Friday, September 08, 2006

Ring of the Lords

I am used to commenting on the things I see in life. I do the comments on movies on IMDb, but I haven't made an account on iblist, since I read so ridiculously few books that are not technical and IbList doesn't seem to be so complete and organised as IMDb.
So I will blog about books until the time when I see myself worthy of an iblist account.

Spurred on by a need for fantasy I've just finished Lord Foul's Bane, by Stephen R. Donaldson. Remarcably well written, it is obviously inspired by Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. There are lords, there are rings and there are brave and honorable quests. At times this becomes annoying, when characters feel compelled to sing songs (and the author actually wrote the lyrics in the book) or sacrifice themselves in rather ridiculous ways. I didn't like the way Lord of the Rings was written because of all the useless details in it. Lord Foul's Bane, the first in the Covenant series, is a bit like that, but not as bad. The main character, Thomas Covenant, is also most interesting than Frodo, having come from our world and being full of pain. Unfortunately, in the most important parts of the book, Covenant does things as moved by a puppeteer rather than by his own logic and good sense. This makes the plot seem a bit too unreal. The fantasy world, though, is pretty well done, with sensible magic and purposely made to look like a mirror image of our own, with all the bad things in our world not present and (I would say) all the good things being bad there. Like stopping from your journey and starting singing songs that are sometimes labeled as gay in the book.

I've also finished the first two volumes of The Spook series (The Spook's Apprentice and The Spook's Curse), by Joseph Delaney, which is interesting and well written. In this one, a feudal world is plagued by evil witches, ghosts and banes. The man that takes care of this, like a Dark Ages ghostbuster, is a spook. He does the job that no one wants to do, everyone needs him, yet everyone hates and fears him, including and especially the Church, which in this series are portrayed as a bunch of corrupt and amateurish incompetents. The main character is a young child who, under the guidance of his more than ordinary mother, becomes a spook's aprentice. There are twists in the plot and the magical domain is well conceived. Unfortunately, the plot is rather straightforward, with young useless brat finding out he has unsuspected power. But they don't call it heroic fantasy for nothing, so , there it goes. I liked the series and I expect to read the third book (The Spook's Secret), released this year, as soon as I find it.

I've also read the first two Eragon books. While the fantasy world is very complex and well written (especially taking into account the age of the writer) the magic "technology" is a bit hard to wield. I hope the author refines the way it works in ways that don't turn ridiculous. Christopher Paolini is a young American writer of Italian origins, born from a wealthy family of book editors. He started writing Eragon at 15 and finished it at 19. It should come to no surprise that the book became a huge hit; it is well written, but the marketing of the book was intense and privately funded by the author's family. There is an Eragon movie due to be released in 15 of december this year.

A quick mention of Christopher Stasheff, a rather prolific fantasy writer, who tries a combination of magic and space science-fiction. Unfortunately I couldn't finish his first book (Escape Velocity), the first of the Warlock of Gramarye series, as I found the writing style rather annoying. I've read good reviews about his latest books, though, and I plan on starting a bit further up, maybe with the Rogue Wizard series.

The end. :)