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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Two Mini-reviews and One Unreview - "The Juggler" by Sebastian Beaumont, "The Hittite" by Ben Bova and "Tome of the Undergates" by Sam Sykes

Here I will talk a little about three novels that I read or in one case, only partly and then fed up with the silliness inside I fast read it to the end. All very different novels as genre, style or reaction that I had to each...


First a "leftover" from 2009, "The Juggler" by Sebastian Beaumont.

One of the books I had great expectations for - after the author's excellent Thirteen - but somehow did not click with me on arrival - I bought it on publication in early 09; it is about a young man who feels trapped in his job and family so when at a bar a comedian brings up his problems out of the blue and gives him directions for a seaside town and then a stranger puts a 40000 pound sterling bag in his hands with a cryptic message, the hero just leaves everything and goes to that town...

Some strange people and things are there but all in all, while the style was good and the book kept me guessing till the end, I was not that convinced by the motivations of the hero and the book read to me like "how cool is to be able to leave everything behind including your children and go to find your so called destiny" and it kind of rubbed me the wrong way; a B for style and a minor disappointment.


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Next 'Tome of the Undergates" by Sam Sykes, a major debut of 2010 that featured prominently in my 2010 Anticipated Book Post where based only on blurb and "feel" I said "this one has the best "vibes" for me of all the fantasy debuts here". Boy, was I wrong!!

Now to be fair, the early all-around pretty negative reviews that I saw dampened my excitement somewhat, but I still pre-ordered the novel from Book_Depository and was quite interested to read it since I thought it may be just the quirkiness of the author' style that did not work out for the various people who read arcs of this one.

There are books that are so bad to be funny, but this one while as bad as anything I've read in a long time is not that funny; if you like potty humor and enjoy a paragraph describing the potty habits of various characters and deep ruminations like "potty habits never change", or if you like juvenile humor going back and forth in the middle of supposedly tough fights, maybe you should try this one, but otherwise steer clear; I had high expectations when the book was announced and even though the reviews I saw kind of tempered them, I still expected a readable book.

Maybe it works as fantasy humor but I am not in the market for such and this one is definitely not sold as such either
; an F and a series I have no intention to continue.

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And then finally a positive surprise, The Hittite by Ben Bova. I am not a fan of Ben Bova' sf, so usually I would have steered clear of this one, but there is something about names like Troy, Odysseus, Helen which makes me try any novel that involves them.

A fast and furious historical fiction from sf author Bova, featuring the siege of Troy, lots of brutality and blood, a good but conventional take on the Greek heroes; the novel has a great main lead, the Hittite officer Lukka, but Helen steals the show and Odysseus appears in an excellent role too, while Agamemnon and Menelaus make super-villains; as a bonus we get to see how Homer became Homer so to speak...

This beginning of a series has our heroes stopping at a way point after Troy - would not say more not to spoil the novel - and I am definitely in for the next volume. A B+ from me and the potential for more as the series progresses.

3 comments:

Wynn Kozak said...

I was given this link because I'm a historical fiction writer and interested in this period of history. Looks like a book worth checking out.

Anonymous said...

Liviu,

Do you know how many there are to the series in the Ben Bova's The Hittite? I'm a fan of bronze age historical fiction.

Thanks!

Jennifer

Liviu said...

Before reading The Hittite I had no idea it was part of a series though the blurb that mentions the exploits of the hero kind of made it obvious after 100 pages when it was clear this one cannot go much more beyond Troy based on pace and length; so I would say minimum three but it may also depend on extraneous factors like sales and such.

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