Tag Archive for Ice

The First Law

Man, it has been a while since I reviewed a book that wasn’t a comic on here… but there is reason for that: I’ve been slogging through Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy (one, two, three).

Initially, I was going to review each book separately, but then I got to the end of the first book.  I enjoyed it, I liked what I had read, but it really felt like a good start and not a full book.  So I had a hunch, and rather than my usual running off to a new book and coming back to the second book later, I decided to run through all three.  These are big(ish) books, and I’m a slow reader anyway… but I finally did it, and now…

I really want to give this book a high rating.  Notice, I said book and not trilogy.  That’s because this trilogy reads more like a single book broken into three parts instead of three complete stories that work as part of a larger arc.  By the end of the first book you have been introduced to the characters and the world and the politics and wars and history and everything, and a number of exciting things has happened, but all those things don’t add up to anything satisfying.  Nothing is really resolved in the first book.  The second book is more of the same, and I mean that in both good and bad ways.  More people, more events, but the only real events that occur are one expected failure and one unexpected failure.  The second book did seem more rounded than the first, but it still left me wanting.  Not wanting for more, but wanting for the book to have meant something.  The third book reads like a good third act.  All the people and places coming crashing back together and lots of things coming to an end.

Overall, this trilogy would, in my opinion, benefit from some heavy editing, trimming this story down to one novel, or perhaps two.  I get the feeling that maybe the author had an idea and decided he wanted it to be a trilogy and fleshed the story out until it was.  A number of chapters could easily be cut, others trimmed and combined, and perhaps even the world itself could have been shrunk just a tad in order for the author not to feel like he needed to illustrate just how long certain journeys were.  I suppose my complaint is the same that I have for the Lord of the Rings, The First Law is like a travelogue.  We walk the world and are shown everything, but seeing that seminal work of fiction trimmed down to under 9 hours of script without losing one bit of the magic of the original, I think The First Law could be just as good at half the length.

That said, I look forward to read more by Joe Abercrombie.  The main reason for this is that after finishing this trilogy I thoroughly despise most of his characters, and yet I found myself rooting for them.  That is something hard to do, in my opinion.  To craft character that are not only flawed but flat out wrong and still get the reader to want them to survive, to be redeemed even when the character themselves is seeking no redemption.  I find myself having imaginary conversations with the author, “Hey, I really want to like this guy, could you please stop making him do horrible things?”

Anyway… would I recommend these books?  I would, maybe not to everyone, but to people who like a good well crafted world akin to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and are willing to put up with one story being told in three books and 1,500 pages.

Movie Round-Up: July 1st, 2009

Normally, Wednesdays are reserved for zombie posts, but this being the 4th of July weekend, all the movies open on Wednesday, so for this week only movies on Wednesday, zombies on Friday…

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs:

This is the third film in the Ice Age series, and I have yet to see any of them.  I once bought an Ice Age/Ice Age 2 twin pack from Target, but they turned out to be in full screen instead of wide screen, so we returned them.  I do, however, love the little short films with the prehistoric squirrel.  Anyway, I suppose if you liked the first two, you’ll like this too.  I’ll see them all some day.

Public Enemies:

In my personal opinion, Johnny Depp doesn’t make bad movies.  Or at the very least, he is always worth watching even if the film around him is lacking.  This movie is definitely on my watch list, but I’m not sure I’m going to make it to the theater to see it.  If I can manage to find the time and the money, though, I will.

Black Friday

It’s not just for Fridays anymore!

Seriously. The last few years, the wife and I have gone out and fought the crowds to do some shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving. And amazingly enough, we usually find some good deals. For instance, this year was a slew of DVDs for under $4 each. A few years ago, getting up at 4 A.M. was usually enough. Its just not anymore.

Yesterday, you know, Thursday, we were driving home from Thanksgiving dinner, and we decided, on a lark, to swing by the local Best Buy store. They were closed, but it was 6:30 P.M. and there were at least forty people lined up outside. Seeing as how forty people is enough to exhaust all the available Nintento Wii’s, PS3’s and every front page special from their ad, we decided not to bother. We’d just come in the morning like usual.

Right.

So at 4 A.M. we finish getting McDonald’s breakfast and head to Best Buy. There had to be easily more than five hundred people in line. The Best Buy is in a strip mall… Best Buy, Office Depot, PETsMART, and Sports Authority. The line went all the way down the strip, down the outter wall of the Sports Authority, out into the parking lot, and wrapped one time around the TGI Friday’s.

Target, on the other hand, had about twenty people in line. We went to Target.

Luckily, we didn’t really have our hearts set on any super-mega deals. We just wanted to pick up a few items at a deep discount, and we did. Score! We even went to Best Buy, after the line was gone, and managed to find all the items we wanted still available. Score again!

The only problem was the 2-pack of Ice Age and Ice Age: The Meltdown we bought… I mean, come on, who puts out a 2-pack where one movie is in Widescreen while the other one is in Full Screen. Idiots. So we need to return that. Or not. It was like $8. We might just buy another single copy. No big loss.

Dying of the Light, and Fevre Dream

I’ve been a fan of George R.R. Martin for a long time, ever since I picked up the first of the Wild Cards books that he edited and managed. A couple years ago I picked up A Game of Thrones, the first of his ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, and was simply amazed.

Thanks in part to his success with the Ice and Fire books, they have reprinted some of his earlier novels. I’ve just read two of them, ‘Dying of the Light’ and ‘Fevre Dream’, and both of them are very good.

Dying of the Light takes place on a rogue planet, Worlorn. When this frozen planet was found to have a path near a grouping of stars that would thaw it out, the planets of the fringe decided to have a festival. They set up 14 cities, and for ten years, five approaching the stars and five moving away, they held this festival. Now, seven years past the festival, the planet is closing on being too far from the stars. The light is fading, and the world is growing cold. This is where Dirk comes to find Gwen, an old flame, who has sent him a message for help. Abandoned by most of the worlds after the festival, Worlorn is now the residence of a few hundred people who didn’t wish to leave, and Gwen and her team studying the interactions of the plants and animals brought to Worlorn that should have never met. Gwen has a new man in her life, two of them in fact, and they belong to a culture that is steeped in tradition. And its the traditions of those people, the Kavalars, that pushed them all down a dark path.

I have to say that I was wary of the book at first. I love sci-fi films, but sci-fi books have often left me cold. Some times this book was a bear to read, trying to keep in mind all the alien terms used throughout and trying to understand them all by their context. In the end though, I did enjoy it very much. It was a good read.

Fevre Dream was altogether different. If someone had slapped the book in my hands and said I would enjoy this book about Steamboats on the Mississippi, I’d have called them a liar. But George has put together quite an excellent novel. The story is of a river boat captain, Abner Marsh, who’s had a string of bad luck, resulting in all but one of his boats being destroyed. He’s approached by a strange man who offers to pay to build the best boat on the river, all Abner has to do is take him on as a partner and never question his bizarre habits. So begins the friendship of Abner and Joshua York, a man who sleeps by day, lives by night, and has a fondness for a wine of his own private stock… a vampire.

Martin’s take on vampires in this book is very interesting, and his characterization of Marsh and the rest of his crew is fantastic. And without ruining it, this book is home to one the most fascinating and yet slowest chase scenes I’ve ever read. I devoured this book much more quickly that I expected, and in the end I wanted to hear more, even though there was no more to tell. I highly recommend it to just about anyone.