Friday, 29 January 2016

Review: Rivers of London

Rivers of London Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finally got around to reading that book! It was on my reading list for some time, but in the end it was my better half who bought it for me after hearing about it in one of his podcasts.

"Rivers of London" is told in first person narrative by a young constable, Peter Grant, who discovers that there's magic to be found even in modern day London. He describes how he learns to do spells and meets and deals with gods and ghosts and vampires in a very entertaining, slightly sarcastic tone of voice that makes it all sound natural and perfectly normal. That is what fascinates me about the book - the way Peter barely sounds surprised by or excited about learning magic or meeting Mother Thames and other London rivers (hence the title, I suspect). There's no Harry Potter style weirdness or insecurity ("Where's platform 9 3/4, why did nobody explain that?"), and also no official hiding or separation of the "magic world" from the "normal world". There's only this one world, and it contains magic that most people just never notice.

Therefore, the focus of the book is not learning magic, or learning about the magic world, but about crime and politics. The crime part deals with multiple people going insane and murdering other people, and the politics deal with the rivers of London and their territoriality. Peter has to deal with both, only sparsely guided by his Master/Instructor/superior, but I don't want to write spoilers, so let me just say that it was a very interesting book both in style and story. I'm looking forward to the next part.

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Saturday, 2 January 2016

Review: Blade of Tyshalle

Blade of Tyshalle Blade of Tyshalle by Matthew Woodring Stover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blade of Tyshalle is the follow-up to Matthew Woodring Stover's Heroes Die. Sadly, it's only available as eBook, but since I enjoyed the first book so much, I got it anyway.
This volume follows Hari Michaelson in his life after the events of Heroes Die, and shows his return to his life as Caine - but I don't want to add spoilers, so we'll not talk about that.

Overall, I didn't enjoy this book quite so much as the last one. Every chapter ended on a cryptic note about strange gods, crooked knights and others. It took me some time to figure them out, and in an eBook, it's difficult to go back and read them with more understanding. That was a bit annoying.
Additionally, the story itself was a bit more obscure. I especially hated the description of the virus, which was said to sporulate (as far a I know, viruses don't do that). The unexplained panic everyone got when just thinking about HRVP was irreproducible for me as a reader, so I probably missed out on some of the feelings. There were some really disgusting things included this time, too, which were even more random, and a bit too much for me.
The ending, on the other hand, was interesting enough to make me consider getting the next volume (also only as eBook) as well.

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