Archive for September, 2011
Thursday, September 29th, 2011
Princeps’ Fury by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It’s hard for me to characterize how I feel about this book and really this series as a whole. I think it’s because I really want to love Codex Alera like I love The Dresden Files, but I just can’t. Butcher’s epic fantasy series just doesn’t match up to his urban fantasy series. I definitely feel that Jim Butcher is a very talented writer. Without question, he has a penchant for writing intense and exciting stories. However, there is something about this series that leaves me, frankly, a little underwhelmed.
I’ve been thinking about it for some time and I think I have finally figured out what it might be. One problem is that the characters are just too flat. They aren’t flat like Wheel of Time flat, but the good guys are really, really good and the bad guys are unquestionably bad. Butcher does work in some grey area characters for sure, but the main characters are really cut and dry.
I think that’s okay for the most part, but the main problem is that Tavi, the protagonist, suffers from this more than any else in the series. Tavi has grown up a lot as the series has gone on, but I think he has actually grown up too much. Early on, he was fun and unpredictable. He was the the only person in all of Alera without a fury and that made him the underdog all the time. He was always had to find creative ways to beat the odds and I thought it also gave him an interesting quality as an individual.
Unfortunately, Butcher eventually relented and gave him magic and now he is bland as can be. Now, he is powerful and predictable. He has grown up so much as a character, but not into an interesting one. Butch seems to rely on the supporting characters like Max and Kitai to bring some life to that portion of the story.
Another problem that I’m finding is that it feels like Butcher is compelled to one-up himself with each novel–the stakes are even higher, the enemy is even more dangerous, etc. By the time you get the fifth novel, it starts to feel a little tired, a little too cliche, and, somehow, a little too epic.
Perhaps the biggest issue is that this novel didn’t leave me dying to read the next book in the series and that, maybe more than anything I mentioned above, makes me realize that I’m just not that into this series.
Okay, now that I’ve got my complaints out of the way, I should mention that I still enjoyed this novel! It was grand in scale and intense and all those things that you should know to expect from Butcher by now. If you have read the first four, I would absolutely recommend that you read Princep’s Fury. You’ll enjoy it without question.
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Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
Every year, I like to check out a few new shows, particularly those that fall into the science fiction, fantasy, or supernatural genres. There a several web sites like io9.com or blastr.com that give fall previews and I usually check those out to see what looks interesting. Unfortunately, this year, there weren’t really very many new shows that caught my attention. At this point, I have only tried out two: Person of Interest and Terra Nova.
Terra Nova is set about 100 years in the future when overpopulation and pollution have ravaged the earth. Luckily, some scientists have opened a gateway into a parallel universe, but, unfortunately, it’s 85 million years in the past. So, the upside is that some lucky humans get a chance to start over in an unspoiled setting, but the downside is that they might get eaten by dinosaurs. So yeah, the conceit of the show borrows a lot from Jurassic Park, but then who didn’t love Jurassic Park?
The two hour premiere was pretty entertaining. It wasn’t the greatest thing that I have ever seen, but I came away thinking that the show has some potential. At this point, I’m willing to give it more time and see how things play out. I think the concept is good enough to work for awhile, but I am a touch concerned about the characters. A show can’t be all action and adventure–it has to have great characters that audiences can relate to and I’m not yet sure that Terra Nova has many of those .
Person of Interest
This is another J.J Abrams creation. I loved LOST and Alias was pretty cool for awhile, but most of J.J.’s other attempts at television have been duds. I’m already afraid that may be the case here too. Although it includes some talented actors, I’m afraid that won’t be enough to really keep the show afloat.
The pilot felt very much like a standard investigation show with a slightly different (“sci-fi light”) premise. I have this feeling that we’re just going to get a procedural in the vein of The Mentalist and that won’t satisfy genre fans like myself. That said, I wasn’t really impressed with the pilot, but I might give it another episode or two to pull me in.
One thing that is a little strange this year is that there are actually several returning shows that I’m interested in watching. The problem is that, for a few of them, I’m a season behind!
I will of course watch The Office, unless it gets really terrible, because it’s still one of the funniest shows on the major networks. I am also looking forward to, what I assume will be, the final season of Chuck, which doesn’t premiere until sometime in October.
However, I’m also trying to catch up on Supernatural, The Big Bang Theory, and Castle so I can start watching them as they air. The main problem is that the previous seasons’ DVDs only came out about one week before the current seasons premiered. I have no idea why this was the case, but, for the time being, I’m recording all three of those shows on my DVR while I catch up. Hopefully, I’ll do so before I run out of DVR space, but we’ll see.
Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
I don’t really want to get into all of the details, but it’s been a trying few weeks. As a result, I’ve fallen behind on life in general, but now I’m ready to catch up.
Even at the time of my last post (which was a month ago), I was way behind on my book reviews. I really want to write a full review for each book that I’ve read lately, but I know it will take some time, so here’s the condensed summary of what I’ve read or listened to:
Princep’s Fury (Codex Alera, #5) by Jim Butcher
This was pretty good, but not outstanding. I like this series for the most part, but it’s a little on the bland side, which is a surprise considering that Butcher’s other series, the Dresden Files, is just amazing.
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi (audio)
This was absolutely brilliant. I really like the premise, but the storytelling and characterization is what made this one a classic for me.
American God’s by Neil Gaiman (audio)
I remember thinking that Old Man’s War was one of the best novels that I had read in awhile, but this was even better. A fantastic story with unforgettable characters and an astonishingly refreshing insight into American culture and human nature.
The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3) by Brandon Sanderson
This was a solid conclusion to the Mistborn trilogy. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I think that was a good thing. For an epic fantasy novel, this one left me with a lot to think about. I’ll definitely be reading more Sanderson in the future.
I’m also currently reading Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2) by Joe Abercrombie and listening to Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Both have been really good so far.
Well, I think that’s all I’ve got time for tonight. Until we meet again…