Tag Archives: sequel

Faery Lands Forlorn

Apparently, I waited a while to hit the second book in my current Duncan series. I’ll see about maybe reading the last two closer together. This will be tricky, as there are a couple of gotta read books coming out here soon, plus a couple of other books I want to read in between or whatnot.

Faery Lands Forlorn continues the adventures of Queen Inosolan and Rap the stableboy, now separated by half a continent from each other and from home. Things move fast despite the introduction of a few more races of people with which to fill in the map. In a way, they moved too fast almost. All the events of the first three quarters of the book felt like they should have taken up only a few dozen pages, not a few hundred. And yet there was no trace of things seeming dragged out or focussed on disinteresting side material. It’s a neat trick, and although I wouldn’t want to duplicate it, I wish I knew how he did it. Lots of enjoyable but ultimately empty calories, perhaps.

In the midst of the fast-forward buckle-swashing, sorceress-escaping, and romance-creating, Duncan still found time to flesh out the magic system quite nicely and introduce more powerful enemies while giving old enemies new powers of their own. I think my favorite thing so far is how the word enemy is a misnomer. There are people opposing our heroes’ goals and people assisting them, but there haven’t been any (well, more than one, and I haven’t made up my mind there) truly bad people in the world; it’s all about politics and unobjectionable people who have different goals from each other. The very opposite of run of the mill, and good enough on that merit alone even if it weren’t so rompful.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Over the past couple of years, I’ve become gradually aware of a thriving internet fandom community for these Harry Potter books, complete with wars over which person should date which and extensive fan fiction. To my very great delight, I’ve completely avoided all that smeg, and this review will be completely uninformed by that section of the internet. It’s all about me, baby! Also, I’m not sure how to discuss it in any real detail without a spoiler cut. So, if you haven’t read the book, or if you haven’t read the series but might someday, stay out from this point on. (Includes spoilers for previous books as well.)
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Short Answer: Olympos, Dan Simmons follow-up to Ilium, was a really enjoyable read. I was interested in every character’s story from start to finish and glad to spend a little more time on the world. The bad news (there’s always bad news, isn’t there?) doesn’t outweigh any of this, but it did make for a substantial amount of disappointment.

There were only two things wrong, really, is the saddest part. First, some of the plot elements seemed rushed. I think all of my questions about what had happened to get from today to the future earth were answered, but some aspects, usually the negative ones, seemed tacked onto the story just because they were unanswered questions; after reading the first book, I know he has the ability to write more smoothly than that. So: jarring. Worse, though, none of the characters really changed in any important way. As far as enjoying a world, more to read is more to enjoy. But as far as character and plot development, I honestly would have been just as satisfied with the way Ilium ended, without ever needing to read another word. It is a damned shame that Olympos added almost no depth, after the brilliance of the original.

House of Chains

Sometimes, it is unreasonably hard to keep up, for no particularly good reason. The upshot of all the happenings in my life (and various irrelevancies that also slowed me down, mind you; I’d never claim after being more than a week late that it was exclusively the fault of how busy I am) is that I have far less to say about Erikson’s fourth tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, House of Chains, than I feel like I ought to have.

Four books is a long way into a series to feel like one finally has a handle on what’s going on, it’s true. I can completely see why it would put people off. And it’s not like I can explain the first book well enough to talk people into reading it, so far. What I do know is this: despite consistent four-digit page counts and a real struggle to figure out what’s up, these are the only new books in the past several years that have made me want to drag them out and avidly reread them, despite a hip deep to-read pile. (As opposed to, say, the Martin series, which I feel like I should reread to know what’s up, but the task fills me with dread.) Mind you, I won’t be doing so for some months yet, but my point is, I resent that I don’t have time to.

In summation: it’s nice to read a book where the human emotion and the sweeping events are balanced well enough that readers looking for either one as their key ingredient will think this is the right fantasy series for them. Gardens of the Moon is available in America these days, which means (as I probably already said once before when I did book three) people should start reading these now. Lots. (Caveat: Yes, the cover is terrible. But it looks like all the other books are being published with their original covers instead of stock fantasy crap covers, so don’t let that fool you.)

The Ring Two

MV5BMTY2ODc2NTQ2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNzA4OTU3._V1_I finally got out to a movie again, which is nice, because I was starting to feel bad about how few I’ve seen this year. (Barely more than one per month!) Despite the overcrowded and subsequently hot theater, I went for the one I wanted to see the most out of my available choices, The Ring Two. The title really bothers me, and I don’t know why. Is it because it’s too short or monosyllabic to have the number appended? Is it because it’s written out instead of numeralized? Maybe it’s just because the posters with Two written out and the o matches the Ring imagery from the original movie is so brilliant that any other vision of the title pales by comparison. Seriously, good poster. I kinda wish I collected movie posters. Perhaps once I have a bigger house I’ll make a poster room, and spend a lot of unnecessary money on eBay.

So, yeah, there’s this movie. The first one was really scary, despite the ridiculous premise that people are still watching anything on videotape. As the movie opened, and I know it’s only supposed to be six months later by plot, but it’s been several years in real life, and also the kid is the same actor, so he looks several years older, and my point here is even if I could handle it in 2002, no way am I going to buy into the videotape thing in 2005, and as the movie opened I was already rolling my eyes. (Also: I was starting to think that opening night is a bad time to see a horror movie, because too many people were too amused, but that faded at the same time my eye-rolling did, so I instead take this as proof that the rest of America agrees with me on the ridiculousness of anyone watching a videotape, or probably even owning a VCR.) Luckily, the people making the movie seemed to get that, and the plot unleashed the scary drowned spider girl into a different, somewhat less scary[1] but more emotionally resonant and symbolism-filled world.

Symbolism and to spare. Lots of iconic ring and related images to be found all over the place. (I can’t go into detail there without spoiling the first movie.) Lots of water imagery. A distorted reflection of the maternal themes in Aliens, which now that I think about it was also less scary but more emotionally resonant than the movie it was a sequel to. I like this thing where horror movies are deep, but still manage to get in the scary cinematography, oppresive musical score, and sure, occasional cheap thrill. It’s kind of like science fiction in the literary world, in that there’s room to explore pretty much anything you can imagine, yet it’s all lumped together in one critically dismissed (although increasingly less so, in both cases) category based strictly on a setting that everyone assumes isn’t adult enough to care about.

Scary? Sure. Good plot? For the most part, although I still don’t really get what it is that Samara actually does to her victims. I think this is a Japanese horror trope, the idea that you can be scared to death without worrying about what was so scary, so I’m willing to let it go. It is creepily effective, so it’s easy to not mind. Extras for people who just want to see boobies and cameos? Naomi Watts is the star of a movie filled with water-related events, so you do the math there. Also, Bingo Bob has an amusing turn as a real estate agent. (And gets fourth or so billing out of basically a cameo-sized appearance, which surprised me; but the cast is small and therefore more personal, which is a good thing for the story as written.)

[1] With the exception of Halloween 2, all horror movie sequels are less scary. And it’s only as scary, because no horror sequels are more scary than the original. Can’t be done.