Short Review Roundup – Falling Behind (Expectations) edition

The purpose of a book review blog is to publish book reviews.  (Look at me—courting controversy!)  I really feel like I have been slacking off around here.  I haven’t even really been reading that much (fantasy), but I have a backlog of books to review nonetheless.  And the longer you wait after reading a book, the harder it gets to review.  So I am going to go ahead and (almost) clear out my queue in one fell swoop.

(Looking back after writing my short reviews, each of these books came to disappoint me in some way, mostly due to overly high expectations walking in.)

My To Be Reviewed stack

 

The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford

I sought this book out entirely on the strength of that amazing cover.  My initial foray into the used bookstore didn’t lead to my finding a copy, but it did lead to my finding another John M. Ford book with a gushing blurb from Robert Jordan.  It turns out they were close friends and Jordan cited Ford as a major influence.  I can definitely see that, but the strong influence of The Dragon Waiting on The Wheel of Time is the topic for another post.  The book itself was . . . meh.  The first three chapters, introducing three of the four main characters, are absolutely brilliant.  After that it starts to meander and loses most of its oomph.  The Dragon Waiting is an alternative history fantasy, and maybe the most interesting part of the book is Ford’s afterword.

3.5 of 5 Stars.

Buy it here.

 

Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko, translated by Julia Meitov Hersey

The Dyachenko’s The Scar is one of my favorite books of all time.  But I have yet to find another book by the writing couple that blows me away to the same extent.  Vita Nostra is an excellent riff on the magical school.  The school here is both deeply creepy and deeply cruel (which is more to be expected, if you think about it, than the Harry Potter version).  The Dyachenkos also draw obvious parallels to common experiences going off to college that adds a richness to the book.  I have to confess, though, that I simply don’t understand the ending.

4 of 5 Stars.

Buy it here.

 

Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia

MHI is Correia’s first published book, and it shows.  Owen is a bit of a Mary Sue.  Correia burns a lot of time upfront telling rather than showing us how great Owen is.  That is a sign of a lack of authorial confidence and the real sin (kickass characters are more than welcome).  The gun porn also gets to be a bit much (Correia originally serialized this on a gun forum).  But Correia’s later Grimnoir Chronicles series is one of my all-time favorites, and you can see that potential here.  The action set pieces kick ass, and the worldbuilding is surprising intricate and epic for an urban fantasy.

4 of 5 Stars.

Buy it here.

 

Raid by K.S. Merbeth

The Mad Max comparison (courtesy of a cover quote from Delilah Dawson) does Raid no favors.  You might say “a Mad Max-style wasteland,” but saying Mad Max implies some serious vehicular madness (the vehicular madness predates the post-apocalyptic wasteland in the movie franchise, after all).  Raid’s main character, Clementine, is a bounty hunter with a kickass truck . . . that she almost immediately trades away.  She spends much of the rest of the book on foot.  It is all good fun, but I have to say my expectations were not met.  And I’m still not sure where I come down on the other main character.  Raid is technically a follow-up to Bite and set in the same world, but it is only loosely tied to Bite, with the main character from that book showing up only briefly, and I think you can safely do what I did and start with the second book.

3 of 5 Stars.

Buy it here.

 

The True Queen by Zen Cho

I loved Sorcerer to the Crown.  It is Cho, not GRRM, who we should have been harassing for another book.  She finally gave us a follow up with The True Queen and it is . . . good.  Like Raid, The True Queen is a follow-up set in the same world but featuring different characters.  Muna is a fine protagonist, but The True Queen suffers from the almost total absence of Zacharias and the partial but more keenly felt absence of Prunella.  The mystery and the resolution struck me as obvious far in advance, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment in getting there.

4 of 5 Stars.

Buy it here.

 

Disclosure: I received review copies of Raid and The True Queen.

About H.P.

Blogs on books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday (speculative fiction) and Hillbilly Highways (country noir and nonfiction). https://everydayshouldbetuesday.wordpress.com/ https://hillbillyhighways.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in Alternative History, Book Reviews, Fantasy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Short Review Roundup – Falling Behind (Expectations) edition

  1. Prince LaQroix says:

    Larry Correia never disappoints. I really enjoyed Monster Hunter International, and, good news, the first book is the weakest one. The series only gets better. When you get to Monster Hunter Nemesis, oh boy, Larry really hit his stride with that one. Which reminds me, I still have to pick up the latest Monster Hunter, and eventually I’ll have to get around to reading Correia’s Grimnoir series as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. benespen says:

    I find it really hard to write reviews of books that disappoint me in some way. It is much harder than for a book that excites me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve read a couple of the Monster Hunter books, and they seem to get better the less they’re about Owen.

    Then again, I can’t help but find the politics behind the books a bit … iffy, to put it politely. Like, it’s all “RAH RAH LIBERTARIANISM! GUNS GOOD! GUMMINT BAD!” … and yet the whole thing with the Monster Hunter organization is that they’re basically a government contractor. Woops.

    (And I’ll be nice and not go into the puppy nonsense. Yeesh).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. MHI was my first taste of Correia. I liked it well enough but the Mary Sue-ness of Owen almost made me not read the other books in the series. It’s a good thing I kept on reading them because they get better (except for the latest which I felt was rather tacky and disappointing). Thankfully, Correia explores other, better POV characters further on. Alpha and Nemesis, in particular are freaking great stories. I love the Orcs and Agent Franks.

    My other beef with the MHI (and Owen) is that I loathe ‘Chosen One’ stories.

    Now, the Grimnoire books are great fun. And his new fantasy series (starting with Son of the Dark Sword) is pretty good so far too. I plan on starting book 2 very soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: June 2019 Month-in-Review and Mid-Year-in-Review | Every Day Should Be Tuesday

  6. I agree with some of your other commenters that MHI gets better later on, closer to the Grimnoir in style. I also agree that Alpha and Nemesis, with different protagonists, are some of the best ones.

    Liked by 1 person

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