settle for these shorter once a month mini-reviews of books that get thrown my way.
The Rating System:
1 – There are better ways to spend your time. Examples: Damphir
2 – Ho hum novels, typical of its genre. Examples: most Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels.
3 – A cut above the rest, these are usually standard fare stories with either an interesting twist, gorgeous visualizations, or simply make a very interesting read. Examples: Anita Blake series, Dragonlance Chronicles.
4 – Highly recommended books! An interesting read, and pioneers the genre it’s in. Examples: Kushiel’s Dart, Perdido Street Station, Good Omens.
5 – A classic. Must get at all cost. Examples: A Game of Thrones, The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant, Dune.
Memoranda by Jeffrey Ford
The second book in a trilogy, the book’s only weakness is perhaps that it whets your appetite for more. It’s brief but interesting, and Ford invokes a lot of imagery more than the usual. The book doesn’t get bogged down unlike its predecessor, The Physiognomy, and is actually one of the better “middle-child” books I’ve read in a long time. It stands well on its own, and is a delightful read irregardless if you’re a fan of fantasy or not.
Extinction by Lisa Smedman
Another middle-child book, this time in a six-part series. Story flow remains interesting, as usual, and Smedman succeeds in not only pushing the plot forward, but showing us what an evil party is like, and how they interact together. Perhaps notable from this author is her descriptions, as Smedman’s style stands out differently from the other author’s writing in the series, in a good way that is. If you’re a fan of the War of the Spider Queen series, Extinction won’t fail you. If not, you might want to grab the first book in the series.
Annihilation by Philip Athans
If you’ve read it this far, then there’s really no reason why you should put down this book. The fifth book in the War of the Spider Queen series, Athans shows us perhaps the highest point in the story short of the climax. While not as skillful as Smedman, Athans has other strengths. Notable perhaps in this novel are several mage battles. And honestly, you’re nearly at the end, so it’ll be difficult to screw up the series’s interesting premise. Again, best avoided by the uninitiated.
The Binding Stone by Don Bassingthwaite
Another Eberron novel, it disappoints with its slow start and generic narrative. There’s an interesting plot element in the middle, but only hardcore psionic D&D fans would appreciate it. The next highest point would probably be near the end where all the necessary action takes place, but it all stinks of deus ex machina. If you’re a fan of Eberron, you should probably just try out the other books instead of this. The good points aren’t enough to salvage a generic and bad book.
The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov
The last novel in his Robot series, this book only proves that Asimov’s true strength lies in his short stories. Long and winding, Asimov takes us to another mystery with a surprising twist at the end. It doesn’t pack as much oomph as his earlier work though, such as the Foundation or the I, Robot short stories, and the previous, shorter novels in the series are probably better. Still, it’s perhaps one of Asimov’s better attempts at writing a really long novel. Simple narratives and interesting concepts are tools which Asimov works with, and this book is no exception.