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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Three Capsule Reviews 2 - "In Great Waters, Green and Orphan's Triumph" (by Liviu Suciu)

After the first Three Capsule Review post in which I showcased three great novels that missed my full FBC review list more for timing reasons than anything else, I planned to do two more such posts discussing books that I enjoyed a lot but have something that stopped them being great ones for me. One post will deal with pure genre books, one with more mainstream fantastic ones.

For the pure genre post, I chose "In Great Waters" by Kit Whitfield, "Green" by Jay Lake and "Orphan's Triumph" by Robert Buettner precisely because each had some (different) elements I really loved as well as being quite different kinds of genre in a fantasy-like alt-hist, a mil space opera and a secondary world fantasy respectively. All are four star novels for me, not quite at the five star level but close.


The highlight of the three as style and a novel that is very, very well written but too YA for me is:

In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield

A very compelling book and a page turner set in a world where the mixed blood children of "deepsmen" and "landsmen" are "royal", the novel left me a bit mixed at the end because of the three main characters "Henry", Anne and John who start as children, become teens but do not really grow into adults throughout the book.

So despite some adult language "In Great Waters" is ultimately a very well written YA book and it should appeal especially to the YA crowd. For me it was a very good book, but not a notable one.

I loved Ms. Whitefield style and I am willing to read more novels by her, though I would love an epic fantasy with adult characters.

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The highlight of the three in story/plot as well as having a great heroine, but with a very stilted style is:

Green by Jay Lake

Very interesting story which though in the vein of many such, manages to seem reasonably fresh while the main character of the title is fascinating, but the writing style is very choppy.

Great short fiction does not always translate to novel length and the narrative flow of this book sometimes just screeches to a halt and you have to struggle to get back into it; the same feeling I had with the other Jay Lake novels, none of which I could finish. In this one the heroine and the story kept my interest to the end but smoother writing would have made "Green" something to remember; this way it's good but not great
.

Green the heroine of the title starts as a child and then young woman but she acts as an adult for most of the novel and that is the main difference with the characters of "In Great Waters " above; not age per se, but the way the characters act.

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The novel with one of the most endearing narrators of recent times as well as having a very smooth narrative flow, but part of a series going a bit too long for its depth and getting pulpier by the novel is:

Orphan's Triumph by Robert Buettner

An excellent ending to the series consolidating Jason Wander's position as a very humane and likable series hero. The book goes a bit too much into pulp - there are some scenes at the end that could be taken straight from a 30's story and sf has evolved quite a lot since, while the series overall was a book or so too long for its depth, but if you liked "Orphan" 1-4, you will like the conclusion too.

Not quite on the top of mil-sf subgenre, but close and among the better series in the genre
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