Book Reviews 2006 (22-23)

A pair of highly enjoyed novels are up for this time around.
Men At Arms, A Discworld novel of the Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett
and
The Golden Age, the first novel in the Golden Age Trilogy, by John C Wright


Men at Arms (Discworld, Book 15) by Terry Pratchett
One of the most enjoyed by me of the Discworld novels to date, Men At Arms returns to Samuel Vimes, Corporal Carrot and the rest of the Night Watch, with new additions. This time, the good men (and women, and dwarf, and troll…) of the Watch get entangled in a murder mystery, and what might be the first and only Gun on the Discworld.
The book starts off a little slow and unsure of itself, but once the murders begin and the investigation really gets going, MAA settles down and gels quite nicely. I laughed out loud at more than a few points, much to the chagrin of my fellow bus riders and fellow would-be-jurors.
I don’t think I need to say any more at this point that this is not the best book to start the Discworld series in, but once again, of course, the novels are best appreciated at this point if you’ve read at least one or two prior to this one. You’ll appreciate the cameo by DEATH, for example, better, if you have read one of his. But if you’ve enjoyed the earlier novels with the Night Watch, you’ll love Men At Arms.


The Golden Age (The Golden Age, Book 1)

by John C. Wright
Way back in 2004, I reviewed Wil McCarthy’s The Collapsium. While I had a positive review for it overall,, both I and a friend of mine were somewhat disappointed in some of the wasted potential of the McCarthy novels.
That potential is much more realized in the first of John C Wright’s Golden Age Trilogy, the epynomous The Golden Age. Phaeton Radamanthus lives some millenia in the future, a powerful scion of a powerful House of individuals in a future which very neatly follows Clarke’s Law about science and magic. While in the midst of a celebration, he begins to learn, however, that he may have done things in the past that threatened the very fabric of the baroque and complex world he lives in, and to gain the lost memories might have him lose everything else he has.
With mythological references. multilayered plots, inventive technology and interesting, often inhuman characters, The Golden Age is much more the book I was hoping The Collapsium to be. While I am disappointed that the novel ends long before the story does, Phaeton does trade his ignorance and lack of memories for a greater mystery to be explored in the second novel. While I wasn’t thrilled enough with the McCarthy book to continue with that universe, I do want to read more in Wright’s universe and intend to do so.