Book Reviews 2006 (29-30)

Thanks to both the generosity of a long distance friend while at TBR, and being stuck in Logan Airport for four hours because of a cancelled flight, I managed to not only finish one book, but read and finish a second one, a graphic novel.
And so we have Ilium, by Dan Simmons, and the Graphic Novel adaptation of The Hedge Knight, by George R. R. Martin

by Dan Simmons
Some thousands of years in the future, a recreation of the Trojan War rages in its 10th year…on Mars. Complete with the entire cast of tens of thousands, including Greek Gods, “Scholic” Hockenberry has been recreated from his 21st century past to, improbably, record the events and compare them to his memory of the original Iliad. In the meantime, a group of intelligent machines, moravecs, journey from Jupiter space to investigate the unusual activity around Mars, and some members of the descendants of humanity discover some hard truths about what their eloi like life on Earth is really like.
Simmons has a bunch of plots and ideas in this first of a duology. Some of them, IMO, work far better than others. While the moravecs didn’t interest me, the Trojan War subplots, including some empowered Trojan Women, did far better to hold my interest. However, in the denouement, the last part of the book does not hold together as well as what has come before. Perhaps this will be resolved or made stronger in the sequel, Olympos.
But to watch Greek Gods, a strange blend of magic and technology much alike the novels of Fred Saberhagen, strut their stuff during the Trojan War is pure magic and got me through the less successful, IMO, parts of the book. The stuff on Earth was fine, with the exception of the introduction of a character who I just don’t quite get…but then, his origins and nature might fully be explained in the sequel.
I will read the sequel.

The Hedge Knight – Second Edition by George R R Martin.
Set a century before the events of the Games of Thrones novel, the Hedge Knight, first seen in the Legends Anthology, is here illustrated in graphic novel format. Dunk is the squire to a recently deceased Hedge Knight, a Knight who roams the land to serve Lords and do right by the populace. Taking on the role of a Hedge Knight himself, his sense of honor soon gets him into trouble with the Royal Family of the Seven Kingdoms…
Excellently drawn, and a cracking story, the languid long size of the Game of Thrones novels is here replaced with a neater and tightly constructed tale. I think it serves as an excellent entry point to those who are curious about the Seven Kingdoms universe but don’t want to take on a doorstopper.
Recommended without reservations.