Stephen King: The Gunslinger – Review

My first experience reading King. After an interesting beginning culminating in the slaughter of a dreamlike desert town (where I could see elements of King’s horror writing that make him such a well known author) there really wasn’t too much to capture my attention. The majority of the middle was a fairly dull adventure story dotted with small glimpses of the protagonist’s backstory. There were definitely some good elements that help to build the slightly surreal, post-apocalyptic world King is trying to create, but they didn’t really do much to hold my interest. However the climax of the story and the inevitable encounter between the gunslinger and the man in black was fantastic. Suddenly we’re thrown into a metaphysical monologue with an extended dream sequence that reads like a mescaline trip and starts to show us the route King might be taking the rest of the series. Overall I think 3* is a fair rating. I’m not in a rush to read any more King books after this one but I’d quite like to come back to the Dark Tower series at some point in the future.

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Michael Moorcock: Sailor on the Seas of Fate – Review

Bloody fantastic bit of fantasy. Definitely better than the first one. Thoroughly entertaining from start to finish but now the story starts to take on more surreal and dreamlike qualities as Elric journeys out into different planes of reality. In particular, the first section which introduced the whole ‘Eternal Champion’ mythos culminated in an utterly bizarre battle sequence which ended up turning into some sort of psychedelic DMT trip. Anyone who knows anything about Moorcock will hardly be surprised by this since he actually fronted the great British psychedelic-prog band Hawkwind a few times in the 70s (which I just found out) and he’s best pals with occultist wizarding aficionado Alan Moore. I’m sure he’s dabbled with a few mind altering chemicals in his time. Anyway I’m really intrigued to see where the series goes from here and I can’t wait to read the rest of it.

P.S. George R. R. Martin just stole the whole Targaryen race from the Melniboneans. Just sayin’.

Patrick Routhfuss: The Name of the Wind – Review

I picked this book up after hearing great things about it from a friend, and when I started researching it online I’d been told that it was brilliant. I mean it’s got a ridiculously high Goodreads rating and I’ve read some really positive things about it on Reddit. I was hoping to throw myself into a book where I’d just be sucked in by the story, the characters, the world etc. – maybe something like a modern day Lord of the Rings, or an adult version of Harry Potter (both of which I’ve actually seen this compared to!?)

How sorely mistaken I was.

The characters are just awful and unbelievable, and the world Routhfuss is trying to create has no historical mystery whatsoever: The protagonist is a smarmy know-it-all (I can’t help thinking that he might be loosely based on the Routhfuss himself) and his sidekick is a bit of a whimpering suck-up and the the first ‘demons’ we’re introduced to (supposedly terrifying mythical beings) are essentially just big spiders that are seemingly killed by anyone who trips over them. Not exactly the kind of thing that would inspire fear in the heart of the reader. On top of that the writing is really dull and unimaginative. There’s no cohesion to make it believable. It’s like someone has tried to combine modern American English with as many fantasy cliches as possible. No seriously. The first two characters we’re introduced to are called ‘Graham and Jake’ but the protagonist is called Qvothe, and is nicknamed E’lir (The Wise One). Oh and there’s a scribe who is meant to be the one writing the story that’s being told – his name is ‘Chronicler’. Chronicler. Who writes Chronicles. Ugh. But worse than that is the descriptive language. I’ve literally just read the word ‘grin’ to describe a smile about 15 times in the space of 3 pages. If you want some more specific examples just have a look at the other scathing reviews that people have written on Goodreads. Basically I just don’t know whether it’s worth persisting for another 550 pages when I know there are plenty of books out there that I could spend my time on; books that I will actually enjoy.

I’ve never given up on a fiction book before but I’m sorry Mr. Routhfuss this is going to have to be my first.