YouKneeK

My favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy.  Occasionally, I also read horror, thriller, and mystery stories.  For more info about me than you could possibly want, check the "My Profile" link on the right-hand column.

Review: Soul Music (Discworld Book 18 of 53ish)

Soul Music - Terry Pratchett

Every now and then, we get one of those “real world stuff bleeds into the Discworld” books.  For example, Moving Pictures involved, as you might guess, a sudden discovery of and obsession about movies.  With a Discworld flare, of course.  Those books are the ones I seem to enjoy the least.  Soul Music is the third book in the Death subseries, and it was one of those types of books.  In this case, the sudden discovery and obsession is for rock and roll music although, in Discworld, it goes by the name “Music with Rocks In” and includes some trolls using rocks as drums.

Maybe part of the problem is that I just don’t seem to get a lot of the jokes in these types of books.  I’ve never watched a lot of movies, so a lot of the stuff in Moving Pictures went over my head.  Likewise, I’m not terribly knowledgeable about rock and roll, and I think most of the references were probably from the 50’s and maybe 60’s, and I’ve never listened much to the music of that era. 

 

I’m embarrassed to say how long it took me before I finally got the constantly-repeated “he looks elvish” joke.  I’m pretty sure I was at least halfway through the book.

(show spoiler)


In addition to that, we have Death once again going off the grid and shirking his responsibilities, leaving other people to deal with the repercussions.  This is only the third Death book and yet it already feels repetitive.  Part of the reason it frustrates me is because Death is a fun character, and I want to see more of him actually being Death.  I think I actually enjoy him more when he shows up in the other subseries books.

I guess it sounds like I hated the book, and I really didn’t.  It’s just easier to write about my complaints.  So, what did I like?  I enjoyed the humor that didn’t relate to rock and roll music.  Pratchett has a great way of coming up with funny descriptions for common things.  For example, this one made me laugh enough that I took the time to highlight it: "And people got up and started cheerin’ and dancin’ and stampin’ their feet like there was a plague of cockroaches."  I also really enjoyed the concept of the character of Susan, who was one of the aforementioned characters who had to take up the slack for Death.  I say “the concept of” because she really didn’t get nearly enough page time and her part of the story was too similar to another story in an earlier book.  Despite that, she captured my attention when she was first introduced and I really liked the idea of her character.

 

Review: The Other Wind (Earthsea Cycle Book 6 of 6ish)

The Other Wind - Ursula K. Le Guin

The Other Wind is the sixth and final book in the Earthsea series.  I really enjoyed the series, although I thought this last book was the weakest.  The story started off very strong, and I especially enjoyed the first 25% or so.  After that, while there were still good parts and I was still interested in the premise, I thought the story itself became kind of slow and repetitive. 

 

One thing I enjoyed was that we had the chance to revisit a lot of favorite characters from past books in addition to meeting some new ones.  A lot of plot threads from the various books were brought up and woven into a bigger picture.  The problem is that I thought that bigger picture was blurry.  We learn a lot about what happened in the distant past that made the world the way it is now, and what the price was, but I felt like it was all too light on logical reasoning and rational explanations, even for a fantasy world. 

 

This book has a lot of scenes with people gathering together, in small or large groups, catching each other up on recent events, or sharing what they know about things that happened in ancient history from stories they've heard.  The reader had to sit through some of those stories being told multiple times, if slightly differently and with different levels of detail each time, and it started to feel repetitive.

 

I really wanted to give this book four stars on the strength of the rest of the series, and I'm rounding up to 4 on Goodreads, but this was really a 3.5 star book for me at best.  There are a few short stories set in Earthsea that I haven’t read yet, hence the "ish" in my post title, but I think I’m ready to move on now.

Review: Tales from Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle Book 5 of 6ish)

Tales from Earthsea - Ursula K. Le Guin

Tales from Earthsea is an anthology of five stories that take place at various time periods before, during, and after the previous four books.  In the author’s introduction, she says these stories should be read after the first four books. I would definitely agree; I think some of these stories would be less meaningful without already knowing how they fit into the larger story.  I normally find anthologies to be pretty unsatisfying, because the stories are so short and I like longer, meatier stories.  However, I really enjoyed this anthology because the stories felt more like they were just part of the larger series and that larger series added the depth and context.

The first story, The Finder, is the longest story and represents a third of the book.  It’s set long before the first Earthsea book during a time when people with magical abilities were feared and either killed or forced to work for powerful men for ignoble purposes.  The story focuses on a boy known as Otter who has magical abilities.  Although this book takes place too far in the past to have any familiar characters, it does give us some history directly related to some very familiar aspects of the main series.  I enjoyed this story, and I liked Otter.

The second story, Darkrose and Diamond, didn’t have any direct connection to anything from the previous Earthsea books.  It too tells the story of a young boy with magical abilities, but it’s a pretty different story.  The boy, Diamond, is also gifted with music and he’s in love with a girl he grew up with.  His potential wizardry, his father’s expectations, his love for music, and his love for the girl all seem to be in conflict with each other.  This story was a little too romance-y for my tastes.  It wasn’t a bad story over all, but it had some of those romance tropes that really drive me nuts such as one character automatically assuming the worst, and the other character somehow failing to spit out the three-word explanation that could have quickly set things right.  I hate it when characters are made to act like idiots for the sake of increasing romantic tension.

The third story, The Bones of the Earth, was a good one.  We gain insight into Ogion’s past and we learn the details behind the event he’s famous for.  The story is mostly told from the perspective of the master that Ogion was apprenticed to, and I think it left me with more questions about Ogion than answers, but I really enjoyed it and I wish it had been longer and more detailed.

The fourth story, On the High Marsh, introduces us to an adult sorcerer who seems to be half out of his mind.  He’s good with animals, bad with people, and just seems generally confused.  Eventually we learn his story and it ties to a familiar character from the main books.  I enjoyed this story and I had fun trying to guess what was up with the sorcerer.  

According to the author’s introduction, the fifth story, Dragonfly, is intended as a bridge between the fourth and sixth books.  We’re introduced to a new character, a girl called Dragonfly.  Like most of the main characters throughout this series, she has power.  However, there’s some confusion as to just what kind of power she has.  I really liked this one, and I look forward to seeing what happens to Dragonfly next.  I’m assuming she will be a major character in the sixth book.

The author really tells a lot of different “coming of age” stories within this one series.  We have Ged in the first book, Tenar in the second, and Arren in the third.  One could arguably count Therru in the fourth book, but the meat of the story was far less about her than it was about Tenar and Ged so I wouldn’t count it.  Then in this anthology we have Otter, Diamond, and Dragonfly.  I’m not counting Ogion since the glimpse we were given was so brief and limited.  One might expect this common theme to get repetitive, but it really didn’t for me.  Each of the characters were distinctive and interesting, and the stories were all different.

Only one more book to go!  I’ve actually only been reading this series for about 10 days, because the books are so short, but it feels like I’ve been living in this world longer.

Review: Tehanu (Earthsea Cycle Book 4 of 6ish)

Tehanu - Ursula K. Le Guin

Tehanu is the fourth book of the Earthsea Cycle, written 18 years after the third book.  It tells a different type of story and has a different tone from the earlier books.  It’s a direct sequel in that it continues where the third book left off.  It actually starts slightly before the ending of the third book and then continues with the story of two of our main characters, Ged and Tenar.  The larger focus is on Tenar, the girl first introduced in The Tombs of Atuan.

 

This book seems to be a polarizing book among fans of the original books.  I actually enjoyed it a lot, but I wonder if I’d have felt differently if I’d read the original books when they were published.  If I’d lived for years with the story in my head as it was written, especially seeing the third book as the end of the story, I might have had more trouble accepting this book.  Without spoiling the story, the third book brings about a major change that affects Ged and then the story ends with a sort of vague implication of a “happily ever after” ending.  That ending wasn’t too terribly difficult to accept, but it did feel a little unrealistic.  In this book we get, in my opinion, a more realistic story that deals with the repercussions from the third book in a more serious way.

 

This book doesn’t have a strong story, especially not a strong fantasy story.  There’s an underlying but not strongly-fleshed-out story thread with more of a fantasy feel to it, but it represents only a very small portion of the book.  Most of the book felt almost like a contemporary fiction story set in a rural environment.  It focuses a lot on the “ordinary” concerns and fears and day-to-day lives of adult characters. There’s also some not-so-subtle discussion of power, what power means, what it’s worth, and especially power as it relates to gender. I found some of that to be a little too obvious, pulling me out of the book to make me consider what the author herself wanted to say rather than thinking about it in the context of the story.  However, I didn’t think there was so much of it that it bogged the story down.

 

I still really enjoyed the author’s writing style which, despite a slightly different feel, held my interest just as well as the previous books had.  She also made me care, or continue to care, about the characters.  Although the actual plot was a bit sparse, it was interspersed into the book well enough to keep me interested in the story when combined with my interest in the characters. 

Review: The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle Book 3 of 6ish)

The Farthest Shore - Ursula K. Le Guin

On average, I would say I enjoyed this book about as much as I had enjoyed the previous two books, but maybe less in some ways, and more in other ways.

In the very beginning of book one, we were told Ged would eventually be an Archmage.  At the beginning of this book, we find that this has come to pass and Ged is now the Archmage at the school on Roke.  Prince Arren, a teenager introduced in this book, has traveled to Roke to tell the wizards that people seem to be losing their ability to work magic.  Ged and Arren then travel together to try to discover the source of the problem.

Ged and Arren had nearly equal “page time”, and I was happy to see more of Ged than I had in the second book.  I also liked the character of Arren, and Arren’s hero worship of Ged and Ged’s affection toward Arren was very nice to read about.  The story started off quite interesting, although I think the second book had the strongest story of the three.  In this book, particularly in the second half, some of the plot points and character decisions became a bit too nebulous.  Our characters sometimes did things because they felt right, not because there was any solid, logical reason for doing them.  I do think most of that was explained or at least explainable by the end, though.

This book was published 18 years before the next book in the series, and it has a very definite “this is the end of the story” feel to it.  It would be easy to stop here and be satisfied, and some people have in fact suggested doing just that, but there may have been a cat somewhere in my distant ancestry because I’m too curious to stop here.  The mixed opinions about the later books have me curious to see what I’ll think, and I’m also curious to see what the author’s later writing style is like, and I’m curious to see how she chose to continue the series.  So I plan to move on to book four, and then decide from there whether or not to continue.

Review: The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle Book 2 of 6ish)

The Tombs of Atuan - Ursula K. Le Guin

This is the second book in the Earthsea Cycle series, and I enjoyed it as much as the first one.  I was a little disappointed at first because I had hoped to continue reading about the characters who had interested me so much in the first book, but this book focuses on a different main character.  I soon got caught up in this new story, though, and forgot my disappointment.  After all, if an author can make you care about one set of characters, then she’s likely to be able to do the same for a new set. 

 

This book focuses on a girl by the name of Tenar who, based on the time of her birth, is believed to be the reincarnated soul of a high priestess.  She’s taken away from her home at the age of six and raised to fulfill her role of high priestess.  Eventually we do see a character from the first book, which I expected to happen eventually based on the reference to Atuan in the first book, and that just made a good story even better.

 

I thought Tenar was a more ambiguous character than Ged had been in the previous book.  Tenar’s motives, attitudes, and decisions were often questionable and, although I sympathized with her, I didn’t like her very much at first.  She grew on me as her character developed.  I also thought this book had the stronger story of the two.  It was equally short and it too left me wanting more, but this time I felt like everything was fleshed out well enough to tell the story at hand in a convincing way.

Review: A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle Book 1 of 6ish)

A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. Le Guin

I was an adult before I became hooked on reading science fiction and fantasy, so there are a lot of classic books and authors I’ve still never read.  Until a day and a half ago, Ursula Le Guin was one of those authors.

The story is about a boy named Ged who, we’re told in the first paragraph, will become one of the greatest wizards of Earthsea.  We meet him just before he discovers he has magical abilities, and we follow him for several years.  Although Ged is good-hearted in many ways, he has a strong prideful streak which sometimes leads him to make bad decisions.  One of those decisions causes some serious trouble that he has to deal with.

I really enjoyed this story.  It had a lot of familiar plot elements, but the book was written in 1968 so they were likely new at the time.  They’re also things I tend to enjoy as long as they’re written well, and I thought this book was written very well.  I liked Ged a lot, particularly as he grew older, and I liked the way he embraced his magical abilities and was all gung-ho about learning everything he could.  Often characters like this in other books have a meeker and more timid reaction, so Ged’s reaction was fun even though sometimes he made me want to yell, “Noooo, don’t do that!”  

There were other interesting characters in the book also, like his friend Vetch and the wizard Ogion.  I wanted to see more page time for those characters, and I wanted to see Ged’s relationship with those characters fleshed out better.  The author tells us about Ged’s bond with them, and we see the evidence of it in events that happen afterward, but we really aren’t shown the development of those relationships.  The book is only about 180 pages, and I would extend that complaint to some other aspects of the story – in general I just wanted a little more meat and detail.  That’s my only real complaint about this book, although I guess it’s better to be left wanting more than wanting less.  

This book told a complete story, but I look forward to seeing what happens next in Earthsea.  I plan to start the next book later today.

Review: Men at Arms (Discworld Book 17 of 53ish)

Men at Arms - Terry Pratchett

Men at Arms is the second book in the City Watch subseries of Discworld.  I liked this one better than the first book, Guards! Guards!.  The story held my interest much better, and I enjoyed the characters more.  Of course, it had a lot of the same characters as the first book, but I thought this one focused on more interesting characters.  I like Carrot quite a bit, and we see a lot of him in this book.  There are also two new members of the Watch, Cuddy the Dwarf and Detritus (don’t salute!) the Troll, and I really enjoyed both of them.

 

We saw less of Captain Vimes in this book, and that may actually be one of the reasons I enjoyed it more.  So far he’s been a pretty morose character, quick to sink into despair and self-pity.  He’s often off sulking (or in an alcoholic stupor) while everybody else is doing all the real work.  He cares, I’ll give him that, but I prefer reading about characters like Carrot who care more effectively and less self-destructively.  Carrot is a bit too perfect, actually, but I don’t mind because he’s fun to read about.  Most of the Discworld characters are pretty over-the-top anyway, in one way or another, so he fits right in. 

 

I’m giving this 3.5 stars on BookLikes and rounding it up to 4 stars on Goodreads because I enjoyed it enough that I thought it deserved more than 3 stars.

 

Most of these last two books have been read with this distracting view in the background, either from this angle (my hotel room balcony) or from a much lower angle directly on the beach. :)  

 

Discworld makes for great beach reading material.  It’s light and funny, but the stories never really absorb me in such a way that I have to force myself to put the book down so I can do vacation-y stuff.  That’s why I read two of them in a row this week instead of breaking them up more like I usually do.  Since I fly home tomorrow and my swimsuit is drying off for the last time before getting packed, I’m going to move on to some non-Discworld material next.

 

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken an actual go-away-and-do-something-fun vacation, since I’m usually traveling for business often enough that staying home on vacation sounds like more fun.  I had a great time, and miraculously managed to avoid getting any sunburn despite spending so much time in the sun.  (I'm very pale and burn easily.)  I’m ready to get home now, though.  I want to see the cat, curl up on my own furniture with my fridge stocked with my own drinks and food, and take a shower in water that doesn’t smell like sulfur. :)  I always feel this way by the end of a trip, no matter how much fun I have – ready to get back to the comforts of home, even if the comforts of home don’t include such a gorgeous view!

Review: Theatre of Cruelty (Discworld "Book" 16 of 53ish)

Theatre of Cruelty - Terry Pratchett

This is a short story set in the Discworld universe, featuring some of the characters from the Watch subseries.  When I say short, I mean miniscule at about 4 pages.  It can be read for free from here: http://www.lspace.org/books/toc/toc-english.html

A dead body is found, and Carrot attempts to figure out who murdered him.  The first part of this story is cute and I was enjoying it, but the ending didn’t make the slightest bit of sense to me.  It was obviously a joke about a TV show, but I didn’t know which one.  I read some reviews to figure out what I’d missed, and it turns out it was a reference to a show that I only vaguely remember hearing the name of, have never seen, and have no desire to see.  

But I’m sure it’s probably funny if you have any clue what it’s referencing.  If anybody reads the short story and is just as confused as I was, or if they have no intention of reading it and just want to laugh at my ignorance about popular (I guess?) TV shows, this is what it was about:

Punch and Judy.

(show spoiler)

Review: Lords and Ladies (Discworld Book 15 of 53ish)

Lords and Ladies - Terry Pratchett

Lords and Ladies is the fourth book in the Witches subseries of Discworld.  I enjoyed it, but not as much as the previous two Witches books.  I thought the humor, while present, wasn’t nearly as strong as it was in the last two.

 

I think the humor seemed weaker because our main characters (Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat, of course!) were often off doing separate things, and a big part of what makes me laugh in these books comes from dialogue between Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg.  On the other hand, Magrat actually had some decent moments in this book, although I expect she’ll continue to annoy me more often than not in future books.

 

The story was pretty interesting, though, and I thought it was one of the stronger stories I’ve read so far in the Discworld series.  To clarify, I don’t really consider any of the Discworld stories to be that strong so I’m not saying this is a story that will keep people on the edge of their seats, but it did hold my interest.  I’m not sure how to describe what this one is about without spoiling the not-entirely-unexpected-but-still-interesting reveal about who the antagonists are, so I’ll just be vague and say that some wannabe young witches meddle with things they don’t understand and help certain unexpectedly evil and malicious beings gain a foothold into the world.

Review: Anansi Boys (American Gods Book 2 of 2)

Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boys is loosely related to American Gods, but each book stands alone and tells an independent story.  The main connection is that Anansi is one of the gods we meet in American Gods, often referred to as Mr. Nancy. 

 

Anansi himself doesn’t really show up in Anansi Boys all that much, but he’s referred to a great deal and several stories are told about him.  Our main character is Charlie, Anansi’s son, who is quite ordinary, shy, and easily intimidated.  At the beginning of the book, we read about Charlie’s childhood and the things his father Anansi did to embarrass him.  Before long, we catch up to Charlie as he’s living his adult life, which is quite an ordinary life.  Then, of course, something happens, and Charlie’s life starts to get pretty strange and not very pleasant.

 

Charlie was a funny and interesting character.  He starts off kind of spineless, and I was afraid he would get annoying, but he slowly started to get more assertive.  The story was interesting.  Between the blatant foreshadowing and the hints, I can’t say anything about the story was terribly surprising, but it held my interest.  Toward the end, I thought some things happened that stretched the boundaries of credibility, even considering the subject matter.  I was really enjoying the book up to a point, but I started feeling a little less enthusiastic by the end.

 

This had a very different tone than American Gods.  I enjoyed both books, but for different reasons.  By comparison, I thought American Gods was darker, meatier, and more serious.  Anansi Boys was lighter, hilariously funny at times, and sometimes downright silly.  I couldn’t really say which one I liked best.  During the first half of this book, I would have said I liked Anansi Boys better.  Now that I’ve finished it, I’m leaning toward American Gods.

Review: The Monarch of the Glen (American Gods Book 1.5 of 2.5)

The Monarch of the Glen - Neil Gaiman

“The Monarch of the Glen” is a novella set after American Gods, featuring the main character from that story.  It was only 62 pages, so it wasn’t nearly as meaty of a story as the book it was based off of, but I did enjoy it.  We find out what Shadow has been up to in the months following American Gods, and he once again manages to get himself into trouble.  Aside from Shadow, the other characters are pretty much new characters.  It was entertaining, but quick, and I’m not sure the story will really stick with me aside from maybe blurring together with the original book.

 

I don’t think you can get this novella by itself anymore.  It’s contained in two anthologies: Fragile Things, which contains several stories by Neil Gaiman and was recently reviewed by Obsidian Blue, and Legends II which is an anthology of stories by various authors.  I really didn’t want to read an entire anthology at this point; I just wanted to read the novella and then move on to the other full-length book in this series, Anansi Boys.  So I borrowed Legends II from the library, read just the novella, then turned it back in.  If the Neil Gaiman anthology had been available at my library, I might have been more tempted to read the whole thing while I had access to it.  I was far less tempted with Legends II, because I think most of those stories are set in established worlds that I haven’t read yet.  I’d rather wait and read them as part of the larger series they each belong to.

Review: American Gods (American Gods Book 1 of 2.5)

American Gods - Neil Gaiman

I enjoyed this book.  Within the first fifteen or twenty percent, I kept pausing and thinking to myself, “This is really good!”  I lost some momentum after that, which I think is mostly the fault of my work schedule.  I was working long and strange hours to support a project, and there was actually a stretch of two days where I didn’t read a single page.  I can’t remember the last day where I didn’t manage to read at least a few pages.  After that, my interest in the story started to fluctuate and I thought some parts were more interesting than others.  Over-all, though, I did really like it.

 

The story is set in the U.S. at around the time the book was written, in 2001.  I guess this would be considered Magical Realism.  The idea is that, when people immigrated to America, they brought their gods with them through their belief in and worship of those gods.  As a result, we now have a diverse collection of gods from various mythologies in the U.S., but nobody really believes in them anymore so they’re mostly a pretty miserable lot.  Making things even more difficult for them are the new gods that are coming into power, such as the gods of credit cards and the media.  In many ways this premise reminded me of Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods, which I had read just two books ago.  They each took different approaches, though, and they each had a very different tone.

 

Our main character is known by the name of Shadow.  When the book begins, we meet him in jail where he’s been for three years.  He’s scheduled to be released soon, and he has good plans for getting his life back on track when he’s released, but events outside his control prevent him from going through with those plans.  Shadow was a very likeable character.  He was a bit more passive and laid back than what I typically like to see in a character, but I liked him anyway.  There were some other interesting characters introduced also.  My knowledge of mythological gods is about as pathetic as possible, so reading this on my Kindle was helpful because I could quickly get the wiki entries for various names and appreciate the references a bit more.  I could tell there was some clever wordplay going on and I suspect a lot of it went over my head.  I was still able to enjoy and follow the story, though, without really feeling like I was missing out on anything important.

 

I read the Tenth Anniversary Edition of this book which, according to the author’s introduction, adds another 12,000 words that had previously been edited out of the original version.  Since this was my first time reading any version of the story, I have no idea what kind of a difference that made to the story.  I did enjoy it though, and I plan to read the related novella “The Monarch of the Glen” next and then move on to the sequel, Anansi Boys.

Review: I Am Legend

I Am Legend - Richard Matheson

I had to crawl out from under a rock to read this book.  I actually didn’t know the first thing about it beyond that it was supposed to be some sort of classic science fiction story.  If I had known what it was about, I might have saved it for another time.  I’m now realizing that the cover I shelved makes the content really obvious, but I rarely pay attention to the covers when I shelve a book.  I just shelve the first edition I find when I search for a title; I don’t like to waste time finding the precise edition I own.  I do start from the cover when I read my e-books, but the cover in my actual e-book edition is different and doesn’t give any clues.

 

Even without the cover cluing me in, it was pretty obvious to me within the first page, if not the first paragraph, that this would be a vampire story.  Actually, I thought it had more of a zombie feel to it, based on how most of the vampires behaved.  I have a limited tolerance for those types of stories, and I’d already read a zombie book earlier this year.  This book is only 160 pages though, so it’s a very quick read, and it held my interest.  The middle third of the book dragged a little for me, but I enjoyed the rest of it and became particularly interested in it toward the end. 

 

The story centers around one man, Robert Neville, who believes he’s the last normal human alive.  I thought Robert was a rather inconsistent character, sometimes making really dumb decisions and sometimes appearing pretty intelligent.  He’s an alcoholic, and he definitely has psychological issues.  This may all be pretty realistic considering the trauma he’s been through and the horrors he’s seen, but he’s the kind of character who tends to get on my nerves.  He reacts emotionally to everything, and usually in such a way that just makes things worse.

 

Despite the vampires, I do think this is more science fiction than fantasy.  The author tried to create scientific explanations for the condition of vampirism and our main character spends some time researching related topics to try to understand what happened.   I don’t know if those explanations would sound the slightest bit plausible to anybody with a medical background, but my own ignorance generated a reaction that was mostly along the lines of “Ok, sure, whatever.”

 

The book was written in 1954, but it really didn’t feel dated to me.  Actually, there were a few times when fictional events from the early to mid-1970’s were referenced and I did a double take, because I’d forgotten that the 1970’s were the future from the perspective of the author.  Other than that, there’s nothing much about the story that makes it feel dated.

 

The ending was interesting, but not terribly surprising for me because it was similar to the ending of another more recently-written book that I’ve read.  I don’t want to name that book for fear of spoiling the ending of either book for somebody who has read one but not the other, but I imagine people who have read both might know what I’m talking about.

 

Over all I enjoyed the story and, like I said, it’s a really fast read.  The main reason I’m not rating it higher is because it got pretty tedious in the middle and because the main character got on my nerves quite a bit.

Review: Small Gods (Discworld Book 14 of 53ish)

Small gods - Terry Pratchett

Small Gods stands on its own in the Discworld universe, at least when it comes to the story and the characters.  It does of course continue to build on the “in jokes” that have been accumulating from the very first Discworld book.  There are some references that I think would sail harmlessly over the head of anybody who hadn’t read the earlier books, but catching those references is part of the fun for me.

 

The story is based on the idea that there are lots and lots of “small gods” out there, with no influence or power, desperately trying to get the attention of a human who will believe in them.  Once somebody believes in them, they start to gain power, which grows as they accumulate more true believers.  This can also happen in reverse; if the believers diminish, then so does the god.  The story focuses on a god by the name of Om, who has unexpectedly found himself in the form of a tortoise as his power is diminishing.  Only a single boy by the name of Brutha truly believes in him and can hear his voice.  Adventures ensue.

 

I really enjoyed the first half of the story, but I started to lose interest in the second half.  I couldn’t really say why; it just seemed to get a little tedious for a while there.  The humor in this book was great, though.  It wasn’t quite on the same level as the books in the Witches subseries for me, but it was pretty close.  The part about penguins being extremely confused birds because they only know how to fly under water completely cracked me up.  I’m not sure what that says about my sense of humor.  It’s a bit corny, I guess!

 

I thought this book had a little more meat on it in terms of covering some deeper themes.  Several of the previous books have done that to some extent, but I thought it was more substantial in this book.  As you might guess from the title and the premise, there are quite a few thoughts about the nature of religion, how it affects people, how it gains power, and how it’s used.  There were also some thoughts about war and slavery.

 

So overall I enjoyed it, but I thought it dragged a bit in the middle.  I enjoyed it enough to round my star rating up to 4 stars on Goodreads.

Online New Follower Notifications Broken?

I may have missed or forgotten a bug report about this, and I know we’ve had this same problem in the past, but I just noticed that online notifications for new followers don’t seem to be working.  Somebody just followed me and I received the e-mail notification, but I never received an online notification. I'm still getting other online notifications (likes and comments).

 

Since a lot of people don’t choose to get the e-mail notifications, some of you may have new followers that you aren’t aware of.  That's the main reason I'm posting about it, especially since we seem to have a small influx of new members.  I'll mention it on the Bug Reports thread also, so hopefully BL staff will see it and fix it whenever they decide to visit us again. 

 

This would probably be a good time to remind (or inform) people about the Follower Comparison Tool, which may help you catch followers you weren’t aware of.  The original blog post is here

Currently reading

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Philip K. Dick, Robert Zelazny