Category Archives: Books

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

King of Thorns is the sequel to Prince of Thorns, telling the story of teenage mercenary turned ruler Jorg Ancrath, in a post-apocalyptic fantasy Europe, and it’s a good example of a concept for a story being better than the story itself.

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Fire Watch by Connie Willis

Fire Watch is a short story, so this will be a short review. I read it as a sort of “proof of concept” before moving onto any of Willis’ other (longer, hugely award-winning) books in the same series. The concept is this: in the middle of the 21st century, time travel has been invented, and historians at Oxford University use it to conduct field research in areas of historical interest. Read the rest of this entry

The Ace of Skulls by Chris Wooding

Let’s just skip straight to the conclusion: Ace of Skulls is my favourite book of the year. I’ve looked back at the lists of books I’ve read in previous years, and it’d be my favourite new book of the last three years (although on reflection I’d change my 2012 list to have Ready Player One above Red Country, and Ready Player One is the closest contender to Ace of Skulls). Read the rest of this entry

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

MaddAddam is the concluding part of Margaret Atwood’s speculative fiction trilogy that started with Oryx & Crake and continued with The Year of the Flood. Chronologically, Year of the Flood and Oryx & Crake happened vaguely in parallel, but MaddAddam is a direct sequel to Flood, picking up right where Crake and Flood left off. Read the rest of this entry

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Dresden Files 14, and I review it with a hint of sadness, because it’s the latest book in the series to date, with the next not due until January 2014 at the earliest. I’m not sure I’ll be able to cope with the withdrawal.

As with recent books in the series, discussion of the plot is kind of a problem, due to the massive amount of spoilers that even setting out the background to the plot would entail.

Suffice to say: fuck me, Cold Days is incredible. Read the rest of this entry

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

Right, seriously. It’s tough to review the later Dresden Files books, because I want to avoid spoilers. So recently I’ve avoided all but the barest sketches of plot and just focused on writing about things I’ve found interesting in the series. Read the rest of this entry

Changes by Jim Butcher

Holy shit. Where to start. In my last Dresden Files review, I suggested that Turn Coat, the eleventh book in the series may be a decent starting point for people who were interested in the series, but didn’t fancy the slog of getting through 14 books (to date, with a plan of around another ten according to the author!). I take that back. Changes is a phenomenally good fun book, but it builds so intrinsically on the foundations laid in the series to date that not reading the other ten books would be hugely damaging to it. Otherwise it’s like taking a helicopter up to the top of Kilimanjaro to meet a climber: sure, you’ve reached the summit, but reaching the summit isn’t really as satisfying if you didn’t earn it. Read the rest of this entry

A Quiet Belief in Angels by RJ Ellory

I’ve read A Quiet Belief in Angels before. I read it about five or six years ago, and it only a little ashamed to admit that it had me crying like a small child who’d fallen over and hurt his knee at one point. I have a heart made mainly of stone, so a book getting that reaction from me is fairly rare, but since then I’ve also read Candle Moth by RJ Ellory, and that had me crying as well (while we’re getting them out there, the only other book I can think of that made me cry was The Time Traveller’s Wife. Let’s move on shall we?). Read the rest of this entry

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

At some stage it becomes pointless to write further actual reviews of the Dresden Files series. This is the eleventh book of the series, and at this point in my reviews either you’ll be convinced to read them, or you’ll just skip right on by. You don’t need another review of me saying how much I love the characters or mythology, so instead of just doing a straight review explaining what’s good (almost all of it) and what’s bad (very little) in Turn Coat, I figure I’ll instead concentrate on some stuff that I found interesting. Read the rest of this entry

Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks

Use of Weapons is a rare book, in that it’s one that I didn’t finish. I just couldn’t. I got two thirds of the way through it and just had to give up. It’s not that it’s a bad book per se; in fact it’s pretty well-regarded generally. But I just couldn’t get on with it. I wouldn’t personally recommend that you read Use of Weapons, but if you have read it and liked it, I’m not going to look at your like you’re a lunatic. Read the rest of this entry