Reviews and Comments

Strakul

Strakul@wyrms.de

Joined 2 years, 1 month ago

Science fiction and fantasy. Astronomical Data Scientist at STScI/MAST in Baltimore. Opinions are my own. Follow me on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@VirStrakul Longer reviews on my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/

#Astronomy #Books #Gaming #Fantasy #SciFi

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reviewed Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Children of Time, #1)

Adrian Tchaikovsky: Children of Time (Paperback, 2018, Orbit) 4 stars

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a …

A modern, classic sci-fi tale

5 stars

This was a great book and I see why it has won awards and is generally regarded in a positive light. While the characters are basic, they are nonetheless interesting and the plot is straightforward enough to keep the focus on the setting. The setting is excellent and the way the two societies, one human, one spider, is explored is clever. I enjoyed both viewpoints and wish we had gotten more time after they merged together, but maybe that is a story for the second novel? I look forward to reading the other novels in this series and finding out.

For a full review, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2024/06/book-review-children-of-time-by-adrian.html

Ernest Cline: Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1) (Paperback, 2011, Crown Publishers) 4 stars

Ready Player One is a 2011 science fiction novel, and the debut novel of American …

80s nostalgia with a clever concept, but weak narrative

3 stars

Overall this was a fun read. The world itself is quite dystopian, but the OASIS is incredible. It feels like a very natural evolution of today's online society, for better or worse. Some of the plot can feel a little sluggish with the exposition and the slowdown in the second arc of the book, but it has a good payoff at the end. The characters are OK, but not developed as well as the focus is almost solely on the main character Parzival and his obsession with the 80s, the hunt, and Art3mis. I think the concept behind this (and the nostalgia) was pretty good, though the narrative could have been better, both in terms of characters and plot.

For a full review, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2024/05/book-review-ready-player-one-by-ernest.html

reviewed The Price of Spring by Daniel Abraham (Long Price Quartet, #4)

Daniel Abraham: The Price of Spring (2009, Tor) 4 stars

Fifteen years have passed since the devastating war between the Galt Empire and the cities …

A fitting conclusion to this 4-book series

5 stars

The final book of the Long Price Quartet. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense the direction this book took, but at the end of the 3rd one I wasn't sure what could come next. Overall a fitting conclusion to the series.

For a spoiler-free review of the full series, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2024/04/book-review-long-price-quartet-series.html

reviewed An Autumn War by Daniel Abraham (Long Price Quartet, #3)

Daniel Abraham: An Autumn War (Hardcover, 2008, Tor Books) 5 stars

Daniel Abraham delighted fantasy readers with his brilliantly original and engaging first novel, and in …

The culmination of may plot threads, what could the 4th book be about?

5 stars

The 3rd of the 4 books in the Long Price Quartet and my favorite thus far. Lots of complex character interactions going on and the culmination of a lot of plot threads that have been teased in the prior two books. I honestly don't know what the 4th one could be about, if it's not a long epilogue...

reviewed A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham (Long Price Quartet, #2)

Daniel Abraham delighted fantasy readers with his brilliant, original, and engaging first novel, A Shadow …

Continuing the Quartet with betrayal and intrigue

4 stars

This is the second book in the Long Price Quartet and a worthy successor to the first. I'll be holding out for my complete review until I finish the four books, but this was enjoyable on its own. I was surprised by the large time jump between the first and the second, but pleased that many of the same characters reappear. Some similar themes are explored in this one, primarily the nature of relationships and family, though absent are the themes of humanity and slavery. There is a bit more intrigue and politics in this one, something is shaking up and I wonder what the next two books will focus on.

reviewed A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham (Long Price Quartet, #1)

Daniel Abraham: A Shadow in Summer (2006, Tor) 4 stars

The city-state of Saraykeht dominates the Summer Cities. Its wealth is beyond measure; its port …

A good quick read to start off a new series

4 stars

Read this on my international trip and enjoyed it a lot. I got the other books in the series during my trip, in case I had more time, but haven't started them yet. I also haven't done a full review, but that may come later or I may group the entire series under one review. For now, I found this to be an enjoyable story with a decent plot and some pretty good characters. I look forward to seeing how the world develops.

reviewed Defiant by Brandon Sanderson (Skyward, #4)

Brandon Sanderson: Defiant (Hardcover, 2023, Delacorte Press) 4 stars

Spensa made it out of the Nowhere, but what she saw in the space between …

An epic conclusion to the Skyward series

4 stars

This was a fun book and a great way to end the series. It had an explosive finish and managed to tie up pretty much all the major plotlines going through (though as a young adult novel it was fairly straightforward). The characters were interesting and the plot very fast paced. Overall, an enjoyable science fiction/fantasy series. Apparently there is more to continue in this universe which sounds exciting to me!

For a full review, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2024/01/defiant-by-brandon-sanderson.html

reviewed System Collapse by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries, #7)

Martha Wells: System Collapse (Hardcover, 2023, Tordotcom) 4 stars

Am I making it worse? I think I'm making it worse.

Following the events in …

Another fun novel in the Murderbot Diaries universe

4 stars

Overall, this was a fun book, albeit a bit shorter than it's predecessor. It's still a fun ride with the usual cast of characters we've come to enjoy. A relatively simple plot with plenty of action and high-stakes moments and a recognizable setting with hints of more complexity in Murderbot's psyche. I recommend it for folks that are already reading the Muderbot Diaries at it continues its story.

For a full spoiler-free review, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2023/12/book-review-system-collapse-by-martha.html

Ann Leckie: The Raven Tower (Hardcover, Orbit) 4 stars

Listen. A god is speaking. My voice echoes through the stone of your master's castle. …

A first/second-person narrative of gods and men

4 stars

I thought this book was pretty good, though it has a bit of a rough start. Once you get past the initial part and get used to the first/second person narrative it becomes much better. It's also not a particular long story, but the characters, especially the Strength and Patience of the Hill, are cool.

I can recommend this as a quick jump into Ann Leckie's works, particularly if you are more interested in fantasy than her usual science fiction.

For a full review, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2023/11/book-review-raven-tower-by-ann-leckie.html

Brandon Sanderson: The Sunlit Man (2023, Dragonsteel Entertainment, LLC) 5 stars

1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson adds to his Cosmere universe shared by …

A Cosmere-heavy standalone racing the sun

5 stars

This was quite a ride, another Cosmere novel which felt like it had a breakneck pace as characters kept running to safety. There's plenty of action and development, though the fast pace limits how much characters could explore of their world. It's probably the most Cosmere-heavy of the Year of Sanderson (though 3 of the novels are set in the Cosmere) so the hints at the greater struggles and connections to other worlds were appreciated.

For a full review, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2023/10/book-review-sunlit-man-by-brandon.html

Robert Jordan: Lord of Chaos (Wheel of Time, #6) 4 stars

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. …

An average middle book promising more to come

3 stars

Overall this was a decent book. It's not the best in the series and very much feels like a middle book, but it had it's moments. There is a lot brewing behind the scenes as the Dark One's forces regroup and revise their strategy after Rand's return from the Aiel Waste. The stage is slowly being set for some explosive confrontations in books to come.

For a full review, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2023/10/book-review-lord-of-chaos-by-robert.html

Ursula K. Le Guin: The Lathe Of Heaven (Paperback, 2008, Scribner) 4 stars

“The Lathe of Heaven” ; 1971 ( Ursula Le Guin received the 1973 Locus Award …

Dreaming of a better world has consequences

3 stars

Overall, this was an interesting short novel. While deceptively simple, the premise makes you think about a lot its concepts, including dreams, reality, and the power to change it. The characters lead the conflict- there is an abusive relationship at its core as one takes advantage of the other. That was disturbing but the main character is a little too passive in working to get out of it.

For a full review, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2023/08/book-review-lathe-of-heaven-by-ursula.html

Katherine Addison: The Goblin Emperor (Paperback, 2019, Tor Books) 4 stars

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant …

A personal story of a reluctant emperor

4 stars

Overall this was a good book. It was fairly straightforward in its plot and characters, which allowed it to have a more personal feel to the main character. The setting is hindered a little by aspects of the language which, while they add some depth, they also add a great amount of complexity. I can certainly see the similarities to The Hands of the Emperor, though I prefer that book for its broader story and the focus on the secretary rather than the emperor himself.

For a full review, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2023/07/book-review-goblin-emperor-by-katherine.html

Brandon Sanderson: Yumi and the Nightmare Painter (2023, Dragonsteel) 4 stars

Yumi comes from a land of gardens, meditation, and spirits, while Painter lives in a …

A clever body-swap story set in the Cosmere

5 stars

This was probably one of the more engaging Cosmere novels that Sanderson has written thus far. It features a pair of very different artists from very different worlds. The story involves a bit of a body-swap with a twist, so each gets to see how their other world looks like and learns from it. Combined with an intriguing setting and a plot focused on the mystery of what is going on, you get a formula for a book that is hard to put down. It also features plenty of illustrations by Aliya Chen which further add to the story.

For a full review, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2023/07/book-review-yumi-and-nightmare-painter.html